VE­NI­CE'S HIDDEN GARDENS

The floa­ting ci­ty is ge­ne­ral­ly pic­tu­red as a lo­ca­tion of ma­gni­fi­cent ‘pa­laz­zi' and ca­nals tra­ver­sed by gon­do­las. At fir­st glan­ce, it might seem to con­si­st on­ly of buil­dings wi­thout mu­ch gree­ne­ry. But Ve­ni­ce boasts as ma­ny as 500 gardens, ma­ny of whi­ch ar

Where Venice - - Contents - BY RO­ME­NA BRU­GNE­ROT­TO

The floa­ting ci­ty boasts as ma­ny as 500 gardens, ma­ny of whi­ch are hidden be­hind the fa­ca­des of ‘pa­laz­zi' and in an­cient con­ven­ts.

Du­ring the crea­tion and gro­w­th of Ve­ni­ce, the Ve­ne­tians we­re fa­ced wi­th the chal­len­ge of creating fields for cul­ti­va­tion and ve­ge­ta­ble gardens, whi­ch was not an ea­sy ta­sk due to the sal­ty wa­ter of the la­goon. Mo­na­stic com­mu­ni­ties pro­vi­ded the fir­st mo­dels that would la­ter be adop­ted for the cul­ti­va­tion of herbs and ve­ge­ta­bles. The island of Cer­to­sa is a pri­me exam­ple of this. Over the cen­tu­ries, bo­ta­nists, mer­chan­ts and ex­plo­rers, re­tur­ning from fa­ra­way lands, brought nu­me­rous plant spe­cies to Ve­ni­ce in­clu­ding san­dal­wood, cin­na­mon, ce­dar trees, oran­ges and oli­ve trees.

Du­ring the Re­nais­san­ce, as do­cu­men­ted by Ja­co­po de' Bar­ba­ri's ae­rial view map (1500-1501), the­re was an ex­plo­sion of the­se gardens, whi­ch we­re used for re­la­xa­tion and bo­ta­ni­cal stu­dies. Plan­ts and flo­wers, foun­tains and sta­tues, we­re used to crea­te idyl­lic set­tings. Over the cen­tu­ries, due to the in­ter­ven­tion of the go­vern­ment and the con­ver­sion of se­ve­ral ari­sto­cra­tic ho­mes in­to ho­tels, the­se gardens we­re de­ve­lo­ped and tran­sfor­med. The crea­tion of the Li­do as an ex­clu­si­ve ho­li­day re­sort bet­ween the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry and the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry led to the esta­blish­ment of grand ho­tels, beau­ti­ful Li­ber­ty buil­dings and gardens along its coa­stli­ne.

Not all of the­se mar­vel­lous green spa­ces are open to the pu­blic, but Whe­re® has com­pi­led a li­st of di­stric­ts whe­re you can see and vi­sit so­me of the­se gardens.

CAN­NA­RE­GIO

Af­ter el­bo­wing our way through the cro­wds exi­ting the sta­tion of San­ta Lu­cia, our fir­st sto­po­ver is at the Chur­ch of San­ta Ma­ria di Na­za­re­th in the Can­na­re­gio di­strict. He­re you can vi­sit the Scal­zi ve­ge­ta­ble gar­den (Can­na­re­gio, 54): a part of the an­cient con­vent of the Di­scal­ced Car­me­li­tes. It is one of the Se­re­nis­si­ma's ol­de­st vi­neyards and is now used for the cul­ti­va­tion of gra­pes, fruit trees and me­di­ci­nal herbs. In 2015, the chur­ch ope­ned the ‘my­stic gar­den' for pu­blic viewing. This gar­den was built as a spi­ri­tual re­treat and com­bi­nes the beau­ty of na­tu­re wi­th re­li­gious sym­bo­li­sm. In ad­di­tion to fruit and ve­ge­ta­bles, the small shop at its en­tran­ce al­so sells ‘Me­lis­sa wa­ter', a flo­ral wa­ter re­no­w­ned for its hea­ling pro­per­ties.

