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.
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. 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.
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 !!
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.
This is one of my favorite tips for you to discover Venice off the beaten path, far from the crowds. 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.3