if you’ve always been convinced of the fact that marriages only take place between people, we’re deeply sorry, but you’re hugely mistaken. Sounds absurd? Then you must know that Venice renews her vows to the Adriatic Sea every single year, and the celebration is held in front of everyone’s eyes, mesmerizing crowds coming from all over the world with its richness, opulence and solemn rituals.
It’s considered one of the most characteristic and ancient ceremonies of Venice, and it involves the whole city in May, on the Ascension Day, during which the population celebrates two fundamental recurrences: Doge Pietro Orseolo II’s military victory against the Slavs and Dalmatia’s liberation, together with the signing of the peace treaty between Pope Alessandro III and the Emperor Frederik Barbarossa in 1177.
But how does this have to do with the Festa della Sensa? If you’re interested in finding out more, keep reading.
As mentioned before, it all started when Doge Pietro Orseolo II freed the Adriatic Sea from the threaten of the pirates, confirming Venice’s absolute supremacy.
Later on, in 1177, pope Alessandro III donated to Doge Sebastiano Zani a golden ring as a symbol of his gratefulness for what he had done by restoring good blood between the Pontiff and the Emperor.
And here’s when a secular tradition starts, bringing beauty and power to the mightiest city of that time and one of the most magnificent in Europe still.
During the so called “Marriage of the Sea”, the Doge crosses the lagoon on a very peculiar and sumptuous ship named Bucintoro, that was specifically built in 1311 to carry the Mayor for the important occasion. He then blesses the water followed by a procession of boats rowing alla Veneta. The peak of the Festa della Sensa is the famous and scenographic throw of the golden ring, that the Doge carries with him and is the moral protagonist of the whole day. The Sea accepts the gift at the sound of the words Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique domii, that is “we marry you, Sea, as a sign of true and eternal domination”.
Almost romantic right? The Marriage of the Sea isn’t only a tradition, but also the meaningful symbol of how rooted the relationship with the Adriatic is in the city’s history and how powerful and magnificent Venice has become throughout the years thanks to the presence of the Mediterranean Sea.
We wish this indissoluble union will continue to bring charm, gloriousness and wealth to the Floating City, Italy’s shiniest treasure.
Meccaniche Veneziane Team
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