I know everyone’s out on their last summer picnic weekend, but when you get back, here’s a re-worked press release we hope will gets some visibility beyond Italian borders (the Italian press has already made appointments for pre-festival photos!):
On Sunday, September 7th, for the first time ever, an all-women crew will row the Serenissima, the lead galley in the most elaborate of Venice’s annual water-festivals, the Regata Storica. They’ll all be from our very own Remiera Cannaregio, and, I’m delighted to say I’ll among them!
The scandolous idea of having only vogatrici (female rowers) lead this procession famossima was proposed by Giovanni Giusto, master stonecutter and restorer, and Head Coordinator of the over 80 boat clubs that support the unique voga alla veneta rowing style (you know standing up, facing forward, made famous by gondoliers). “Maintaining the voga tradition,” smiles Giusto, “doesn’t mean things have to always be done exactly the same!”
For millennia, the voga alla veneta was the only way all the light, shallow craft, both commercial and personal, were propelled across the lagoon and throughout Venice’s intricate canal system. It’s still a passion of many a local for leisure and sport. Itâ€™s also one of the few authentic Venetian activities that, thanks to stalwarts like Giusto, has not been appropriated by the tourist trade; and such, it remains one of the living links to the Venice of centuries past and the cradle of vera venezianitÃ .
The serene voga alla veneta struggles to survive among the choppy seas created by the ever-increasing number of motor craft, both pleasure and tourist transport, that criss-cross the lagoon incessantly. But the rowers are a determined lot, not to be counted among the cynics who resign a vital Venice to the past tense. Ask any vogatori, including the eighteen fie (women) you’ll spot in the Serenissma on September 7th.
If you’ll be attending the festival – or anytime you spot voga enthusiasts – feel free to show your support with a shout of Viva le donne, viva la voga!