My Venice

Join me for a stroll around my neighborhood !!  Imagine you are here with me on a fine, flower-scented day in March or April. A slightly wet morning with traces of fog shrouding our town. This is my favorite season and Venice is full of blossoms. Yellow and purple ones in particular.

I love mimosa which comes in two varieties in Venice. Now in early spring, it’s the yellow mimosa showing off a wealth of tiny fluffy blossoms. By mid-June, it’s the silk trees – mimosa albizia with their fluffy soft pink blossoms we call albero della seta (used as a remedy in China where it comes from). There’s a fine silk tree blossoming on Campo della Bragora until late September.

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The silk tree growing leaves in April on Campo della Bragora

Il glicine – wisteria is also coming into bloom during the first days of April. Next to Campo San Lorenzo there’s a particularly beautiful plant which I “visit” as often as I can. I love stopping below its perfumed purple flower cascades on a wooden bench overlooking Rio dei Greci. On these warm but moist spring morning it’s a boon to stop and watch and think.

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“My” wisteria on Rio dei Greci

It seems I haven’t chosen the most colorful of days. The light in these pictures is a bit subdued, the sky is hazy but it’s quite warm. No breeze, just calm and salty air. More than half the spring days in Venice start out like this. Around 10:00 am, you can see the first odd sun ray open up a gap in the milky haze. By 11:00 am, it’s getting sunnier by the minute. Time to enter a pastry store and enjoy the wonderful almond cake called torta greca.

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Torta greca, almond pastry with special ingredients and coated with snowy white sugar – and cappuccino !!!

Castello is the name of the sestiere east of Piazza San Marco where the Greek and Levantine communities of Venice lived. It was one big vineyard, herb garden and orchard called el brolo, cultivated by the nuns of San Zaccaria since the year 400 AD. The western part of the brolo became Piazza San Marco in the 7th century.

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Wisteria-scented mornings

Follow me to Fondamenta dell’Osmarin and to Salizzada dei Greci where we taste torta greca at Pasticceria Chiusso’s. The owner, Signor Pierino, has been making a variant of this ancient almond cake recipe for more than thirty years.

This part of town, la Venezia Levantina, comprises the Scuola dalmatina, Chiesa di Sant’Antonin and Campo della Bragora. Based on archeological traces found in the courtyard of Sant’Antonin, early Venetian history may be re-written.

From the year 1453, more than 50,000 inhabitants of Constantinople were invited to settle after the fall of their town. They brought with them their cultural heritage and that of ancient Greece …

We continue our walk towards Campo della Bragora where I buy our coffee at Torrefazione Girani’s. Via Garibaldi isn’t far away, a wide best-loved boulevard with lots of street cafes to stop and enjoy a cup of early morning tea and nutella-filled zaleti biscuits :-)

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“My” tartaruga (turtle) enjoying the first rays of the morning sun on Viale Garibaldi

I usually buy spring vegetables from the barca della verdura, the floating market boat moored on Rio di Sant’Anna at the far end of Via Garibaldi.

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Thinking of buying that lemon tree …

On we go, to Caffé della Serra, a beautiful plant nursery, hothouse, winter garden cafe and terrace in the midst of lush plants and blossoms. I love to sit on the terrace next to the pittosporum hedge with its scented blossoms just opening in April.This part of Venice still holds many secrets. Many homes of doges were located in the neighborhood of the Venetian Arsenal, the backbone of Venetian economic success building the cogs for the flourishing spice business.

Would you like to read more stories about our Venetian itineraries? Check out the Slow Travel Guide on our Blog.

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Did you know that the tiny pastry below is torta greca, one of the most delicious and ancient recipes Venetians have created? The recipe is more than a thousand years old and is still offered for breakfast in Venice.

 

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