A dazzling movie-star wedding at theAman Venice, in an historic palazzo on the Canal Grande, put the luxe hotel on the map.
The Aman Venice hotel, located on the Canal Grande, is tted out in contemporary spirit within an exquisite Renaissance palazzo, in keeping with the Venetian expression, com’era, dov’era – as it was, where it was. Its setting, in the UNESCO World Heritage ‘ oating city’, looks just as it must have in the era when painted by one of its most famous sons, Venetian artist Il Canaletto (1697-1768).
The Canal Grande is lined with palaces and palazzos dating from the 12th to 18th centuries and built in Venetian gothic, baroque and renaissance styles. Each outdoing the other in luxury, they were built for show and entertaining by rich traders, merchants and powerful families when those of note desired a palazzo on the Canal Grande.
Times have changed since heiress Peggy Guggenheim hosted her circle of artists at a palazzo she bought in the 1940s. The days of servants and extravagant soirees reached a pinnacle with the legendary masked ball hosted in 1951 by wealthy Charles de Bestegui at Palazzo Labia.
In 2013, one of the nest jewels on the Canal Grande, the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli, became the elegant 24-room Aman Venice. A year after its opening, American actor George Clooney booked out the entire hotel for his wedding to British lawyer Amal Alamuddin. Millions watched as images of the dazzling event, and its stunning venue, were beamed via various media around the world.
To arrive at the Aman Venice is like entering an immensely luxurious private home which, in fact, it partly is.
To arrive at the Aman Venice is like entering an immensely luxurious private home which, in fact, it partly is. The hotel’s launch glides into a discreet oating dock and guests enter, as did George and Amal Clooney, through the main porta d’acqua door on the canal side and into a lofty ceilinged reception hall. From there, an impressive staircase leads up to the piano nobile, the grandest and main oor of a palazzo.
These days, guests are more likely to encounter the owners of the palazzo than the Clooneys. That’s because Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga, who is a direct descendant of the Papadopoli family, his wife Bianca and their ve children still live on the building’s top oor. The family had lived there since 1989 but while the cost of upkeep was prohibitive Giberto didn’t want to sell and the family de nitely did not want to move. Then, Adrian Zecha, the founder of the Aman resorts and hotel group, met with the family and a solution was agreed upon. Aman would rent, refurbish and manage the building as a hotel while the family retained ownership and lived there. It was a win for one and all, including hotel guests, who feel they are in a private home of immense luxury, as well as for Aman, considering the building’s sumptuous architecture and exquisite interiors.
Built in 1550 for the Coccina family who were wealthy merchants and seafarers, the palazzo changed hands several times until, in 1864, the immensely wealthy Papadopoli family from Corfu bought, re-named and renovated it. They created a sumptuous ballroom on the piano nobile in the neo-renaissance and rococo styles to impress and entertain Venice’s high society of the day. They installed Murano glass chandeliers, Venetian glass mirrors, lavish mouldings and frescoes, adding to the fabulous frescoes by master painter Tiepolo and a fourth oor library designed in baroque/rococo style that had already been commissioned by previous owners.
Under the direction of Jean-Michel Gaffey of Denniston Architects, who often works with Aman, these exquisite and ornate pieces have all been restored or refurbished. In keeping with traditional style, Gaffey used silk in subtle shades for wallcoverings and curtains by Rubelli – the Venetian textile company whose showroom and archives dating from the 1800s are housed in a 15th-century palazzo on the Canal Grande. Adding a contemporary spirit within the ornate, exquisite interiors, the furniture is by B&B Italia and Maxalto.
The Aman has two gardens, unusual in Venice. One overlooks the canal, while the rear garden leads out to the narrow streets of the old San Polo district, the Rialto Bridge and all the gems hidden in the narrow streets. But that’s another side of Venice – and another story.
For more, go to aman.com/resorts/aman-venice.
A DAZZLING MOVIE STAR WEDDING AT THE AMAN VENICE, IN AN HISTORIC PALAZZO ON THE C ANAL GRANDE, PUT THE LUXE HOTEL ON THE MAP.
This page Lined with rows of palazzos and centuries-old buildings, the Canal Grande winds its way through the heart of the oating city.
This page, clockwise from top Contemporary Maxalto furniture against famous frescoes in the piano nobile lounge. The main dining room has high arched windows that open to a balcony. The 16th-century Palazzo Papadopili – now Aman Venice hotel – glows in the early evening light.
This page, clockwise from top le The library’s original walnut bookcases are lled with rare books and walls covered in 300-year-old leather. One of 24 bedrooms. Stairs lead up to the The
piano nobile. Opposite page palazzo’s main oor, the piano nobile, is now a dining room, lounge and blue-themed bar.