The current manifestation of the wedding with the sea.

Model of the Bucintoro in 1729 .

Gabriele Bella, Festa della sensa

Departure of the Bucintoro to San Nicolò di Lido,1768, F. Guardi, Louvre
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The current manifestation of the wedding with the sea.


immagine didascalia

Model of the Bucintoro in 1729 .


immagine didascalia

Gabriele Bella, Festa della sensa


immagine didascalia

Departure of the Bucintoro to San Nicolò di Lido,1768, F. Guardi, Louvre


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The Sensa Feast-day

In the past, the “Festa della Sensa” (also known as the “Sposalizio col mare”) was the most important event in Venice. It celebrated the city’s symbolic wedding with the sea, marking Venice’s recognised authority and supremacy in the Adriatic.
It is thought that the festival originated with the Doge Pietro Orseolo II’s victorious conquest of Dalmatia in 1000 or thereabouts, but the ritual that has been handed down to us dates back to the time of the Doge Sebastiano Ziani who, in reward for services rendered to the church, is said to have received from the Pope a symbolic ring to be used each year in this ‘marriage’. The Doge, the Signoria, the Venetian clergy and foreign ambassadors would travel to the mouth of the port of Lido onboard the Bucentaur, followed by a parade of decorated boats.
The Patriarch of Venice would then bless the sea and throw the ring into the sea, saying “As a sign of eternal domination, We, the Doge of Venice, hereby wed thee, O sea”. This formula and ceremony marked the beginning of the festivities, which could even last 15 consecutive days at the height of the Republic.

Today the festival is celebrated on Ascension Day as a historical re-enactment.
The ritual of throwing the ring into the sea is now performed by the mayor of the city. Although many attempts have been made to discover the roots of this tradition, Venetians have gradually lost interest in this festival.


1100 - 1200  -   - rev. 0.1.9

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Venice and its lagoons

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