Discover Portovenere Blog had the pleasure of chatting with some members of the Borgata U.S. Portovenere, i.e. the local team that participates in the historic regatta known as Palio del Golfo di La Spezia. We spoke with Elisa Saglione from the Ladies Team, Matteo Turano from the Junior Team, and Manager Alessandro Talamone, while tasting the “4Con” cocktail on the panoramic terrace of Venus Bar. This cocktail was conceived specifically as a tribute to Portovenere’s rowing teams and the Palio del Golfo.
Matteo, who is only 19 years old, recounts how he became a rower for U.S. Portovenere: “Ever since I was a small child, I would go and watch the Palio in La Spezia with my family. It was always a big emotion to be there and cheer for my hometown, Portovenere. My dream of rowing became stronger when our Junior Team won the Palio in 2013 and 2016, because I really wanted to win it too and be part of the experience. Rowing for my village is a passion and a beautiful emotion”.
When asked about the drilling routines, Elisa explained that: “The average training is of 2 hours per day, 6 days a week, both in the gym and at sea. It goes on throughout the year, except for 2-to-4 weeks after the Palio, when we can have some time off. Apart from being athletes, we have normal jobs. Few people understand the sacrifice and dedication behind the Palio del Golfo and the people that partake in it”.
The Palio is a race between small wooden boats, where there are four rowers with one oar each, and one fixed seat for the helmsman, who is usually a young kid because he or she must be light. It is a sport that takes you to the limit, both physically and mentally. Manager Alessandro confirms: “In order to win, apart from your fitness and technical level, your head plays a fundamental role. And all team members must synchronize, there must be balance and harmony on the boat, just as if there was only one single person rowing”. Elisa and Matteo add that: “The Borgata is a like a second family, because we meet both our colleagues and coaches after the trainings and the races for dinners and leisure time together”.
What are the origins of the Palio? “According to the legend, the race was born about 100 years ago when local muscolai (mussel farmers) and fishermen would row quickly to race back to land to be the first to sell the fresh sea products” Alessandro narrates.
About the Palio del Golfo
You can learn about the history of the Borgata U.S. Portovenere here, and read all about the main event in the article “Palio of the Gulf: pride & tradition”.
Various pre-palio competitions take place between May and July (see the calendar of events here) leading up to the 94° Palio del Golfo on 4 August 2019. See you there!
Header Image Photo Credit: gazzettadellaspezia.it