October in Venice, so far, feels calm and warm. On a morning walk, around 8 am, you can take in the scent of autumn, the cool mist rising from the canals, looking veiled when the warmth, stored in the water during summer, suddenly meets a hint of sharp cold air. While some days are brilliant right from the start, autumn mornings tend to be foggy here. At 11:00 am, humidity retreats, regaling us those impressive and clear colors, immortalized by Tintoretto and Titian.
And now, we’ll take you on a walk around Santa Croce at noon … Two bridges away from the canal above, Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio is located. Two corners into the other direction, a sweet lunch treat awaits you at Pasticceria Bucintoro, one of my favorite coffee shops in town. On my left, there’s this open courtyard I’ve always admired, separated from the calle via a fence. At noon, Venice looks and feels like summer …
While this garden has been changing over time, I’ve loved watching it since I was a child. It reminds me of special, ancient Venetian garden features.
I love this hortus conclusus because it resembles the secret courtyard gardens of the past. Venetian horti conclusi became hanging gardens to make use of small space, and windows, balconies, terraces, and altane (roof terraces) were all filled with herbs and edible plants. This is a little story about the simple Venice, la Venezia minore so to say, the Venice we love, and how most Venetians have lived for centuries.
I noticed that stories showing the real Venice, a humane and GREEN city, filled with useful know-how in the fields of natural health, food, beauty, but also politics and business, almost never make it to the headlines. As far as Venice is concerned, international news focuses on overtourism and cruise ships.
Essential issues, but in my opinion, we must also tell about the strengths of Venice. Her positive and humane nature, a forgotten world that could provide much input to our lives, as Salvatore Settis writes in his signature book, If Venice Dies.
We must tackle the essential problems to make sure that Venice survives, of course. But then, in our opinion, we also need to share more about whom we are trying to save. Who is this Venice in the first place, and what does she stand for, capable to improve our lives?
Since the 1990s, when some Venetians envisaged developing tourism indefinitely, we have come a long way. I can still recall overhearing kitchen table talks at home, when grandfather tried to calm friends who were praising the endless possibilities of a metropolitana (subway ???!!!!), to bring more tourists to the city. Today, many initiatives, public and private ones, and engaged communities of both Venetians and international friends, do paint a very different picture of the future of Venice.
In particular, we love how the Dream of Venice Community shares Venice with the world: News, stories and little-known facts you don’t find often, contribute to shifting attention towards the real Venice while explaining her fundamental issues. Their book trilogy helps you further explore the city:
Idea #1 for you to explore Venice this autumn:
We are giving away one copy of the book Dream of Venice in Black and White, open to readers until 16 October 2018. Sorry, this giveaway has expired, but you can sign up for a future giveaway (gifts from Venetian artisans, writers, publishers, and more) here.
In addition to promoting responsible tourism, we think that an overarching change in the attitude towards Venice is needed. Why should tourists support and care for Venice if her true story and heritage is little known, remote and forgotten? Most tourists admire the sumptuous palaces built on the edge of the water, but may consider them strange and out-of-place in an overcrowded city in the midst of a Lagoon.
We cannot blame them: These palaces don’t belong to the Venice they visit in 2018, but to Venetia, which is the Latin name of our city, the former capital of a powerful merchant state, and longest-lived country in history. A capital city, in which Venet (Venessian) was spoken besides Latin and Greek as second and third official languages. Another forgotten fact, which made a huge impact on Venetian culture, which is classified as Levantine-Mediterranean.
While outside, in the early afternoon, the October sun is brilliant and its rays illuminate our office, we are so happy to announce the start of a project to you, on which we’ve been working since summer 2014 !!! This is a family project, telling more about Venetian heritage.
In our opinion, the culture of Venetia must resurface if we want to help Venice survive. You cannot save a city devoured by mass tourism, but only a city whose culture and history people can relate to, and possibly, love.
So, visitors need to know the stories behind those sumptuous palace facades. We go one step further: As hosts, it’s the Venetians’ task to share the stories of our city with guests, so Venice can benefit from visitors and vice versa in the long run. And, the story of Venice must be told from scratch, because too much has been forgotten after dramatic changes took place in 1797.
Idea #2 for you to explore Venice this autumn: Venetia – The Venice Heritage Course is now available! . It’s a self-paced course, and it’s here to stay. Get access by clicking here !
While La Venessiana remains an online magazine dedicated to slow travel, food and lifestyle in Venice and the Lagoon, we give more space to responsible travel tips and Venetian voices: the silent majority in Venice, living in what tourism jargon calls “off the beaten path”. The average visitor won’t meet them, but we think their voices should have a say. Plus, we will share more reviews on books written on Venice in Venet, Latin, Greek, and Italian. We promise – there’s a new world for you to discover in these books!
When I first shared the idea of creating an online course on Venetian heritage with readers in early 2018, I was surprised by many public and private messages, expressing interest and encouraging us to continue this project.
Venetia – The Venice Heritage Course, prepared by a group of Venetians, gives you the prerequisites to see Venice from the Venetian perspective, assembling snippets of history, food and life in the Lagoon, in one place, so it’s easy for you to look up and enjoy. Our aim is creating orientation and a red thread, helping you shape a warm and rewarding relationship with Venice.
Venice is not a city destined for overtourism, but has so many gifts to offer, hiding beyond the brick walls, in private and monastery gardens, libraries, and memories told by Venetian families. We think this immaterial heritage is the missing puzzle stone you need to assemble the complete picture of Venetia, the real Venice.
The materials you will find in this course are based on books from Lina’s personal library, Venetian monasteries, public and private libraries, and the documents I used to write my thesis. We put it all together, adding images, presentations, itineraries for responsible travelers, and recipes. 30 per cent of proceeds from this course, and future ones, will go to initiatives created by Venetian associations, helping make life better in Venice: We start with supporting Dingo, an association taking care of homeless cats in Venice and the Lagoon. The rest is used to run, update, and enlarge the courses.
Idea #3 for you to explore Venice this autumn: A Garden in Venice, our new blog section dedicated to a special garden, spices and garden food from Venice!
On La Venessiana, we will open a second blog section: A Garden in Venice, dedicated to garden food, spices, and gardening in Venice. It’s our private take on growing an edible garden in this city :-) Discover family food and historical recipes, popular during the times of the Republic of Venice. We can’t wait to share this new blog section with you, online from 15 October 2018!