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The northern Italian lagoon city has a lot to offer away from the usual tourist routes for garden lovers. Editor Susann Hayn took a closer look at the green side of Venice.
Susann Hayn on one of the numerous Venetian bridges
The houses are close to each other, separated only by narrow streets or canals. Every now and then, one of the lanes opens to a sunny spot. They are the heart of the lodgings, because here the inhabitants of the lagoon city meet for a chat, in the bar one drinks together an "ombretta" - a glass of wine - and watches the children catching or playing football. But who comes up with the idea to look for gardens beyond Piazza San Marco? I tried my luck, inspired by an Italian magazine that reported on the hidden oases. The first garden, which I discover on my tour through the city, is not even so hidden. If you travel across the Grand Canal on the Vaporetto, Venice's water bus, you will see the garden terrace of Palazzo Malipiero between the buildings.
The Palazzo Malipiero has a rose garden adorned with numerous stone figures
A stone balustrade shields the private grounds towards the water, but you can still catch a glimpse of the roses and the figurine decorations and guess their beauty. For visitors, the garden is actually closed, but Contessa Anna Barnabò still opens the door to their empire, which was created at the end of the 19th century in the style of the Italian Renaissance style.
From the large lobby of the Palazzo, I enter the garden through an ornate wrought-iron gate. Immediately the view falls on a small water lily basin with rippling fountain and putto and the behind it figure-and column-decorated Mauernische, the temple of the Neptune. The garden terrace extends parallel to the long side of the large palazzo, which was built between the 11th and 12th centuries. To the right and left of the main path, which leads towards the Grand Canal, there are eight flower beds edged with boxwood. In them, the roses bloom in summer, before the Bearded Iris had its appearance.
In the middle of the complex picturesque white roses are placed over the richly ornamented Renaissance fountains. A filigree iron pavilion is also covered with roses. Stone figures from the 18th century, which symbolize, among other things, the four seasons, adorn the small flower paradise.
Green oases behind high walls
View from the terrace of Palazzo Balbi Mocenigo
Only a few gardens can be discovered from the canals or from the streets. Mostly they are hidden behind high walls. Often only a few treetops or climbing plants, such as blue rain, bougainvilleas or ivy, which lay picturesquely over the top of the wall reveal that there must be a garden there. Sometimes, however, a glimpse through a gate. Then you mostly see shady grounds that are made for a hot Venetian summer. As in the squares of the city, one often finds the old cisterns in the private gardens. For centuries, rainwater was collected in them to feed the inhabitants of the town, which was lapped by salty lagoon water.
How green Venice is, the view from the higher terrace of Palazzo Balbi Mocenigo reveals. The opportunity to do so is provided by the architect Matteo Corvino, who in the Dorsoduro district - next to a stylish garden - also arranges an open-air salon surrounded by roses and clematis on the second floor of the house. From there I look out over the magnificent canopy of olive trees, mimosas, fig trees and evergreen magnolias that grow in the neighboring gardens.
Beautiful hotel gardens
Many Venetian houses carry altars. The wooden platforms on the roofs are often colorfully planted and offer magnificent views over the city
Those who would like to experience the charm of Venetian oases themselves, are most likely to have the opportunity to stay in a hotel with a garden. It does not have to be the luxury hotel "Cipriani" on the island of Giudecca, which offers its guests a park-like complex. On the island, within sight of Piazza San Marco, fruit and vegetables were grown for a long time. And so it is not surprising that in the hotel garden still vines thrive, whose grapes are pressed into wine every year. Even modest hotels often have a small garden or leafy courtyard where you can enjoy your breakfast in peace or relax with an afternoon coffee from your sightseeing tour.
A Venetian special feature are the altars, which catch my eye during the sightseeing tour through the city. These are wooden platforms, which were put on the roofs with the help of stone pillars. Decorated with summer flowers or overgrown with climbing plants, these mini-gardens float above the sea of houses.The many terraces and window sills, which are decorated with flowers, are also unmistakable. Most Venetians have a good sense for harmonious color design. Not a colorful round of many different summer flowers is planted, but a plant in a color characterizes the picture. To the house facades in warm reds and yellows, petunias in white or cream are charming. But also red geraniums, strung in terracotta pots along the balcony parapet, leave a lasting impression on me.
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Garden Impressions from Venice (17)
The Venetians have a good sense for colors. The white petunias just seem perfect to the washed-out green of the facade
Hiding behind high walls is some surprise, such as this spacious garden in the Dorsoduro district, with its large lawns and tall cypress trees
Sculptures are a popular decoration in the Venetian Garden
From the Accademia Bridge, which leads across the Grand Canal, you can see the garden where roses and oleanders bloom
Pink and white roses bloom in the long narrow garden
In the light shade of tall trees, the sultry hot summer days in Venice can be tolerated well
A rose rondel with bushing and palm trees make up the charm of this garden
Several Venetian hotels, such as the Hotel Palazzo Soderini, have a garden to offer. So the morning starts with a relaxed breakfast at the green oasis
Through a small courtyard you enter the garden of the Palazzo Malipiero. The view falls on the small lily paddling pool and the back wall with the temple of Neptune
An iron pavilion with white climbing rose adorns the garden terrace of the Palazzo Malipiero. Autumn-anemones grow in the beet-framed bed, and the garden's sculptural decoration dates back to the 18th century
The entrance to the garden terrace is accentuated by two sculptural groups whose motifs are taken from Roman mythology. Here Zeus is depicted, who kidnaps the shepherd boy Ganymede into Olympus
The stone enclosure of the cistern dates from the Middle Ages. The cistern served for centuries the drinking water supply of the inhabitants of the Palazzo Balbi Mocenigo, today it is only a stylish garden decoration
The owner has set up a small green salon on the second floor of Palazzo Balbi Mocenigo. Surrounded by walls and trellises, it is not visible from the alley
An impressive, ivy-covered pergola is another highlight at Palazzo Balbi Mocenigo
Take a vaporetto ride over the Grand Canal to catch a glimpse of the splendor of the Palazzo Malipiero
Baroque looks like the water lily pond with the putto and dolphin
Along the pretty stone balustrade stand the terracotta pots, planted with bright red geraniums. A simple metal pergola with wisteria provides some shade and privacy. The morbid charm of many houses makes the Venetian flair
The city: Venice lies in the northern Italian lagoon landscape of the Adriatic and has been built on over 100 islands. These are mostly connected with bridges.
Arrival: If you want to spend your entire holiday in Venice, should not arrive by car. The vehicle must be parked after arrival on the outskirts of the city in one of the paid parking garages. Only on the Lido, one of the offshore islands, driving is possible. Marco Polo Airport is served by several German airports. As an alternative, the train offers.
Travel time / climate: The city is a tourist magnet and always has season. It has a temperate Mediterranean climate. Already in March, the temperatures can be pleasantly mild. In summer, it often gets hot and humid. In winter a cold wind blows, the Bora. Rainfall occurs all year round.
Prices: Like most tourist centers, Venice is not cheap. Decent hotels cost from 90 to 100 euros the night, restaurants and bars are about 30 to 50 percent more expensive than in Germany.