Redentore means "Redeemer" in Italian, and the Festa del Redentore Venice is in celebration of the city's deliverance from the ravages of the plague in 1577. The Venice Redentore Festival is held on the third Saturday and Sunday of July. A grand secular celebration with festive dinners and fireworks occurs on Saturday evening. Sunday is reserved for religious observances, including High Mass at the Redentore Church and in afternoon regattas in the lagoon.
Redentore History and Facts
The Redentore 2016 celebrations are concentrated in the area around the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore (Church of the Most Holy Redeemer) that was built to give thanks for the end of the plague. More than 50,000 people died from the plague, including the great artist Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), who is believed to be the only plague victim afforded a church burial. The church was built by famed Venetian architect Andrea Palladio and is today one of the finest existing examples of Palladian architecture. It is believed the disease was brought to the city by flea-infested mice hitchhiking on ships from the Orient. It seems likely that it was the mousing prowess of cats imported from Syria that ultimately brought the plague to an end. A temporary pontoon bridge was built linking the Doge's Palace to the church, so that the Doge could lead a procession from his palace to the church to give thanks. The Venice Redentore Festival has occurred ever since.
Redentore Locations and Tickets
The center of Festa del Redentore Venice religious observances is the church, which is located on Giudecca Island across the Venice Lagoon from the main part of the city and less than a mile from Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square). However, the biggest public spectacle occurs over the water between St Marks Square and Giudecca Island. Once again a temporary pontoon bridge is laid across the lagoon from the wide waterside promenade of Zattere on Dorsoduro Island, and late Saturday evening fireworks are set off from the bridge. The fireworks generally begin around 11:00 p.m. There are no tickets for this, and the fiery spectacle can be viewed for free from all over Venice.
The best seats in the house to view the Venice Redentore Festival fireworks are those found on boats or waterfront restaurants. Prior to the fireworks, the entire city generally celebrates with late festive dinners. Getting reservations for dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants is quite difficult. Make your plans far in advance or book Venice vacation packages that include dinner at a prime restaurant for that evening. Prior to the fireworks, festively decorated boats of all descriptions begin to fill the lagoon—gondolas and sailing ships, motor yachts and excursion boats, water taxis and almost any craft that floats. These are primarily the tourist boats that spend their days and evenings cruising the city's waters. Many of these specialize in dinner cruises, and getting a reservation on one of them for the festivities is as difficult as booking a restaurant dinner. Start making your plans far in advance, and expect to pay a premium. After the fireworks, the boats make their way through the city to the beaches, especially Lido Beach home of the Venice Film Festival, where they await the sunrise.
Venice hotels near the Festa del Redentore Venice main sites are plentiful and varied. Just as with restaurants and boats, plan to pay a premium and begin your arrangements far in advance for the best locations. In the five-star category, you can try the Hotel Cipriani and Palazzo Vendramin on Guidecca Island. Like many properties, it is located in a sixteenth-century palace. Be sure to book rooms facing Piazza San Marco for magnificent views of the Basilica San Marco, and you'll be able to watch the fireworks from the comfort of your room. The hotel also has its own fleet of water taxis that will be in full use on the Saturday night of the festival. There are a couple dozen St Mark's Square hotels should you desire to be in that area. There are also many vacation rentals that generally fall in the category of posh luxury apartments.
If these are a bit out of your budget, you can find cheap Venice hostels and numerous more modest properties throughout the city. The Venice YHA Hostel on Guidecca Island is directly across the lagoon from St Marks Square at Fondamenta Zitelle 86; use vaporetto lines 41, 42, and 2.
Top image: Hotel Cipriani