Why is the Bocolo given as a present on April 25 in Venice? This date for Venice represents a special occasion, it is in fact the date on which the patron saint, San Marco, is celebrated.

The Venetians on this day give red roses, the so-called Bocolo, behind this gesture an ancient tradition hides. Discover the full story in our article.

You may not know that in Venice we celebrate very suggestive festivals like that of San Marco. During this anniversary, in fact, you will have the opportunity to discover the charm of this city in an atmosphere full of suggestions that has been repeated for centuries and in which religion, myth and romance are perfectly blended. In this article we want to tell you the main features of the feast of San Marco and the legend of Bocolo.

Why is the bocolo given as a present on 25 April in Venice? the oldest legend

The legend of the Bocolo (or of the Boccolo) boasts an ancient tradition as it dates back to the end of the IX century, precisely to the years between 864 and 881 when Orso I Partecipazio became the Doge of Venice.

The daughter of the Dodge, Maria (also known as Vulcana by virtue of the particular splendor of her eyes) fell in love with Tancredi, a young man of humble origins who could not aspire to marry her or receive the blessing from the Doge. So he decided to go to war, in order to obtain glory and honors and once he returned to Venice he would be able to marry his beloved.

During the battles Tancredi distinguished himself for his courage and valor and his exploits soon reached Venice, and Vulcana anxiously awaited his return. Unfortunately one day, during a battle with the Moors of Spain, he was mortally wounded and, falling on a rose garden, his blood stained a rose bud with red, which he gave to his friend Orlando before he died, asking him to deliver it to Vulcana as his pledge of love.

The day after the delivery of this bud, precisely on April 25th, Maria was found dead in her bed, with the bud soaked in the blood of her beloved on her chest; since then the bud became the symbol of undying love for the Venetians.

Why is the bocolo given as a present on 25 April in Venice? a more modern story

The Venetians, however, also have a different version of the legend of Bocolo. The legend tells of two young lovers who belonged to two enemy branches of the same family.

They had gardens in common that were divided by a rose garden on which, however, roses had long since bloomed and which began to flower again as soon as the two fell in love. The rose garden came from the place where the remains of San Marco Evangelista were buried and the young man broke off a bud which he gave to his sweetheart and which also represented the end of hostilities between the two families.

Are you curious to hear other stories and legends about Venice?

We recommend this tour, you can listen to legends and ghost stories passing through the most hidden calli of the Castello and Cannareggio districts.

To read all the activities and events in Venice, click here!