The large historic ships
which made the Serenissima Republic so powerful deserve a
chapter of their own. They were divided into two
categories, round ships and narrow ships. The former,
characterized by their bulging shape, were destined for
sailing with goods which were not particularly valuable;
the cocche venete belong to this family. The
latter, the famous galleys (galee), were used
for the spice trade, for transporting precious goods and
Another historic ship is the Doges ceremonial boat, the Bucintoro, of which at least four similar examples were built over the centuries. The last, built in 1722, was an imposing vessel 100 Venetian feet long (34.8 m) which was decorated and gilded. The bucintoro had two decks: the lower deck was where the workers of the Arsenale rowed the 42 oars, the upper deck was reserved for the authorities, and at the stern on a special throne, the Doge. During the ceremony of the Sposalizio col mare, the Doge, at the entrance to the port of the Lido, threw a ring into the water which symbolized the Marriage of Venezia to the Sea.
Finally the bissòne are an ancient type of ceremonial boat, rowed by eight costumed oarsmen. The boat was sumptuously decorated with sculptures and allegorical carvings. It was used to display or receive important people. Even today, ten of these boats (reconstructions) make up the procession during the Regata Storica. The themes illustrated by thes boats are: Byzantine, Horses, China, Floral, Geographic, Neptune, Pescantina, Querini, Rezzonico, Venice.