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The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races

Discover the origins of the Livorno Rowing Races

From the small boats of the 16th century to the heroes of rowing

Five centuries of history and challenges

The origins of the Livorno Regattas take us back in time to the XVI century, even before Livorno was elevated to the rank of a city in 1606. Already then, on the occasion of events or festivities, “palii di barchette” races were held inside the port area between the city districts.

Being warriors by nature, the people of Livorno quickly turned these festive events into real competitions, and soon the district crews began hiring the “Risi’atori”, port unloaders and powerful rowers known for their strength and courage.

In the end, even back then, those challenges were probably inspired by their feats. They earned the name “Risi’atori” from “Arrisicatori”, because they risked their lives every day by competing with each other, even in the most adverse weather conditions, in rowing boats to reach the incoming ships first and earn the right to unload their goods. But not only that, when engines did not exist yet, on stormy days they would come to the aid of the ships by towing them into the harbor using only the power of their arms, and they were the first to launch their boats into the sea to help someone in distress.

Between the 18th and 19th centuries, the Livorno Regattas perhaps reached their peak. Held during magnificent “water festivals”, they managed to captivate even the highest Tuscan aristocracy, to the point that even Grand Duke Leopoldo I de’Medici enjoyed watching them from a small terrace of the Fortezza Vecchia.

It is also worth mentioning that Livorno’s rowing history has also given Italy many internationally renowned rowers: Luca Agamennoni and Dario Lari, just to name two recent names, but above all the legendary “Scarronzoni”. An 8-man crew entirely made up of “Risi’atori” hired in 1927 by the Livorno Rowing Club to improve their sporting fortunes. They were given the name “Scarronzoni” during their debut race because, being used to rowing on gozzi boats, they were technically less elegant and, due to the strong and brutal but poorly coordinated stroke, their boat would veer off course. That first race, which they obviously won, was just a taste. From 1928 to 1941, once their technique was refined, the “Scarronzoni” won 12 Italian titles, 2 European titles, 2 Olympic silvers in Los Angeles in ’32 and Berlin in ’36, and several national and European podium finishes.

The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races
La battaglia della Meloria, Giovanni David
The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races
Il varo della Corazzata Lepanto
The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races
Foto del Venezia, I rossobianchi nel 1921
The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races
1980, il Pontino vincerà anche questa Barontini, dopo la squalifica del Venezia
The origins of Livorno’s Rowing Races
Il gozzo del Pontino

Useful informations

  • Who:

    Alone, Children and families, Groups, In pairs, With friends

  • When:

    Spring, Summer

  • What:


  • Other characteristics

    Free, Outdoors, Without reservation

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