It is one of the most recent demonstrations, which began as an act of protest against the degradation of Venice and against the swell.

Since 1975, every year between May and June, this commitment is renewed and tradition has become an important appointment for many participants, even from outside the region, with many typical boats.

An appointment that allowed the revival of a sense of place and craftsmanship that was almost disappeared.

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The history of Vogalonga is a recent history, a confirmation that the history of Venice does not stop at 1797.

It all stems from a friendly regatta on mascarete on the day of San Martino in 1974. In those years, fans of Venetian rowing were few and isolated, and the trend was increasingly towards motor boats. Among the participants in the initiative there were also other prominent personalities of the time, non-racers, such as the then director of Il Gazzettino - the city newspaper par excellence -, Lauro Bergamo, one of the active references in the world of regattas, Toni Rosa Salva, and finally Giuseppe Rosa Salva, always engaged in the defense of Venice.

From here started the idea of calling a non-competitive row, inviting at the same time all those who had "laid down their oars" for too long to join together to react to the degradation of the city, the swell and the restoration of Venetian traditions.

This is how Vogalonga was officially born on January 26, 1975, so called for the long route that not only moves in the city of Venice, but extends to the edge of the North Lagoon, thus reaching about 30 km.

Beautiful the definition of the journalist Sandro Meccoli on the pages of the Corriere della Sera that will define them "A haggard group of Venetians who, tired of ciacolar and feeling ciacolar on the fate of the city and the lagoon, have called citizens to arms, or to weapons always, the oar".

Fundamental to the success will be the support of the press and collaboration with city institutions.

And so, on May 8, 1975, on the occasion of the Festa della Sensa, the gathering is set in the Bacino di San Marco, in front of the Doge's Palace.

It will be an exciting day: 500 boats with its 1,500 participants will arrive silent and sinuous, in the calm water of the Basin, where the cannon shot of the official start and the rustle of the numerous moving oars will await them.

The city then awakens in the color and shapes of numerous typical boats: there were the gondolas, the sandolo, the mascareta, the caorlina, the topa, the peata, the viper, the s'ciopon and others among the most prestigious of the Venetian sports clubs and oar champions with their families. And all of Venice was already accompanied by numerous crews from the estuary and the coast, even from outside Veneto.

Delfo Utimpergher, in Il Gazzettino, wrote: "a revenge of the oar on the engine a rediscovery of the evocative lagoon environment, a popular gathering not to contest something or someone, but only to show solidarity with Venice. Many hands outstretched towards the city to defend it from one of its most insidious worms, the wave motion ".

Over time, it has gone from the initial 1,500 boats to the 5,800 of 2007, which still grow today.

Thanks to this enthusiasm and very large participation, in a few years more than fifty rowing companies were built, equipped more and more with representative boats with ten, twelve and eighteen oars.

All this reviving a sense of place and handicraft that was now extinct.

Images gallery

The first departure of the Vogalonga in 1975 (image of the Vogalonga Organizing Committee)
The Vogalonga path (image of the Vogalonga Organizing Committee)

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