Since 1945, all Italians have celebrated Liberation Day on April 25. But for Venetians, this day is also about the Feast of St Mark and the Rosebud Festival. These two Venetian traditions go back to ancient times. Let's see what Venetians do on this day and what you can expect from this holiday!
Most of the events held on this day occur in the San Marco neighborhood. You can use our interactive Venice map to check the location of the activities. The most crowded spot in the city is St Mark's Square, surrounded by the finest Venice museums and beautiful churches.
St Mark is the Patron Saint of Venice. He's a vital figure in Venice's religion, history, and culture. St Mark was one of Christ's disciples and the author of the Gospel of Mark. He died on April 25, 68 AD, thus the date of St Mark's Day.
Interestingly, Venetians used also to celebrate this day on two other dates. The first one was on January 31. On January 31, 828, two merchants, Buono da Malamocco and Rustico da Torcello, smuggled the remains of St Mark into Venice. They hid the relics in a pork broth so the Turkish inspections wouldn't even check. The body of St Mark became an idol in the shape of a winged lion. Later he became the Patron Saint of Venice. The second date was June 25. On this day in 1094, the relics arrived at St Mark's Basilica.
On April 25, you will see many women carrying red roses from their loved ones. This beautiful tradition originated in the 8th century. The legend tells about Maria, the daughter of Doge, and the poor troubadour who fell in love. He served in the army to gain the honors and deserve the acceptance of Maria's father. Sadly, he died after one of the battles. His comrade brought a rose to Maria, who died on April 25 with the flower on her chest.
Festa di San Marco is a special day for Venetians, filled with various events. The day starts with a Holy Mass at the famous St Mark's Basilica. Then, you can enjoy live concerts, dancing, and even costume parades on St Mark's Square.
A much anticipated and exciting event is the Regata di Traghetti. It is a race during which gondoliers compete while carrying passengers. It starts from the island of Sant'Elena and finishes at Punta della Dogana. Anyone is welcome to watch the race. It's best visible from any street from St Mark's Square to Giardini Pubblici.
Another significant occurrence takes place at 5 PM at the Doge's Palace. The mayor of Venice gives out the St Mark's Award. The award is for those who achieve outstanding results in arts, sports, science, social and cultural activities.