Five Secrets you should Know about Gardens in Venice

More than one third of Venice consists of green areas and three quarters of these verdant spaces are owned privately. What remains is the public gardens in town, accessible to anyone, and a few larger palace gardens turned into hotels. Just one reason why visitors might be misled into thinking that Venice has no real “gardens” …

My father, an architect, would say that first, we need to define the notion of  “garden in Venice”. Agree upon the term we’re using. He would opt to call “gardens” the campazzi, seemingly unkempt spaces. They make you travel back in time and imagine what Venice looked like in the year 1100. Take a look at our example below.

cimg3432Secret #1 A campazzo is a public space in Venice that you can cross on a gravel path. A sort of commons behind and between the buildings. Venetians still grow vegetables and plant herb gardens and orchards here.

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Glimpses into secret gardens along Rio San Provolo

Secret #2 This cityscape consists of buildings whose main facades and main entrances look towards the canals.  At first sight you can’t make out all those private and semi-private spaces shrouded in their backyards which are called corti (courtyards). Even today, corti are either private (used by one house only) or semi-private (used by more houses).

Secret #3 Some corti weren’t paved but remained green and were cut off from public space. These are the corti we call “garden”. Walling in these green plots took place on large scale in the 12th century, at the same time when the first stone bridges replaced wooden ones in town.

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Secret #4 Some areas in Venice remained uninhabited, perhaps the ground was difficult to build on, too moist and swampy. Often large portions of land and entire islands were used by monasteries to grow vegetable gardens and orchards. Venetian noblemen used other areas for experimenting with exotic plants brought back from their voyages.

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Who would guess that behind this red brick stone facade, one of the most beautiful orange gardens of Venice is located :-)

It’s this ancient cityscape you need to keep at the back of your mind if you go for a walk to discover “the gardens of Venice”. These four secrets woven together make you see the whole concept, the master plan behind the scenes instead of an individual glimpse. That’s not so easy but in 2015, an initiative capturing the facet-rich truth of Lagoon, city and gardens as a whole was launched, and that’s Secret #5 I would like to share with you:

The Liquid Press, created by Giuseppe Boscaro for much of the year comes as an online magazine telling about Venice on the website and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+ and Instagram. Giuseppe and his friends organize unique initiatives that make you #feelvenice as a whole in its liquid environment.  A full immersion into the ancient world told with our modern communication tools.
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A rainforest in Venice? It’s a former spice garden …

The flagship event  #Socialboat2015 took place in May 2015, welcoming guests to Venice on board a boat as has always been the tradition of Venice. The guests approached Venice “from the sea” in the grand ancient manner. Other events include the one-day InstaMeets #giardini veneziani, whom I wrote about last year in this blog post.

The Liquid Press nasce con l’intento di descrivere il presente, sempre più digitale e mobile, grazie al racconto corale di un’esperienza vissuta attraverso le diverse sensibilità dei partecipanti – Giuseppe Boscaro

“Venice is a fragile and precious microcosm balancing its august origins and grand history with its relationship between the once gentile guest of the past and a new transformed modern tourist.We embark on a journey to reveal ancient culture and artistry, using the tools of contemporary storytelling; the new world of social media is our canvas (…)  Social Media is the current venue to experiment with new forms of storytelling with content that is often influenced by the demands of a commercial market in an age of Big Data. This is where information is created and shared by individual users.
Preserving Venice’s past in this digital digest has become vitally important. Water becomes a metaphor for this liquid and uncertain world, giving the required space for leisurely travel, meditation and discovery — it allows for a slow, unhurried life. (…) Our singular, social-media savvy protagonists share their own experiences and impressions while integrating themselves within the past and future. 

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Giuseppe with Liselotte Höhs on a visit to her garden in April 2016. This is the lushest green garden in town, looking like a rainforest.
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