Despite being Venice’s least tourist-centric festival, thousands still came to the city this year to honour the Virgin Mary for the Festa della Salute.

Many were pilgrims, joining the stately progress to the imposing Church of Santa Maria della Salute to light candles and hear the mass. Afterwards, there are plenty of colorful stalls to browse with more secular goods like sweets or balloons.

The festival started in in 1631 after a two year bout of the bubonic plague killing nearly a quarter of the city’s population. After the local government organised a prayer procession to the Virgin Mary, the epidemic slowed and then stopped and the city has held an annual festival of thanksgiving ever since.

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