04 May 2008

Festa della Sensa, May 4

Today Venice married the sea again. Hardly anybody noticed.

The “doge” (Who plays this role, and how does he get it?) set out across the Bacino for Lido on his Bucintoro, amid every sort of oared craft, with trumpets blaring out a suitably triumphant tune. There at San Nicolo, he made a great ceremony of casting a golden wedding ring into the waves, thereby renewing the Sposalizio, the sacred bond and promise between La Serenissima and the Adriatic Sea that surrounds Her. This pride-inspiring, particular-to-Venice tradition has been re-enacted for hundreds of years on Ascension Day.

Which made me wonder… Why such a poor turnout of Venetians to cheer him on his way? Why so little publicity, and so very little festivity? I show you this lackluster photo of the event because, in truth, there wasn’t very much to see.

Because I have a deep interest in Venice’s festivals, I’ve known for weeks this day was coming. But if not for a pair of posters pasted up in a back alley, I wouldn’t have known the time of the Bucintoro’s embarkation, nor anything else about this important celebration. Once again, it seems to me, Venice doesn’t really acknowledge nor take advantage of her own colorful, fairytale-like past, and thus misses the chance to garner the kind of attention I truly believe She deserves (not to mention generating some much-needed revenue!). I found myself explaining the day’s significance to some curious bystanders, who were delighted by the whole idea of the historical event. That showed me tourists have an interest in La Serenissima that goes far beyond plastic gondolas and junky masks.

What a time I had imagining the kind of celebration I would put on here if I were in charge, starting with the creation of a full-size, historically accurate Bucintoro in all its gilded splendor! (Can you even pick out the current model in this photograph? Hint: it looks nothing like the original.) I thought I would moor the new eye-dazzler on the Molo for about a week before the holiday to generate publicity, perhaps even charge visitors to board it and have a closer look at its many glories. And that’s only the beginning of my plans!

Seriously, doesn’t it seem like my lady Venice would offer me the opportunity to use my imagination and talents in a way that would honor and serve Her well? What is she waiting for?!