Marriage, Italian Renaissance Style: The Wedding Venue!

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In June and July we brought you the first two installments of our summer series, “Til Death Do Us Art: Marriage, Italian Renaissance Style,” focusing on the dress, and finding the perfect gift for a Renaissance-themed wedding. We now continue with tips on finding the perfect venue help you party like it’s 1499!

If you’re a stickler for accuracy, it’s impossible to beat Italy for an authentic Renaissance setting for your event. Juliet’s House in real-life Verona is an obvious choice, but don’t be fooled by this picturesque photo.


In person, the courtyard is cramped, and filled with old chewing gum and litter where young lovers have posted notes to the wall. Plus, Juliet never lived here (or existed for that matter), and the famous balcony was added in the early 20th Century.

Bypass this tourist trap for your ceremony and reception, but do stop in to rub the statue of Juliet’s left breast for luck.

Juliet by Nereo Costantini, at Juliet’s House.

A better choice might be Villa Antinori, which made headlines last year when it went up for sale at $23 million. It is commonly called “Mona Lisa’s Villa,” because Lisa Gherardini (model for Da Vinci’s iconic painting) supposedly once lived here. Indeed, there is some evidence to support this, but the real attraction is the picturesque estate with ample wine cellars and a breathtaking vista of the Tuscan countryside.

Villa Antinori, nicknamed “Mona Lisa’s Villa.”

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, in the Louvre Museum.

Also consider the gardens of the National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome. This lavish, baroque manner and formal gardens were formerly the Palazzo Barberini, and before that the vineyards of the legendary Renaissance House of Sforza. Even the fictional, cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, is a Sforza on his mother’s side. By all means drink up the chianti, but perhaps leave the human liver off your wedding menu.


National Gallery of Ancient Art in Rome, viewed from the gardens.

Of course, not everyone has the funds to jet off to Italy, or rent out a multimillion-dollar villa for a destination wedding. For American couples on a budget, here are some options closer to home with an air of authenticity.

Look into getting permission to hold a ceremony in the Renaissance painting wing of your favorite local museum. Of course, insurance issues can make a museum wedding a costly affair. Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams bypassed this obstacle in the Nicholas Sparks film, The Vow, by doing it on the DL (don’t try this at home, kids).

Scene from The Vow (2012).

We at Sarte are big supporters of museums, so we encourage doing it the legit way. Showing up without a permit is for protesting against Nazis, not hobnobbing with your drunk friends among priceless masterpieces. Alternately, consider a museum courtyard, such as this glass-enclosed garden with echoes of Venice, in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Even stateside, museum weddings can be difficult to book, logistically nightmarish to choreograph, and obscenely expensive. For the West Coast couple on a mid-level budget, consider a Tuscan style California winery, or an intimate ceremony in a historic mission church.

Mission San Miguel Arcangel in Central California (pictured above) is a low-budget option with a unique aura. Rustic ceiling beams, hand-painted frescoes dating back to the 1820s, and traditional Catholic iconography give this local gem an old-world sense of ambience and mediterranean flavor.

This September, dust off the oversized wine goblet you drink from while quoting Tyrion Lannister, and tie on your best mutton-chomping bib, as we say goodbye to summer and transition into fall with the last in our series: planning a menu for your Renaissance wedding.

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Griff Stecyk


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