Regate del Redentore
Traditional Festival in Venice
It is one of the oldest popular celebrations of Venice. It takes place every year on the third Sunday of July and it is the Venetians’ favourite celebration. Following a 400-year-old tradition, they gather in the San Marco Basin to watch and await the midnight fireworks. According to history, after a terrible plague lasted three years, the Doge Sebastiano Venier kept the vow made by his predecessor Alvise Mocenigo to build on the Giudecca island a thanksgiving temple to the “Redentore” (the Redeemer). The job was entrusted to Palladio who laid the first stone in 1579. The church was consecrated in 1592. On the 21st of July 1578, an open-air altar with ciborium was built where the temple was to be erected and in four days a bridge made of eighty galleys was created through the Giudecca Canal. A huge crowd of Venetians who had escaped the terrible epidemic crossed it aware that all mourning and misfortunes were over at last.
When the temple was built, the Doge decided that the third Sunday of July would be devoted to the pilgrimage. Soon people, lest they wouldn’t find a place from which to watch the ceremony, started to arrive there the night before, spend there the whole night and wait for the rise to rise in Lido. Although more than four centuries have passed since the celebration was first introduced, it continues to take place in the same places and in the same way. Indeed the city is still connected to Giudecca by a bridge built on modern floating platforms.
Its character of popular celebration has remained unaltered: Venetians are the real protagonists, with their exquisitely prepared boats, rooftop loggias, terraces and small squares (campielli) lit up by thousands of lights. Every year about 1500 boats gather in the San Marco basin, and about 30,000 people (both from the water and from the banks) attend the celebration which reaches its climax at about midnight with the fireworks being launched from various points on barges scattered along a 400-meter front between the San Marco basin and the Giudecca Canal Since 1978 fireworks are accompanied by music and are unanimously considered to be among the best in the world. When the show is over, the boats head towards Lido where, following the tradition, they wait for the sun to rise. The following Sunday is dedicated to the religious celebrations of thanksgiving and to sports competitions consisting in a regatta of young rowers on pupparini (fast boats that used to be employed for maritime surveillance) and a regatta of champion rowers on tworow gondolas.