REGATA STORICA


It is certain that the first official regatta were held in the 12th century under Doge Giovanni Soranzo. The first regatta was held in 1300, on the Marian feast day. In 1315, the Government decreed that each year a regatta be held. This regatta was held with galleys and the same decree obliged the patrons of the Arsenale to provide some boats with fifty men.These boats were probably used up until 1379 when, because of the Chioggia war, the triumph ffor the Marias ceased. The first regatta for women was probably held in 1493. Then they rowed in the last race in twooared boats. Another Ducal decree of the 31st May 1531, ordered four annual regattas, in each of which six light galleys competed along the route between Malamocco and the Dogana de Mar. The dates were fixed for the feasts of SS. Apostoli, Ascension, S.Marina, S. Bartolomeo. A new dcree of the 20th June 1539 confirmed the four regattas and furthermore ordered that 4.000 men be assigned to the light galleys and be constantly trained in them. The best were the to take part in the regattas. The regattas were organised and paid for by the Government, but sometimes also by private citizens or delegates, such as tge Società Filarmonicca or the Compagnia della Calza. During these regattas, which were generally held in honour of a royal visitor, there were three events : the first was the race for one or two oared boats, the second was for small two oared gondolas. Sometimes there was also a regatta for women, usually from Pellestrina, who raced wearing their traditional costumes. In the 18th century, there were also comic regattas with crews of dwarfs, hunchbacks or elderly men over sixty years of age. However, these weere not greatly popular with the general public. All the regattas ran along the Grand Canal from the eastern point of the city to S.Lucia, where the boats rounded a pole and then turned back as fars as Ca’Foscari, the finishing line, was set up the "Machina" or stand where the authorities sat and where the prizes were given. First prize was a red flag, second a light blue flag, third a green flag and the yellow flag of the fourth prize was accompanied by a suckling pig, a gift of the "luganegheri" society. Added to these symbolic, but no less valued, prizes, were also sizeable amounts of money. On the day of the regatta, the Grand Canal was full of "boats of all shapes and sizes "ballottine" (four-oared boats) "malgherotte" (with six oars)"peote" and "bissone". The various guids and professions also had their characteristically decorated "peote" and "bissone". The various guilds and professions also had their characteristically decorated "peote", and there were as many from private societies. The families who boasted the most ancient names also took part and went to exttraordinary lengths to distinguish themselves in their display of magnificence and elegance. Then the splendor of the costumes of the eight rowers in each "peota" was without limits. Many of them represented historical and mythological events, others instead ancient or foreign nations and many symbolized an art or virtue.

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