We start with the unbelievable: The image you can see above was taken in Venice on a rainy day in April. In some private gardens totally unknown to the public, Venice looks exotic!. Above you can see what the largest spice garden of Venice looks like in our times: A garden lovingly tended by its owner, whom I had the honor to visit a few years ago.
In the year 1500, Venice had approx. 130 gardens looking like this, where spices were growing. And by spices I mean spices! Ginger, pepper and cinnamon trees, protected by thick shrubbery (agaves, hemp palms, etc.).
Many of you already know that Venice became fabulously rich because it was the home of talented spice merchants, but few people know that these spices weren’t only imported from the Far East, Africa and the Indian Ocean, but also cultivated in Venice!
Venice holds so many secrets and untold stories, but they’re still there, hiding in forgotten books at libraries and the Venetian State Archive.
Without gardens, Venice wouldn’t have been able to survive for more than 1600 years.
Lina: Iris and I will share stories to provide hope for all of you who love Venice: We want you to know that there is a healthy core in this city. It’s no potemkin village: Behind the facades you can find its healthy portion. Gardens weren’t created to fill in accidental gaps between the buildings but on purpose.
It was easier for visitors to make out this secret garden city until 1797 when the Republic of Venice still existed. Until then, the city boasted 158 botanical gardens, the largest number of gardens any city has ever had in the world.
What happened to our verdant heritage? In part, it’s lovingly restored and well-tended. In part, gardens are unkempt and overgrown, home to wild birds and waiting to be restored behind crumbling facades.
And some of these gardens were destroyed during the floods on 12-17 November 2019.
Iris: In November 2019, when the former convent gardens of San Zaccaria, the oldest garden in Venice bought by Nonna Lina and her family in 1968, was destroyed by the floods, we went through a terrible time, and I felt I couldn’t continue writing about Venice as if nothing had happened.
2019 has been a testing time for Venice! Lina and I both felt a strong urge to tell the true story of this garden and many others in Venice, and how important our green heritage really is.
Call it a radical rebranding, taking us back to our roots. We will share the story of our garden as it recovers. How gardens wrote Venetian success stories and made the miracle of insular Venice becoming a powerful merchant state possible in the first place. Yes, there are many stories our gardens could tell.
We will focus on the green Venice from now: Virtual garden walks, garden food, the spices and surprising recipes, to show you the many different types of gardens that Venice has: Palace garden, convent garden, herb garden, kitchen garden, balcony garden, altana, liagò, courtyard garden, and so many more!
These are our topics, and we can’t wait to share them with you.
Thanks for joining us and stay tuned! Lina and Iris