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historical reenactment that features colorful 16th-century boats.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics is a sporting and historical rievocation under the patronage of the Italian RepublicPresident. In the Regatta four crews challenge in representation of the ancient Italian Maritime Republics of Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice.


It happens every year, usually in June, and it's done each year in a different city. The real competition is preceded by a historical procession, during which you can see unthread along the roads of the organizing city some actors dressing the ancient characters cloths that characterized every republic. The History of the Regatta The idea of an historical festival which could evoke the shining exploits from the epoch of the Ancient Italian Maritime Republics, was independently thought of by two enthusiasts, Mirro Chiaverini of Pisa and Francesco Amodio of Amalfi, at the end of the 1940's. The official charter for the race was instituted by the Regatta Board of the four Maritime Republics in Amalfi on December 10, 1955. From then on, every year, the festival, which consist of an historical parade and a rowing contest, takes place in turn in one of the four Ancient Maritime Republics. 

corteo storico genoa

corteo storico pisa

Corteo Storico Amalfi

Corteo Storico Venezia

The Regatta

The regatta is a rowing contest using huge galleys constructed by Alvio Vaglini according to twelfth century models. Each galley is propelled by eight rowers and guided by a helmsman. The four vessels, each with fixed seats, a length of eight meters, and a weight of 760 kilograms, blessed by the Venetian Patriarch, Angelo Roncalli and launched from the banks of the Royal Gardens on June 9, 1956.
The hulls of the ships are painted, according to the traditional colours of the four maritime cities:

Antiche Repubbliche Marinare collage

Amalfi: blue;

Pisa: red;

Genoa: white;

and Venice: green.

Each boat has its republic's flag hanging at its stern, and a figurehead it its prow. For its figurehead, Amalfi uses a winged horse and a mermaid, which is one of the principle motifs used by medieval galleys; Genoa, on the other hand, uses a dragon evoking in protector, St. George; Pisa shows the imperial, Germanic eagle, in memory of the loyal help which the Tuscan Republic had offered the Swabians and the Ghibellines; Venice presents the lion of St. Mark, which is the symbol of its holy protector.



galeone pisa

galeone venezia

The regatta is run over a straight 2000 meter long course. In Amalfi the race begins from Cape Vettica, from a promontory which contains a sixteenth century viceregal tower. The course then continues along the sinuous western coast to its end in Amalfi; here, the finish line is set in front of the Great Marina with the suggestive setting of Mount Aureo with the Ziro Tower, St. Lawrence of the Plain (a former monastery), the Cape Cross Quarter and the former convent and Tower of St. Francis in the background.





regata storica venezia

VENICE: The Republic of Saint Mark presents an historical episode from the fifteenth century recalling the donation of the island of Cyprus to Venice. Such a donation was possible in 1489, when Caterina Cornaro, a Venetian noblewoman and queen of the island, was acclaimed with great honours back in her homeland; thus she conferred upon it dominion over Cyprus.
The Venetian pageant shows the political and administrative' organization of the mercantile oligarchy, which held the fate of the state; and so the Doge, the Senators, the Ambassadors and the Capitano de Mar, the fleet commander, parade in the procession.
The first part of the pageant, lead by nobles, drummers and trumpeters, shows the "Standard of Saint Mark", donated to Venice in 1171 by Pope Alexander III sa a sign of gratitude for acting sa an arbiter of peace between the papacy, the empire and the city-states.

GENOA: Genoa's historical parade evokes the Ligurian republic's consular age, before the doges and its transformation into a sort of aristocratic and mercantile monarchy. Central to the parade's theme is Guglielmo Embriaco, called Testa di maglio (Mallet Head); as a Genoese commander, he led the republic's ships on the siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, and returned to Genoa with the Sacred Basin, which, according to tradition, was used by Jesus and the Apostles during the Last Supper.
Next, representatives of the Genoese social classes from the city-state period are shown: the merchants, the soldiers, and the people. Finally, another important figure is Caffaro of Caschifellone, the analyst who, recalling Embriaco's feats, relates this hero's remarkable gifts for military strategy and invention of war machines, which were used to storm the Holy City.

PISA: Pisa's historical parade shows several salient moments in the city's history. The oldest moment is certainly represented by Kinzica de' Sismondi, the Pisan heroine who, in 1004, saved her homeland from a sudden attack by the Saracens. The various evolutionary phases of the Pisan city-state are then shown, from the consuls to the Podesta to the Captain of the people. People in arms are also part of the pageant, carrying the Germanic symbol of the black eagle in a golden background, as well as sailors, buglers, and drummers.

AMALFI: The Amalfitan historical pageant, conceived by scenographer, Roberto Scielzo, represents Amalfian society in the First millennium roughly, when the Campanian Maritime Republic had reached its apex. The costumes, using an Arab.-Byzantine motif, are made from the prestigious silks, linen, brocades and damasks-all esteemed in the Eastem Empire. Representatives of the various social classes are also present in the parade: the magistrates, among them the duke, the judges, the palace count, and the consuls; the military, with the knights of the ducal court, the knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, and the archers; the people, the sailors and the rowers.
The central theme of the parade is the marriage of the Duke's son to a noble woman, daughter of a Dynast, or prestigious aristocrat, from a nearby Lombardian principality. This wedding came to sanction the legal age of maturity (18 years) fin Amalfian offspring and its involvement in political power.
The knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, whose costume became a national postage stamp, evoke Brother Gerardo Sasso of Scala, the founder of the sovereign military order, which later became Rhodes and then Malta.


Courtesy of comune di Amalfi.

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