While the French will be enjoying their national day on July 14th with a military parade on the Champs-Elysées and fireworks on the Trocadéro, the Venetians will be celebrating their Redentore Festival.
Have you ever heard of the Redentore festival?
I had not until last year when I happened to be in Venice the day of the fireworks. The festival is probably unknown to most people outside of Italy.
However this celebration is not something new. The Redentore festival has been celebrated for centuries more exactly since the 16th century. It happens in Venice every year since 1577.
But what is it exactly?
The city of Venice like many places in Europe had to deal with the Plague in the 16th century. It lasted from 1575 to 1576 and decimated about 30% of the population. Some say about 50,000 people lost their life. The painter Titian is known to have died during the Plague and was not able to finish his last painting “the Pieta”. To be thankful to God for ending the Plague, the elected ruler of Venice, the Doge asked the architect Palladio to build a church. It was built on the island of Giudecca from 1577 to 1592 and was called the Church of the most holy Redeemer (Chiesa dela Santissimo Redentore).
Every July on the third Saturday and Sunday the Venetians celebrate the Redentore festival (Festa del Redentore). On Saturday late afternoon boats of all kinds and sizes come down the Venitian canals. You can see ferry boats transporting people but also gondolas, motor boats, speed boats, even row boats. It is a real party with decorated boats and music on board. Venitians dance, sing and eat on the boats. At sunset they all gather in front of the St Mark’s Bay near the Redentore church to watch the well expexted fireworks which last about forty minutes. On Sunday people can enjoy among other things the boat regattas.
Don’t miss the fireworks display at 11:30 p.m. It is by far the nicest one I have ever seen.