The Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute is not only one of the most splendid Baroque places of worship in Venice and, thus, an important tourist sight, but also a church which is actively involved in the life of the Venetians. Locals flock to the ever so magnetic Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute each November the 21st in order to pray to the Virgin for good health and to spare them from further ailments.

The feast is, in fact, a centuries-old Venetian tradition. Its origins are contemporary with the beginning of the construction works at the basilica (roughly speaking, the early 1630s), and it is motivated by a fact similar with the one which pushed the Venetians to erect this church from the first place: the protective and healing powers of the Virgin which, back then, delivered the city from the plague, as the locals would believe. Since then, the Marian cult observed by the Venetians has been enriched with this additional coordinate: the Virgin in the hypostasis of healer and protector of the city.

The Feast of Madonna della Salute is not an event of special tourist interest, yet it remains an important landmark of the yearly local calendar. By attending this pilgrimage, foreigners have the opportunity to experience a genuinely Venetian celebration which, by the very fact it is not a tourist-oriented event, speaks for how the locals conduct themselves when not absorbed, as it were, in preparing a tourist oriented event (such as the Carnival).

The tradition of Festa della Madonna della Salute also requires the consumption of the so-called castradina, a soup made of salted, smoked and aged mutton chops, eaten only on November the 21st. Campo della Salute (the place where the basilica is located) is fitted lined with stalls which sell all sorts of other gastronomic delights, but not exclusively.

Feast of Madonna della Salute (Festa della Madonna della Salute)
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Campo della Salute, Dorsoduro, 30123, Venice, Italy
November the 21st
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