VENICE: Festa della Madonna della Salute

The iconic Rialto Bridge

Italy has a festival somewhere, every day.
Or so it seems.   Where to go When Italy published by Eyewitness Travel helps me  find some of the events listed for the months I will be in Italia but only a
local can tell you about some of the one of a kind events.


Festivals and any outdoor market allows me to slip among the crowds and NOT be a tourist.  I can view the food they enjoy, the music and often the spirited display of tradition.

Festa della Madonna della Salute 

I planned my trip to Venice to attend this one day a year event.  A religious observance that commemorates Church of Madonna della Salute.

The Church of Madonna della Salute.sits across the canal from St Marks

From an article in Time Out Italy, by Anne Hanley a short decription of the history:

“In 1630-31, Venice was ‘miraculously’ delivered from the plague, which claimed almost 100,000 lives – one in three Venetians. (In thanks for being spared) The Republic commissioned a church from Baldassare Longhena, and his Madonna della Salute (literally, ‘good health’) was completed in 1687.”

While I visited there were masses scheduled hourly throughout the entire event.  The interior of the Church was bright with candles everywhere.

But what caught my attention was the notation on several sites:   “Then everybody eats castradina  after the procession.   Castradina is a  cabbage and mutton stew.

The castradina was my motivation to attend this festival.  I had never heard of it, never had it growing up Italian and mutton was not sold in our supermercato!

So I went to an authority for answers.   My new contact Monica Cesarato, who operates  Her web site,, gives great insight to the festivals and events in Venice.   You can learn some Venetian secrets on her walking tours and food tours.

The church is a massive building that was full the evening before the festival.  I may have been the only traveler in the group of Venician faithful.

Instead of a long nave, there is a central dome and chapels against the walls.

A temporary pontoon bridge is constructed to span the canal.  An engineering feat that was supported by barges and had a ‘bounce’ as i walked across.    The night before the festival there would be a candle light  procession.   Vendors were setting up boots to sell candles in sizes from hand held to massive 3 feet or longer.

The Festa della Madonna della Salute was an interesting glimpse of a true Venetian event that a tourist might not know about.    I have to admit it did not get up at 5 am to view some of the events……..perhaps next time.

During an interview with 3 new friends, I found out more details about the festival and the meaning to the people of Venice:

How do Venetians celebrate this special day?

What did happen is in the next story.   While researching the castradina I found something far more important.   I found 3 new friends in Venice.


Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s