Venice Foundation Day, also known as Festa della Sensa, is an annual celebration that commemorates the historical link between the city of Venice and the sea. The festival takes place on the Sunday following the Ascension, which is typically in late May or early June.
The origins of the festival can be traced back to the 9th century when Venice was an independent maritime republic. On this day, the Doge of Venice, the chief magistrate of the city, would lead a procession of boats out to the Adriatic Sea to perform a symbolic wedding ceremony between Venice and the sea. The ceremony, known as the “Marriage of the Sea”, was meant to signify the city’s control over the sea and its commercial dominance in the Mediterranean.
Today, the festival is celebrated with a regatta along the Grand Canal and a reenactment of the “Marriage of the Sea” ceremony. The regatta features traditional Venetian boats, including gondolas, sandolos, and mascarete, and attracts both locals and tourists. The ceremony involves the mayor of Venice throwing a ring into the sea to symbolize the city’s bond with the sea, followed by a procession of boats carrying the Doge and other officials.
The festival is a unique and colorful celebration of Venice’s rich maritime history and cultural heritage, and it remains an important part of the city’s cultural calendar.