The Palio Marinaro is an open sea rowing competition. It is a spectacular festival that expresses better than any other event the truest soul of Livorno, between history, tradition and identity spirit.
It takes place every year in July, after the Risiatori and Barontini Cups, in the stretch of sea off Terrazza Mascagni. It is a rowing challenge in which sweat and brine, the desire to win and healthy competition, enthusiasm and hard work come together.
Eight districts take part in the Palio, competing on gozzi, ten-oared boats made up of a crew of ten strong rowers plus a coxswain who stands out from the rest of the crew because of his position at the stern, his slimmer build and his role as “conductor”, with the task of coordinating, manoeuvring, guiding, setting the pace and cheering on his team to the max. The “gozzo” is a cedar-wood boat 9.25 metres long, 2.45 metres wide and weighing 600 kg. When it is sailing well, it receives a forward jolt that makes it fly lightly over the water. This was not the case with the famous ”Scarronzoni” who competed in the 1930s, unequally, and lost by a hair’s breadth at two editions of the Olympics. They pushed and shoved hard with their oars, sweating and swearing. The boat would rise and fall, rise and fall again and again, and would ‘drift’.
The origin of sea races dates back to the time of the Medici, when sailors challenged each other to prove their strength, courage and endurance against the adversities of the sea in order to be ready to rescue the boats that were being pushed by the waves and the libeccio (south-westerly wind) onto the shallows of the Meloria.