Venice — In its 1,600-odd years, any number of phantasmagorical ships have sailed down Venice’s Grand Canal, often during regattas or elaborate ceremonies dedicated to the sea. On Saturday morning, a decidedly unusual head-turner took a spin: a giant violin, accompanied by a string quartet playing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”
The craft, called “Noah’s Violin”, sailed with an escort of gondolas, and in time a small flotilla of motorboats, water taxis and traditional flat-bottomed Venetian sandoli joined the violin, as It glided from the city hall near the Rialto. The bridge, from Piazza San Marco to the Ancient Customs House, about an hour’s ride.
The vessel is a faithful, large-scale replica of a real violin, made from about a dozen different types of wood, with nuts and bolts as well as space for a motor. Its makers say that in addition to the artistry involved, it required a great deal of tinkering and nautical expertise to make it seaworthy.
“It was a novelty for us as well,” said Michele Pieteri, a member of the Consorzio Venezia Sviluppo, which financed the boat and built it with Venetian artist Livio di Marchi, who conceived the idea during last year’s lockdown .
“The violin is a sign of Venice’s resumption” after the lockdown, De Marchi said during an interview on Friday at his art-filled workshop by a narrow Venetian street in the San Marco district.
De Marchi named the work “Noah’s Violin” because, like the ark, it was meant to bring a message of hope after a storm, in this case a message that promoted “art, culture and music”, he said. .
It is no coincidence that the journey down the Grand Canal was planned to end next to the Italian, La Salute church for health in the Dorsoduro district, as a votive offering to the Virgin Mary for deliverance from a plague. was built in which destroyed the city. In 1630.
Why a violin? De Marchi is a big fan of Vivaldi, who was a native of Venice and is worshiped there. De Marchi said he always regretted not learning to play the instrument. He said the huge simulacrum was the next best thing.
The boat was piloted by a helmsman wearing a black hat and a black tricolor cap like the ones popular in the 18th century. “I wanted him to transmit the spirit of Vivaldi,” said de Marchi.
Consortium president Leon Zanovello said the project had revived enthusiasm at the shipyard on the island of Giudecca, where it was built after the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic. He said companies and individuals who were not part of the group also offered help. “It was something that united us even more,” he said. “We worked from our heart.”
On Saturday, Zanovello and others followed the violin down the Grand Canal on a variety of boats, filled with pride.
“Bravo Livio!” A voice shouted in praise of De Marchi.
“Good job, everyone!” (“Well done, everyone!”), replied De Marchi.
It was mostly smooth sailing, although whenever the provice (the neck of the violin) swung too rapidly to one side or the other, de Marchi muttered anxiously. But even though the musicians played standing (barefoot for better grip), they hardly missed a note. At one point the score for the viola blew into the music stand and water, but it was quickly corrected.
“Let’s just go amidst the wind and the waves, it was challenging,” said viola player, Caterina Camozzi, after coming back on dry land. The cellist, Tiziana Gasparoni, said, “As a Venetian and a musician, it was the most moving experience of my life.”
As is often the case in Italy, the real bottleneck along the way was the bureaucracy.
“We were told we needed a vehicle registration plate, but the authorities didn’t know how to classify it,” said Mario Bullo, a carpenter at the union. First, they were issued the same plates that were given to the rafts. “But the traffic police objected, saying it’s not a raft, it’s a violin,” he said with a shoulder. Finally the municipal officials worked on it.
CNA Venice director Roberto Paladini said the Venice branch of the National Confederation of Artisans (CNA), which represents small business interests, helped with contacts and permits.
Financial initiatives such as “Noah’s Violin” helped shed light on artisans in a city where tourism has outpaced other activities, said Paladini, “giving support and visibility to craftsmen is the key to keeping Venice a living city.” is the only way.”
de marchie is one of the artisans that CNA attributes to Venetian origin website, which displays Venetian handicraft products 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 JPMorgan.
“The artisans of the city never stopped during the lockdown. Even if they couldn’t work with their hands, they still used their brains,” said Aldo Rito, a local MP, who arranged half a dozen gondolas with violins. There is no one better than a gondolier to represent the traditions of the city,” he said.
it’s not the first time that de marchie, an artist known for carving household objects or clothing into wood, has created large-scale floating works. He debuted in 1985 with an origami-style paper hat made of wood, and since then he has seared many massive wooden objects, including a woman’s shoe, a pumpkin coach with horses, and Many types of cars are included, including one. 1937 Jaguar, a Volkswagen Beetle and a Ferrari convertible.
People flocked to the Ponte dell’Accademia and the paved banks of the Grand Canal to watch a concert that included works by Bach and Schubert. Confused passengers took pictures from the large public transport boats Vaporatos.
When the violin finally reached the church of La Salute, de Marchi admitted, “I was a little nervous that something might happen.”
A brief ceremony was attended by Sangh members and their families and friends. De Marchi gave a speech, and remembered the relatives of those who had worked on the violin, who had died before seeing it. Rev Florio Tessari blessed the violin and said he hoped it would “travel the world as a message of hope.” De Marchi said there has been an interest in the violin from businesses in Italy and a museum in China.
The musical entertainment continued there with toasts and one-of-a-kind singles.
The consortium’s president, Zanovello, said he hoped the violin would serve to showcase the Venetian craft after a slow and difficult period. “I believe there will be a comeback,” he said.