Spettacolare. Ideale. Glorioso. Whether you were participating in 36th annual Vogalonga or cheering your pals from the nearest riva or fondamenta, nothing less than superlatives will do when describing the day, the row, the joy, the experience. The thousands of oar-powered boats and thousands more rowers propelling them along the 32 kilometer / 20-mile course from the San Marco Bacino north to Burano, back to Murano and the Cannaregio Canal and down the Grand Canal enjoyed gentle winds, temperate temps, and golden rays…a marked contrast from the near hurricane conditions of the prior year.
As far as we know, we were the only two all-female crews of traditional caorlina type boats. We looked like a set of twins, with bright flowers adorning our grass-green boat, and coordinating kerchiefs; our sister craft had netting that streamed behind it into the water (that’s what we assumed got them into the next day’s journal La Nuova Venezia, and not US).
Little matter…just take in the looks on every rower’s face to see what a grand time was had by all.
Favorite kayaker quote of the day: “They need to make this canal bigger for next year!” Hm….wouldn’t hold my breath.
(We only mowed down four kayaks and two sculls; a much better record that last year. If only they would turn their heads on occasion… )
Judging by the crowds that lined bridges as well as the number of participating boats and rowers, the Corteo Carnevale isbecoming almost as popular as the Vogalonga.
This costumed procession is held on the first weekend of the two-week long Carnevale, open to anyone and everyone that knows how to row Venetian-style and can get their hands on an oar. Costumes range from simple to ornate, sensational to silly (keep your eyes peeled for the peanut), handmade to half-baked. The procession winds its way up the Grand Canal from the Salute, and is followed by a festa in the Canale Cannaregio, with a flying rat, awards for best costume and a party running the length of the fondamenta.
On the 10th of May in the afternoon, there will be ten gondolas that instead of carrying contented travelers through calm canals, will course colorfully across the lagoon, each with a crew of four women determined to ciapàr bandiera, bring home the bacon.
Gathering to have their photo taken for the local rag, the Gazzettino, these ebullient women, whether young and not-so-young, whether expert, novice, or enthusiast, are thinking of nothing other than blistering past all their competitors in the first-ever all-woman race in gondola. I’ll be rowing in one alai, or in the second position of the four with two campionesse and two, ehm, appassionate (If I manage not to collapse mezza regata I will consider the event a personal success).
We’re happy to announce the completion of the preview/demo/promo of our documentary-in-progress. We’ll be using this as our “biglietto da visita” as we gather funding…but I have to say the responses so far have been extremely positive, for which we are grateful. There is an Italian version of the preview as well, and the site will be translated into Italian very soon as well.
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!