The Marriage of the Sea

Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia
When the people of Cervia began to celebrate this event, the town was located closer to the salt pans. Legend has it that on Ascension Day in 1445, Bishop Pietro Barbo, whilst returning by sea from a mission in Venice, found himself caught in a terrible storm which he calmed by throwing his ring into the sea.

Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia
Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia
Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia
Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia
Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia Lo sposalizio del mare | © Archivio Cervia

Since then, the Marriage of the Sea has been commemorated every year. On Ascension Sunday, the unique atmosphere or this ancient tradition permeates the whole town. A parade of ladies, gentlemen, priests and the mayor of the town process together from Piazza Garibaldi in elegant period costumes, accompanying the Archbishop of Ravenna and Cervia who throws the ring into the sea.

Aboard a fishing boat, after having said the blessing calling for the protection of all at sea, the Archbishop flings the ring into the sea. Swimmers then dive in after it and attempt to fish it out, a sign of good fortune for the forthcoming fishing and tourist seasons.

In 1986, Pope John Paul II took part in the ceremony. He added to the traditional blessing, offering words for those beyond the sea in search of peace and harmony. And so our Sposalizio festival became a symbol of the eternal fraternity of peoples. Today, it is the longest-running festival in Italy, one which remains very important to the residents of Cervia. 

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May 10 - May 12, 2024 / Cervia

Wedding of the sea

An ancient festival, which has been repeated every year since 1445 to celebrate my connection with the sea..

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