A Gigantic Violin Floats Down Venice’s Grand Canal with a String Quartet on Top

It looks like some­thing out of a Felli­ni movie: a string quar­tet float­ing down the canals of Venice on a gigan­tic vio­lin. Not a boat mas­querad­ing as a vio­lin, like when you dress up your pet for Hal­loween and just slap some fun­ny ears and coat on it, but an actu­al 39-foot long vio­lin, made of sev­er­al kinds of wood and met­al by mas­ter boatbuilder/wood sculp­tor Liv­io De Marchi.

“Noah’s Vio­lin,” as it is called, did have a tiny motor inside to pro­pel it, and its trip down the Grand Canal was intend­ed as a por­tent of a post-COVID world. De Marchi told the New York Times that the vio­lin was a “sign of Venice restart­ing,” and like Noah’s Ark, would bring hope after the del­uge.

Musi­cians on board played works by Vival­di, who was also an inspi­ra­tion to the woodworker/boatmaker, and who was like­wise born in Venice. The sur­prise is not so much that a string quar­tet is play­ing on top of the vio­lin, but that it all seems so stur­dy and safe. There are no hand rails or life jack­ets to be seen. (Accord­ing to the Times, wind blew some of the score into the canal, where it was quick­ly res­cued).

De Marchi has made sev­er­al sur­re­al boats, start­ing with a large wood­en repli­ca of a paper ship, a float­ing origa­mi crane, a large high-heeled shoe, and recent­ly an all-wood recre­ation of a Fer­rari that put­tered up and and down the canal.

The vio­lin boat was fol­lowed by crowds in gon­do­las and oth­er tourist boats, float­ed about for an hour, and then was docked, where it was blessed by a priest. A muse­um in Chi­na and an Ital­ian com­pa­ny expressed inter­est in find­ing the vio­lin-boat a home.

Who knows what might hap­pen to it, but why not strap some power­boat motors on it, hire Apoc­a­lyp­ti­ca and let ‘er rip?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Venice Works: 124 Islands, 183 Canals & 438 Bridges

A Relax­ing 3‑Hour Tour of Venice’s Canals

The Authen­tic Vivaldi’s The Four Sea­sons: Watch a Per­for­mance Based on Orig­i­nal Man­u­scripts & Played with 18th-Cen­tu­ry Instru­ments

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the Notes from the Shed pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

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