June 19, 2012

Enjoying the Vogalonga in Venice

We recently spent 5 glorious days in Venice and were fortunate enough to be there, just by chance,  when the 2012 Vogalonga took place. Probably just like we did, you are asking yourself,
“what on earth is the Vogalonga?”

The Vogalonga is a celebration of all types of  watercraft, which takes place in Venice every May. It began in 1974 on Saint Martin’s day, when a group of people interested in Venetian rowing got together for a regatta. Since the world was turning more and more towards motorboats, these lovers of Venetian traditions wanted to show their commitment to the older traditions and encourage others to do the same.They instituted a non-competitive regatta, the first of which took place in May 1975.
500 boats arrived that year, carrying 1500 participants, and nowadays there are about 1500 boats with over 5000 participants. It is an exciting day in Venice! The event, whose participants were originally only Venetians, has grown to include lovers of their oars from other parts of Italy, Europe, and beyond.

Early in the morning, from the windows of our hotel room which opened onto the Grand Canal, we got to see all the boaters travelling towards Piazza San Marco, where the regatta begins. There were sculls with crew teams, individual kayaks, and gondolas. The celebration of color and camraderie was so exciting on that glorious late May morning, and even as tourists and onlookers, we really felt that we were participating in an extraordinary happening.

Here’s a short video, taken from our window, of the rowers heading towards Piazza San Marco at about 7AM: