Festa della Sensa is one of the most genuinely Venetian festivals held in the lagoon. “Sensa” is the Venetian term of “Ascension”, which is why a rough translation of this celebration would be “Ascension Day”. Far from being sunken in its religious significance, Festa della Sensa is often described as the marriage of Venice to the sea, calling forth, at the same time, the former maritime dominion of Venice.

The tradition has ancient roots, the first to officiate the symbolic marriage between La Serenissima and the Adriatic being Pietro Il Orseolo, a Doge of Venice, on May the 9th, 1000. The second reenactment of the marriage took place no sooner than 1177, under Doge Sebastiano Ziani. After a millennial observation of the feast, Festa della Sensa was briefly interrupted, but the tradition was resumed in 1965, complemented by an enhanced range of events (a regatta, a market held in the vicinity of the Church of San Nicolo in Lido di Venezia and spectacular processions of boats dripping with decorations).

The most symbolic gesture performed on the occasion of Festa della Sensa is the throwing of a ring into the sea. Swimmers then plunge in search of the ring, and whoever finds it, can keep it, allegedly having the right to be exempt from taxes for the rest of the year. The head of the city is the one which officiates the marriage (back then, it was the doge, now we speak of the mayor).

Festa della Sensa (Ascension Day)
Venice, Italy
various dates in May or June
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