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La Sensa – Venice’s marriage to the sea

The Sensa – Ascension in Venetian – is an thousand year old ceremony where a symbolic marriage ceremony between La Serenissima and the sea. The celebration has its origins in 997, following a military victory in Dalmatia which brough those lands under Venetian control.

The central part of the ceremony is a procession on water from St.Mark’s to San Nicolò on the Lido, where the Patriach of Venice will bless a golden ring, which will then be tossed in the water by the Mayor (in lieu of the Doge) as a symbol of the Venetian dependence on the sea and its dominance of the seas.

La Festa della Sensa by Canaletto, 1736

The Doge travelled on the Bucintoro – the golden ship – but the last Bucintoro was destroyed in 1797 and never rebuild, so now a less impressive ceremonial boat is used.  The rest of the procession will be of sports gondolas, all with four oarsmen, from the various rowing associations of Venice.

Following the procession and the ceremony is a regatta of four-oared gondolas, starting from St.Mark’s going to San Nicolò.

This year the feast is on May 24th.

The procession with the Patriarch and the Mayor will start at St. Mark’s at 9am with the ceremony taking place on arrival at San Nicolò. The regatta starts at 11 am from St. Mark’s.

Venice Kayak has a kayaking tour of Venice on May 24th, with an early start from San Nicolò, so we can be there and watch the ceremony. As we paddle towards the city we will also be able to see a part of the gondola race as the row down along the Riva degli Schiavoni.

Festa della Sensa

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