This year the Festa della Sensa is held on May 17th.
What is it? It is an ancient tradition that celebrates the relationship between Venice and the Sea: a symbolic marriage ceremony takes place. It dates back to around the year 1000, when Venice was emerging as a naval force in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Fèsta de ƚa Sènsa was a feast of the Republic of Venice held on the occasion of the feast of the Ascension (in the Venetian dialect of Italian Sensa). We still celebrate it as a recreation today. It commemorates two significant dates in the Republic’s history: 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 in this event 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.
So, according to the tradition, 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 unique procession at sea: colorful parade boats – from all the rowing associations in Venice – follow the magnificent Serenissima which carries the mayor and the patriarch.
The gathering point is in front of St. Mark’s at 9 a.m.: do not waste the opportunity to see the “show” if you are in Venice! Then, the procession moves towards the Lido island till San Nicolò where the actual ceremony takes place.