The Festa della Sensa was a feast of the Republic of Venice held on the occasion of the feast of the Ascension (in the Venetian language, Sensa) and still celebrated as a recreation today. It commemorated two significant dates in the Republic’s history.
History of Festa della Sensa
The first being May 9, 1000, when the Doge Pietro II Orseolo rescued the denizens of Dalmatia imperiled by the Slavs. The aforementioned date marked the onset of Venetian extension in the Adriatic.
The second event commemorated took place in 1177 when the Doge Sebastiano Ziani, Pope Alexander III and the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa agreed to the Treaty of Venice which ended the long standing differences between the Pontificate and the Holy Roman Empire.
On the occasion of this festival was held the ceremony of the Marriage of the Sea (It. Sposalizio del Mare). This ceremony is recreated annually with the Mayor of Venice taking on the traditional role which was historically executed by the Doge.
Festa della Sensa 2017
The Festa della Sensa is an ancient celebration of the relationship between Venice and the Sea, in the form of a symbolic marriage ceremony where Venice, represented by the mayor and the patriarch, throws a golden ring into the sea to celebrate the union between the city and the sea.
The celebrations of the Sensa includes a magnificent procession at sea, with colourful parade boats from all the rowing associations in Venice following the magnificent Serenissima which carries the mayor and the patriarch.
In 2017 the Festa della Sensa is held on May 28th.
The procession which is planned for 9am, but it usually starts a bit later. The gathering point is in front of St. Mark’s, and the procession then moves towards the Lido and finally north along the shore to San Nicolò where the actual ceremony takes place.
The ceremony is a symbolic marriage of Venice to the sea. The tradition dates back to around the year 1000, when Venice was emerging as a naval force in the Mediterranean Sea.