Venice in the summer is hot. Not only is the temperature high but the locals and the tourists are very busy shopping, and sightseeing. The lagoon is filled with an orchestra of boats all masterfully weaving through the waters. The vessels run the gamut from gondolas to massive yachts to old-school wooden speed boats. But they all come together on one night in July for the Festa del Redentore, and what a festival it is!
The Festa del Redentore is an enormous celebration that has been going on since the late 1500s. It’s to commemorate the end of the plague. Can you imagine a party every year for the past 500 years? It’s when every boat that can float is on St. Mark’s Bay connected to one another. Everyone is happy, a little tipsy, and schmoozing until the fireworks begin at around 11:30 at night, and they are fireworks the likes of which I have never seen before. It’s like getting a front row seat to the World Series of fireworks.
Just imagine hundreds and hundreds of people on boats that are all linked together. Wine, cheese and delicious meats are being consumed. The laughter is everywhere as the revelers wait patiently for the festivities to begin. Like at the Macy’s Parade there is not an empty spot anywhere the eye can see. Then slowly the darkness descends on the crowd. First you feel the boom in the pit of your stomach, then the explosion of colors and designs are utterly breathtaking. You don’t realize it but you begin mouthing oohs and aahs like a chorus that has rehearsed the finale for the millionth time. This year the festival is the weekend of July 20, 2013.
Now here’s the trick. You can just take your friends, get a bottle of wine, and watch the show on the sidewalk. Don’t do it. It sounds painless but standing around waiting is torturous. The empty bottles and cigarette butts all around stop you from sitting and it gets disgusting. The best thing to do is to be in a boat. Go to a gondola stand as early as possible and pre-book your boat. It’s best if you have six people but if you don’t they’ll put you with other couples. It will probably cost around 50 euros each. If you happen to be in Venice in July you have got to see this!