Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fireworks and Feasting, Venetian-Style

Come join us in Venice July 20-21 for the historic Festa del Redentore, held every year since 1577.The festival offers Venetians the opportunity to remember and give thanks for surviving the Plague of 1575-77, when over 50,000 people (almost a third of the population) were struck down. Venice pledged to build the church of the Redeemer if the city was saved from the Pest.

After the scourge had passed, the famed architect Palladio built the Church of the Redeemer on the island of Giudecca. Every year since, a temporary bridge has been built to span the Guidecca Canal and permit Venetians to attend thanksgiving mass at the basilica.Venetians use this occasion to throw a weekend-long party. It all starts Saturday evening at 19:00 when the bridge is officially opened and Venetians arrive in St. Mark's Basin in their boats to await fireworks at 23:30.

Everyone decorates their boats with brightly colored lights, sings, and feasts on traditional dishes while onboard. Those without a boat of their own can sit on the fondamentas and watch the spectacle from dry land. Make sure you arrive early to find a good view of the Basin!

After the fireworks, head to Blue Moon Beach on the Lido where there will be live music until dawn, with breakfast being served to all still awake at 6:00.Take advantage of the bridge on Sunday to attend one of the many masses held at the church, and then find a good perch canalside, because starting at 16:00 you can cheer on men, women, and children as they compete in the Regata del Redentore. Brightly colored racing gondolas rowed "Venetian-style" (standing up) vy to see who will cross the finish line first!

Finish the weekend with a mass at the church of the Redentore at 19:00, celebrated by Cardinal Patriarch Angelo Scola.

No comments: