The historical Regatta in Venice - what you need to know -

The Historical Regatta is the main event in the annual “Voga alla Veneta” rowing calendar. This unique sport (which only takes place in Venice once a year- has been practiced in the Venetian lagoon for thousands of years. Most noteworthy… the Historical Regatta in Venice is one of the races that Venetians are most passionate about.

Plan now – always on the first Sunday of September!

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Prior to the Main Event

Before the official race begins, the Historical Water Pageant takes place. The music plays and the cheers begin as dozens of 16th-century-style boats with gondoliers in period costumes bring the “Doge and his wife” up the Grand Canal.

Consequently, the water parade commemorates the welcome given in 1489 to Caterina Cornaro, the wife of the King of Cyprus, who renounced her throne in favor of Venice.

The Historical Regatta Event

Furthermore, after the parade, four races take place, divided by age, by categories, and by type of boat.

The Regatta of the Champions is the most famous and is the race between ‘gondolini a due remi” – an extremely light and thin gondola powered by one man and two oars. It takes place on the Grand Canal arriving in front of the Ca ‘Foscari palace, where the floating stage, called the “machine”, is set up.

Finally, of course, they are competing for prestige. The winner receives a red flag, the rest white, green, and blue. 

Historical Regatta in Venice

These are photos taken from our hotel room right on the Grand Canal in 2016. It was a trip I will always treasure.

Check out the current historical Regatta Storica di Venezia information

In Conclusion… a Bit of History

The first evidence of this competition dates back to the mid-1200s. However, it appears and is documented on a 1500 Map of Venice by Jacopo dé Barbari. The drawing shows a group of boats with the words “Regatta” on them.

 the origin of the word “regatta” is still unknown. But it is from Venice and from this competition that the word regatta began to spread and still today defines competitions between boats

Ilene from Our Italian Journey,

Editor’s Note:  This post was initially published in July 2018, and was updated in July 2024 for accuracy and additional information.
If visiting Venice the first Sunday in September - a must see! -


  1. Thank you for the updated overview of the Regatta! I certainly hope to see it one day. ANy tips on best viewing spots if one doesn’t have a hotel room?

  2. Thanks Angelo for the comment. There are places all along the Grand Canal to grab a seat and view. People were sitting in every spot imaginable. The Realto Bridge was packed so probably not the best spot because of the crowds. My recommendation would be to find a restaurant that has good seating along the canal to enjoy a lunch and watch the event.

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