The trademark gondolas of Venice’s Grand Canal played second fiddle this weekend to a very unusual vessel: A giant violin carrying a live string quartet.
“Noah’s Violin” is the most recent creation of Venetian artist Livio De Marchi. He’s sent plenty of other wooden works out to sea, including a giant shoe and an origami hat.
This large-scale replica is made from about a dozen different kinds of wood, with nuts, bolts and space for a motor inside, according to the The New York Times.
De Marchi, who came up with the idea during last year’s lockdown, told the newspaper that the violin is a “sign of Venice restarting.” He named it after Noah’s ark because he sees it as bringing a message of hope — artistically and culturally — after a storm.
The violin made its journey down the canal on Saturday, as musicians on board performed works by Vivaldi (De Marchi also cited the Venetian violinist and composer as a source of inspiration for the craft’s design).
After its roughly hour-long ride, the violin was blessed by a reverend, who said he hoped it would send a message of hope to the world. The Times reports that businesses in Italy and a museum in China have already expressed interest.
This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.