This trip to Venice was meant to be a search for the unexpected and secret gardens of Venice. It turned out to be a difficult search as most of these gardens are private and cannot be seen. One might be able to get a glimpse of greenery hidden behind a wall, behind a palace or across a canal. And so this search led us to discovering other hidden gems which getting lost in Venice is all about. Here are five surprising things we found:
The Fortuny Fabric Factory
Mariano Fortuny’s legacy to Venice is not only his residential and studio palace which houses one of the most inspiring museums, but also his world famous fabric factory on the Giudecca Island. The search for the beautiful garden which surrounds this factory lead us to discover the wonderful treasures that are still being produced there to this day. This garden and the the textiles and other objects produced in the factory blend harmoniously together; the garden envelopes the brick walls and it’s vegetation is transported within to be transferred to the beautiful designs of the fabrics.
Remaining on the island of Giudecca, which is where the majority of venetian gardens still remain, one can visit the beautiful gardens of the Palladio Hotel. This imposing building was once a convent designed by a great Renaissance architect. The gardens of this palazzo are made up of four interleading spaces with large old trees and the original walls which protected and enclosed them. It is a classical Italian garden preserving the oldest magnolia tree in the city, as well as a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs.
The garden of Carlo Scarpa
This modern garden is known as one of the most beautiful gardens of Venice and is housed in the Querini Stampalia Foundation. This wonderful palazzo and all it’s belongings were donated to the city of Venice by it’s last heir. As a result of high water the ground floor and garden were in dire need of repair and the project was assigned to the famous architect, Carlo Scarpa. In this garden the focus is mainly on water features, from a tank to a small canal; a fusion of land and sea, of Arabian mosaics and Japanese pebbles.
This large Gothic style palace is located in a very strategic position on the Grand canal and under the Accademia Bridge. It now belongs to the university of Venice and is used for exhibitions and cultural events. The interior vaunts an imposing staircase adorned by beautiful frescoes, engraved marble and imposing chandeliers. The garden surrounding the palazzo reaches the water’s edge and is a perfect example of a true Venetian garden, made up of a paved area and an area of dense vegetation. This is the largest garden facing the Grand canal.
The Museum of Perfume
Completely renovated in 2013, the Palazzo Mocenigo reopened as a tribute to one of the lesser known aspects of Venetian tradition and artistry, perfume. As a result of the trade of spices and oils from the East, Venice was considered to be the capital of Perfume during the Middle Ages. A visit to this palazzo is a sensory experience into the world of scent and all it involves, including an incredible collection of precious perfume bottles. The museum also features an important and prized collection of garments that portray the elegance and refinement of Venetian fashion.
It is such a pity that the gardens of Venice, so unusual on a city of water and where so much effort was employed to establish them, are now mostly abandoned or neglected. But it is still a thrill to find one in a city of stone and water.
Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana.
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