The Festa del Redentore (Redentore Festival), which has been held for more than four centuries, is one of the most significant celebrations for Venetians. Established as a sign of gratitude for the end of the terrible plague epidemic of 1576-1577, it is a religious and popular festival steeped in tradition and history. In addition to residents, it attracts thousands of tourists, to whom it offers a special opportunity to immerse themselves in Venetian culture.

History and Interesting Facts About the Redentore Festival

The history of the Redentore Festival dates back to July 20, 1577, and has since become an annual tradition held during the third weekend of July. In that year, the Venetian Senate decided to build the Church of the Redentore to honor the end of the plague epidemic that struck Venice between 1575 and 1577 and claimed the lives of about 50,000 people, one-third of the city’s population.

Initially, the Serenissima hesitated to acknowledge the extent of the scourge to avoid showing its vulnerability. However, it later took decisive measures to isolate the sick and fight the spread of the disease. People suspected of having the plague were transported to the Lazzaretto Nuovo (an island of the Venetian Lagoon), and if the contagion was confirmed, they were transferred to the Lazzaretto Vecchio (another island of the Venetian Lagoon). In order to purify the air and counter the spread of the disease, fires were lit throughout the city using juniper wood, in accordance with the medical beliefs of the time.

Gondola-Dogaressa-con-velluti-veneziani | Tessitura Bevilacqua

The Basilica del Redentore – Venice

The design of the church dedicated to Christ the Redeemer was entrusted to Andrea Palladio, one of the most renowned architects of the time. The foundation stone of the church (located on the Giudecca Island) was laid on May 3, 1577, and to celebrate the end of the plague, a pontoon bridge was built to reach the site of the Basilica.

Even today, on this occasion, a votive bridge is set up between the Zattere (an area of the city of Venice), close to the church of Santo Spirito, and the island of Giudecca, allowing the worshippers to access the Basilica of the Redentore on foot.

In addition to the religious aspect, the festival is characterized by traditions rooted in Venetian culture. During the night between Saturday and Sunday, in fact, Venetians celebrate aboard boats, enjoying typical local dishes and admiring the fireworks show in St. Mark’s Basin.

But there is another aspect of the Redentore Festival that ignites and excites Venetians and tourists alike: the Redentore Regattas.

The Redentore Regattas in the Giudecca Canal

The Redentore Regattas in the Giudecca Canal represent one of the most engaging and spectacular aspects of the Redentore Festival. They are a series of spectacular rowing races that take place in the waters of the Giudecca Canal, offering a breathtaking view and creating a unique festive atmosphere.

They involve a number of traditional Venetian boats, including the so-called “pupparini,” with two oars, and the better-known gondolas, such as the famous “Dogaressa,” which sports the velvets of our Tessitura.

Gondola-Dogaressa-con-velluti-veneziani | Tessitura Bevilacqua

The Dogaressa Gondola with Bevilacqua’s Fabrics

Both professional and amateur rowers from various local teams and associations participate in the Redentore Regattas, resulting in heated competition that pushes rowers to the limits of their abilities. All crews feature different colors that allow spectators, Venetian-style rowing enthusiasts and tourists alike, to follow the race more easily.

Rowing has always been an integral part of lagoon life and the daily activities of Venetians, and the Redentore Regattas recall the essence of Venice’s maritime tradition by offering a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the cultural richness of Venice, discovering its resilience, beauty and artistic legacy.

Cover photo: The Redentore Procession - oil on canvas - Heintz Joseph the Younger (1650)
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