July 11, 2016

Festa del Redentore, Venice

The third weekend in July is a very special occasion on the Venetian calendar. This is when Festa del Redentore, the Feast of the Redeemer, celebrates the end of a devastating plague that killed 25% of the population of Venice. I first read about the festival in Rosanna Chiofalo's debut novel, Bella Fortuna.

Redentore Church, Venice

For my most recent trip to Venice I booked a room at La Calcina, a lovely little hotel on the Zattere waterfront that was recommended by travel guide author, Rick Steves. Our room on the hotel's top floor offered front row seats to the Redentore festivities.

La Calcina, Venice

 Festival Lanterns along the Zattere

View of the Redentore Church from La Calcina

Each day I noticed more sections being added to the floating pontoon bridge being built across the Giudecca Canal. The bridge would connect the Zattere waterfront with the Redentore Church, one of Venice's plague churches, on the island of Giudecca. Andrea Palladio was commissioned to design the church following an epidemic of bubonic plague that had gripped the city from 1575-77. 

Construction of the Redentore Bridge

Redentore Church

On Saturday evening we joined the crowds converging on the bridge.

Festival Lanterns

Crowds on the Redentore Bridge

Many revellers had gathered for an evening of wining and dining on their boats while they waited for the fireworks display over St. Mark's Basin.

Festival Dining on a Boat

Boats Gathered in the Giudecca Canal

I'll never forget our approach to the Redentore Church. 

Approaching the Redentore Church

View of the Guidecca Canal from the Redentore Bridge

Crowds Gather at the Redentore Church

Later we watched the fireworks from our hotel room window. 

Festival Fireworks

On Sunday afternoon, brightly painted gondolas raced in the Regatta of the Redeemer on the Giudecca canal.

Regatta of the Redeemer

Gondola Race

Festa del Redentore has been celebrated by Venetians for over four hundred years and takes place again this weekend, July 16 & 17. The web site Venezia Unica posts a programme of the events for 2016, plus a video of last year's fireworks display.

Rosanna Chiofalo has written three more novels set in Italy: Carissima, Stella Mia and Rosalia's Bittersweet Pastry Shop.

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