As we prepare to start the 4th of July weekend with a bang, I’m reminded of some of Italy’s most famous “fuochi d’artifico” (artificial fire) displays. Although the Chinese are credited with the invention of fireworks, the Italians are said to have brought fireworks into the realm of celebration. Varying accounts note that the Crusaders or Marco Polo introduced fireworks to Europe via Italy and if that be the case then the legacy of Italy’s “fire masters” is most brilliantly displayed in Venice’s Redentore. Between the third Saturday of July and the Sunday after, La Serenissima celebrates with a festival of spectacular fireworks, gondola races and parties that commemorate the city’s redemption (redentore) from a terrible plague. During the festival a religious procession to the Church of the Redentore on the island of Giudecca is made by pilgrims crossing a 330 meter long pontoon bridge. The canals are glittering with boats decorated with branches, lanterns and balloons as thousands of Venetians and tourists gather to celebrate the famous fireworks of Venice.