The chur­ch or­ga­ni­zes gui­ded tours of the gar­den su­b­ject to a small do­na­tion. www.giar­di­no­mi­sti­co.it

Peep in­si­de the Bo­sco­lo Ho­tel Dei Do­gi (Can­na­re­gio, 3500) and ad­mi­re its ma­gni­fi­cent Bo­ta­ni­cal Gar­den. Crea­ted in the 18th cen­tu­ry to cul­ti­va­te ra­re bo­ta­ni­cal col­lec­tions, the gar­den was en­han­ced wi­th beau­ti­ful Ro­ma­ne­sque tou­ches in the 19th cen­tu­ry. Re­sto­red when the ho­tel ope­ned, it is now plan­ted wi­th ro­ses, ca­mel­lias, hy­dran­geas and other spe­cies that at­tract vi­si­tors year­round. Don't miss a vi­sit to the grot­to that was on­ce used to sto­re ice. ve­ne­zia.bo­sco­lo­ho­tels.com

Lo­ca­ted ju­st steps from the char­ming chur­ch of the Ma­don­na dell'Or­to, ju­st over a year ago the Heu­re­ka bou­ti­que ho­tel ope­ned its doors to the pu­blic. The ho­tel boasts a de­light­ful hidden gar­den, the ideal pla­ce to re­st and re­lax af­ter a hea­dy day's sightseeing.

Chill wi­th a glass of wi­ne, grab a good book or spread out a map of Ve­ni­ce and pin­point the sights that you'd li­ke to ex­plo­re. Who could wi­sh for mo­re? www. www.ho­tel-heu­re­ka.com

The gar­den of B&B Ca' Del Me­lo­gra­no (Can­na­re­gio, 2023) is equal­ly char­ming. This 200sqm spa­ce fea­tu­res a pond wi­th floa­ting wa­ter li­lies and wa­ter iri­ses, sym­bo­lic fruit trees, sculp­tu­res do­na­ted

by friends of the ow­ner and small wall ce­ra­mics in­scri­bed wi­th poe­tic tex­ts. www.lo­can­da­del­me­lo­gra­no.it

SAN­TA CRO­CE

Whi­le strolling through the ‘se­stie­re' of San­ta Cro­ce, ma­ke su­re to vi­sit the Por­ci­nai Win­ter Gar­den lo­ca­ted in­si­de the Ho­tel Pa­pa­do­po­li (San­ta Cro­ce, 245). This tran­quil spa­ce is a na­tu­ral ex­ten­sion of the park that is si­tua­ted ou­tsi­de the ho­tel. The gar­den is ador­ned wi­th thick vi­nes and lu­sh plant spe­cies. A beau­ti­ful Mu­ra­no glass chan­de­lier, han­ging from its cei­ling, re­minds us that this pa­ra­di­se of plan­ts is ac­tual­ly lo­ca­ted in Ve­ni­ce. pie­tro­por­ci­nai.it.

The gar­den of the Ho­tel Ca' Ni­gra (San­ta Cro­ce, 927) fa­ces di­rec­tly over the Grand Canal. Thanks to its ro­se bo­wers that crea­te geo­me­tric pat­terns amid­st lu­sh vi­nes of wi­ste­ria and box hed­ges, it is al­so kno­wn as the Ro­se Gar­den. Vi­si­tors can en­joy a ro­man­tic view over the wa­ter whi­le sit­ting on a half-moon sha­ped ben­ch ma­de from Istrian sto­ne. The gar­den is a fa­vou­ri­te lo­ca­tion for wed­ding pho­to­gra­phers. www.ho­tel­ca­ni­gra.com

SAN PO­LO

Tho­se in sear­ch of a green oa­sis whi­le wal­king through the ‘se­stie­re' of San Po­lo should head to the gar­den of Pa­laz­zet­to Bru Za­ne (San Po­lo, 2368). The buil­ding hosts ro­man­tic con­certs and its gar­den – re­sto­red to its ori­gi­nal splen­dour in 2007 – is equal­ly ro­man­tic. Hi­ghlights in­clu­de a bla­ze of whi­te blooms skill­ful­ly jux­ta­po­sed wi­th wi­ste­ria, a plant that is of­ten used to de­co­ra­te Ve­ne­tian gardens. www.bru-za­ne.com

Li­ke mo­st Ve­ne­tian gardens, the gar­den of Ca­sa Ma­hler, now re­na­med Ho­tel Ol­tre il Giar­di­no (San Po­lo, 2542), is hidden be­hind a wall. A pa­th of bam­boo and yew trees leads to a la­wn en­cir­cled by a wi­de va­rie­ty of plant spe­cies. The va­ry­ing si­zes and co­lours of the plan­ts ma­ke this small, tran­quil oa­sis seem lar­ger than it ac­tual­ly is. ol­treil­giar­di­no-ve­ne­zia.com

