Literally ‘long rowing’ in Venetian dialect, the Vogalonga is a non-competitive rowing regatta that is held every year in Venice between May and June.
Its history began 47 years ago when a group of professional and amateur rowers from the city came up with the idea. They were united by their passion for the “oar” and the Venetian rowing, a technique that was disappearing whilst the presence of motorboats was growing. For the original founders of the Vogalonga, the message was clear: to revive the tradition and return Venice back to oar, to highlight the problem of waves and warn people about the disrepair they caused to the town.
The first event was held on 8 May 1975. Attendance was beyond all expectations with over 1,500 participants in 500 boats that silently took over the entire Lagoon for a few hours. There were gondolas, pupparini, sandoli, mascaretes, caorlines, tope, la peata, the ‘vipera‘, the ‘s’ciopon‘ and others, together with the most prestigious boats of the Venetian sport clubs and rowing champions with their families. It was a Venice that was awakening and finding new form and a new voice. And joining Venice were crews from the estuary and the coastline, the nearby Carole and Chioggia, from Padua, Treviso and Riva del Garda, and even from Lombardy and Piedmont regions.
But what makes this event so unique?
Certainly, the distance of the rowing which can compete with land marathons. Since its first edition, the boats have paraded through the canals of the Lagoon for a total of around 30 km. The start takes place at the cannon shot in St. Mark’s Basin followed by the raising of the oars in salute to the city. It continues in the direction of the nearby islands of Burano and Murano before ending in the splendid setting of the Grand Canal via the Rio di Cannaregio. The amateur and non-competitive spirit of the regatta is reflected in the awarding of a participation medal to all racers, even those who have been disqualified.
The event is now an attraction for rowing enthusiasts from all over the world and boasts an all-time record of 2,100 boats and 8,350 total participants in the 2018 edition. No matter the country of origin or rowing technique, the important thing is that the boat is propelled solely and exclusively by oars!
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Hyatt Centric Murano Venice
Riva Longa, 49
30141 Murano – Venezia