Festa del Bòcolo

Festa del Bòcolo, Venice
Today, is the Feast Day of St Mark, Venice's patron saint. It is celebrated here with the Festa del Bòcolo, when Venetian men give the women in their lives a single, red rosebud (un bocciolo di rosa rossa, which becomes, in Venetian dialect, un bòcolo).

Towards the end of the 8th century, according to legend, a young fair-haired maiden, by the name of Maria, fell in love with Tancredi, a dashing young Troubadour. Needless, to say, and in time-honoured fashion, Maria's father (Angelo Partecipazio, who would later become the Doge of Venice), violently opposed the match. This did not deter Maria, who came up with an idea. If Tancredi fought against the dreaded Muslims in Spain, her father would surely drop his objection. 

Tancredi duly set off for Spain, where he fought valiantly. Unfortunately, he met his death at Roncisvalle, dying next to a rosebush. Before he died, he managed to pick a rose, which he asked his friend, Orlando, to give to Maria. 
The rose was still tinged with Tancredi's blood when Orlando handed it over to Maria. Stricken with grief, she locked herself in her room. The following day, which happened to be the Feast Day of St Mark, Maria was found dead with Tancredi's rose resting on her heart. 

The tradition of rose-giving continues, much to the delight of the flower-sellers. This morning my local florist was doing a brisk trade, selling single roses for €8 a pop. 

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