September 29, 2014

George Clooney's Grand Canal Wedding Cruise

From the exploits of Casanova in the 18th century to George and Amal today, Venice is truly a city for lovers. So perhaps it's fitting that this past weekend the world's most eligible bachelor was married here. Follow along in the wake of the happy couple by taking a photo-cruise along the scenic Grand Canal.

Cruising Venice's Grand Canal at Dusk

George and his fiancĂ©e, Amal Alamuddin, reportedly arrived in Venice by bus on Friday with a small group of guests. The party then boarded a private water taxi for a romantic pre-nuptial cruise down Venice's Grand Canal.

The Causeway Linking Venice with the Mainland

Water Taxi

Water Taxi Interior

The Grand Canal is a backwards S-shaped waterway that runs through Venice (as seen in this old map in the Vatican Museum) from Santa Lucia railway station at one end to Piazza San Marco at the other.

Map of Venice, Vatican Museums

The canal is crossed by four bridges, including the Ponte degli Scalzi immediately to the left upon exiting Santa Lucia station.

Santa Lucia Railway Station

Ponte degli Scalzi

One of the first major landmarks you'll come across is the Venice Casino in the Vendramin Calergi palace. German composer Richard Wagner died here in the palazzo in 1883. The building now includes a Wagner Museum.

Venice Casino

Next is Ca' Pesaro and the International Gallery of Modern Art, featuring works from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ca' Pesaro
International Gallery of Modern Art

Ca' d'Oro (House of Gold) is another art gallery featuring Renaissance art. The building's facade with its pointed arches is a fine example of Venetian Gothic architecture.

Ca' d'Oro

Locals have shopped for centuries at the Rialto Fish Market (Pescaria) for the freshest catch of the day. The covered arcade bustles with shoppers in the mornings Tuesday through Saturday.

Rialto Fish Market

A short distance from the market is one of the city's most iconic sights, the Rialto Bridge. This was the first bridge to span the Grand Canal and it marks the first bend.

The Rialto Bridge

Along the next stretch of canal is Ca' Foscari, the main building of the University of Venice. This building retains an old lamp positioned on the corner to light the adjacent canal intersection.

Ca' Foscari
University of Venice

Situated on the second bend in the canal is Ca' Rezzonico, which houses the Museum of 18th Century Venice. Visitors can view the furnishings and artwork of a typical grand palazzo from this decadent era in the city's history. (Remember Casanova?)

Ca' Rezzonico
Museum of 18th Century Venice

The Accademia Bridge, named for the nearby Accademia Gallery of Venetian art, is another of the Grand Canal's four bridges.

The Accademia Bridge

View from the Accademia Bridge

Accademia Gallery

A number of interesting art installations have been erected around the city for Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, like Forever Bicycles by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in the canal-side courtyard of Palazzo Franchetti. (Did George notice the bicycles or did he only have eyes for Amal?)

Forever Bicycles by Ai Weiwei

Palazzo Franchetti

The most ornate building along the Grand Canal must surely be the 16th century Palazzo Barbarigo. In 1868, its facade was updated with colourful Murano glass mosaics.

Palazzo Barbarigo

There's much more art to be found along the Grand Canal at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The American heiress and patron of the arts filled her modern home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, with equally modern 20th century art. Peggy died in 1979 and her ashes are buried in the gardens next to her beloved dogs.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Across the canal from Palazzo Venier dei Leoni is the Gritti Palace Hotel, originally commissioned by a 15th century Doge. Celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway and Woody Allen have stayed at the Gritti Palace and John Ruskin wrote The Stones of Venice here.

Gritti Palace Hotel

Santa Maria della Salute, built following a severe epidemic of the Black Death, is often referred to as one of Venice's "plague churches".

Santa Maria della Salute

Here the canal opens out into the Venetian lagoon and St. Marks' Basin. Visiting ships once stopped at the 17th century Customs House to pay their tolls. The building now houses a contemporary art museum, the Punta della Dogana.

The Customs House, Punta della Dogana

Upon reaching the waters of the lagoon, the Clooney wedding party would have by-passed San Marco, rounded the point and headed for their final destination, the luxurious Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca Island.

San Marco and the Doges Palace

The Grand Canal Meets the Lagoon

Hotel Cipriani, Venice

While enjoying a gondola ride along the quieter canals of Venice we came upon another happy couple posing for photographs on their own wedding day. Congratulations to all the newlyweds!

Another Wedding in Venice

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