The secular history of Venice has always been marked by a series of festivals and popular traditions. One of these is the “Festa della Sensa”, that is the Ascension Day.
The rite of the “Marriage of the Sea” has its roots in antiquity. In 1176 Venice welcomed Pope Alexander III who, grateful for the solidarity shown by the Venetians in the war against Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, conferred a sacred character on the ceremony of the “Marriage of the Sea”. From this moment on, the ceremony became more and more involving and felt by the Venetians.
The whole city was called to follow in procession the “Bucintoro“, the precious boat of the Doge that left the basin of San Marco to reach the mouth of Lido. Here, in front of the admiring gaze of citizens and ambassadors, the Doge sprinkled a golden ring with holy water and solemnly pronounced a ritual phrase: “Desponsamus te, mare nostrum, in signum veri perpetique domini” or “We marry you, our sea, as a sign of true and perpetual dominion”. Then the Doge dropped the ring into the sea and the union was sanctioned. Venice and the sea would be united forever.
The “Bucintoro” was modernized and made more and more precious over the centuries until the arrival of Napoleon and the fall of the Serenissima in 1797. Its gold parts were melted down, the rest destroyed.
For several years now, the Sensa Festival has been restored and every year offers a rich panorama of initiatives including competitive regattas, the party at Forte Sant’Andrea, the Sensa market in San Nicolò and much more.
Schedule: May 16th, 2021