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BARGING IN ITALY - VENICE LAGOON - ITALIAN CRUISES
The Vogalonga Regatta started in 1975, as a small gathering of Venetian rowers expressing their love for their lagoon and as a peaceful protest against the influx of motorized boats. Motor boats have a devastating effect of eroding the banks of the lagoon and canals, and eats away at the beautiful, historical buildings. The idea of the regatta is a get-together of people-powered boats having a friendly race through the Venetian lagoon.
The track has remained virtually unchanged over the years. It covers about 30km by way of canals and makes its way through the most beloved and picturesque parts of the lagoon. Participants have up to 6 hours to complete this event. The boats gather in St Mark's Basin, in front of the Ducal Palace on the morning of the race to sing hymns to St. Mark and Venice, after which, they're off! The route bypasses the island of Saint Helena, skirts the islands of Vignole, Sant'Erasmo and San Francesco del Deserto. The half-way point is Burano and the return path passes the islands of Mazzorbo, Madonna del Monte and San Giacomo in Paludo, the procession then crosses through the Murano Grand Canal and is then back in the lagoon. Once in Venice, the boats row along the Cannaregio canal and the Grand Canal, arriving at the finish line at Punta della Dogana in front of San Marco.
Upon completion of the regatta, each participant receives a commemorative medal, a certificate, and souvenirs of the event. Prizes are also awarded, including numerous pairs of oars, oar locks, trophy cups and plaques. What started off as a small gathering of around 500 local boats from Venice and neighboring cities, is now an international gathering of over 1500 boats from around the world.
OFFICIAL VIDEO 38th Vogalonga - 2012 Venice
Following the success of the Vogalonga and on the wave of re-discovered love for tradition and the call to save the city, more than 50 rowing clubs sprang up in Venice and the surrounding area. The entire city contributed to the re-establishment of workshops dealing with restoration, as well as the construction of boats and oars; knowledge of which had nearly disappeared. Boats which had long since disappeared from the lagoon were recreated, having formerly only been seen in works of art by the great Venetian landscape painters such as Pietro Longhi and Francesco Guardi. Among the traditional boats which have regained interest are the mussin and the vipera, as well as the pupparini, gondolini and gondole da fresco.
The beauty of the lagoon passages, the enthusiasm of the rowers, and the opportunity to see, even for just one day a year, Venice as a river of thousands of boats, has transformed the Vogalonga into a splendid sporting event.
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