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A Garden in Venice

Garden art & lifestyle

Rosso veneziano buildings and their gardens on New Year morning

The first sun rays of the New Year illuminate calli e campi, and the gardens in Venice. Wishing you a very Happy New Year, I would like to present to you a New Year Morning Walk with wintry views of gardens, and write a bit about the typical warm colors of the palazzi and houses, that also contribute to making Venice unique in the world.
New Year Day morning, view towards the Ponte del Rio di San Provolo and the Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo beyond
With morning fog veils lifting I took the opportunity to take a closer look at the gardens in my neighborhood.  Plants on our terrace looked sparkling with the morning sun rays, the evergreen plants thriving in their moist but sunny corners. Oleander bushes, laurels, and lavender pots grow next to pots with kitchen herbs on a small terrace looking out into a square garden tucked away between Rosso Veneziano - Venetian - Reds painted house walls that you encounter so often here in Venice. Delightful to stop here in the early morning, on any sunny day of the year.  Rosso veneziano is a shade of warm colors of which you can see the range if you click here. Almost all houses here in Venice come in shades and variants of this basic hue. I will be back later this year with examples of houses and palazzi painted in these particular shades of color, a wonderful backdrop for the garden plots with their own different shades of evergreen plants that divide and embellish the Venetian facades.
The laurel and pittosporum plant leaves catch and reflect the first sun rays of the new year on our terrace. This is one of these days when there is no wind and you can enjoy even a good morning coffee or tea in the midst of our short winter.
So now I start off from the Campo San Zaccaria area, out towards the Riva degli Schiavoni "to take in the fresh breeze", as my grandmother calls it, and will walk on towards the Giardini Reali with a good view of the Bacino di San Marco and the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. 
San Zaccaria in the early morning. Above you can see the iron wrought railings of an altana, a typical Venetian roof garden. Will be back with plenty of  pictures on this sort of garden in the upcoming year. In winter, many sensitive and not hardy plants are better off in more proteced space down in a courtyard protected from the salty breezes
Another altana is half hidden in the upper right-hand corner, and you can also see the flowering plants (geranium, currently only a few blossoms) on top of the San Zaccaria convent buildings. The Rosso Veneziano hues can be seen today as the light is so very bright and clear at the beginning of January. The house with the center-stage dark green window shutters is the part of Hotel Fontana building overlooking Campo San Zaccaria (entrance is in Campo San Provolo, which is just round the corner).

Campo San Zaccaria: the sycamore trees towering in the right corner are without leaves now, the two box tree terracotta pots mark the entrance to the Hotel Villa Igea
Passing through a sotoportego, one reaches the Riva degli Schiavoni side, and walking down just a few minutes, if you turn into Calle della Pietà (next to the Church Chiesa della Pietà) you can find the secret entrance to another garden, which is actually the restaurant garden of the Hotel Metropole. A very neat and carefully looked-after garden, representing to me a cool retreat in particular in the hot summers when in this area of Venice the sun is reflected by the white bricks of the Church next door.
A glimpse into the garden of the Hotel Metropole, half hidden and accessible for lunch, located in the Calle della Pietà: Rosso Veneziano decorations
Back on the Riva degli Schiavoni, you get a view of the altana decorated with flower pots located on top of the Hotel Londra Palace, and their garden onto the Riva degli Schiavoni side. More hotels face seaside here: Hotel Paganelli is the white building in between, and Hotel Savoia and Jolanda with its Rosso Veneziano facade, where visitors are enjoying a first coffee of the year.
Palazzo Ducale, here the breeze is getting fresher
Looking in towards the Basilica, no trace of the New Year festivities that took place just a few hours earlier
Next to the Piazza, you can visit a public garden facing the lagoon: its sycamore trees and glicine (wisteria) plants provide welcome shade in the hot summers. Basically, the garden has remained the same as long as I can remember: it is a rectangular garden, divided from the Piazza San Marco buildings by the Rio della Zecca (zecca meaning mint in English) I like its green spots with unusual views of the Campanile. As a child I remember that there red painted wooden benches put against the stone railings towards the Rio della Zecca canal, and huge oleander bushes with slightly vanilla fragrant rose, red and white blossoms. Unfortunately, these oleanders have disappeared, so there is now no shade and no possibility to enjoy a rest in the shade next to the Rio, as it was possible some 10-15 years ago. 
The first impression you get upon entering into the garden. Well-tended box and laurel hedges, pines, glicine-covered wooden pergolati - archways built in the 19th century, sycamore and acacia trees without leaves in mid-winter
Round flower beds with red, purple and white cyclamen plants, and rose bushes
Red painted wooden benches invite to take the sun this morning. Plants growing here in profusion include pittosporum, robinia, pines, common ivy, five-leaved ivy, and beech trees.
View from a garden walk amongst the thick hedges towards the Punta della Dogana and Church Santa Maria della Salute in the background to the right
A few gondolas are anchored in the Rio della Zecca, just behind the gardens
The official description of the Gardens, and their history can read on the board fixed to the wrought-iron entrance doors
It will be worth coming back here later this year, for this is a garden so valuable and located so centrally, a fine place for both Venetians and Visitors - and a quiet place, also on a bright winter day like this.

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