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The Regatta of Saint Ranieri
From: 2014.06.16 To: 2014.06.17
The afternoon of June 17th celebrates Pisa's patron Saint Ranieri with a traditional regatta on the Arno river, a tradition that dates back to the middle ages when Pisa was a great maritime republic. Four boats representing the four most ancient districts of the city are fitted with eight oarsmen, a steersman and a climber. The boats are not required to remain in a defined lane so it is the steersman's job to take the best line through the bend in the river and this often involves cutting off competing boats. This makes the beginning of the race especially exciting as boats jostle for position. The race covers a 1500 meter upstream stretch of the river from the railway bridge to the front of the Palazzo Medici (when you are a Medici you can make sure the finish line is in front of your house). After crossing the finish line it is up to the Climber to complete the victory. His job is to board a boat anchored at the finish line and scale one of four 10-meter high cables attached to the mast. The first climber to grab the blue silk banner - called a 'poliotta' - is the victor. The tradition of grabbing the poliotta dates back to the Knights of Saint Stephen who famously boarded a Turkish flagship and stole the Muslim fight banner waiving on the mast of their boat. This banner is still kept in the Church of Saint Stephen of the Knights in Pisa.