Palio di San Ranieri (Regatta of Saint Ranieri) is a historical reenactment event held every year in Pisa on the date of June 17, the day when the city celebrates its patron saint, San Ranieri.
Along with the Luminaria, the Gioco del Ponte and, every four years, the Regatta of the Historical Maritime Republics, the Palio di San Ranieri is part of a series of events entitled Giugno Pisano (Pisan June).
The regatta, preceded by a historical parade on the streets of the historical center of Pisa, is disputed among 4 crews representing the 4 historical districts of the city, two representing Tramontana and two of Mezzogiorno – San Francesco (yellow boat), San Martino (red boat), Santa Maria (blue boat) and Sant’Antonio (green boat).
Each crew consists of eight rowers, a helmsman and a montatore. The montatore is responsible for the most spectacular part of the race – he must climb a ten meter high flagpole, placed at the finish, on a floating platform, to capture the palio (the flag).
The boats recall the typical frigates of the Medicean Order of the Saint Stephen’s Knights. The race starts from the Railway Bridge and takes place over a distance of 1,500 meters, with the competitors rowing against the current. The finishing line is at the Palazzo Medici, near the Ponte della Fortezza.
The first information about a regatta in Pisa dates back to the year 1292, when a palio was held in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
After the Battle of Lepanto of 1571, when the Order of St. Stephen fought on water against the Ottomans and captured the pennant of the enemy, a pennant that is now held in the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavaleri, the feast began to recall this event.
Starting with 1718, the palio is disputed on June 17, for the anniversary of San Ranieri.
PALIO DI SAN RANIERI 2019 will take place, as usual, on June 17, along the River Arno. The race will start at sunset.