A FIREWORK SPECTACULAR
Venice is famed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and who are we to disagree. Built on an archipelago (a cluster) of small islands, which are all joined together by bridges; Venice is a real tourist hotspot. The resplendent buildings in the old town, many of which are in desperate need of repair; still have a desirable beauty as well as offering a huge amount of character to this beautiful romantic city. Sadly, romance wasn’t on the cards and our day trip to Venice was with a purpose. That purpose, to experience one of the biggest firework displays in Europe, the Festa del Redentore (Feast of the Redeemer).
Knowing that the Festa del Redentore firework display didn’t begin or end until late, we chose to drive. Venice isn’t your typical city to take a car. The heart of Venice has no roads, just 170 canals with the main mode of transport being a Vaporetti (water bus). On the outskirts of Venice we parked at the multi-storey Venezia Tronchetta car park which is open 24 hours. The car park was a short 2 minute walk away from Tronchetto per Piazza San Marco, where we needed to board a vaporetti to get to Piazza San Marco. Matilda and Lily-Belle became our tour guides and were in charge of the map. On board the vaporetti, Matilda was concerned that the person who tied/untied the boat couldn’t tie a knot properly.
LET’S PRETEND TO BE SARDINES
Early afternoon and the weather in Venice was exceptionally hot. Of course we had dressed accordingly in t-shirts, shorts, flip-flops and hats for the girls. Little did we know that there was a huge storm on the horizon! The water bus was packed and rather uncomfortable. At least we now know what it must feel like to be a sardine. Thankfully the journey along the Grand Canal only took around 20-30 minutes. Cruising along is a great way to see the iconic buildings that line both sides of the Grand Canal. Sat on a boat in the middle of the busy canal would also be a great way to see the fireworks of the Festa del Redentore. If you listen carefully you may even hear a Gondolier sing as he navigates the inner canals!
The vaporetti docked at San Marco and we had quite a few hours to wander before the Festa del Redentore began. Piazza San Marco or St. Marks Square as it’s known to many tourists; was just around the corner so this was our first port of call. There are literally thousands of pigeons! Immediately upon entering the square we were mobbed by men trying to place bird seed into our hands. And just so you know. the ‘seed sellers’ are quick! The ‘sellers’ target the children and once the little ones have seed in their hand, and pigeons flapping around them; they demand €5.00 from you. If you don’t pay, they follow you and harass you. Sorry, but I take no harassment from anyone and the ‘seed seller’ was told in no uncertain terms where to go. Blink…the man had disappeared!
WHEN IN ROME
You’ve all heard of the phrase ‘when in Rome’…right? Well, when in Venice we always start with a Gelato from a small shop located in Piazza San Marco. Eating ice-cream and listening to the bands play relaxes the mind and soul…that is until the children start squabbling over nothing! Matilda was fascinated with a pigeon wing lay on the ground (no pigeon, just a wing). She stood in silence looking at the wing and licking her ice-cream! I wanted to ask her what she was thinking but was concerned at the answer she might give. I decided to leave well alone! Definitely a strange little monkey at times! Time to explore the quaint back streets as we took in the splendour of Venice and waited for the Festa del Redentore to commence. Lots of iconic buildings at Piazzo San Marco and all the girls wanted to do was stroke a dog!
ALWAYS CHECK THE WEATHER
Evening was drawing in, as were the clouds; as we took our seats to dine al fresco at Le Café in one of Venice’s many piazza’s. The square was lively as tourists took in the sites and locals went about their daily business. It didn’t take Lily-Belle and Matilda long to tuck in to the complimentary breadsticks. As the food arrived, so did the odd spit of rain,, but not enough for us to retreat indoors! Our regular readers will know that Mummy is the ‘organiser’ of our holidays and trips. Casually, I asked Mummy if she had checked the weather forecast prior to leaving Marina Julia Camping Village. I certainly didn’t recall seeing any umbrella’s, raincoats or wet-weather gear being packed. No..she hadn’t! Diners became more and more agitated as they looked towards the darkening sky…rain (lots of) was imminent!
READ ALL ABOUT OUR HOLIDAY AT MARINA JULIA CAMPING VILLAGE
STROLLING THE SIDE STREETS
After dinner we took a gentle stroll around Venice to walk off the fantastic feed. Crowds were beginning to gather and we could see that many were walking in the general direction of where the fireworks would commence from. Did we follow? No! Mummy had other ideas and reckoned she had found a shortcut on the map. Wrong! Mummy led us along narrow streets, over bridges and down ominous dark alleys. I’m fairly certain that we ended up in someones garden at one point! Back to the map, follow the hoards and then it happened…pitter-patter rain drops!
