Today is my favorite Venetian festival–Redentore. Though as I write this, it is almost midnight there, meaning that the festa is almost over. Usually the fireworks over the lagoon run till about midnight, but of course then there is the long aftermath of trying to get home through the crowded streets and canals. That takes at least an hour alone!
In case you don’t know Redentore, it’s always on the third Saturday in July and has been going on for about 500 years to celebrate the end of the Black Plague. Yes, they’re still happy that it’s over. Wouldn’t you be? It’s definitely a reason to celebrate! Venetians put out tables on their street or campo and pile them high with food. Friends, family, and neighbors gather to eat and drink. Lots of people decorate their boats or hire party boats that then drop anchor in the basin (the main lagoon area in front of Piazza San Marco). Many of the boats have their own thumpin sound systems (and often their own bucket toilets) for a many-hours-long party as the sun sinks. Once it’s full dark, the fireworks begin and then go on for an hour. Some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen. The last time I was in Venice for Redentore, our boat driver (we named him Boat Jesus on account of his hair) parked us so close under the fireworks that we got ash in our hair. It was so worth it.
For a Redentore many years ago, when I was there with friends Karen and Jan in our gondolier buddy Enrico’s motorboat, we made up a little Redentore song. It goes like this:
“We celebrate the end of the plague,
The end of the plague, the end of the plague,
We celebrate the end of the plague,
Thank you Holy Virgin Mary!”
At one point I made up a version in Italian, but I don’t remember it now. If I can find it in my journal, I’ll post it later.
Jan and I toasting to the end of the plague.