The Historical Regatta and Women in VeniceLocal Traditions
The Historical Regatta and Women in Venice
The Grand Canal in Venice has witnessed numerous regattas since the 1300s, and since then there have been scheduled races for women.
If you visit the Querini Stampalia Fondation Museum in Venice there is a room which hosts more than forty pictures, by Gabriel Bella (1790), that show several scenes of Venetian life, including a race of women.
The scene takes place near the Basilica della Salute, in front of St Mark's Square, and you can see a procession of gondolas with felze, the old coverage of these vessels, and the coloured peote, used by sailors; in the lower left corner you can also see the Bissona boat of the jury (an 8 oar, carved and decorated rowing boat). The palaces on the Grand Canal are decorated with carpets, curtains and drapes for the festival.
Among the various boats there are also two ballottine, so called because they were used for hunting waterfowl in the lagoon, hitting it with slingshots (ballotta in Venetian means in fact ball).
The ballottine served as the security service during the races: those who did not obey the injunction to make way to the competitors were hit with the slingshot.
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