Glide through Venice

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Forget the festival of masks.

If it's an authentic celebration that you want to witness, then the third weekend of July is the time to visit Venice.

The city explodes into colour to celebrate the Festival del Redentore (Festival of the Redeemer).

Between 1575 and 1577, a deathly contagion swept through the city, claiming one-third of its population.

Prayers to end the plague were answered and the senate decreed an annual thanksgiving to the Redeemer.

To commemorate the event Il Redentore church on Giudecca Island was also built.

The festival is also adored by the locals, although it remains somewhat under the tourist radar.

At sunset St Mark's Basin fills with thousands of illuminated boats packed with onlookers, vino and focaccia.

The party reaches a boozy climax at 11.30pm when a spectacular fireworks display takes place over the famous spires, domes and bell towers.

Visitors can witness this spectacular event on Insight Vacations' easy pace Italy tour, priced from $2785.