Grit and Grazia: A Story of Venice, Voga, and a Few Unwavering Women

A documentary project of Living Venice e VIVA

The Voga Doc

For me, the voga and the lagoon are one and the same.
–  ”Ciaci,” Una vita per il remo

All the world knows the image of the Venetian gondolier, but few people notice the unique style of rowing he uses to thread his gondola through narrow canals and propel it across the bacino and lagoon beyond: the voga alla veneta. Whether practiced for sport or leisure, it’s a vital activity that connects today’s Venice with its very origins.

voga_still_valesanaMuch of “saving Venice” centers around the just conservation of its past glory, and as such is often carried out by experts and scholars in laboratories, churches, libraries, and museums. The voga alla veneta, on the other hand, is a facet of Venice’s glorious past that is still living, still practiced by professionals and enthusiasts from all walks of life. While no longer the sole means of lagoon transport, it is still a source of pride and passion for anyone who practices it.

Watch the Preview – Vai all’anteprima

This feature-length documentary seeks to explore and illuminate the many facets of this unique rowing style and the part it has played over the centuries in Venice’s very existence:

  • the technique itself, along with types of boats and oars developed for it: all of wood, evolving piano piano over time
  • The culture and the people whose very lives depended on the voga,  from when the first refugees traversed the lagoon seeking sanctuary from marauding hordes, to those who still recall life on the lagoon before the motorboats replaced the rowboats as the main form of water transport.
  • Regattas and regatanti, who are still held only in the highest regard among in Venetian culture.

The project will also explore the voga‘s role in the struggle — such as that of any city with a rich historic past — to create and maintain a contemporary identity without obliterating valuable cultural traditions.

This site is under continual development and will reflect the progress of the documentary project as it evolves.

Viva la voga:
it’s where Hidden Venice lives.

The Project

The voga alla veneta is the unique rowing style - standing up, facing forward - that the Venetian gondolier employs to thread his craft through the city's narrow canals. This documentary project will explore the lifestyle and the culture that lies behind the voga: one that is as vital, as old, and as convoluted the Venetian rii themselves.


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