This festival honouring San Marco, the evangelist who for 1,000 years protected the city of Venice has always been celebrated with gondola races, street processions and dancing and of course plenty of food and wine. Nowadays it is bigger than ever as April 25 is also Italian Liberation Day, a national holiday and visitors come from near and far to join the celebrations.
On St. Mark's Day men traditionally buy boccoli (red roses) for the ladies in their lives - the longer the stem the deeper the token of love. Legend tells of a soldier enamoured of the Doge's daughter who was mortally wounded in a far-off battle. As he died his blood transformed into red roses, which he entrusted his companion to bring to the girl. We don't know if the flowers arrived on the saint's day, but by tradition Venetians celebrate the miracle on this date.