Festa della Sensa and La Vogalonga: Venice and the sea

Every year Venice sees thousands visitors attracted by two events of great importance taking place in the month of May: the “Festa della Sensa” and “La Vogalonga”.

The Sensa Festival was celebrated by the Venetian Republic on the day of Christ’s Ascension that in Venetian dialect is “Sensa”.

The festival commemorates two important events in the life of the Venetian Republic: the first event dates back to 9th May 1000, when Doge Pietro II Orseolo gave aid to the inhabitants of Dalmatia, who were under the Slav menace.

The second event goes back to 1177, when Doge Sebastiano Ziani helped Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa to meet in Venice in order to sign a peace treaty that would have put an end to their conflict.

On the occasion of the Ascension Day Festival, the rite of the Wedding with the Sea used to take place. It is a ceremony symbolizing Venetian dominion over the sea. Every year, the Doge dropped a blessed gold ring into the sea to make the union between Venice and the sea even stronger.

Since 1965 Venice began again to celebrate such an event: there is a parade of traditional rowing boats, the leading one is La Serenissima, where the major and other city authorities sit. The water parade starts in San Marco and ends in San Niccolò di Lido, where the Wedding is celebrated.

Nowadays, in place of the doge, the major of Venice throws into the sea a symbolic ring and then a religious ceremony takes place in the church of San Niccolò.

The Sensa Festival is on Sunday 20th May 2012, celebrating the city itself and its relationship with the sea, and it has also become an occasion to appreciate Venetian history and traditions.

Another event linked to Venetian traditions is La Vogalonga, a non-competitive rowing boat race that this year will take place on 27th May.

The first Vogalonga was celebrated in 1975 on Sensa Day thanks to a group of Venetian inhabitants, both amateurs and professionals, who decided to organize a rowing boat race for all the followers of Veneto rowing, a particular technique of rowing, developed in the area of the Venetian lagoon.

La Vogalonga is an event that wants to bring the old tradition of Veneto rowing back and support a campaign against the lagoon degradation.

Every edition of Vogalonga sees its number of participants increasing, compared with the numbers of last years; in 2009 it reached 1,680 boats and about 6,100 participants.

Those taking part in the race are not only Venetian people, but also other followers coming from other Italian regions and foreign countries; as a matter of fact, in the last edition foreign rowers were about 3,000.

Both of the events, Sensa Festival and La Vogalonga, represent an act of love of Venice for the sea and, thanks to them, the history and traditions of this wonderful city can attract a wide audience from all over the world.

If you are interested in having more detailed information about the city of Venice, please visit now the online tourist guide About Venice.

Would you like to enjoy a gondola ride or a gondola tour in Venice? Then visit the section Venice’s Gondola of the online guide About Venice, where you will find everything you need to know about the gondola.


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