We’re all familiar with the stupenda, increasingly-popular Vogalonga, the “race” (held this year on May 11) in which any and every type of oar-powered boat may participate. (I’ll be in caorlina with five other women, in the requisite white attire traditional for any regata). This upcoming Friday, April 25th however, the weekend of the Festa della LibertÃ , the Festa di San Marco, and the Festa del Boccolo, there’ll be an added event: Vogo e Ti Defendo: I’ll row, and defend you.
Organized by the rowing clubs of the city and lagoon, this civic demonstration and mini marathon is reserved only for the Voga all Veneta, and is designed to highlight the increasing threat and continuing damage that the augmentation of motor traffic (from taxis to transports to high-powered outboards to monster cruise ships) has on existence on not only the delicate lagoon environment, but on the practice of one of the most historic and uniquely Venetian activities ancora vissuto today, the Voga alla Veneta.
The route commences at the Punto della Dogana, and will snake for 22 kilometers around the entire perimeter of the city: along the eternally tumultuous Giudecca Canal, across and down along the Fondamente Nove to San Pietro, around and up past the Giardini, across the bacino and then up the Grand Canal. The course follows the canals that, as described by La Gondola della SolidarietÃ , “have been tortured by motor wave motion that constitues careless and indiscriminate use of the lagoon.” They continue:
The principal motivation of this event is to hold a civic demonstration, with the utmost respect and democratic approach, but with great determination, of our will not to remain passive, submitting defenselessly, to the battering of our home, our history, our continuity.
We will do what we always do, using the most appropriate instrument we have. WE WILL ROW, displaying to everyone our longing to put a stop to a problem that today seems irreversible.
This acquatic enterprise will be no cake walk. Anzi, it is destined to be long and grueling, and at times, likely to seem like we’re crossing an ocean. Motor traffic will not be halted during the duration, as is the case with Vogalonga and the Regata Storica, but instead will require that the regatanti navigate the fray of motorcraft along the saucy sea. Right up there with old age, it’s not for sissies.
If you’re in Venice, show your support for these passionate, dedicated vogatori. (And should you be so moved, write our Mayor a long missive with your thoughts, maybe even forgetting to turn off all-caps key.)
Seven cruise ships, is it? It seems to me that if Venice is sinking,
it’s under the weight of mass tourism.