It happened one night

The rediscovered magic of the notte luminosissima
by Fabio Marzari

The brightest folk festival in Venice: a symbol of rebirth and an homage to the ancestral roots of Venice. A return to normalcy in a city that finds its identity in its rich history. At night, look up to the most beautiful firework show in the region.

Midsummer nights: hot, crowded, loud – though always beautiful. Traditionally, we spend that particular night looking way up to majestic fireworks show that float in the sky above Venice. Say what you will, but you cannot call yourself a friend of Venice if you don’t partake in this annual ritual. Traditions are like that: many of the thigs we do are the same year after year, but our heart does find solace as we participate in them, like crossing the temporary barge bridge from the Zattere quay to the Redentore Church. A walk from the profane to the sacred. We will take a moment to visit the church – for a weekend, it will be the most important church in town – and appreciate its elegant and lofty classical shapes designed by Andrea Palladio. A very Venetian thing to do would be preparing yourself and your dear ones for a lengthy picnic on a small boat while waiting for the fireworks. Typical preparations are sardine spaghetti and duck stew, as is the generous serving of watermelon at the end of your meal. There’s more leeway in deviating from tradition, though, as few would be compelled to peer into your icebox, from the next boat over, to comment on your culinary choices.

The fete in question, Redentore or Christ the Redeemer, sanctions a sort of pact between Venice and the rest of the world. For an hour, this city is pure admiration of the sublime – every colour is in the sky, and every terrace, patio, open square foot one can stand on will be occupied by our patient selves. A note must be made about the enforcement of rules of dubious sanity as the mind goes to the proverbial horse that bolted long before you thought about closing the stable door. The strength of the real Venice comes from those of us who are enthralled by its fascination and, with respect, try to understand it deeper and deeper every day.

I have friends from abroad who, no matter where they happen to be as the Redentore draws closer, pause whatever they’re doing and fly to Venice, heaven forbid they miss the appointment that, more than any other, turns the city into a microcosm of amazing architecture, tranquil waters, and the lives and passions of thousands of families who have been nourishing Venice since time immemorial. This thread cannot exist only on the occasion of a festival: it needs to always be safe and strong wherever and whenever real life is to be found, in the common embrace of our individual, tiny little flames.