If you want a good excuse to celebrate love again, here’s your chance.
The Venetians have found a simple, meaningful, and unpretentious way to say “I love you” and celebrate love without the glamour and hype of Valentine’s day.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Veneto is the Romeo and Juliet balcony in the city of Verona. Tourists flock to have their photo taken underneath, or to leave love letters nearby, in homage to the tragic couple from Shakespeare’s play.
But the city of Venice has its own legend of doomed lovers. Their names were Maria and Tancredi, and every April 25, Venetians give one another red rosebuds in their memory.
Maria, the daughter of Doge Orso I Partecipazio, fell in love with Tancredi, a handsome young man of humble origins, who some say was a storyteller. But it was the Middle Ages. A time when young women could not choose their husbands. Maria knew her father would never let her marry a poor man.
She persuaded Tancredi to enlist as a soldier and join Charlemagne’s army to fight the Moors in Spain. Legend has it that Tancredi became a formidable fighter.
But before he could return to Venice to claim her hand, Tancredi was mortally wounded. Before he died, he gave his friend Orlando a rosebud soaked in his own blood, and instructed him to give it to Maria.
On April 25, one day after she received the gift, Maria was found dead in her bed, the rosebud on her chest.
Venetians celebrate their love each April 25, by giving a bòcolo, a red rose, to their beloved partners. It’s a lovely custom that has none of the commercialization of St Valentine’s Day. If you really want to spend a lovely April 25, do what the Venetians do. Give a red rose to your loved one and eat Risi e Bisi! That’s what’s on the menu on April 25.
And, by the way, April 25 is a day of triple celebration in Venice. It’s the feast day of the city’s patron saint, St Mark the Evangelist, celebrated locally. But it’s also Festa della Liberazione, or Liberation Day, a national holiday commemorating the end of 20 years of fascist dictatorship and the Nazi occupation of Italy.
photo from shutterstock