Festa Del Redentore History
What began as a feast to give thanks to the end of a terrible epidemic has transformed into one of the world’s most renowned fireworks displays. During the plague of 1576 that took the lives of 50,000 Venetians, the Doge Alvise I Mocenigo pledged to construct a magnificent church dedicated to Christ the Redeemer as an offering and plea to end the plague.
During construction of the Church of the Redeemer (Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore), a small wooden church was established temporarily, with a floating bridge connecting it to the Zattere promenade, so the Doge could walk in procession. This became a yearly pilgrimage and the Festa del Redentore was born.
Today's Festa Del Redentore
The modern festival retains its religious roots with services on Saturday and Sunday, but also includes a spectacular fireworks show and gondola regatta. Each year the Ponte Votivo (votive bridge) bridge is reconstructed over the Giudecca Canal between the Zattere and the Church of Il Redentore. After a special procession and church service, decorated boats packed with excited locals begin to fill St. Mark’s Basin in anticipation of the dazzling fireworks display. With music and singing from those on the water and on shore, it’s a lively night full of joy and excitement. Around 11:30pm, you’ll witness nearly an hour of awe-inspiring fireworks framed by St. Mark’s and reflected in the waters of Venice’s canals.
This iconic Venetian festival is loved by locals and offers unique insight into local life. After the fireworks display, Venetians will voice their opinions of the show, with loud cheers erupting from the revelers on shore and on boats in the canal. On Sunday afternoon, after recovering from the previous night’s festivities, locals gather along the canals again for the Regata del Redentore. These brightly painted gondolas are rowed in true Venetian style with two standing oarsmen. Grab a seat at a seaside bar or café along Giudecca’s Fondamente and soak in the sights and sounds of this classic boat race.