Garden / Spring

Camminando sotto i glicini – The Venetian Wisteria Walk

04.14.17

Looking up in Venice these days is a must because the purple blossom season is in full swing. In mid-April Venice is enveloped in the fragrant cascades of il glicine – wisteria. I mean, literally enveloped. Above you can see one of my favorite wisteria plants covering a building on Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio. Since I was a child I went to “visit” all “my” wisteria plants in April, and this was my absolute favorite for many years. If you stand in front of it in front of the pozzo, you can get the best view to take pictures. As this plant grows on a particularly sunny place, sometimes when winter is particularly mild, its first buds appear in late February …

This early morning wisteria walk is dedicated to our friend Michelle who just spent one month in Venice but left on April 1st, just a few days before wisteria started blossoming ! You can see all pictures of her March trip to Venice here.

The wisteria variety you can usually find in Venice is wisteria sinensis. It’s Chinese wisteria, and in China it has been cherished since times immemorial. Officially, wisteria was brought to Venice in the 1820s by botanists on an East India Company vessel via London but we suspect that wisteria originating in China had arrived and flourished in secret Venetian palace gardens long before. After all, the Merchants of Venice for 1,100 years had brought home so many plant trophies from Asia, Africa and the Levant.

Above you can see what is considered the oldest wisteria plant in Venice, growing in the gardens of Palazzo Nani-Bernardo, more than 100 years old. This garden has a wonderful courtyard decorated with pot plants and covered with a roof made from wisteria !!

For some reason, it seems to me that wisteria located in the Dorsoduro / San Polo area are most lush, so I will take you on a walk there. From Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio, we walk towards Campo San Barnabà to reach Fondazione Peggy Guggenheim. Look what the entrance looks like now …

There’s another wisteria plant on the garden grounds inside, hidden in a little grove. Then on your way towards the Basilica della Salute, stop on Fondamenta Venier so you can’t miss the lush wisteria plant below. It grows on a balcony just above the courtyard of a building looking out on the Grand Canal.  Another example of those wisteria plants growing on second and third-floor terraces in Venice.

Just continue walking to towards the Basilica crossing Rio Terà dei Catecumeni where on 21 November the bancarelle (stands) of the Salute Fair (Fiera della Salute) are located. Now turn round and look into the direction of the Giudecca island from the bridge spanning Rio della Salute. Another precious plant overgrowing a terrace whose owners do own a splendid view of the Basilica just across the narrow canal …

Stop on the bridge and now look into the other direction towards Ca’ Maria Adele and the wisteria growing next to its water entrance … From here you could take a picture of the Salute Church enveloped by wisteria twigs.

Here’s the big view towards the Grand Canal  …

But now we’ll take a vaporetto and get off at the San Zaccaria stop. From there, it’s just a few steps to reach Campo San Provolo holding the memory and the story of the lushest wisteria plant in Venice !!

When grandmother Lina returned to her home in Venice after the war in 1945, in April Campo San Provolo became one fluffy fragrant cloud . For above the sotoportegho leading out onto Fondamenta de l’Osmarin, a lush wisteria was growing and its cascading blossoms covered half of Campo San Provolo, that is the facades of four buildings. When she tells this story today it sounds like a fairytale – yet there’s a picture of this plant on Campo San Provolo in her home:

We’ll tell the story of the picturesque campo in Lina’s Birthday Book in December 2017. For now, our neighborhood is covered with wisteria blossoms, simply everywhere. Beyond Rio dei Greci, there’s a fine plant on Calle della Pietà leading into Campo della Bragora (Castello).

 

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 !!

13 comments on “Camminando sotto i glicini – The Venetian Wisteria Walk”

    1. Dear Michelle, you are so welcome ! Venice changes quickly in spring, and that’s how she will look like in the next 1-2 weeks.

  1. Thanks for yet another evocative post! I can smell the wonderful fragrance now! We holidayed in Venice in April in 2015 and I remember the fabulous flowering wisteria everywhere.

    1. Dear Mari, true, wisteria flowers everywhere now in Venice ! This fragrance is so sweet and I like wisteria blossoms tinted by the soft light of April ..

  2. How beautiful this post is. So very evocative. You feel like you can almost smell the beautiful wisteria. As always, I wish I was there. Thank you for another wonderful post.

    1. Thank you Vanessa! It’s on days like these – cloudy, rather warm and a few raindrops falling, that you can smell wisteria best.

  3. Beautiful post! My daughter just finished an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim. She loved the wisteria there in the spring and sent us several pictures of it spilling over balconies, etc. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing.

    1. Wisteria is blossoming just above the entrance to Peggy Guggenheim’s and spilling over onto the street … I love that wisteria plant too. You are so welcome, we are happy that you like our blog articles, and photos !!

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