Also this year Venice celebrates the Redeemer!

On July 18th, the third Saturday of the month, as per tradition, the lights of the most magical night are lit in the Lagoon. But this time, this feast will be more emblematic than ever, perhaps the most symbolic from that distant 1576, the one that seems to have more similarities with its origins, no longer just celebration, remembrance, but real request: in those years they sought the grace to Christ the Redeemer to defeat the plague, today the hearts and prayers of all ask for liberation from this common and invisible enemy that has brought us all to our knees. With great strength and tenacity we got up, we are still fighting, and this is why the City and the population strongly wanted the feast to be celebrated even in this terrible 2020: to start living again! The religious sense is combined with folklore and joy, and this year also the great desire to start again.

We are doing it and we will do it with civic sense and great responsibility, and this is why the most magical night in Venice will be different, but certainly no less empathic and full of charm!

But let's take a step back...

It was September 4, 1576 when the Senate of the Serenissima decreed that a majestic church consecrated to Christ the Redeemer was built as a votive offering to free Venice from the plague that had already killed about 50,000 people, a third of the city's population at the time. The first stone was laid on May 3, 1577 on the island of Giudecca. The project was supervised by the Paduan Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, better known by his pseudonym Palladio, at that time chief architect of the Republic, what today we would call a real archistar. We can say that the vote so much wanted by the Doge Alvise Mocenigo led to the hoped-for result: the end of the plague. So, in July of that year the first celebration of thanksgiving was held for what was still a church under construction, and since then, in memory of that day the celebrations will take place annually in the third week of the same month. And just as the Doge, the Patriarch and the Venetian people did in that distant year, the procession to the church takes place thanks to the construction of the votive bridge, a structure resting on boats as a link between the city (Fondamenta Zattere) and the Redeemer, on the waters of the Giudecca Canal.

Party 2020: a romantic and responsible Redeemer

As announced, the City of Venice has strongly wanted the feast of the Redeemer to see the light also in this 2020 marked by the Covid-19 emergency. What the Municipality wanted to transmit to its citizens and tourists is the desire to restart, to regain possession of the common spaces and the cultural and religious traditions linked to the territory. "We need to start living again, but we need to do it with responsibility and with all the necessary guarantees", these are the words of the mayor Luigi Brugnaro, and this is why the Redeemer has a great symbolic value in this 2020 because it is an opportunity to give a different message of positivity and hope, of that confidence in the future that we all tremendously need. Obviously, as the first citizen wanted to emphasize, the festivities will take place with the sense of responsibility that has always characterized Venice, therefore paying particular attention to the way the event will take place, ensuring the safety of everyone, Venetians and tourists. The suggestive votive bridge will be, as per tradition, the setting for the inauguration of the celebrations on Friday 17th July (!!!) attended by the Mayor, the Patriarch, Francesco Moraglia and the main city authorities, and which will start the liturgical functions. Not only the bridge to emphasize the connection between the mainland and the island, but also the typical illuminations, lit from Saturday, July 18, which will adorn the Fondamenta delle Zattere and Giudecca, creating a continuum between land and sea in a wonderful play of light and shadow, that only Venice can give. Also on Saturday evening, music will invade the entire Grand Canal thanks to the "cool nights" that will spread different types of music, to please everyone, in a path that will start from the train station of Santa Lucia, arriving then to Punta della Dogana and Giudecca. The musical evening will continue, thanks to the collaboration of the exhibitors who will make available the stalls of their premises to offer music and concerts. On Sunday 19th July there will be the traditional Venetian rowing regattas, in which adults and very young people will compete in their respective categories to win the podium, giving the spectators an exciting show. There will be the typical tables on the banks of the Giudecca, during which, in a spirit of conviviality will be eaten typical dishes of the festival such as pasta and fasioi, sardines in saor, bigoli in sauce, bovoleti, stuffed duck and the inevitable watermelon, all washed down with the classic shadows de vin and icy spritz! The magical night of the Redeemer by tradition ends at dawn on Sunday with a swim in the cool waters of the Lido, and I'm sure that this year too there will be no lack of patrons!

