Italy’s Answer to the River Pageant


There was a poster stuck to a tree which said “Remada a Seconda”. I didn’t know what it meant, apart from something to do with rowing. (Remare means to row).

“It means however you like. It’s not a race.”

This hardly prepared me for what I saw when I walked down to the bridge last Sunday morning. It was chaos. The water was choc-a-bloc with boats of all shapes and sizes, with lots of canoes and dingies but maily home-made strange vessels constructed on oil drums, or floating bath tubs. There was a Greek temple with crew dressed in sheets and laurels, a floating cafe with tables and waiters, a red fireengine, a double decker with the top deck held together with primitive scaffolding and not looking as if it would carry the top 4 passengers very far before it collapsed on the 5 underneath. Best of all was the Viking long ship with a large striped sail to assist the rowers who were all wearing horned helmets and sporting bushy red beards.

The Floating Fire Engine

The jostling and bumping wasn’t helped by the fact that they’d opened the sluice gates to create a current. Slowly the first boats drifted away, but many of the more bizarre craft got caught in eddies and simply went round in circles.

A couple of police cars and an ambulance set off precariously along the tow path. I reckoned they’d be needed long before the end of the trip, 30k away, judging by the crates of bottles on board.

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