The enchantment of the city’s marriage to the sea is back
The Festa della Sensa (or Ascension Day Festival) commemorates a historical event that took place on Ascension Day, May the 9th 1000. On that day, Doge Pietro Orseolo II left Venice at the head of a great fleet, to defend the inhabitants of Zara and Dalmatia against the incursions of the Croatians and Narentines.
Before leaving, the Doge boarded the ceremonial galley, the Bucintoro, and set out to sea along the San Nicolò di Lido canal, while the Bishop of Venice gave his blessing to the Adriatic. Having reached the mouth of the harbour, the Doge then threw a golden ring into the sea to symbolically marry Venice to the sea and demonstrate the Serenissima’s domination of the gulf.
Every year since then, the Doge (now the Mayor of Venice) has repeated this solemn ritual.
Today the Festa della Sensa enjoys a programme involving numerous other cities with past ties to Venice. This “Gemellaggio Adriatico” or Adriatic twincity project is an initiative that binds similar cultures and a special love for the sea and everything connected with it.
The re-enactment of this ceremony is now also accompanied by numerous other attractions, including the “Sensa” market in the cloisters of the San Nicolò church on the Lido, “Voga alla Veneta” rowing races, the water parade staged by the Associazioni Remiere (Venice Rowing Clubs), and the Forte di Sant’Andrea festival.
These and many other events make this day a huge attraction that gives visitors the opportunity to find out more about the city’s history and traditions and to celebrate its unique relationship with the sea.