Festa della Sensa
Every year Venice attracts millions of visitors to events that are famous the world over. The Festa della Sensa, is one of the city's best known festivals that bring to life its thousand year history and its close ties to the sea and the art of "Voga alla Veneta" rowing.
The Sensa (Ascension Day) Festival was celebrated by the Venetian Republic on the day of Christ's Ascension. Sensa is the Venetian dialect word for ascension.
It commemorates two important events in the life of the Republic: one on 9 May in the year 1000, when Doge Pietro Orseolo II came to the rescue of the inhabitants of Dalmatia, who were under the Slav menace. The second event took place in 1177, when, in the reign of Doge Sebastiano Ziani, Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa signed the peace treaty in Venice that put an end to the century-long diatribe between the Papacy and the Empire. The rite of the Wedding with the Sea used to take place on the occasion of the Ascension Day Festival. Every year on that day the Doge on his state barge, the Bucintoro, sailed to Sant'Elena, at the level of San Pietro di Castello Church. The Bishop waited to bless him on a boat with gilt sides. To emphasise the Serenissima Republic's dominion over the sea, the Festival culminated with a kind of propitiatory rite: the Doge sailed to the channel between the lagoon and the sea and threw a gold ring into the water.