Did you see the first post in our blog series on the Venetian way of life, and why small squares (corti) play a unique and essential role?
Before we continue, let me give you a brief update: Since the morning of 12 March 2020, Venice has come to a complete standstill, following the Corona virus outbreak in Italy. Ponte della Libertà, the bridge linking the mainland to Venice, is being guarded by the carabinieri (police), so only people with a special reason can enter Venice for now. In Venice, like in all other parts of Italy, only food stores, pharmacies, and banks are open, but only until 6 pm, and a series of additional strict measures have been taken to prevent further contagion. All other shops and restaurants are closed.
At night, the city takes us back to her past, at least 1000 years back, and looks like she is taking a deep rest. So this is a complete shutdown for now, expected to last at least until 3 April.
The city is completely quiet like she hasn’t been, since the year 1630/31: Yes, that’s the time when Venice had to deal with hardships you can read about in this blog post.
So how do Venetians live under lockdown? They are staying inside, taking life very slowly, and taking time to think, cook, take care of flowers. Exploring ancient books and recalling conversations long past which will be relevant for our future. It’s like taking a collective rest, but of course, it is often easier said than done…
For now, let’s return to our Corte Rota and what it tells about Venetian lifestyle, defined right from the beginning when the 118 islands, on which Venice is built, were urbanized almost 1800 years ago. Corte Rota, our example, is just one of more than 300 courtyards and courtyard gardens in Venice! They were dedicated to growing herbs, vegetables, and fruit. And most of the time, there were one or more public wells (pozzi).
The particular architecture of the corte continues inside and behind, structuring the buildings facing the corte into indoor terraces, more private courtyards located on the first, second and third floors (!), sprawling terraces, and finally, via wrough-iron staircases, reaching up to the famous altane, as the roof terraces are called in Venice.
If the corti weren’t closed, they were at least semi-private, often hiding behind sotoporteghi which separate them from the calli (streets). So while there is Calle della Rota, leading towards Salizzada Zorzi and on towards Ruga Giuffa, there’s the private courtyard Corte della Rota, next to it, always dedicated to a particular theme. And our courtyard, Corte Rota, was named after a family of physicians, and herbalists who were living here. Corte Rota was dedicated to health.
to be continued, telling the true story of Corte della Rota, and sharing stories and images of more secret courtyard gardens – Thanks for walking with us!
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