Traditional Festival in Venice
One of the most important events in Venice is, undoubtedly, the Regata Storica: a sumptuous historic procession of boats precedes competitions among boats of the same kind (the gondolini race, etc.).
The first records regarding rowing competitions date back to mid-13th century although they are likely to have more ancient origins because in a city like Venice, for which conquering the sea has always been so important, they stemmed from the need to train the crews to row. Women too were trained to row. Indeed, as back as 1493, they were already taking part in competitions. Originally the regatta was preceded by the “bissone”, parade boats with order service functions and from whose stems some nobles equipped with bows threw “ballotte” (clay balls usually employed to hunt marshy birds in the lagoon) to the most undisciplined boats. Nowadays the bissone have the only function of opening the historical parade. Although the Republic fell in 1797, the regattas did not cease. On the contrary, that year the Venetian government announced two competitions. The regatta as we know it today was born in 1841, when the Town hall asked the permission to organise yearly boat competitions whose expenses would no longer be met by private
citizens but by the public. When Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1866, the regattas acquired the new purpose of celebrating the glorious past of the Venetian Republic.
In 1899, on the Venice’s mayor (Earl Filippo Grimani) proposal, the regatta acquired the “historical” appellation. The regatta was one of the view painters’ favourite subjects as it allowed them to paint a celebrating Venice and it is still one of the main events. Indeed, on this occasion the San Marco Basin and the Grand Canal teem with all sorts of boats
from which people can watch the competitions and root noisily. At present the most important and exciting competition is the gondolini race