Apparently the front portico of the Salute church is only opened on November 21. So we climbed the stairs and entered the church through the exclusive portico. A thrill that wore off quickly.
Actually, it was pretty interesting to see the church on the feast day. The locals were there in force, buying candles by the armful. Upon entering the church the scene was chaos. About six different masses were being held at different altars. Not used to seeing a European church filled to the gills with actual worshippers. Afterwards we joined the crowds in enjoying the street fair.
As part of the Redentore Festival there is the regatta, or boat race on the Giudecca Canal. The morning of the regatta we went to mass and then outisde to la Pesca per la Benificenza (raffle to benefit the church). There were some valuable prizes, and my mom actually won a small Murano chandelier.
All I won was a sponge. :-((
Palladio designed the church of the Redentore, which is located on the island of Giudecca. It was built in thanksgiving for ending the plague of 1576, which wiped out one-third of the city's population. Every year since it was built the Doge would visit this church, crossing on a bridge made of pontoon boats. Today the festival is held every third week in July, with fireworks, a regatta, and the locals celebrate by cooking and bringing their food and furniture outside, where they eat and drink the night away by the side of the canal. The pontoon bridge is still built, and it is the only time when you can cross the canal on foot from the Zattere to the island of Giudecca.
By luck we were present on November 21 which seemed to be a fairly major feast day in the city. It centered around the Chiesa della Salute. After visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection we headed over to the Salute church. Once we got mixed up in the crowds in the narrow alleyways and bridges it was impossible to extricate ourselves. So we allowed ourselves to be swept away in the flow of humanity. It was kind of fun to have no control over the direction we were going--we were eventually dumped in the vicinity of the Acadamie Bridge.
These dedicated rowers train for the upcoming competitions. I think the biggest and most important are during Carnival. This training session was on a Thursday morning of a feast day and therefore they probably had the day off from work. Have to admire their dedication of straining at the oars during a holiday--myself, I'd probably be at the cafes.