What the Voga Veneta is all about…

Have you ever noticed that the Venetian gondoliers stands while they row and that they have only one oar? This kind of rowing is typical of the Venetian lagoon and dates back to the 5th century AD when the domination of the Lombards trapped the Venetian in the lagoon … this is an extraordinary story, which shows the ingenious soul of the inhabitants of the most beautiful city in the world…

When the Lombards came to Italy, in the 5th century, in a few years they conquered Friuli, many cities of Veneto and part of the Esarcato of Ravenna. This event cut the Venetian lagoon out of the Italian mainland and thus encouraged Venice to develop its commerce through the canals and the little islands of the lagoon.

Since the depth of the lagoon waters was very low, the boats were realized without keel: this also made it easier to put the boats safely on sandy shores. In addition, to control the height of the seabed and also the possible presence of other boats, this particular kind of boats could be driven upright. This was also possible because of the considerable length of the oar. With regard to the so-called scalmo (the point where the oar is fixed to the boat), in the lagoon boats it was free so to allow the oar to be moved easily and to be taken on board in case of need.

Because of the shallow waters, the Venetian rowing boats – as they are called now – did not have a rudder and everything had to be done with the oar: this was not very easy since it meant directing the boat while providing the pushing force.

With the use of motor boats, the Venetian rowing and the boats used for this type of rowing were no longer used for trade and transport. However, in order not to lose the tradition, these boats became to be used for sporting regattas which, especially now, are a wonderful event both for the beauty of the boats and for the skills of the rowers.

The racing season begins every year in Venice with the Regatta of Mestre, in May, followed by the one of Sant’Erasmo, the Regata della Sensa, the Palio of Maritime Republics, the Vogalonga, the Regata dei SS. Giovanni e Paolo, the Murano Regatta, the Regata del Redentore and the Regatta of Burano. The grand finale is the famous Historical Regatta which, for all intents and purposes, is the most prestigious event of the entire rowing season.