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.
In 1630, over 50 years after the terrible plague of 1575-77, the disease gripped Venice once more. Doge Nicolò Contarini made a public vow to erect a church called the Salute, asking for the Virgin Mary's divine intercession to rid the city of the plague
Eleven architects took part in the competition to build the church and the winner was Baldassarre Longhena. His design perfectly captured the grandiosity and magnificence that the Serenissima wanted: a church that exalted the Holy Virgin and the Republic at the same time.
The "Festa della Salute" today
Even today, on November 21, thousands of people cross the votive bridge and reach the majestic Salute Church to give thanks and ask the Virgin Mary to keep them in good health.
On the day of the Madonna della Salute it is customary to eat the castradina, a mutton-based traditional dish.