Racing season in Livorno

In Medieval times, it was tradition to celebrate great racing events. In fact, there is an important boat racing event, the Palio Marinaro, celebrated since Medieval times, that takes place in Livorno during the second week of July on the Sunday. It’s an exciting and entertaining event which can be watched from the Terrazza Mascagni.

During this tournament 8 districts of Livorno take part in the race, with 10 competitors to a team. Each team member has their own set of oars and their task is to row as fast as they can in an old fishing boat.

The view from the pier of Terrazza Mascagni is fascinating! Especially during this time because all around is a sea covered by floating boats, an atmosphere at which time is electric and buzzing with excitement of the many spectators who flock to Livorno every year to view this nautical event.

This event also includes an award ceremony, to celebrate the efforts of the winner but of all the participants involved, followed by a fantastic party celebration in the streets of Livorno.

In the past the competition was much more violent than it is today. This was because the purpose of the game was to win a job on the sailing ships, the prize which used to given to the winning team. Therefore with Livorno being a very important international port transporting goods around the world, competitions for such jobs were extremely high. The competition was in fact created due to a great need for strong workers on the ships. However, today the game is just a remembrance ceremony, that only takes place once a year.

Now this important boat racing event kicks off on the last Saturday of June when the Coppa Barontini (Cup award) is carried along one of Livorno’s main canals, named Canali Cittadini. Next, on the second Sunday of July, the Coppa Risiatori (which is the name of the award trophy) reaches the Torre della Meloria, an old Medieval port tower, which marks the official start of the competition. As we know, the name of the competition cup is named Risiatori which is an old coming from the verb Rischiare, which means To Risk in english.

Few years after, another famouse race, named the Palio dell’Antenna came into fashion. These naval festivities continue way into the night of the first Saturday of August and take place in Andana degli Anelli which is another Medieval port in Livorno. In the water a platform is installed to which the boats must race in order to retrieve a reddish purple drape. Whichever team suceeds in finding the drape first must then race to the finish line thus becoming the winner.

The racing event of Antenna, originally a boats festival competition, used to be an annual event taking place in Lorena XVIII, but sadly it was suspended due to numerous anti fascist demonstrations which took place during 1930.


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