Venice’s Regata Storica

Most people have heard of the Venice Biennale, the major international contemporary art exhibition held every two years since 1895. But not as many are aware of the Regata Storica, or Historic Regatta, a water pageant and rowing races that take place the first Sunday of September.

Regattas have been held in this maritime city for hundreds of years, but the term “Regata Storica” was first coined 1899. The day’s festivities begin with a parade of intricately carved boats carrying the Doge and other important officials decked out in 16th-century brightly colored brocade dress. This historical procession commemorates the transfer of the rule of Cyprus by Venice native and widow of the King of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, in 1489.

Then the cheers really fill the Grand Canal as the spectators lining the route shout support to the competitors in the children’s, women’s, caorline (six-oar) and gondolini (racing gondolas) races.

After the contests, seemingly everyone else who has access to a boat climbs in and takes to the canals of La Serinissima to celebrate, then spills out to various piazzas to continue the festivities.

Have you been to Venice during one of their festive celebrations?


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