A giant violin floats on the Grand Canal in Venice

VENICE – Over its 1,600 years or so, a number of spooky ships have floated down Venice’s Grand Canal, often in regattas or elaborate sea...

VENICE – Over its 1,600 years or so, a number of spooky ships have floated down Venice’s Grand Canal, often in regattas or elaborate sea-related ceremonies. On Saturday morning a decidedly unusual turn of the head took hold. does a tour: a gigantic violin, carrying a string quartet playing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.

The craft, called “Noah’s Violin”, set sail accompanied by an escort of gondolas, and in no time a small flotilla of traditional Venetian powerboats, water taxis and flat-bottomed sandoli joined. the violin as it glided from the town hall near the Rialto. Bridge, at the old customs house in front of Piazza San Marco, about an hour’s journey.

The starship is a full-scale, faithful replica of a real violin, made from a dozen different species, with nuts and bolts inside, as well as space for an engine. Along with the artistry involved, it took a lot of DIY and nautical expertise to make it seaworthy, say its makers.

“It was a novelty for us too,” said Michele Pitteri, member of Consorzio Venezia Sviluppo, which funded the boat and built it with Livio De Marchi, a Venetian artist, who conceived the idea during the lockdown. from last year.

“The violin is a sign of the restart of Venice,” said De Marchi on Friday during an interview in his art-filled studio off a narrow Venetian alley in the San Marco district.

De Marchi named the work “Noah’s Violin” because, like the ark, it was believed to bring a message of hope after a storm, in this case a message that promoted “art, culture and music” , did he declare.

It is no coincidence that the trip on the Grand Canal was planned to end next to the Church of La Salute, Italian for Health, in the district of Dorsoduro, which was built as a votive offering to the Virgin Mary for deliverance from a plague that decimated the city in 1630.

Why a violin? De Marchi is a big fan of Vivaldi, who was originally from Venice and is revered there. De Marchi added that he still regrets not having learned to play an instrument. The gigantic dummy was the second best thing, he said.

The boat was managed by a coxswain wearing a black cape and wearing a black tricorn like those in vogue in the 18th century. “I wanted him to channel Vivaldi’s mind,” De Marchi said.

Leone Zannovello, the chairman of the consortium, said the project had rekindled enthusiasm at the shipyard on the island of Giudecca, where it was carried out, after the darker days of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses and individuals who were not in the group even offered to help, he said. “It was something that united us even more,” he said. “We worked with our hearts.

On Saturday, Zannovello and others followed the fiddle down the Grand Canal on various boats, obviously proud.

“Well done Livio! Cried a voice in praise of De Marchi.

“Bravi tutti! (“Well done, everyone!”), Replied De Marchi.

It was mostly smooth sailing, though De Marchi mumbled anxiously whenever the bow (the neck of the violin) veered too sharply to one side or the other. But even if the musicians played standing (barefoot for a better grip), they barely missed a note. At one point, the viola score flew off the pulpit and into the water, but it was quickly recovered.

“Let’s just say that between the wind and the waves, it was difficult,” said Caterina Camozzi, violist, after returning to dry land. Tiziana Gasparoni, the cellist, intervened to say: “As a Venetian and a musician, it was the most moving experience of my life”.

As is often the case in Italy, the real problems with the path were bureaucratic.

“We were told we needed a vehicle license plate, but officials were unsure how to classify it,” said Mario Bullo, a carpenter for the consortium. At first, they were given the same plates that were given to the rafts. “But the traffic police opposed it, saying it’s not a raft, it’s a violin,” he said with a shrug. Ultimately, city officials resolved it.

The Venetian branch of the National Confederation of Craftsmen (CNA), which represents the interests of small businesses, helped with contacts and permits, said Roberto Paladini, director of CNA Venice.

Fundraising initiatives such as “Noah’s Violin” have helped shine the spotlight on artisans in a city where tourism has overtaken other activities, Paladini said, adding: “Supporting and giving visibility to artisans is the only one way to keep Venice a city alive “.

From Marchi is one of the craftsmen that the CNA presents on the Original Venice website, which features Venetian handicrafts, such as glass beads, blown glass vases, colorful costume masks, and leather photo albums. The e-commerce site is part of a recent project funded by JP Morgan.

“The city’s artisans never stopped during the lockdown. Even though they couldn’t work with their hands, they still used their brains, ”said Aldo Reato, a local lawmaker who made the half-dozen gondolas accompany the violin. “There is no one better than a gondolier to represent the traditions of the city,” he said.

This is not the first time that From Marchi, an artist known for carving household objects or clothing out of wood, created large-scale floating works. He started with a wooden origami-style paper hat, in 1985, and since then he has brought several large-scale wooden objects to sea, including a woman’s shoe, a pumpkin carriage with horses and a variety cars, including a 1937 Jaguar, a Volkswagen Beetle and a convertible Ferrari.

People gathered on the Ponte dell’Accademia and along the cobbled banks of the Grand Canal to watch the floating concert which included works by Bach and Schubert. Puzzled travelers took photos from vaporettos, the large public transport boats.

When the violin finally approached the church in La Salute, De Marchi confessed: “I was a little nervous that something could happen.

A brief ceremony attended by members of the consortium and their families and friends followed. De Marchi delivered a speech and commemorated the relatives of those who had worked on the violin and who died before it was finished. Reverend Florio Tessari blessed the violin and said he hoped it would “travel the world as a message of hope”. There has been interest in the violin from companies in Italy and a museum in China, De Marchi said.

The musical entertainment continued there with toast and a kind of song.

Zannovello, the chairman of the consortium, said he hoped the violin would serve to showcase Venetian craftsmanship after a slow and difficult period. “I am convinced there will be a comeback,” he said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: A giant violin floats on the Grand Canal in Venice
A giant violin floats on the Grand Canal in Venice
Newsrust - US Top News
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