Tell-tale scents you can’t miss in Venice during these final ten days in April … so looking up in Venice these days is a must ! Our city is now enveloped in fragrant blossom cascades, for il glicine – wisteria is blooming.
Probably every Venetian has a favorite place they visit in mid-April to see how “their” wisteria is doing. In my case, it’s not just one plant but several ones I go and see during this time of the year. Join me to explore San Polo at breakfast time, and then for a second walk from San Barnaba’ to Santa Maria della Salute. It’s in this area that the passers-by get to see most wisteria plants in Venice. But then, there are many more, growing in the secret gardens that Venice still consists of. Almost half of Venice consists of private gardens!
So let’s start with one of the most fluffy and rambling wisteria plants in Venice thriving on the terrace of a building just off Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio. Betraying what one would consider the needs of a plant, it seems to live on sea breeze and sun rays. Another plant I know of, that just survive without being attached on soil, is the olive tree living on top of a red brick wall on the Zattere, near the convent Santa Maria della Salute.
Now stand in front of the well (pozzo) from where you get the best view. As this plant grows on a particularly sunny place, when winter is particularly mild, I noticed that buds appear by late February.
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 arrived in Venice in the 1820s via botanists on an East India Company vessel via London. Yet, we suspect that wisteria originating in China 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.
In the late afternoon in April, you can bathe in the soft sun rays that make April so special in Venice. A few years ago, as member of the Venetian Instagram Group, IG Venice, I was able to visit a special wisteria, the oldest plant in Venice, more than 100 years old. It still thrives in the garden of Palazzo Bernardi Nano, covering the patio. Actually, to enter the garden, you have to pass beneath the trunk of this wisteria which by now has become a veritable tree.
From Palazzo Bernardi Nano, it’s just a few steps before you arrive in Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio. You could stop in this lively campo for coffee, or continue walking towards the Peggy Guggenheim Palace, walking beneath several wisteria plants protruding from behind the brick stone walls.
Now look at the entrance of Fondazione Peggy Guggenheim. Take a look at the garden, always lush, and continue towards Palazzo Dario. On your way towards the Basilica della Salute, stop on Fondamenta Venier so you can’t miss a lush wisteria plant growing on a second-floor terrace just above the courtyard of Palazzo Dario overlooking the Grand Canal.
Continue walking to towards the Basilica della Salute along Rio Terà dei Catecumeni. On 21 November, during the Festa della Madonna della Salute, most of the bancarelle (stands) of the Salute Fair (Fiera della Salute) are located here. Step on the bridge which leads into Campiello della Salute and look into the direction of the Giudecca island Another precious plant growing on a terrace, whose owners enjoy a splendid view of the Basilica just across the narrow canal …
What I can’t convey to you is the sweet scent or rather, clouds of wisteria scent are enveloping Venice. Stop on the bridge and look in the other direction towards Ca’ Maria Adele and the wisteria growing next to its water entrance. And yes, from here it’s possible to take a picture of the Basilica framed by wisteria blossoms.
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 !! I’m telling its story in this post.
When grandmother Lina returned to her home in Venice after the war in April 1945, Campo San Provolo was enveloped in a fluffy fragrant cloud. Above the sotoportegho leading to Fondamenta de l’Osmarin, a lush wisteria was growing. Its cascading blossoms covered half of the campo, that is the facades of four buildings. It sounds like a fairytale – yet there’s a picture of this plant in her home, and the oil painting of this plant, never forgotten, is the reason I started writing my blog La Venessiana in the first place …