A lagoon row in Venezia

On this clearest of mornings, as we stand on the edge of the landing of the San Giobbe Cantiere boathouse looking over the calm Venetian lagoon, we can see the sun gleaming on the snowy mountaintops a hundred kilometres away. This is our Long Row during the annual training week hosted by our friends at Settemari Venetian rowing club.

Amid much voluble Italian chatter, eight boats are launched one by one, hoisted up, swung over and lowered into the water by a competent marinaio with a crane. We all pile in and set off initially across the bouncing waves of the vaporetto channel before arriving into the calm and quietness of the lagoon beyond.

It’s hard to put into words the magical joy of rowing here with these enthusiastic and welcoming friends, sharing picnics and prosecco. Our skills improve no end, our Italian less so! In the evenings we have often been invited to our Venetian friends’ houses and even one night, to enjoy a crazy party with enthusiastic dancing at the Sede, their club base: to say that teaching our hosts to dance the Gay Gordons in a tiny square in the sunshine was memorable is certainly an understatement!

Richard Robinson