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: http://venicerevealed.blogspot.it/ It’s well worth a visit!
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.