Good news about Il Bucintoro

The photo and text is courtesy of David Lown, an art historian and writer who currently lives in Venice.

Thank you for your generosity in sharing this, David.

His excellent blog, Venice Revealed, is listed on my Blogroll:  It’s well worth a visit!


A model of the Bucintoro in the Naval Museum, Venice

The trunks of 600 oak trees will soon be on their way to Venice from a forest in Aquitaine. They are a gift from the French to Venice, an act of recompense for the part they played in the destruction of something very dear to the Venetians heart more than 200 years ago
In 1798, the ceremonial state barge of the Doge, was reduced to ashes on the orders of Napoleon, whose troops had, the previous year, brought to an end the Venetian Republic. The Bucintoro was central to the annual ceremony known as La Festa della Sensa, in which the Doge marked Venice’s symbolic marriage to the sea (Lo Sposalizio del Mare). Each Ascension Day, the Doge and his retinue were rowed in the Bucintoro to a point near the Lido. The Doge would drop a gold ring into the sea with the words, ‘We espouse thee, O sea, as a sign of true and perpetual dominion.’

The gift of the oak trees is only the first stage of a project, known as Il Bucintoro di Terzo Millennio, which would cost in the region of 14 million euros and take a minimum of four years to complete.



Filed under Venice

37 responses to “Good news about Il Bucintoro

  1. steven

    There were a lot of centuries and a lot of geopolitical & socio-cultural shifts between Napoleon’s pilfering and the Venetians’ of, say, the four horses in their awful sacking of Constantinople. I don’t know if all this actually matters, though.

    In the spirit of Marinetti, one might suggest that all the loot from the East be returned–leaving not only the basilica quite bare but a lot of the palazzi–and that artists and artisans then be commissioned to create entirely new things to take up the empty places, to entirely re-imagine the edifices we know so well.

    I mention this only for argument’s sake…


  2. steven

    I hate to be greedy, but while the French are in a restitutional giving mood, how ’bout them sending back that little work by Veronese entitled The Wedding at Cana that they swiped from San Giorgio Maggiore?

    For over a year I’ve been meaning to take a pic of the large bit of framework of the new Bucintoro already constructed and sitting right beside my remiera within the Arsenale, but somehow I’ve never done it.


    • Yeah, 600 lousy trunks of oak, what the heck! Mind you, if every country had to start returning what they had ‘liberated’ ….

      Yes, do take that photo, please. It sounds like the reconstruction could be at the Arsenale, and then you would see lots of it happening! Which reminds me, how is the rowing progressing?


  3. What a beautiful barge. You would look nice travelling in that my friend. 😀 xox


    • Finally, someone who REALLY understands me. Thanks, Ralph. I went to the museum again this morning, and it still holds charms for me. Now, I get it, it’s my spiritual home. I must contact the committee in charge of this restoration TTFN. Oh, I’m thinking about stuff for your most recent post. 🙂 oxo


  4. The Museo Storico Navale is one of the most fascinating places in Venice. Its explains the Venice of today by taking you to the past, to the heart of its naval power. I believe it’s open only in the morning. It’s a good thing that it is out of the tourist loop.


  5. Thanks Yvonne!
    I wonder how long it will take to rebuild?


  6. I also found the Naval History Museum closed, arriving half an hour after it had closed on the Friday (I had little internet access and was leaving on the Monday. Strange opening hours, given the number of people milling about in that area.
    Ciao from Liz


    • It’s typically very empty of viewers, Liz. They charge an absurd low amount! And I just found recently that there is a second museum accessible on the same ticket. Stay tuned, I may be able to tell you more, after I next visit it.


      • Dear Yvonne, Why do they have so few visitors? Are the exhibits not that interesting? Look forward to hearing more.
        Ciao from Vienna


      • I think it is only open in the morning. In the entire month I was there I must have walked by it several times a week and it was only open once…and I was on my way to somewhere else.
        But then I found several shops with the same kind of erratic hours.


      • The exhibits are, as Daniel has said, most fascinating. I guess people just don’t know about it, or have no time, or aren’t interested in that huge chunk of Venetian history.


  7. Caroline

    It sounds like the tree trunks are going to make something of an entrance into the city, the weekend of the Festa della Sensa!

    When we went on our “moonlight” tour of the naval parts of the Arsenale (the westernmost parts, either side of the Arsenale Vecchio basin), we had the boathouse of the Bucintoro pointed out to us: I’m not sure if they are planning to use that for the new one, but the presentation the other day of this latest stage of this project took place in one of the ‘tese’ on the north side which is used for unofficial Biennale exhibitions (either the Tese alle Nappe or the Tese di S. Cristoforo).

    That reminds me, I must show you the brochure about the whole Arsenale which I picked up there during the Biennale – it has some interesting maps of what’s what & who it’s all currently used by.


    • Oh my goodness, how lucky are you to be here to see the grand entrance of the oak logs! please take photos!

      You may be sure I’ll be reminding (nagging) you about that brochure. I’ve been to the Naval Museum a few times; it’s time for another visit, I reckon.



      • Caroline

        Ha, we’ve still never made it to the Naval Museum! We tried a few times during the summer when it was hosting a semi-official Biennale show, but never managed to find it open.


  8. Andrew

    Four years? Don’t hold your breath Yvonne. Can’t wait to see it though. Do you think it might be moored in the Arsenale? Be good to get in there.


    • It’ll be interesting to see when it does finally reach completion! That’s a mammoth project, isn’t it? I guess there’d be room for it to moor in the Arsenale … wow!

      I might be seeing, Giovanni, Noriko and Tiziano soon, evviva!


  9. Another fascinating look into the past and present of Vencie.
    Has it dried up there yet? Do hope so 🙂
    Enjoy your day &
    Ciao from Vienna, Liz


  10. I’m sure they can put those trees to good use shoring up the foundations of the city. I saw (and I’m sure Yvonne is seeing) daily….tree trunks being pounded into the mud to replace the rotting ones.


  11. It’s always good to hear about old wrongs being righted, but I’m a little confused about how the Venetians are going to use their windfall! Are they going to build a new barge with the oak trees?


  12. Restitution a long time in the making.
    Great post, Yvonne.


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