The only missing element of this Redeemer 2020 will be the fireworks that, although among the most beautiful and expected in the world, would have caused excessive crowds. The mayor, in the press conference held on July 9, apologized to the citizens taking responsibility for his decision, calling it a choice of conscience, first of all. It is right, however, to underline that, despite the fireworks display has always represented a fundamental aspect of the Redeemer, also this edition, despite this substantial lack, will be able to give in these three days, beyond the religious aspect, carefree and serenity as well as an opportunity to experience the magic of Venice.

It is precisely this absence that will make the Redentore 2020 less scenic, but more intimate, warm, romantic. As always, not to be missed!

The church: the temple of Palladio and all Venetians

The Church of the Holy Redeemer (here), conceived by Palladio according to classical architecture canons, manifests itself to the observer as a temple rising from the waters of the Giudecca Canal. The elements that immediately catch the eye are the steep staircase and the majestic white marble façade, in which the constituent elements such as the tympanums, columns and statues are skilfully positioned by Palladio, showing the typical rigour of the classical style, but also creating a certain modernity through the dynamism obtained by the superimposition of sequence plans. As with the temples of antiquity, the Redeemer was born of a specific need: to welcome a multitude of people gathered to thank God on the day of the celebration of the end of the plague. Therefore, for Palladio, the structure of the building is defined by the purpose for which it was designed, not the other way around.
The interior of the structure is deliberately very simple: no marble or decorations, but smooth surfaces and a central nave along which, on both sides, three chapels are placed. The element that is the master in this splendid context, in its symbolic simplicity, is light. What drove Palladio to opt for this essential style was the will of the Franciscan friars, the "hosts" of the church once completed, who requested a composition aimed at simplicity and humility, which had always been their creed, in which only the magnificent presentation of Christ the Redeemer could dominate. Even if in small numbers, the church is a treasure chest for interesting works of art, such as those of Domenico Tintoretto, Palma il Giovane, Paolo Veronese, Francesco Bassano, Pietro della Vecchia, Alvise Vivarini.

Redeemer 2020: the programme

The municipal administration, in agreement with the President of the Region, Luca Zaia, has assured that the celebration will follow the anti-Covid directives, just to ensure the safety of participants, as announced by the first citizen Brugnaro.
It will be possible to organize the traditional outdoor tables to dine on the banks, but it will be essential to reserve seats, and is the exclusive prerogative of the residents in the historic center. The maximum number of participants allowed for each group will be 18 people and the various tables must be at least 1 meter away. Each table must have a hydro-alcoholic solution for hand disinfection and will have to use biodegradable tableware for a plastic-free party.
For the booking form click here.
Provisions also for those who choose to enjoy the festival from the waters of the Basin San Marco and the Giudecca Canal: it is absolutely forbidden to moor 2 or more boats together. Boats must keep a distance of at least 1 meter between them. The number of participants on board each boat must be reduced in order to guarantee an appropriate distance: for this reason we rely on the discretion and responsibility of the individual captains of the boats.

The Redeemer 2020 programme:

Friday 17th July

  • From 8:30 p.m. Opening of the votive bridge (open until midnight on Sunday, July 19).

Saturday 18th July

  • Lighting along the banks of the Rafts and Giudecca
  • From 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Itinerant music on the Grand Canal, San Marco Basin, Zattere and Giudecca

Sunday 19th July

Start of the regattas (the route runs along the Giudecca Canal)

  • 4:00 p.m. regatta on pupparini to two oars of guys
  • 4:45 p.m. regatta on pupparini with two oars
  • 5:30 p.m. two oar gondolas race
  • 7:00 p.m. Votive Holy Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer

Note: From Friday evening until Sunday will be active the substitutive line of the Ferry San Nicolò - Punta Sabbioni and in extraordinary way both on Saturday and Sunday, with two runs on the outward and two afternoons on the return, will be made an extraordinary ferry from Tronchetto, along the Vittorio Emanuele, to Alberoni, reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.