FESTA DEL REDENTORE
The Festa del Redentore is a festival that is particularly popular with Venetians as it combines a religious theme with a spectacular celebration that attracts thousands of visitors. On Saturday night, the inimitable setting of St. Mark's Basin hosts a phantasmagorical firework display that lights up the spires, domes and bell towers of the city with a kaleidoscope of colours and reflections. At dusk, just as they have done for centuries, numerous small boats decked out with balloons, decorations and brightly coloured lanterns, begin to flock into St. Mark's Bay and the Giudecca Canal. The boats then moor alongside each other and all the participants enjoy a sumptuous dinner of traditional Venetian specialities while they wait for the firework display that begins at 11.30pm and lasts until well past midnight.
The Festa del Redentore is a tradition that dates back to 1577. It was first held to celebrate the city's deliverance from a terrible plague and the construction of Palladio's "Redentore" (Redeemer) Church, commissioned for the same reason. The Church, built on the Island of the Giudecca, can still be reached by pilgrims during the festival by means of an impressive 330-metre-long pontoon bridge. The "Redentore" celebrations include a solemn religious service and procession presided over by the patriarch of the city, and the weekend ends with a series of gondola races, organised as part of the "Voga alla Veneta" rowing season.