A massive floating violin just sailed through Venice’s canals

The vessel was designed as a ‘message of hope’ and remembrance for the victims of Covid

Sophie Dickinson
Written by
Sophie Dickinson
Freelance contributor

Awe-inspiring sights aren’t exactly hard to come by in Venice – but this massive floating violin stopped sightseers in their tracks last week as it bobbed along the Grand Canal.

The 39-foot string instrument – named Noah’s Violin, after the Biblical ark – was designed as a ‘message of hope’ and remembrance for the victims of Covid by artist Livio de Marchi.

Flanked by a flotilla of gondolas, the vessel played host to a troupe of musicians playing Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ as they drifted down to the church of La Salute, which was built (appropriately) after plague swept through the city in 1630.

Large violin boat
Photograph: Livio De Marchi

The very realistic-looking instrument was apparently made from a dozen types of wood, and is fitted with a motor underneath to keep it trundling along. It wasn’t allowed a licence plate because city officials said it was a violin, not a raft – which is a pretty fun technicality.

This isn’t De Marchi’s first time creating sailing objects. He’s previously built both a big shoe and an origami hat fit to sail the seas. And why a violin this time around? The artist wanted to send a message about the healing power of music. Which is all rather nice, really.

So, where is it off to next? There’s apparently been interest from museums in Italy and China, meaning you can expect it to set sail again sometime soon. And as for De Marchi, who knows what floating object he’s going to conjure up next.

Fancy a trip to La Serenissima? Here are the 12 very best attractions to visit right now.

Plus: here’s how to spend the perfect 48 hours in Venice

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