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The Sensa Feast-day Italiano Français deutsche español
28th May 2006

Francesco Guardi, The Bucintoro (processional boat)
Legend, myth and history

La Pace di Venezia, miniatura del quattordicesimo secolo In previous centuries this holiday held an important role in the social and political life of Venice, which resulted in one of the most important and sumptuous celebrations, interweaving the legend, myth and history of the city.

Imbarcazione da parata Imbarcazione da parata
If, historically speaking, the Sensa is the result of an overlapping of civil and religious rites and events through the ages, today we prefer to give it the meaning of festivity of the Sea and therefore of a festivity of a city which draws its raison d'être from its relationship with the sea.

Il Papa Alessandro Terzo consegna al doge Sebastiano Ziani l'anello per sposare il mare, miniatura del quattordicesimo secolo   Origins
The roots of the Sensa Feast-day lie in the history of Venice, and more specifically in the episode when Doge Ziani acted as mediator between Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

Marriage to the sea
The Doge of the Serenissima used this rite to demonstrate the Republic’s dominion in the gulf. The doge and his entourage embarked on the Bucintoro. On reaching the mouth of San Nicolò port, the Doge threw a gold ring into the sea.
  Francesco Guardi, il Bucintoro

La Fiera della Sensa   The Sensa Fair
The famous Sensa fair attracted visitors from all over Europe. It took place in Saint Mark’s Square and lasted 15 days. It gave merchants an opportunity to display rare merchandise, new fashions, art and produce from all over the world.

The Sensa today
Today the ceremony is not as magnificent as in previous centuries, but the symbolism of the mystic marriage to the sea is still evident and is certainly still valid today. The Mayor of Venice, civic dignitaries and religious and military representatives leave Saint Mark’s Square and sail to the Port of S. Nicolò where the ritual ring throwing takes place.

  Il corteo storico oggi

Piatto di risi e bisi   Cuisine
In spring, when the Sensa is celebrated, vegetables are in their prime, especially the ones produced in the wonderful market-gardens of the islands of the lagoon. Among the most typical recipes, risi e bisi and the castraure (baby artichokes).

Origins  |  Marriage to the sea  |  The Sensa Fair  |  The Sensa today  |  Cuisine