Daily Life / Garden / Summer

Summer on the Ancient Island of Olivolo

07.02.16

Many visitors tend to avoid Venice in the summer and rather come in fall and winter. Especially for those of you visiting in the cooler season, we have prepared this flowery blog post on Summer in Venice and the tale of an ancient Lagoon island.

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We’ll start discovering summer on a light note showing you our summer jungle !!! It’s oleander blossom season, always looking so overwhelming to me. Look at these impressive oleander, dazzling white, pale pink, ruby-red, pale yellow blossoms. Expect Venice to look like this if you come to Venice around solstice. Oleander start blossoming gradually in mid-April and their blossoms last until end-October.

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This oleander paradise is located on an island whose history is only little known. The island was called Olivolo and represented one of the three pillars of Venetian life for more than 1,400 years.

While San Marco represented the political center and Rialto became the commercial hub in the 5th century, Olivolo became the seat of the patriarch. A fortification was built on Olivolo and the name of the Venetian sestiere (district) Castello derives from it. This building was either  Roman or built by representatives of Byzantium. Here we enter mysterious territory and the chapter of the early history of Venice which is still being explored.

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Perhaps this ancient castello merlato looked like the building in the picture above located opposite Olivolo on the other side of the Canale di San Pietro.

Today the island is called San Pietro di Castello and not many visitors arrive here. It’s an ideal place to enjoy a leisurely summer day and stop for breakfast with cappuccino and cornetto in a  family-owned bar-cafe !!

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The name Olivolo seems to derive from olive trees. In front of the basilica an olive tree was  growing for centuries. These days, there are these giant oleander bushes and hydrangea. There’s this path covered by poplar trees leading to the basilica originally built in the 7th century. Olivolo was settled at the same time when El Brolo, the garden of the Monastery San Zaccaria was created in 481 AD. The Venetian patriarch resided on Olivolo since 1451.

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You can have this place to yourselves on a summer morning like I did during the last days of June. There are just a few people resting in the shade and all around you can see the white tents hosting the Festa di San Pietro di Castello (Festa de San Piero de Casteo in Venessiàn) in the evening.

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I love exploring all the details amongst  hydrangea, petunias, mint and basil and take in the warm caressing sun rays and lush blossoms nourished by spring rain.

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Author: Iris

Iris Loredana: Culinary historian, food and lifestyle blogger. Author of the Blogs "La Venessiana" (Venice) and "From My Italian Home" (coming soon). My family is from Venice and Amalfi and I'm currently based in Venice and Vienna. I love traveling, cooking and gardening - all the things I'm writing about in my blogs !!

12 comments on “Summer on the Ancient Island of Olivolo”

  1. Another wonderful post that makes me feel like I am their. I am really going to try to visit Venice next year and I will have to definitely visit Olivolo while I’m there. You have inspired me.

    1. Thank you !! Wanted to show what summer is like in Venice, off the beaten path … and these oleander bushes are my favorites :-) I also love the name of the island, recalling the olive tree … hope you can see for yourself next year !!

  2. Even in December this area can be a lovely walk where you encounter absolutely no one else as I found out on December 2, 2013. Of course in the post I say I would love to live in that area…far away from the tourists but still close to the heart of Venice.

    1. True, winter is also beautiful in this area, it’s very quiet. In this post I wanted to show you how exuberant summer is here, you can go for a walk and take your time to stop and enjoy, what a contrast to the crowds!!

  3. I´m really glad I bumped into this blog. Though I was born in Venice (I´m assuming you are from Venice too?),there is still so much to learn about it.
    Regarding the article above, Venice is indeed charming throughout the whole summer season. It can get pretty hot, but provided with enough supplies of water, it can be enjoyed at its best.
    I wrote something about the city, perhaps it might interest you :)
    https://aplacewelike.com/2016/05/22/venice/

    1. Hello, very pleased to meet you!! Great that you were born in Venice, me too. You can read more about us here. https://lavenessiana.com/about-us/ True, there’s water shortage in summer, in particular when your apartment is located on the 3rd floor and above. In the last few years, though, summers were rather wet, and it didn’t happen so often. Let’s see what we’re in for this year..
      Thank you for sharing your article on Venice!! :-)

      1. Thank you!! So nice to meet you here, and I’ll also read your posts, you also write about London, a city that I love

    1. True, fishing crabs is a favorite pastime of Venetians. That’s also true for catching vongole in the shallow Lagoon waters in the summer :-)

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