Summer in Venice is known for two things: being hot and crowded. But even with the sometimes frustrating conditions, summer is also the best time to catch some amazing festivals and to visit the not-so-touristy areas of the city.
Our favorite event by far is the Redentore festival, held in the city since the 16th century to celebrate the end of the plague. It happens every July on the third Saturday and Sunday of the month.
If you’re in town during this time, prepare yourself, as it is a huge celebration in Venice — an event for which they close the Giudecca Canal to big boats, and only small boats (row or motorboats) are allowed on the water. Even public transportation routes and schedules are altered.
Redentore takes place mainly on the water and on Giudecca Island, and it’s therefore a great opportunity to explore the island before the party gets going in the late afternoon.
Start in the morning with a coffee while overlooking the water at La Palanca. Besides offering a dramatic view on the other side of the Giudecca Canal and St. Mark’s Basin, its owner Andrea is a local with a passion for cooking and a great sense of humour. Look inside his bar, and you’ll see a very long list of all the types of spritz (our official cocktail) that people have ordered from him so far…want to have yours added to the list?
Spend the rest of the morning strolling around the island and watch people preparing for the evening. You will see tables and chairs being set up on the streets, decorated boats moored along the canal, and small stalls selling candies being put up for the evening.
If you’re feeling creative, visit one of the many galleries on the island. For those into photography, we are very much in love with Galleria Ai Tre Oci; it is now hosting an interesting exhibition about the photographer La Chapelle.
If you fancy lunch on the island, there are plenty of choices, from the very glamorous and stylish Cips at the Cipriani Hotel, to traditional Venetian cuisine at Le Botti, to the historical terrace at L’Altanella.
By half afternoon the island will get busier and busier, which means it’s time to start thinking about where to spend the evening — and where to view the fireworks display. That’s because the real star of the festival is not the temporary wooden bridge across the Giudecca Canal, but the spectacular hour-long fireworks show.
You have multiple choices on the island for a prime viewing spot. Book a table in one of the many restaurants along the riverside, such as Cacciatori, or on the beautiful terrace of the Hilton hotel. You can also do like all the locals do and grab something to eat and a place to sit (possibly by Le Zitelle church), and sit and enjoy the show out in the open. (It runs until 11:30pm.)
Want to feel like a local and finish the festival in perfect Venetian style? After the show, jump on a vaporetto to Lido and spend the rest of the night by the beach — an authentic and amazing experience!
You’ll start your Venice boat tour at the Rialto Fish Market pier, in the oldest area of Venice, right in the heart of the city. From there, we’ll climb into an oh-so-stylish Venetian taxi boat that will take us along the Grand Canal, crossing beneath that famous Rialto Bridge – a must for anyone who wants that classic Venice view.