Festa della Sensa, May 2016, Venice

The history

The Festa della Sensa (or Ascension Day Festival) was a feast of the Republic of Venice still loved and celebrated today. It commemorates two important dates in the Republic’s history which took place on Ascension Day (“Sensa” in Venetian).

The first event goes back to the year 1000 AD when the Doge Pietro II Orseolo defeated the Slaves, defending the inhabitants of Zara and Dalmatia from their incursions and extending the dominion of the Rupiblic on the Adriatic sea.

The second commemorates the end of the old diatribe between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire on 1177 AD, when the Doge Sebastiano Ziani welcomed Alessandro III Pope and Federico Barbarossa in St. Mark’s Basilica to make a peace agreement.

To celebrated these events was held the ceremony of the Marriage of the Sea (in Italian “Sposalizio del Mare”), which is also today one of the most sumptuous celebrations in Venice. On the Ascension Day the Doge – today the Mayor of Venice – sails on board of the ceremonial galley (called “Bucintoro”) along San Nicolò Canal to San Pietro di Castello where the Bishop of Venice is waiting to bless him.

Francesco Guardi

Francesco Guardi

At the mouth of the harbour, the Doge throws a golden ring into the sea saying this words: “I marry you, oh sea, as sign of everlasting dominion” and highlighting the dominion of the Serenissima over the Adriatic.


The “Festa della Sensa” today

Festa della Sensa - ph. credits Veneziaunica

Festa della Sensa – ph. credits Veneziaunica

The last Marriage of the Sea carried out by a Doge took place in 1796 but today Venice commemorates it with a Venetian rowing competition and many other events that attract thousands of visitors every year.

This year the Festa della Sensa will held on May 8. We suggest you a visit of the city – there will be a lot of people but it worth!

Festa della Sensa - ph. credits Veneziaunica

Festa della Sensa – ph. credits Veneziaunica


Here the programme of the main events:

Sunday May 8 (morning)

09:00 a.m. – Boats gather in St. Mark Basin

09:30 a.m. – Water parade towards San Nicolò at Lido of Venice

10:30 a.m. – Ceremony of the Marriage of the Sea in front of San Nicolò Church

11:00 a.m. – Concert by Coro Serenissima in front of San Nicolò Church

11:30 a.m. – Holy Mass at San Nicolò Church

From 09:45 A.m. – Rowing boats regattas from St. Mark Basin (departure) to Riviera San Nicolò (arrival and prize-giving location).

If you need to know how to get to Venice from Camping Ca’ Savio, read here!

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