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Art & Culture

Veneto

All the most exclusive spots from which to see the Venice Historical Regatta

01 September 2022

4 minutes

The date to mark in your diary is 4 September, when the Grand Canal becomes the stage for the famous Venice Historical Regatta, an event not to be missed, for enjoying the city at one of the liveliest times of the year.

Here are all the places to get a front row seat to watch the race.

1. The event on the first Sunday in September

As per tradition, the Regata Storica is the regular event on the first Sunday of September when one of the most famous traditions of the lagoon city, Venetian rowing, a special technique originating in the lagoon that allows a single oarsman, with one or two oars, to propel the boat forward, returns to the forefront.

2. The Venice Historical Regatta route

The best place to watch both the Historical Parade and all the rowing competitions is between the Rialto Bridge and Ca' Foscari. As long as you arrive very early to position yourself, though: with the cheering Venetians and tourists fascinated by the event, there is not much space to spare.

If you just want to watch the Historical Parade and the most important races, you can stand anywhere on the banks of the Grand Canal between Punta della Dogana and the railway station. But there are other ways to enjoy the regatta even without having a boat or a building overlooking the water.

3. What happens during the Regata Storica

The procession of historic boats precedes the actual races by parading along the Grand Canal. On board people in period costumes recall the golden age of the Serenissima. In particular, they commemorate the return to the city of Catarina Corner, a Venetian noblewoman who married the King of Cyprus and then ceded the island to the Venetian Republic.

The procession is opened by the Bucintoro, the Doge's golden ship, followed by the boats of the Venetian rowing clubs. They sail along the entire Grand Canal from St Mark's Basin to the railway station and back, all the way to Ca' Foscari.

The parade starts at 4pm and half an hour later the races begin. The first challenge is the regatta of the Marciarele and Schie with very young rowers, followed by the 2-oared Pupparini, the 6-oared Caorline and the women's regatta on board the Mascarete. Last is the regatta between the Gondolini with two oars. Pay attention to the colour of the hulls: they vary according to their position on the starting line.

4. Where to spectate at the Venice Historical Regatta

The Rialto Bridge

All regattas start from St Mark's basin and the most important ones reach Ca' Foscari. The Rialto Bridge is therefore the best place from which to see them all, intercepting them halfway along the route. The view from above also offers a perspective that you will not have from any other point along the banks. But it will almost certainly be packed from the early hours of the day.

Giardini and Riva degli Schiavoni

The best place to watch the start is opposite the Giardini di Sant'Elena in front of which the so-called spagheto, the thread that determines the starting line, is stretched. This is the most exciting moment of the race, when everything is still to be decided.

Punta della Dogana and Basilica della Salute

To get a closer look at the costumed participants on board the historical boats, this is where you have to take your stand. If you manage to grab a place in the front row you can also take a magnificent photo of the Doge's golden boat.

The San Silvestro and San Tomà vaporetto stops

An excellent vantage point is the San Silvestro vaporetto stop: the rowers pass right alongside. But even here it is advisable to arrive very early. Another convenient vaporetto stop for a good view of the regatta is San Tomà. This is the point where the rowers do their best to cross the finish line first.

Fondamenta de la Madoneta and Riva del Carbon

Less well known is Calle del Tragheto de la Madoneta. Here there is a private pontoon that is not accessible but you only need to stand on the fondamenta (bank) to get a great spot. The long fondamenta of Riva del Carbon, on the opposite side, is also very convenient and not too crowded.

From the floating ‘Machina'

By paying for a ticket, the price of which varies depending on whether you are a resident of Venice or not, you can watch the regatta from the 'Machina', a floating platform set up just before the Rialto Bridge to accommodate institutional figures, celebrities attending the event and paying spectators.

From the windows of hotels and museums

Are you staying in a hotel with a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal or are you planning a visit to a museum whose windows open onto the water? Then that is the best place to enjoy the regatta, from above. The 18th-century Venetian museum, the Guggenheim, the national gallery of modern art at Ca' Pesaro and the contemporary art centre at Punta della Dogana offer perfect views. The spectacle is further away, but without the crowds.