Interview with Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro

Venice celebrates its 1600th anniversary

Venice celebrates the 1600th anniversary of the founding of the lagoon city, with an open-air gala concert in Piazza San Marco on September, 8. First time since 1996 the orchestra and choir of the La Fenice opera house performed on the concert dedicated to Venetians as a symbol of hope, resilience, and rebirth, but also as the inaugural event of a rich program that will continue in 2021.

In an exclusive interview, the Mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro unveils some fascinating facts about the inaugural event of a celebration program for Venice’s 1600th anniversary.

Mayors of Europe: How are you satisfied with the event and La Fenice’s performance?

Luigi Brugnaro: After more than 24 years we strongly wanted that the choir and the orchestra of the Fenice return to play in Piazza San Marco. It was a very emotional evening. An internationally recognized excellence had brought opera pieces back to the most famous square in the world, thus paying homage not only to Venice but the whole Italy. We wanted, as te first theater in the country, to reopen the season with a completely revisited stage that would allow us to restart in full compliance with the rules on social distancing. The given opportunity for the Venetians to participate in the concert at Piazza San Marco was a further positive message to all those who, between the high water of last November and then the lockdown, had serious repercussions from the economic point of view. Like the phoenix, reborn from its ashes, La Fenice is ​​a symbol for all of us: a symbol of hope, resilience and rebirth. And this is why we wanted the concert to be the inaugural event of a rich program of initiatives that will accompany us in the year in which Venice celebrates its 1600 years.

MoE: Did the pandemic affect the event in terms of visitors?

LB: The rules which we are forced to live with every day in order to avoid the return of the pandemic will have an impact on our lives for a long time. But this shouldn’t discourage us nor prevent us from breathing with our city and living with it. Already at the end of May, despite the fact that the conditions were much more serious than these now, we decided to proceed with the Festa della Sensa. It is a very important day in the Venetian tradition since it is the moment when the city marries the sea. We did it avoiding the water procession but the symbolic ring was thrown into the sea by me accompanied by Patriarch Francesco. We wanted to do the same with the Festa del Redentore in July, depriving us of the exciting fireworks display that has become a symbol of it on a global level but we have still preserved the religious aspect or thanking the Redentore for having saved the city from the plague of sixteenth century and, lastly, we did it with the Regata Storica, another traditional key event which gathers different teams competing in the Canal Grande. Everything was organized respecting the distancing rules and we really demonstrated how much the city wants to return to life. 

MoE: Would you say that tourists are also interested in this event or mostly Venetians?

LB: This was a tribute event for Venetians and for the numerous subscribers of the Theater as a message of restart. More than one thousand seats were arranged for them, while 400 of those were given away through a reservation for citizens who wanted to take part. For people who wanted to enjoy a show that will go down in history. I was equally pleased to see many people sitting at the tables of the bars in the square and among these were also those tourists who were practically able to touch the excellence of the Fenice choir and orchestra in an unique location in the world.

MoE: Do you have any other events planned until the end of the year?

LB: Venice is a place of a thousand events and continuous emotions. We will shortly present the entire calendar of celebrations for the 1600 years that will be officially celebrated on March 25, 2021. In the meantime, we are already in the process of the organization for Christmas holidays. Venice does not give up and continues to work hard so that the whole world knows that you can come here in total safety.