The Venetian regata has always consisted of various races with different kinds of boat (originally these included galleys, peatoni, and barges, as well as lighter boats rowed by two or more oarsmen).
Today, the most popular race is the gondolini regatta. On the day of the “Regata Storica”, St Mark’s Bay and the Grand Canal are packed with boats of every shape and size, filled with loudly cheering, local supporters. Originally, to clear the course of the race and to keep order, the regatta was preceded by a fleet of bissone (typical parade boats), with noblemen standing in the bows, armed with bows and terracotta shot (balote), which they used to pelt any particularly unruly spectators.
Today, the bissone still head the procession, but they only have a ceremonial function.
A kind of light sandolo boat used for fishing, regattas and general recreation in the lagoon. Its length (usually 6-8 m) depends on the number of rowers (1-4 oars), and its name probably derives from its popularity with masked prostitutes.
This work boat still preserves the original shape you can admire in numerous 16th century prints. Built for fishing (caorlina da seragia) and especially for transporting fresh fruit and vegetables from the islands to the city market, the craft’s main feature is its long, symmetrical, spar-less stern and bows. The boat’s name suggests that it was originally built in the town of Caorle.
Designed and built exclusively for the Regata Storica, the gondolino was first launched in 1825 with the aim of making the regatta, faster, more competitive and more exciting. Lighter and faster than the gondola from which it takes its shape, today’s craft are 10.50 m long, with a width of 1.10 m and a keel width of 0.65 m.
The gondola is, of course, the queen of Venetian boats, but despite this, the origin of the word is still unknown. All Venetian gondolas are now painted black in compliance with a law passed by the “Magistrato alle Pompe” to curb the excessive decoration adopted by Venetian nobles. Gondolas are built according to extremely strict criteria. The right half must be 24 mm narrower than the left half (an asymmetric proportion known as the lai), and the craft must be exactly 10.75 m long with an internal width of 1.38 m. Gondolas are used only for carrying people and regattas.
This boat is similar to the gondola, with the only difference being its narrower, rounder hull. Its name derives from the terracotta shot (balote) used both for hunting and by the regatta authorities to clear race courses and keep order. Usually rowed by either four or six oarsmen, today the craft is used for ceremonial purposes only.