We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Festa del Redentore- 2016

Ciao, tutti!

It's summer, it's hot, and it's festa time. We've had the Festa di San Antonio at San Francesco della Vigna, followed by the Festa di San Pietro at San Pietro di Castello, and coming up this week is the Festa di Beneficenza at the Church of San Giacomo dell'Orio. All big deals every summer, and if you are here in Venice, these are events not to be missed. But... the best of the best is coming up this weekend, Festa del Redentore, otherwise more commonly referred to as simply Redentore.

What's Redentore?

Festa del Redentore 2016 Venice fireworks
Redentore fireworks!

Redentore is a hugely important event for all Venetians.  It's a weekend-long festival that has been held each year since the Church of the Redentore was opened after the horrible plague of 1576.   Remembering the end of the plague when over 50,000 Venetians lost their lives, Venetians make a pilgrimage over a special bridge crossing the Giudecca canal to attend mass. In the early years, they crossed the canal over boats that were lashed together. In modern times,  city engineers construct a temporary pontoon bridge thousands walk across during the weekend. And today, Redentore is the biggest party in town.

Festa del Redentore Venice Redentore church
Crossing the Giudecca canal on the special pontoon bridge

The temporary bridge is floated down the canal in sections about a week before the event begins, and during the week it is placed into position. The other day as I was passing by on the vaporetto I could see portions of the bridge being worked on already.

Festa del Redentore Redentore church Venice
Beginning the Redentore pontoon bridge construction

It's not only the bridge construction that has started early. It seems everyone is abuzz over Redentore. Where are you eating, who are you eating with, what are you bringing? The anticipation for Saturday night's events is running high.  In addition to going to mass at Redentore on that Saturday evening, it's also a tradition that you eat your dinner canal side with family and friends while you wait for the midnight fireworks to begin. Every conceivable square centimeter of land on both sides of the Giudecca and from St. Mark's all the way down to my neighborhood in Sant'Elena are occupied by tables full of Venetians eating, drinking and celebrating.

Reservations required

Yesterday I noticed the first of the reserved spots in place along the Fondamenta by Via Garibaldi.  
You can make reservations ($$$) for a place on a big party boat to drink and dance all night  out in the lagoon to watch the fireworks . You can make a reservation ($$) at many of the rooftop bars for a good viewing post (Hilton, Danieli, Gritti Palace for example).  Or, you can do what the locals do and take your duct tape or masking tape down to the fondamenta and stake out your own space. Reservation = free!  

Festa del Redentore Venice 2016 Fireworks
The masking tape reservation 

Festa del Redentore Venice Fireworks
Choice location near the waterfront reserved!

By Thursday night there won't be any space left that hasn't been put on hold using the tape method. My student Francesco described how he and his friends handle reserving their spot. They go out on Thursday to mark the location. All day Saturday they take 1 hr shifts standing guard to ensure no one else rips up their tape to take the spot over for themselves.  Sorry, I just can't imagine doing guard duty on my Redentore space. But, you gotta do what you gotta do,  I suppose.

This year once again Mike and I will be joining several Lioness families canal side near Via Garibaldi. We're honored and overjoyed to be included. The eating will commence around 7 pm, with course after course after course of delicious local specialties such as stuffed duck breast, sarde and soar (sardines marinated in onions), bovoletti ( tiny snails),  and grilled orata to name just a few. Eating wraps up just about the time the fireworks start, and we're almost too stuffed to waddle back home afterward.

What am I bringing?  Watermelon (anguria) and a cake.

Have you been to Redentore ?  I know summer is a very crowded time here in Venice, but if you have not had the opportunity to experience Redentore, it's worth putting on your list. It's the best fireworks I've ever seen in my life. Italians do several things really well, and fireworks are one of them.

Redentore - right from your own home

You too can enjoy the spectacular Redentore fireworks right along with all of us on Saturday night. Remember, they will begin at midnight, Venice time.

Click here to view live webcam St. Mark's waterfront

P.S.  You might also want to check out my blog "How to enjoy Redentore like a local" for some great insider tips. This blog contains one of my favorite  photos of Redentore from back in the days when the boats were used to cross the canal. Don't miss that one!
Click here to read.

Happy Festa del Redentore, amici!


Janine Foxall said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, i am learning Italian at the moment and have just booked a trip to Venice in December. I all be being my mother for her first visit and look forward to seeing more of Venice through your posts x

Janine Foxall said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
karen said...


Thanks so much for reading and shaing in my adventures! Feel free to email me kmc207@gmail.com about your Dec trip.

Michelle said...

I will be with you in spirit....watching via the webcam just like I did last year. It would be great if that one had sound the way several of the others do.

karen said...

Michelle- Not sure you'd want sound from Redentore, the noise coming off the party boats can be deafening! And they fill the lagoon and molo. But the fireworks should be just as spectacular via webcam. Buona festa!

Dianne said...

Hi -- I miss not being in Venice this year. Maybe next year. Just one question -- I suppose that the Giudecca canal is closed to boat traffic during the weekend of the Redentore.

karen said...

Hi Diane! Venice will miss you too this year.

Great question. Actually, Giudecca canal is closed to vaporetto traffic during the fireworks portion of Saturday night. The Spirito Santo vaporetto stop, the one closest to the votive bridge, is closed from July 4 to July 29. The vaporettos are still able to go under the temporary bridge.

Cruise ships are not allowed up the Giudecca Saturday and Sunday because they can't get under the temporary bridge. The last span is put in place Saturday afternoon, then the bridge is opened to foot traffic on Saturday at 7pm. It stays open until sometime Sunday evening, then the middle span of the bridge is taken out and pulled away by barges, the canal is reopened to cruise ships on Monday.

I'm hopeful I'll be able to get some good video of Saturday and Sunday with my new GoPro. Crossing my fingers!