Venetian hanging gardens above Campo Santa Maria Formosa

A few days ago on my way towards Rialto I chose to go there crossing one of my favorite campi in Venice, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, located in the quiet sestriere of Castello. From here it isjust a seven minutes stroll to Rialto. Campo Santa Maria Formosa is quite spacious, complete with week-day market stalls, bar, trattorie, and hotels facing this lively campo. When I was there on a quiet Friday Morning at 9 am, this gave me time to stop and take a few pictures, as on that day I was looking out to take pictures to add to my collection of little Venetian roof gardens that have always been so popular in Venice and that are called “altane“. With the houses of Venice becoming ever higher from the 14th century onwards, the altane were the place to take in fresh air, dry the laundry, take the sun. Venetian women also used the altane to take the sun and dye their hair by using a particular paste, let it dry in the sun and achieve a special reddish blonde tint, as I was once told by a Venetian hairdresser.

Longing for a green respite – another window garden facing Campo Santa Maria Formosa (near Calle del Mondo Novo

But before we look at some altane, from which the view of the campo below must be astonishing and revealing new perspectives, I invite you to follow me on this short walk. Entering the campo from the small alley Ruga Giuffa, you get a marvelous view of the bridges crossing the Rio di Santa Maria Formosa

To my right, standing on the bridge, the rio is winding backwards out of sight …
to my left, I am watching one of my favorite spots here, a few private bridges spanning the Rio di SM Formosa,  far in the background is the Palazzo Querini Stampaglia

Having stepped out into the Campo, I cannot help looking for the bar gelateria with its huge dark green sun shades, where Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa opens up into the Campo. As a child back in the 1990s in Venice, I used to come here to visit a rather grey-black cat sitting on the cafe’s chairs and even on the tables they place in the Campo, alongside with the guests, with whom it was a favorite, all year long, even in winter. I remember the cat sitting here on the table in the Campo next to me when I was enjoying a cup of cioccolata calda molto densa. few things have changed since then, for example the Hotel Vitturini has opened here, alongside with the traditional Hotel Scandinavia

Stepping down from the bridge, you can immediately see the church of Santa Maria Formosa, built in 1492 and planned by architect Mauro Codussi.
Right down here is the bar with the huge green sun shades and to the left, a few market stalls
Here I am looking back towards Ruga Giuffa and the bridges, crossing the Rio di Santa Maria Formosa
Il Campanile di Santa Maria Formosa – and to the left, on the rooftop – a terrace garden
Detailed view of a typical Venetian roof top “landscape”: terraces hosting oleanders, laurels, kitchen herbs, and the altane, sometimes with and sometimes without plants…
Another roof top hanging garden, embellished and shielded by geranium and other flowering plants

I will come back later in this blog with many more pictures on the traditional roof gardens, altane and liagò that are well established architectonic elements in Venice, and that provide a respite from the heavy moist air and a haven for rest to Venetians on the many hot summer evenings that you can experience here from May through September.

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