SAN MAR­CO

One of Ve­ni­ce's mo­st unu­sual gardens can be found in the fa­mous San Mar­co di­strict at Pa­laz­zo Fran­chet­ti (San Mar­co, 2844), a beau­ti­ful buil­ding over­loo­king the Grand Canal and the Ac­ca­de­mia Brid­ge. Al­thou­gh a hi­gh wall en­cir­cles the gar­den, on­ce in­si­de you can walk along a lu­sh tree-li­ned pa­th lea­ding to Grand Canal. This ve­nue is of­ten used to ho­st con­tem­po­ra­ry art works. www.pa­laz­zo­fran­chet­ti.it. The Gar­den of the Ho­tel Flo­ra (San Mar­co, 2283) is equal­ly cap­ti­va­ting but mu­ch smal­ler. This long, nar­row spa­ce, re­sem­bling a Ve­ne­tian al­ley­way, is lo­ca­ted bet­ween two buil­dings co­ve­red wi­th Ca­ta­w­ba gra­pe vi­nes. The gar­den fea­tu­res an ar­ray of dif­fe­rent plant spe­cies and de­co­ra­ti­ve ele­men­ts. The ideal spot to ta­ke a re­la­xing break. www.ho­tel­flo­ra.it

CA­STEL­LO

Two gardens as­so­cia­ted wi­th con­tem­po­ra­ry art can be found in the Ca­stel­lo di­strict.

The fir­st is the Car­lo Scar­pa Gar­den at the Que­ri­ni Stam­pa­lia Foun­da­tion (Ca­stel­lo, 5252). The gar­den is lo­ca­ted in­si­de a fa­bu­lous hou­se-mu­seum de­si­gned by ar­chi­tect Car­lo Scar­pa in 1959 (see pa­ge 50). This eclec­tic gar­den fu­ses ele­men­ts su­ch as By­zan­ti­ne-style mo­saics and a Ja­pa­ne­se peb­ble stream. Li­lies re­sting on the wa­ter re­mind you of Ve­ni­ce's de­li­ca­te ba­lan­ce of land and sea. www.que­ri­ni­stam­pa­lia.org

The Na­po­leo­nic Gardens in Ca­stel­lo, par­tial­ly oc­cu­pied by the pa­vi­lions of the Bien­na­le Foun­da­tion, are the lar­ge­st green spa­ces in the hi­sto­ric cen­ter. Pret­ty bor­ders, lea­fy pa­th­ways and a den­se ca­no­py of trees ma­ke this an ideal esca­pe in sum­mer. For a re­fre­shing break, stop at the Ser­ra dei Giar­di­ni (Ca­stel­lo, 1254) a green hou­se cum ca­fe­te­ria and one of the ci­ty's mo­st vi­brant cul­tu­ral hubs. www.ser­ra­dei­giar­di­ni.org

DOR­SO­DU­RO

The gardens in the Dor­so­du­ro di­strict are al­so re­no­w­ned for their con­tem­po­ra­ry art ex­hi­bi­ts. When stay­ing in Ve­ni­ce, a vi­sit to the Peg­gy Gug­ge­n­heim Col­lec­tion (Dor­so­du­ro, 704) is an ab­so­lu­te mu­st. He­re, amid­st cy­pres­ses, yews, Ame­ri­can lin­den trees and plant spe­cies im­por­ted from abroad, you'll find sta­tues from the Peg­gy Gug­ge­n­heim, as well as the Na­sher and Shu­lhof col­lec­tions. To re­mind you of your ho­li­day, ma­ke su­re to ta­ke a pho­to whi­le sit­ting on the mar­ble ben­ch in the midd­le of the gar­den, one of the Ame­ri­can hei­ress's fa­vou­ri­te spo­ts. www.gug­ge­n­heim-ve­ni­ce.it

In ad­di­tion to gardens, this area al­so boasts se­ve­ral ve­ge­ta­ble gardens. A se­ries of ve­ge­ta­ble gardens be­lon­ging to an or­ga­nic hor­ti­cul­tu­ral school - the fir­st in the ci­ty - ha­ve been plan­ted in the grounds of the Chur­ch of An­ge­lo

Raf­fae­le (Dor­so­du­ro, 2364). He­re, plan­ts and flo­wers coe­xi­st wi­th me­di­ci­nal herbs. The area is di­vi­ded in­to 40 small plo­ts cul­ti­va­ted by se­nior ci­ti­zens using or­ga­nic and bio-dy­na­mic cul­ti­va­tion tech­ni­ques.

