Tags: celebration, events in italy, festival, Italy, tiziano, Venezia
The Redentore began as a celebration to give thanks for the end of the terrible plague of 1576, which killed 50,000 people (25-30 per cent of the population), including the great painter Tiziano Vecellio (Titian). The Festa del Redentore remains a major festival in the Venetian calendar, celebrated on the third Sunday of July. The most important place of the festival is Giudecca, one of the islands of Venice, situated to the south of the city center, where the Andrea Palladdio’s Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore (Church of the Most Holy Redemeer) was built.
On Saturday 19th of July, the eve of the festival, fireworks of the most varied colours and shapes are let off. Preparations start early in the morning when people begin to decorate their boats, or the small wooden terraces on rooftops from where they can admire the fireworks. From the early afternoon, Saint Mark’s basin fills with up to 2,000 boats of all kinds, decorated with balloons and garlands: the water surface is full of thousands of boats and lights, and thousands of Venetians awaiting the fireworks while dining on the boats. Around 10 o’clock at night, from pontoons placed nearby the island of San Giorgio, the fireworks begin and Saint Mark’s basin becomes one of the most atmospheric stages in the world. The fireworks last for around 45 to 60 minutes, illuminating the night and arousing intense emotions in both Venetians and visitors. Once the fireworks are over, the young people of the city head off to the Lido, where they sit on the sand and wait for dawn.
A bridge of barges is again built from Zattere to Giudecca, so that people can make their pilgrimage to the church and participate on the religious celebrations of the Sunday: the most important one is the high mass, celebrated by the Prelate of Venice. The feast will come to an end with a regatta of gondolas in the Saint Mark’s basin.
This yearly recurrence, that took place for the first time 400 years ago, began because the Senate of the Ancient Venice Repubblic, in dispair for the plague that was decimating the population, decided to build a church calling for the divine help. The Senate commissioned the great architect Andrea Palladio to design it: two months after the beginning of the construction the Doge Sebastiano Venier announced the liberation from the plague. Then a bridge of barges was built so that the doge and senators could walk across this special pontoon bridge from the Zattere to Giudecca and attend the mass in church. The construction of the church of Redentore began in May 1577 and the building was concluded and consecrated in 1592.
When: On 19-20 July.
Where: Giudecca island, Venice.