The Regatta today
The historical procession
This procession is a re-evocation of the welcome given to Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus, in 1489 after she renounced her throne in favour of Venice.
It is a procession of 16th century style boats, with the famous Bucintoro, the boat representing the Serenissima, at its head.
This is followed by dozens of multi-coloured boats with gondoliers in period costume carrying the Doge and his wife, along with Caterina Cornaro, and the highest dignitaries from the Venetian Magistracy, faithfully reconstructing an event from the glorious past of the Marine Republic's, one of the most powerful and influential in the Mediterranean.
The public spectacle
Crowded along the banks, or in the floating stands, or even better in one of the boats moored along the Canal, the spectators participate with gusto and shouts of encouragement during the sporting events.
As the multi-coloured boats speed past thousands of spectators, crowded along the banks, or in the floating stands, or even better in one of the boats moored along the Canal, an incessant babble acts as the soundtrack to the competition, which has continued for a thousand years and is a perpetual reminder of Venice's close relationship with water, the element showing continuity between the past, present and future of the lagoon city.
The traditional reference points of the regatta are:
- the spagheto or cordin, the rope stretched across the starting point in front of the Public Gardens;
- the paleto, a pole driven into the centre of the Grand Canal in front of the Church of Sant'Andrea della Zirada, around which the boats must tum before going back up the course (the first boats round the paleto are traditionally those which take the pennants awarded to the winners);
- the machina, a construction erected on a richly carved, painted and gilded wooden raft, which marks the finish of the race and on which the prize-giving ceremonies are held.