THE ISLANDS

Ta­ke a va­po­ret­to and head to the island of Giu­dec­ca whe­re gardens abound. So­me, li­ke the gar­den at the Ho­tel Bauer Pal­la­dio (whi­ch is par­ti­cu­lar­ly beau­ti­ful in spring when the tu­lips and daf­fo­dils are in bloom), and that of the Ho­tel Ci­pria­ni (whe­re you can ad­mi­re lu­sh vi­neyards, for­mer­ly pre­sent in abun­dan­ce on the island) are open to the pu­blic.

In May you can al­so vi­sit the Gar­den of Ot­ti­lia (Cal­le dell'Ac­ca­de­mia dei No­bi­li). In ad­di­tion to se­ve­ral ra­re flo­we­ring spe­cies, Ot­ti­lia cul­ti­va­tes 130 dif­fe­rent spe­cies of ro­ses ba­sed on the prin­ci­ples of bio­dy­na­mics and ki­ne­sio­lo­gy. Be­lie­ve it or not, Ot­ti­lia uses a pen­du­lum to "choo­se the plan­ts that want to co­me in­to the gar­den, find out whe­re they want to be plan­ted, on what day and at what hour they want to be plan­ted, and how and when they want to be ca­red for."

A small port near the Hil­ton Mo­li­no Stuc­ky pro­vi­des ac­cess to the For­tu­ny tex­ti­le fac­to­ry crea­ted by eclec­tic Spa­ni­sh ar­ti­st Ma­ria­no For­tu­ny. He­re you'll find a gar­den wi­th an ama­zing swim­ming pool. Ac­cor­ding to lo­cal lo­re the ve­nue was used to ho­st fa­bu­lou­sly la­vi­sh par­ties. In ad­di­tion to the gar­den, don't miss a vi­sit to the sho­w­room, a beau­ti­ful spa­ce hou­sing the For­tu­ny col­lec­tion, me­mo­ra­bi­lia, sket­ches and other items in­clu­ding cu­shions, ac­ces­so­ries, glass art, lamps and ex­qui­si­te fa­brics. for­tu­ny.com/ve­ni­ce

If you want to con­ti­nue your jour­ney of di­sco­ve­ry of Ve­ni­ce's gardens and green spa­ces, we re­com­mend a vi­sit to the islands. Ta­ke a va­po­ret­to to the Island of Cer­to­sa, on­ly a fif­teen mi­nu­te ri­de from St. Mark's Squa­re. Af­ter being aban­do­ned for years, it was tran­sfor­med in­to a pu­blic park wi­th a nau­ti­cal cen­tre. You'll be struck by the si­ze of the plan­ts who­se ra­pid gro­w­th is the re­sult of the light that is re­flec­ted off the la­goon.

Whil­st in Burano, cross a woo­den brid­ge, and you'll find your­self fa­cing the Wal­led Vi­neyard of Maz­zor­bo. This vi­neyard, whi­ch was re­cen­tly re­sto­red by Gian­lu­ca Bi­sol, wi­ne en­thu­sia­st and en­tre­pre­neur, re­no­w­ned for his spar­kling wi­nes, has be­co­me a cen­tre of ru­ral agri­cul­tu­re. This small vi­neyard pro­du­ces a won­der­ful wi­ne cal­led Ve­nis­sa that is ex­por­ted th­rou­ghout the world. This wi­ne is ma­de from the ‘Do­ro­na' gra­pe, a na­ti­ve va­rie­ty of the la­goon.

Al­ter­na­te­ly, you can ta­ke the shut­tle in

St. Mark's Squa­re and head to the island of Sac­ca Ses­so­la whe­re the Ho­tel JW Ma­riott Ve­ni­ce is hea­d­quar­te­red. The ho­tel is sur­roun­ded by lu­sh gardens, thick fo­lia­ge, age-old trees and beau­ti­ful oli­ve gro­ves. The island al­so hosts a fa­bu­lous

SPA and a beau­ti­ful pa­no­ra­mic ter­ra­ce whe­re you can en­joy a re­la­xing drink. www.jw­ve­ni­ce.com

Peg­gy Gug­ge­n­heim Col­lec­tion

Ho­tel Flo­ra

Pa­laz­zet­to Bru Za­ne

Bo­sco­lo Ho­tel Dei Do­gi

Ho­tel Ol­tre il Giar­di­no

Heu­re­ka bou­ti­que ho­tel gar­den

Maz­zor­bo

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