The Venetian FESTA DELLA SENSA is one of the city’s most magnificent and characteristic celebrations involving history, myth, legend and the flourishing Serenissima Republic.
It marks the start of Venice’s expansion in the Adriatic with the conquest of Dalmatia and commemorates the peace treaty signed in Venice during the reign of Doge Sebastiano Ziani between Pope Alexander III and Frederick I Barbarossa, bringing the conflict between the Papacy and the Empire to an end.
Among the historical re-enactments, on Ascension Day (hence the name Sensa), Venice celebrates its marriage to the sea sealing its dominion over the Adriatic and its sea-going culture.
The ritual involved (and still does so today) a solemn procession of ancient boats led by the Bucentaur (the Doge’s galley) which left the lagoon for Lido.
From there, after a series of propitiatory prayers, the Doge threw a golden ring into the sea as a sign of the eternal bond between Venice and the sea.
Since then, each year Venice celebrates the marriage and its faithful union with the sea.