Unveiling the Feast of the Redeemer in Venice 2023: A Celebration of History, Trivia and Traditions
Discover When Venice Feast of the Redeemer Takes Place
In July, Venice gets ready for the most emblematic holiday of the summer: “The most famous night”, as this eve of the “Redentore” was once called.
“La notte famosissima” takes place on the Saturday preceding the third Sunday of July. This year it occurs on the weekend of July 15th and 16th.
Is the most awaited event in the lagoon, the most felt by the venetians, the most coveted moment by the tourists.
This day brings in itself all the expectations of a new year’s eve. It is indeed about a rebirth we are thinking of when celebrating “The Redeemer”, especially in this post covid era. With a hint of imagination we can in advance perceive the scent of a summer evening, the lapping of gentle waves, the adrenaline for the fireworks, the aroma of the typical dishes for this occasion.
The rich Traditions and Customs of the Feast of the Redeemer
By boat or on the “Fondamenta” (the sidewalk that runs along a canal), wherever you happen to be at table, you will be served the best of the venetian culinary tradition.
Bovoletti (small snails boiled and seasoned with parsley, garlic and pepper), “Bigoi in salsa” (homemade spaghetti topped with anchovy and onion sauce), “Sardee in saor” (fried sardines and onion fried with white vinegar, raisins and pine nuts), fresh watermelons: the taste buds recognize that there is a party going on!
And then, can not miss the “Ombre” (in venetian dialect “shadows” indicating the “shadow” of the Bell Tower of Saint Mark Square under which glasses of wine were sold), and “goti de vin” (“goto is – again – a way to define a glass, a drop of wine). They bath the palates thirsty from the summer heat and from continuous chatting from one window to another or from one boat to another.
In Venice you can live a boundless sense of ‘neighbourhood’, a cosmopolitan gossip that cements relationships, an intimate sense of proud belonging, that does not exclude. It welcomes everyone and makes people sing loudly traditional venetian songs in this magical night.
Unveiling the Secret Behind the Famous Fireworks Display
At midnight we will all be staring at the sky just like children mesmerized and enchanted by the colours of fireworks. In front of Saint Mark Square, the stretch of lagoon lapping San Giorgio, Punta della Dogana, and Zitelle on the Giudecca island, will be illuminated by colourfull dropping lights like flowers of all shapes creating a coreography in the sky. Researching a way to obtain the ‘long life elixir’, the Chinese alchimists
of the 1st century AD created by chance the fireworks and since then used them to celebrate. This secret reached the merchants of the Silk Road and it seems that it was Marco Polo who brought the mirabilia to Venice in the XIII century. Nowadayds italian artisans of this old tradition have created new colours thanks to the chimical innovation and the pyrotechnic is evolving in new spectacular results thanks to the Italian commitment.
Be ready at 11.30 pm on Saturday 15th, and enjoy the lights dancing in the sky.
A guide to the enchanting Feast of the Redemeer in Venice
One of the symbols of the Feast is certainly the Votive Bridge, which in 1577 allowed the Venetians to reach the Giudecca island where the foundations of the “Church Of the Redemeer” were laid. This bridge floating on boats covers the entire width of the Giudecca Canal stretching for a distance of approximately 330 meters. Only once a year you can reach the Church walking on water. The crossing is the focus of the pilgrimage to the place of worship. A mystical moment that perfectly fuses with the folkloric atmosphere that invades the city.
In this post pandemic era we can easily empathize with the feeling of despair that led the Senate of the Serenissima Republic in the XVI century to ask for divine grace to end the plague that had reduced the population by a third. As a religious ex vote for the liberation from the epidemic that had affected Venice, the construction of the Church of the Holy Redeemer was commissioned in the area of the Franciscan convent. The architect in charge was Andrea Palladio, whose stylistic signature we recognize in the mathematical and harmonic proportions, in the simple and austere elegance of the facade that characterizes the Giudecca skyline.
"Church of the Holy Redemeer" on the Giudecca island (Andrea Palladio 1577)
Experience the Magic in Venice
Humanity was powerless, vanquished, and urged a divine intervention. During the first two month of the works in progress, the pandemic came to an end. The Serenissima was free from the disease.
It was a miracle.
Since then, the end of the two years long misfortune has been remembered with relief. Celebrating means to forget and start again a new life.
We have recently been through a similar disaster , no need to recall our recent history…
Since 1577 the sense of redemption is renewed in a rite that combines folklore and religious faith. A happy fusion between land and sea recreates an atmosphere of joy and a sense of community.
Preparations for the Festival begin by adorning the boats and the Fondamenta with paper lanterns, balloons and garlands and by cooking in advance the traditional dishes that will accompany the wait for the Fireworks Show. Boats gather in St. Mark’s basin to gain a good position and enjoy the colourful rain drops of the fireworks.
On Saturday 15th, the arrangement of the tables, list of guests, organization of seats and calculation of the approximative numbers of bottles of water and prosecco to be available for the long night to come. The festival culminates ai 11.30 pm with the fireworks display.
On Sunday 16th is the time of religious and civil institutions, it is the time of sacred with the solemn masses in the Church of the Redeemer.
It’s of course the time of sport with the regattas at 4.00 pm: “Pupparini” and “Gondolas with two oars compete rowing in the Giudecca Canal.
“To your health”, “alla salute”, is the way to toast. We will toast countless times between Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th. Cheers!!!
Join the magic of the Redentore in a festive July, rich in cultural and gastronomic events.
"The Redemeer Procession", Joseph Heinz il Giovane, 1650
"Night celebration of the Redeemer" Giambattista Brustolon 18th century etching from a subject by Canaletto
Celebrate in Venice at Caffè Florian
Celebrate the Redeemer and live an unforgettable moment, keeping in mind the historical value of the commemoration and enjoying the present.
Be part of this immersive experience!
Even if you were not able to plan, strolling in town will lead you in St. Mark Square. Seat in our terrace at the historical Caffè Florian and taste our delicacies by the Chef Cristiano Strozzi.
It’s round the corner from the Fireworks Show and you can appreciate the sunset light sipping a cocktail prepared by our barmen or our barwoman.