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A Garden in Venice

Garden art & lifestyle

Where Venetians take a short vacation in their own city

The pittosporum-lined refuge of Venetians on summer evenings
I guess it starts around mid-April: In the late afternoon, as days are getting longer, Venetians, instead of flocking to their usual meeting points of Campo San Bartolomeo, walk into the other direction, towards Campo Santo Stefano, then cross the adjacent Accademia bridge - eager to get a first taste of their summer vacation (By the way, Venetians, for their summer holidays in August, usually love to go in montagna - that is to the mountains of the Veneto or Trentino). But for now, they love to take a few hours off at a place which is exposed to the sun almost all day long, where sun-loving kitchen gardens full of herbs are grown and olive trees tower over the usual brick walls, and where they can enjoy fabulous ice cream and watch sunset. In this post you can read how to reach that spot, a wide waterfront promenade dotted with little cafes and their terraces ... I hope I can convey a bit the salty fresh and balmy evening air, intermingled with the sweet scent of pittosporum.
Accademia bridge - on a sunny afternoon in  early summer ...
Stepping down from the bridge, we pass by Campo della Carità and the large brown mole of the Accademia Gallery.
Our target is just ahead ... and you can already see the domes of the Gesuati church, but for now we walk along Rio Terà Foscarini, which is currently a construction site, as some masegni (pavement stones) are being replaced.  
This is Campo Sant'Agnese, and next to the church facade is .. Le Zattere
Taking this direttissima, we arrive at the Zattere quai within 10 minutes, but before we need to cross Campo Sant'Agnese, which is framed in on one side by the Gesuati Church. Finally, si sbuca sulle Zattere - you arrive at this temporary "holiday destination",the Zattere quai.
The facade of the Gesuati church, opening up on the Zattere quai. You could also go there by vaporetto, a stop is just next to the church; The coffee bar in the background is Gelateria da Nico, famous for nougat ice cream ("gianduia").
The air is balmy and salty, and there is room and space as it is a broad fondamenta, going all along from the Punta della Dogana towards the Santa Marta area. Zattere is THE look-out post of Venice, where it is even possible to steer free from the crowds ...
View of the Canale di Giudecca - the Giudecca island is just opposite the Zattere. By the way, this is the route the grandi navi  (cruise ships) take ...
Zattere to Venetians means taking in the fresh sea breeze, it is an open space, not so crowded as the Riva degli Schiavoni is. So if Riva degli Schiavoni is for the tourists, Zattere is mostly for Venetians...
This is Bar La Laguna, just to the left when you arrive at the Zattere. Very pleasant to sit here in the late afternoon sun
If you continue this way, you will reach the terrace restaurant "La Piscina" which belongs to Pensione La Calcina. In the last few years, I notice that the people living here on the Zattere plant not just flowers, but flowering kitchen herbs.
Flowering herb balcony with a great view towards Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore
Lavender and evergreen plants make up a nice flower pot
This is an area exposed to the sun almost all day long - so gardens can become quite parched, and olive trees take well as the sun is reflected  on the walls behind them
Le Zattere was the name of the fondamenta (quai) where wooden trunks, transported on zattere (meaning "wooden rafts"), arrived in Venice, all the way down from the Piave river.
But this is much more than enjoying just a view - Zattere is probably number one in Venice for ice cream on offer - and one really connects ice cream to holidays ... For example, Gelateria da Nico is famous for its gianduia - meaning dark nougat ice-cream, which is served hidden under a huge montagna di panna - lots and lots of whipped cream ... Also, if you turn to the left, you arrive at Bar Laguna, also boasting a nice selection of ice-cream, take a look at the picture below ..
Bar La Laguna's favorites seem to be hazelnut ice cream varieties ...
If you the sun is still too strong in the afternoon, a few steps further, beyond the Ponte della Calcina bridge, next to the Pensione Seguso, you reach a spot which is one of my favorites in early June: A view of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Redentore Church, from under a pittosporum plant providing shade, in full bloom from mid-May until late June and sometimes, depending on the weather, even into the first week of July. It is great to stop here and inhale this unique and unmistakable scent of pittosporum ...

Next to the bridge, another well-known small hotel is situated - the Pensione Seguso. A few years ago I read a crime novel by Patricia Highsmith in which the main character, Ray, chose Pensione Seguso to stay in Venice. So whenever I pass here, Pensione Seguso reminds me of the novel "Those who walk away".
Pensione Seguso and a pittosporum plant in front of it ...
Pensione Seguso is pleasantly located, on a rio opening up into the Canale di Giudecca 
And it is in front of one of the adjacent houses that I recently noticed a very unusual kitchen herb garden, located at the doorstep of a house right on the Zattere quai, complete with curry plants, Greek oregano, lavender and rosemary bushes, taking quite well, hopefully they will survive the parching summer sun ...
Sun loving herbs: Origano greco
Flowering curry herb, to the left are the dark green leaves of the spicy oregano, or origano greco as we call it here...
Next to a young wisteria plant, rosemary, lavender and oregano grow ...
By the way, ACTV vaporetto linea 2 serves this area very well, so it is easy to go back to San Marco and San Zaccaria by boat.


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