Festa di San Marco & Liberation Day
The merrymaking will be huge in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice this April. Not only do the Venetians celebrate their patron saint but 25th April also marks the day of Liberation of Italy in World War II. And you know that Venice knows how to party.
As this is Venice you can expect a gondola regatta, Regata dei Traghetti, which takes place between the island of Sant’ Elena and the Punta della Dogana at the entrance to the Grand Canal. To get a good view you will need to get up early as the festivities start around 10am. You can pick any of the streets along the shore from Saint Mark’s Square to Viale Giardini Pubblici.
While you may find the streets quiet during parts of the day as many families have a feast at home, later on crowds will spill out of doors and head towards the epicentre – Saint Mark’s Square for the parades.
Traditionally Venetians eat a meal called ‘risi e bisi’ on Festa di San Marco which is a risotto dish with fresh peas and pancetta, and many restaurants will be serving this in and around Saint Mark’s Square. There will be a solemn mass in the Basilica in the morning, which venerates the Saint so it may be worth waiting until later on if you are planning a tourist trip there.
Another local custom is for men to give their loved ones a red rose bud (boccolo) and the longer the stem the deeper the love. This tradition is based on an age old love story in which a commoner fell for a noble born lady and went away to war to prove himself. Unfortunately he was fatally wounded, but gave a red rose bud to his friend who then delivered it to the lady.
If you are in Venice during Saint Mark’s Day celebrations you will find the atmosphere very upbeat with locals enjoying the party.