For me, one of the highlights of the year in Venice is the annual Regata Storica, a procession of 16th century style boats down the Grand Canal all filled with rowers and passengers dressed in period garb, including the Doge and the Doge's wife. The procession was to welcome Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus who in 1489 renounced her throne to live in Venice.
It's thrilling to see the Grand Canal void of all the everyday usual traffic as people line its sides waiting for the boat parade to begin. The procession participants begin at the Public Gardens, Giardini, and make their way up the Grand Canal, turning around in front of the train station then ending at Ca' Foscari where the machina, the parade reviewing stand, is located.
Earlier in the morning a large pole, called the paleto, is driven into the middle of the Grand Canal in front of the Santa Lucia train station. The paleto marks the turn around point for the race. A rope, called the spagheto, is stretched across the starting point in front of the Giardini (the public gardens).
Later in the afternoon the regata is held, beginning with the race for young rowers, followed by the women's race, the 6-man teams and finally the teams of 2 gondoliers. A different style traditional rowing boat is used for each different race category: pupparini for the youth, mascarete for women, caroline for the 6 man teams and gondolini for the 2 man "champions" race. Excitement mounts as everyone waits for the last race of the day,with local Venetians cheering on their favorites from the sidelines.
Colored pennants are awarded to the winners: Red for first place, white 2nd place, green 3rd place and blue 4th place.
Regata Storica is always held on the first Sunday in September. Tomorrow's activities begin at 4pm with the historic procession. The Grand Canal will be cleared of traffic beginning at 3:00 pm.
The race schedule is as follows:
4:50 - Pupparini (youth)
5:10 - Mascarete (women)
5:40 - Caroline (men)
6:10 - Gondolini (gondoliers)
I'll be out with my camera somewhere along the Grand Canal tomorrow afternoon. For now, here are some photos from prior Regata Storicas to get you in the mood.