Among all the annual events in Venice, the 'Regata Storica' or the historical regatta is one of the oldest traditions of the Venetian Republic. This rowing Venetian event is dear to the hearts of the Venetian people. This festival dates back to around 1200 and commemorates the Festa delle Marie. This festival commemorates Venetian women who were kidnapped by pirates and immediately freed. The young Venetians rowed tenaciously in pursuit of the pirates until they freed their loved ones. The 'Regata Storica' thus celebrates the audacity of the Venetian rowers. But the festival also commemorates Caterina Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus, who abdicated her throne in favour of Venice in 1489.
In modern times, the 'Regata Storica' festival commemorates the treatment of Dogaressa Caterina Cornaro. It is held on the first Sunday of September and sees dozens of festively decorated boats parade along the Grand Canal. It is a spectacular boat race, rowed by Venetians in period costume. The race starts from the stretch of sea in front of San Marco, goes all along the Grand Canal and ends at Ca Foscari. The competitors start once the "spagheto" has been stretched, and at the "paleto" in front of the Santa Lucia Station the winners are celebrated on their arrival. Prizes are awarded on the "Machinas", the floating platforms decorated in front of Palazzo Foscari, the seat of the University of Venice. Not only men but also women and children under 15 years of age take part in the regattas in specific categories.
If you are not among the lucky few to have a window on the Grand Canal the event can be seen from the streets that line the Canal. Or by booking a place on one of the festively decorated floating platforms called 'Machinas'. Keep your distance from the bridges during the event, although the police will probably take care of that. If you find yourself in Venice on the last Sunday in September, get ready to take a dip into the Venetian past. You will see all their joy and pride on the faces of the Venetians.