Saturday, November 27, 2021

Why a Giant Violin Is Floating Around the Canals of Venice

Venice is home to not just beautiful canals, but also some really great architecture. The city has always been artistically imaginative with its unparalleled Murano glass and jaw-dropping carnivals. Taking things a step further, a Venetian artist came up with another weirdly beautiful craft. On a September day in 2021, a 40-foot-long giant violin was seen floating on the Grand Canal. Carrying musicians, this “Noah’s Violin” is a symbol of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few interesting facts about Venice

Venice is known mainly for its canals and breathtaking designs. The narrow lanes and the towering buildings give a sense of traveling back in time and roaming a kingdom. Getting lost in the grandeur of Venice is easy. But, did you know that:

  • Out of the total 417 bridges present in Venice, 72 are private.
  • There was once a law that forbade people from wearing a mask except during the carnival and punishments for lawbreakers were heavy and often harsh.
  • The population of Venice keeps decreasing. It is believed that by 2030 Venice will become a ghost town.
  • The world’s first public casino was in Venice.

The art and the artist

Venice has been renowned for its excellent craftsmanship. Being a popular tourist spot with major revenue generated from the tourism and hospitality industry, the coronavirus pandemic has hit Venice badly. But, even before the pandemic, many Venetian local artists suffered due to the oversaturation of the local market with cheap souvenirs and the flooding that caused the glass factory to be closed. The pandemic was like the final nail in the coffins of struggling local artists. Many businesses were shut down as they were deemed to be “non-essential.”

Closeup of a quartet of musicians standing on a giant violin, called 'Noah's Violin,' in the Grand Canal of Venice.
A string quartet was playing Four Seasons by Vivaldi, the famous composer who was born in Venice. (Image: Mieko Ban, used with permission from Gallery Livio de Marchi)

With the world returning to normalcy, Venice is starting to see a revival in the tourism industry, and the city is all geared up to rebrand itself. Venice wants to gain a reputation as a city of crafts and culture. The need to boost local artists’ crafts is an essential part of this rebranding and hence, the floating giant violin.

Named “Noah’s Violin” — after Noah’s Ark that was mentioned in the Bible — this giant violin-shaped boat was made by Livio de Marchi. He is a local artist who is known for his curious sculptures. If you check his webpage, you will see that he has made a boat shaped like a car and it actually did float very well!

Creation and history of the violin

On the 18th of September 2021, the Grand Canal tourists saw a surreal 40-foot violin floating by. On top of the violin’s face, a string quartet was playing Four Seasons by Vivaldi, the famous composer who was born in Venice. One of the main reasons why Marchi chose the violin was to honor the Venetian composer. The name “Noah’s Violin” was also carefully chosen. Since Noah’s Ark has been a symbol of hope, survival, and revival, the boat created by Marchi too is a symbol of Venice’s revival.

Photo of Livio de Marchi in front of a painting of 'Noah's Violin'.
Artist and sculptor Livio de Marchi, creator of “Noah’s Violin.” (Image: Mieko Ban, used with permission from Gallery Livio de Marchi)

The design was planned last year and is an unusual design with different types of wood used. The violin did take some trial and error in order to make it not only seaworthy but also passenger-friendly. Another craft that saw a revival was the gondola. Surrounding the giant violin during its voyage on the Grand Canal was a flotilla of gondolas. The giant violin boat had a smooth sailing experience — not counting the flying away and rescuing of the music sheets — with a symbolic end of the journey on reaching the Church of Santa Maria Della Salute.

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Raven Montmorency
Raven Montmorency is a pen name used for a writer based in India. She has been writing with her main focus on Lifestyle and human rights issues around the world.
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