The San Ranieri Regatta is a competition held on June 17 in celebration of the town’s patron saint Saint Rainerius. The race, preceded by a historic procession down the riverbanks, unfolds on the Arno between four teams representing the city’s four historic neighbourhoods (San Francesco, San Martino, Santa Maria and Sant'Antonio). The earliest traces of this boat race date to the 13th century, when documents mention a competition held in 1292 for the celebrations dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Beginning in 1718, the competition was held on June 17 in honour of the patron saint. The boats are inspired by the typical fregate boats used by Cosimo I’s Order of Saint Stephen.
The boat utilized by the San Francesco neighbourhood is yellow, while San Martino’s is red, Santa Maria’s is blue and Sant’Antonio’s is green. Each team comprises eight rowers, one coxswain and one “fitter,” whose job it is to climb the 10-metre high yard at the end of a floating platform to get the small flag that symbolizes winning the “Paliotto”. This unique way of assigning victory is inspired by the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when the Christian troops, once on board the Turkish flagship, took control of the flame placed on the enemy’s ship.