The Festa del Redentore (Celebration of the Redeemer), which takes place every year during the third weekend of July, is both a spectacular celebration and a very moving, traditional religious event, and definitely right up there, with the Venice Carnival, as a great Venetian experience! Its origins go back to the 16th Century, and the terrible plague of 1576, which killed 50,000 people, including the famous Venetian painter, Titian. To give thanks for the ending of the Plague, the Doge, Alvise I Mocenigo, promised to build a magnificent church, and commissioned the famous architect, Andrea Palladio, to oversee this. The result, Il Redentore, on the island of Giudecca, is one of the most important examples of Palladian religious architecture . To allow for direct access to the Redentore during the festival, a very impressive temporary bridge is created from a connected flotilla of boats, 330 metres long, right across the Giudecca Canal, from Zattere to Il Redentore. This enables local Venetians, religious dignitaries and visitors to easily access the Redentore basilica, to take part in religious celebrations, and also see the Saturday night firework display from the island. Traditionally the inhabitants enjoy a celebratory dinner at long tables along the banks on both sides of the Giudecca Canal. Preparations for the celebrations and the mounting excitement are well underway by early evening on Saturday, when hundreds of small boats, all decorated with balloons and brightly coloured lanterns, begin to fill up the St Marks basin and Giudecca Canal, waiting for the firework display. Moored alongside each other, there is a great party atmosphere as the participants enjoy drinks and dinner on board, entertained by other floating vessels with music and DJs. As a visitor, by far the most exciting way to enjoy the evening, and ensure a front row position, is to hire a gondola. For around 60 – 70 per person (glass of prosecco included!), you can enjoy over an hour on the canal for the duration of the firework display. It is essential to pre-book, and best if you have a group of six people, although you can share with other people. At around 11.30 pm, from pontoons placed near the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the fireworks begin and the whole area between San Marco and Giudecca, for over an hour, becomes one of the most spectacular stages in the world! Programme of events Saturday 20th July 2013 19.00 Opening of the votive bridge that connects the boats to Giudecca and the Redentore Church. 23.30 Fireworks in the San Marco basin Sunday 21st July July 2013 17.30 Regattas of the Redeemer on the Giudecca Canal with rowing boats and gondolas, including a childrens twin-oared pupparini regatta, and a twin-oared gondola regatta. 19.00 Votive Mass at the Church of the Redeemer (Redentore) on the island of Giudecca. Susie Marquis is Owner of The City Apartment Book Ltd. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.
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