Art & Culture

Amalfi welcomes the 66th Historical Regatta of the Ancient Italian Maritime Republics.

After a two-year wait due to the pandemic, the glorious race returns to the Amalfi Coast.

By Anna Volpicelli, cover photo by Massimo Pica

Men and women parade, evoking the history of the great Maritime Republic of Amalfi. In the sea, athletes and Olympic champions compete to the last rowing stroke in a competition of considerable sporting importance that brings to life the glorious past not only of the Amalfi Coast but of Italy. From June 3-5, after a two-year suspension due to the pandemic, the 66th Historical Regatta of the Ancient Italian Maritime Republics returns to Amalfi. 

Competitiveness and tradition

An event was established in 1955 under the high patronage of the President of the Italian Republic in honor of the exploits and dynamic rivalry between Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa, and Venice. “The Regatta is the flagship event for our City. We have been waiting for it for six years. We had to wait two years longer than the natural cycle because of the pandemic, but we are ready: it is a great reason to launch and restart. This year, we propose a range of events of absolute depth and big important novelties, starting with the different distribution of traditional appointments:  the institution of a new race. The women, for the first time, will be aboard ships. As for the Regatta, it makes me proud to think that the first athletes of the first editions were fishermen; today, they are the champions of Italian rowing. Competitiveness and tradition, history and sport. All the crews are strengthened this year, which greatly increases the interest,” Mayor Daniele Milano said at the presentation press conference.

The athletes during the race

Olympic athletes 

Over time, the rowing event has taken on a significant national role to such an extent that today the four competing galleons boast a crew of excellent technical and sporting skills. At 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, the four ships, all painted in the traditional colors of their respective cities, white for Genoa, red for Pisa, green for Venice, and blue for Amalfi, was reconstructed on 12th-century models by Alvio Vaglini, an Italian painter and sculptor, will chase each other along the Gulf of Salerno in a 2,000-meter course that runs from Capo di Vettica, the starting point, to Marina Grande, the finishing point. The Amalfi event is more challenging than other cities as it is the only Regatta course on the open sea. As many as 11 athletes from the Italian National Rowing Team will take part in the competition this year, with Giovanni Abbagnale (Olympic bronze medalist at Rio 2016), Vincenzo Abbagnale (World Champion), Salvatore Monfrecola (under-23 World Champion) led by helmsman Vincenzo Di Palma on the blue ship in Amalfi. 

The symbols of the ships

The hulls of the ships and icons of the Regatta well illustrate the symbols that have identified cities since ancient times. Each exhibits the castle at the stern with the flag and a figurehead at the bow. A dragon, an allegory of St. Day, identifies the galleon of Genoa, the Germanic imperial eagle of Pisa, Venice has engraved the lion of St. Mark, a symbol of the patron saint, and Amalfi, for this 66th edition, Amalfi exhibits a new graphic icon, a marriage, as the mayor mentioned, between tradition and innovation. On its blue ship will be a winged horse riding the sea waves. 

A moment of the procession, photo by Emanuele Anastasio

Back to the Middle Ages 

The heart of the event is the Historical Parade, which features 320 participants, 80 from each Republic. A parade, conceived by set designer Roberto Scielzo, brings back the wealth and glory of the Middle Ages. Costumes in Arab-Byzantine style, crafted through fabrics of silk, linen, brocade, and damask, tell the story of Amalfi society in the early year 1000, at its high point. The procession includes all the representatives of the social classes, including the magistracies, thus the duke, the judges, the count of the palace, the consuls, the military with the knights of the ducal court, the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, the archers, and the people with the sailors and rowers. The representation symbolizes the wedding between Sergius, the eldest son of Duke John I, and Lombard Mary, daughter of the Prince of Capua and Benevento, which took place in 1002, parade followed by knights and ladies of the ducal court. For the procession, the City of Amalfi adopted a vademecum created and edited by Giuseppe Gargano, professor and scientific director for the Regatta’s cultural activities. 

A women’s race

In addition to the events-pillar of the event, the 66th also presents a great novelty: this year will stage a mini rowing competition with mixed crews. On Saturday, June 4, on the ships, there will be the presence of young athletes and women who will arrive in Atrani from Marmorata. “It is a competition created by opening participation to women in particular on the crews. There will be a minimum number of females present, 4, and four very young 18-year-olds. This event was created to strengthen the bond between our cities and motivate these young people who are our future athletes.” 


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