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Canaletto work returns to abbey after 270 years

After 270 years, one of the finest works by Giovanni Antonio Canal - better known as Canaletto - is finally returning to the Venetian abbey where it was originally painted at a rare exhibition this November.

Canaletto work returns to abbey after 270 years
The painting is entitled 'L’Entrata nel Canal Grande e la Basilica della Salute’ (The entrance to the Grand Canal and the Basilica of Health). Photo: Fondaco Venezia

One of Venetian artist Canaletto’s finest works, L’Entrata nel Canal Grande e la Basilica della Salute (The entrance to the Grand Canal and the Basilica of Health) will go on display in November in the Medieval Abbazia di San Gregorio in Venice, where the work was originally conceived and painted. 

Organized by the Fondaco Venezia, the exhibition, entitled Gero Qua (I was there), will be open 24 hours a day between November 10th and December 27th, in the exact spot where the 18th century landscape artist painted it.

There, viewers will be able to compare the painting with the original view of the Basilica that inspired Canaletto centuries ago.

Painted between 1740 and 1745, the work offers a view towards the Baroque white marble Basilica di Salute, created by architect Baldassarre Longhena as an offering for the city following the end of an outbreak of the plague.

Also visible are the Doge’s Palace, the Magazzini del Sale and the Punta della Dogana as well as a scattering of noblemen, merchants, boatmen and local gondoliers of the day.

But with ticket prices reported to be as high as €400 for a nighttime viewing, tourists aren’t expected in their hordes. Only eight viewers will be allowed at any time and visits must be pre-booked.

According to Fondaco Venezia, the painting was probably originally purchased by British nobleman Henry Grey, the Duke of Kent (1664-1740) before being passed down to become part of the art collection of Lady Lucas and Dingwall.

Centuries later in 1970, it was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London and bought by its current private owner.

Since then, it has toured around the world, featuring in exhibitions in Madrid, Rome, Milan and Paris.

For more information visit the exhibition's website.

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VENICE

Italy to pay €57m compensation over Venice cruise ship ban

The Italian government announced on Friday it would pay 57.5 million euros in compensation to cruise companies affected by the decision to ban large ships from Venice's fragile lagoon.

A cruise ship in St Mark's Basin, Venice.
The decision to limit cruise ship access to the Venice lagoon has come at a cost. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The new rules, which took effect in August, followed years of warnings that the giant floating hotels risked causing irreparable damage to the lagoon city, a UNESCO world heritage site.

READ ALSO: Venice bans large cruise ships from centre after Unesco threat of ‘endangered’ status

Some 30 million euros has been allocated for 2021 for shipping companies who incurred costs in “rescheduling routes and refunding passengers who cancelled trips”, the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

A further 27.5 million euros – five million this year and the rest in 2022 – was allocated for the terminal operator and related companies, it said.

The decision to ban large cruise ships from the centre of Venice in July came just days before a meeting of the UN’s cultural organisation Unesco, which had proposed adding Venice to a list of endangered heritage sites over inaction on cruise ships.

READ ALSO: Is Venice really banning cruise ships from its lagoon?

Under the government’s plan, cruise ships will not be banned from Venice altogether but the biggest vessels will no longer be able to pass through St Mark’s Basin, St Mark’s Canal or the Giudecca Canal. Instead, they’ll be diverted to the industrial port at Marghera.

But critics of the plan point out that Marghera – which is on the mainland, as opposed to the passenger terminal located in the islands – is still within the Venice lagoon.

Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, as infrastructure at Marghera is still being built. Meanwhile, smaller cruise liners are still allowed through St Mark’s and the Giudecca canals.

Cruise ships provide a huge economic boost to Venice, but activists and residents say the ships contribute to problems caused by ‘overtourism’ and cause large waves that undermine the city’s foundations and harm the fragile ecosystem of its lagoon.

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