Romance Rocks the Waters of Venice as George Clooney Ties the Knot
You surely can’t fail to have seen the mass coverage of George Clooney’s wedding this weekend in Venice as he and Amal Alamuddin became man and wife at the city’s sumptuous seven-star hotel, the Aman Canal Grande, in front of a star-studded audience boasting the likes of Matt Damon, Bono, Billy Murray and Cindy Crawford. There’s certainly been no shortage of pictures of the Hollywood heartthrob taking to the waters of the Grand Canal or indeed of him and his bride posing outside Venice City Hall, the 13th-century Ca’ Farsetti, where their marriage became official yesterday.
And although the great and the good of film, fashion and music have now departed the city, there’s still plenty of reasons why a Venice city break is not only one of our most popular offerings but in fact one of my personal favourites. Indeed, if Paris tops the polls as Europe’s most romantic city, then Venice must surely come a close second! Thoroughly deserving of the title “la Serenissima”, Venice is set against the glittering backdrop of the Adriatic Sea and sparkles with romance and sophistication as you wander hand-in-hand through charming campi or watch the gondolas gently glide under the many bridges that crisscross the maze of canals on which Venice is built.
For the most spectacular introduction to Venice, enter via the Canal Grande and cruise past palaces, churches and the pretty gondola moorings as you wind your way into the city centre. Be sure to look out for Ca’ d’Oro, a literal house of gold, as well as the stunning Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, occupying a prime position between the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Basin.
Naturally, most visitors begin their explorations with St Mark’s Square, in fact Venice’s only piazza, with its awe-inspiring basilica, soaring Campanile and the magnificent Doges’ Palace. Choose from one of the many cafés and enjoy an espresso as you absorb the fabulous architecture and indulge in a spot of people (and pigeon!) watching.
Beyond Piazza San Marco lies a rabbit-warren of streets and canals itching to be explored. Meander over to the famous Rialto Bridge, the oldest of four bridges crossing the Grand Canal, where the merchants of Venice still vie for your custom. Or, for a complete contrast, head for the romantic, 17th-century Bridge of Sighs, one of Venice’s most photographed landmarks. Immortalised in poetry by Lord Byron, legend has it that if couples kiss whilst passing under the bridge at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love!
If it’s art you’re after, visit the great Galleria dell’Accademia displaying paintings by Venetian masters or, for a more modern approach to art, try the Peggy Guggenheim Collection situated on the Grand Canal in the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, or Ca’ Pesaro, the International Gallery of Modern Art, housed in a Baroque marble palace in the historic district of Santa Croce.
Of course, the lagoon islands should not be forgotten so why not take the vaporetto out to explore the delights of Murano, famous for its stunning glass and once considered the glassmaking capital of Europe; beautiful Burano, renowned for its long association with the intricate art of lace-making; Torcello, a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemmingway and location to the fabulous Locanda Cipriani; or the Lido, home to the annual Venice Film Festival?
So if you’re looking to avoid the traditional clichés of Paris and want to push the boat out further than Bruges, then why not follow in George’s footsteps with a romantic short break to Venice, a dramatic yet dreamy destination in which to discover l’amore!