The Festa della Salute is probably the least "touristy" of the Venetian festivities and evokes strong religious feelings among the city's inhabitants.The holiday is, like the Redentore, in memory of another bout of pestilence, which lasted for two years from 1630-31, and the subsequent vow by the Doge to obtain the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Even today, thousands of inhabitants visit the main altar of the imposing Salute Church on November 21 to give thanks, and a strong symbolic tie remains between the city and the Virgin Mary.
The "Festa della Salute" today
- A magic atmosphere
Those who are in Venice on the day of the Salute can experience a sincere and heart-felt atmosphere that is religious without being bigoted and is closely connected to the history and tradition of the city.Lengthy queues of people crossing the votive bridge and reaching the majestic Church of the Salute on November 21 bear witness to the city's intense relationship with the Madonna to this day.
- The votive bridge
Every year for the Salute, a temporary bridge is built on boats crossing the Grand Canal, connecting the area of San Moisè and S. Maria del Giglio (in the Saint Mark neighbourhood) with Longhena's basilica (in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood). Tens of thousands of people make the pilgrimage to pay homage to the Madonna and to light a candle asking her to keep them in good health.
- Between the sacred and the profane
Even nowadays the festivities surrounding the Salute offer a mixture of emotions: on the one hand is the sincere religious sentiment and on the other is the more secular and playful side. The procession of believers lighting candles to the Madonna passes stalls selling sweets, coloured balloons and toys: the two aspects of the festivity are thus perfectly entwined.