The Sea, The Sea

In the year 1177, Venice married the sea. A consecrated ring was thrown into the salty waters off the shore of the Lido, to be swallowed up by the Adriatic, an act undertaken by the Doge of Venice, with the blessing of the Pope. Each year passed seeing this ceremonial event take place, to ensure the everlasting respect shared between Venice and her enclosing waters. On the other hand, the ceremony seemed to be a pacification of the sea, acknowledging that yes, the water has control of the lagoon islands, but please, be only good to them. For centuries the Adriatic obliged, bringing the Republic material wealth and eminent success through naval expertise and world exploration. Marco Polo set off on his adventures from the Venetian port, discovering the marvels of the far east. Valuable materials, above all spices (pepper, nutmeg, ginger), were brought to Europe in the hands of Venetian traders ruling the sea.

A millennium later, despite the continuing of the nuptial tradition, the watery spouse has turned its tides. Now the sea brings mostly the troublesome to Venice, whether that be the increasingly problematic acqua alta or the colossal cruise ships that mar the historic cityscape and pour out tourists in abundant waves. As channels are dredged deeper to allow for such fuel-powered leviathans, the balance of lagoon water to sea water is thrown off, disrupting the unique ecosystem found here. Erosion of the forest of wooden columns that this city sits on is accelerated by the turbulence of water caused by all those boats. The ocean is rolling in; all the while holidaymakers splash about along the warm Lido shore, stung by the occasional jellyfish as punishment.


Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique domini

We wed thee, o sea, as a sign of our true and perpetual dominion.