The weather has been hot (and humid) all week with Saturday’s high about 89+ F or 32 C. And the walk down Strada Nuova is like a walk in the desert. It cooled down a little before the fireworks at 9 ish, but the wait was all sun with just a slight breeze. This year there were more restrictions and reservations were required. For locals, they were free. Not quite sure how tourist were handled.
It was a disappointment for some of our Venetian friends as they tested positive for Covid last week and had to forfeit their places and they were perfectly located in Piazza San Marco. (Yes, Covid cases are quite high in Venice, not much of a surprise with the influx of summer tourist and dropping the requirement for a test or vaccine.) Fortunately, my friends are not suffering many symptoms….just annoyed at missing their favorite party of the year.
Preparations (for locals) began days ahead of time as you need to buy and prepare all the food for your picnic, especially if you are viewing from a boat since you have to load the boat before you leave. It is all classic Venetian food.
- Baccala mantecato – made from reconstituted dry salted cod, heavy cream, garlic & olive oil and served on top of slices of bread or polenta slices. You have to soak the cod in water for a couple of days to get it flakey and get the salt out of it.
- Sarde in saor – sardines in vinegar and onions, marinated for days ( I much prefer the gamberi, shrimp and usually can bribe someone to keep some fried out of the vinegar for me.)
- Risotto al nero di seppia – Risotto with the black ink from squid
- Other finger food served on bread.
The night was filled with colorful fireworks on a background that only Venice can paint with the changing colors.
There was also a set of fireworks paying tribute to the Ukranian town of Odesa. Aside from the best party in Venice of the whole year, we can’t forget that this celebration is for the end of the plague of 1576 which killed an estimated 50,000 people including the Venetian painter Tiziano Vecellio. The Doge Alvise Mocenigo promised to build a magnificent church if the plague ended. The Vicenza architect Andrea Palladio was commissioned to build the church on the island of Giudecca (across the basin from Piazza San Marco).
A small wooden church was built along with a temporary bridge of barges from the Zattere so that Doge Sebastiano Venier (the new Doge) could walk across in a procession to the church. Since that time, the Doge (and now the Mayor) has made this walk each year (obviously excluding the year of 2020 with the plague also known as COVID). After the bridge is opened Venetians walk over to pay their thanks for the end of the plague(s). The bridge is now built on pontoon floats and takes about 2 days for the well-trained crew to assemble. The walk is interesting as is walking up the ramp built in the floating bridge so that the vaporetti can pass under.
Until next year….. Venice Redentore 2022