The beginning of the historical sailing race Barcolana is as simple as that. It's curious that it's about to celebrate, now in 2019, its 51st anniversary: the same number of boats partecipated in its very first edition. It sure has come a long way since then, as in 2018 it was officially acknowledged as the largest sailing race in the world by the Guinness World Record, with the record number of 2.689 boats competing in its 50th edition.
But back then, in 1969, it was just about a few members of the Società Velica di Barcola e Grignano, a local sailing club, wanting to set up an autumn cup in their city's port. They finally convinced local authorities and other sailing clubs to join in and named it Autumn Cup Regatta Barcolana, from the city port Barcola (“barca” means “boat” in Italian).
So on a sunny, mild Sunday in the middle of October it all started: a sweet libeccio, a south-west wind (also known as “garbin” in Trieste's dialect) was blowing and pushing the sails of the 51 boats ready to race. That day, the winner was Piero Napp aboard its Alpa 9 “Betelgeuse” and, since then, he's been the only one to take part to EVERY single Barcolana.
We don't know if they kept the promise, in the end, nor which wines were handed out to the winners: maybe some good old Terrano, a Merlot or a Friulano...
But wine still plays a prominent role in the related events: among the 200 and more exhibitors along the Rive, the city banks, forming the Villaggio Barcolana (Barcolana Village), there are a good number of proud, local winemakers with their reds and whites. And the wonderful osmizas will open especially for visitors during the events.
So there's still time: you can go, taste and get into the swing of things and sails. Just enjoy happy moments all over Trieste up to the closing days, on the 12th and the 13th of October when the actual race will take place, with the finishing line just right in front of the very central Piazza Unità d'Italia.