Pitter-patter rain drops quickly turned into a solid downpour, each droplet the size of a pear-drop. Noah’s Ark would have been a very welcome sight at this point! We were absolutely soaked to the skin in less than 60 seconds! It’s actually quite funny, as the souvenir shops that were selling trinkets and novelties soon had umbrella’s, poncho’s and rain mac’s for sale…at hugely inflated prices! Tighter than a duck’s bum, Mummy ushered us all by in search of a sheltered spot…a spot that didn’t come! I began to wonder if the Festa del Redentore would be a complete washout? Guess what? No photos! In all honesty we were more concerned in trying to find shelter than in taking pics. Here’s a picture of the famous and splendid stone-arch Rialto Bridge which spans the narrowest point of the Grand Canal. Taken earlier in the day before the rain came.
In the midst of the wet chaos one of Mummy’s flip-flops snapped! There was no time for shoe shopping so she had to make do with a less-than-adequate flapping flip-flop! I’m glad it was raining because it hid the tears of laughter that rolled down my cheeks…too funny! Lily-Belle said Mummy was walking like a penguin with a broken leg. Sort of like locking the stable door after the horse had bolted, I took charge and we splashed our way back to the shop. Pink poncho’s purchased for the girls and a rather large umbrella for Daddy. Anyone else think these poncho’s look like big pink condoms? Just me then!
FIREWORKS AND FRAYED TEMPERS
Mummy had researched the best vantage point to see the fireworks at Festa del Redentore. What Mummy hadn’t taken into consideration was that every other tourist in Venice wanted that same vantage point. Planning went out of the window as we were dragged along by the surging crowd. The majority of streets had been closed by the Polizia due to the sheer volume of pedestrians wanting to see the fireworks. One final bridge before our vantage point and lo-and-behold it was closed and guarded by a number of Polizia. Mummy chatted with one of the Ufficiale’s to see if he would allow us through, he wouldn’t! The chap also advised that the Festa del Redentore might not go ahead due to the torrential rain! The girls were cold, Daddy was soaked and Mummy was still in tourist mode…tempers were getting frayed! And Mummy still had a flapping flip-flop!
FINALLY, FIREWORKS IN THE NIGHT SKY
Although we didn’t get to the pre-planned vantage point, we did manage to find a place to view the Festa del Redentore fireworks. Right beside the Vaporetti dock which we needed to use to get back to the car park. Thankfully the rain stopped and the night sky was now illuminated with fireworks. Boats bobbed up and down on the water as tourists tried to get the best viewing point. Flashes of reds, explosions of greens and blues, and each sparkle accompanied by ‘ooh’s and aah’s‘ from the crowd. Spectacular and the 45 minute display was well worth the soaking; even if it meant we’d all have pneumonia in the morning! Just to add, the journey from Marina Julia Camping Village to Venice took around 90 mins, but the return journey took over 5 hours due to roadworks and detours…nightmare! Enjoy the show!
WOULD WE GO BACK
Yes. Although we have been to Venice twice we have only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. We still haven’t managed to take a Gondola ride but it isn’t for want of trying. Yet again the weather was against us. The next time we visit will be for a 48 hour city break to take in the sights and a gondola tour of the inner canals.
LILY-BELLE SAYS (9)
I really enjoyed Venice and watching the fireworks of the Festa del Redentore. Having the pigeons eat from my hand was fun, until Daddy put seed in my hair…idiot! Me and Daddy couldn’t stop laughing when Mummy’s flip-flop snapped, it was so funny watching Mummy run like a penguin with a broken leg. The rain was horrible and Daddy made us wear a big pink bin bag, everyone kept staring and taking photos! Embarrassing!
Daddy: the ‘pink poncho’ actually resembled an oversized condom more than a bin bag, but shhhhh, Lily-Belle doesn’t need to know anything about condoms…E V E R! And Lily-Belle, if you’re reading this and wondering…go and ask your Mother!
MATILDA SAYS (3)
I didn’t like the pigeons because they kept pooing on the floor, it was really yucky. The fireworks took forever and ever and I was bored.
Festa del Redentore: free public event
Date of visit: 15th July 2018
Car park: €21 (from 3-24 hours)
Vaporetti: children age 5 and under are free, children over 6 pay full adult price which was €15 (return)
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