What makes a particular type of hat suitable for a particular occasion or activity? Who decides?
Boaters, being made of straw, are a lightweight summer hat, of the sort worn with blazers at Henley Regatta, so perhaps that explains the name, but why the same headgear should be worn by very different rowers in this part of Italy isn’t clear. (More often than not they aren’t worn though, which I think detracts a little from romantic image of the gondolier).
Apparently they were once the uniform of the FBI too!