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A Garden in Venice

Garden art & lifestyle

Green oases for all of us: The Venetian "Leafy Berceaux Walk"

Restful respite: Sitting under a berceaux in Venice, this is Campo San Polo on a bright day in mid-September
In today's Venice, one still counts more than 500 private gardens. Most of us don't have access, these gardens are private and tucked away behind facades or walls, with only the odd twig protruding into the calli or across the canals. But some characteristic features of the Venetian gardens have spread into streets and squares (or calli and campi, as we would call them). Half-private spots have been created, reflecting the typical Venetian garden features, such as berceaux (or bersò), pozzi (fountain) and pergolas, and even archways. For example, this is the case in Campo San Polo, where on the corner at Calle della Madonna, just opposite the 9th century church of San Polo, a green public oasis is available for all of us.
Berceaux are lush roofs consisting of light-green foliage, that may come either as pergolas, or as archways dividing gardens into "rooms". In this blog post, I am referring to the "public berceaux", perched above the chairs and tables arranged on the Venetian campi. You can't do without them in summer, and they are just right, with the sun filtering through the foliage, now in late summer / early fall. 
A green berceau in the midst of Campo San Polo
Imagine entering a wide and sunny Venetians quare (campo) right now, in late summer, when the sun is not so hot any more but mild, conveying a pleasant and warm feel on the face. By the way, in Venetian minds, autumn starts on 01 October .. but we get some summer-like days in October as well, besides days where the foschia (morning mist) is getting thicker and might not dissolve at all during the day. In general, autumn in Venice means that we wake up to transparent veils of mist first that turn quite dense, as October proceeds.
September flair, Campo San Polo: At noon people are looking for places to take lunch in the shade
From mid-September starts a good time to visit Venice, now that the colors are at peak clarity and soft at the same time. These days of the year, Venice is "tinged with Canaletto colors", and this atmosphere may even last until mid-October. With the sun filtering through the leaves and the moving leaves in a light breeze, is when the chiaroscuro effect, for which Venice is famous, comes out at its best. To be best watched from under berceaux ..
Chiaroscuro effect just before entering Campo San Polo
Just behind Campo San Polo, this is Rio di Sant'Antonio, opening up into Rio San Polo, which makes a bend here, and Calle di Ca' Bernardo, which leads straight to Campo Sant'Agostin
Coming from the direction of Campo Sant'Agostin, entering Campo San Polo
Un'edicola: Venetian shrines (le nicchie = niches, typical garden elements, by the way!!) dedicated to the Madonna or to Saints
Late morning in Campo San Polo
Late morning in Campo San Polo in September
From Campo San Polo, a narrow alley called "Calle dello Spezier" opens up, and really befitting, next to it, facing Campo San Polo, is this farmacia selling herbs and spices ..
At noon, but also for breakfast, it is now so pleasant to stop under a leafy berceau, and there are quite a few of them in Venice to enjoy for all of us. The first few pictures refer to Campo San Polo, followed by a berceau providing shade to a porta d'acqua and imbarcadero (a water front door where the boat is moored) on Rio dei Greci, and other examples of private and public bearceux, one is even an archway covered with wisteria, the only one I know of in Venice.
A wisteria-covered garden door leading out onto the canal on Rio dei Greci. In the background, you can see both the Ponte dei Greci and the leaning belltower of San Giorgio dei Greci church
A tiny wrought-iron balcony acts as front garden, next to the private pier with private boats moored
In September, if you are lucky, you might notice the odd wisteria flower - this one, unfortunately, does not have any ..
Venetian morning light reflected on the waters of Rio dei Greci
At our second stop, across town in the Venetian district of Castello, you can see one beautiful example of boats sleeping on the water, proteced under a berceau's leafy roof. This spot is located on the Rio dei Greci, near the Church of San Lorenzo, just before you cross into the campo from the bridge spanning the rio.
Al Giardinetto - berceaux consisting of aralie, vines and American vines
Near this place is located a garden restaurant boasting quite a selection of berceaux - Ristorante al Giardinetto, a favorite restaurant with me that I already mentioned a few times in this blog. Another favorite with me is the Al Nono Risorto restaurant, near Rialto, in the Santa Croce District. Here, the leafy roofs, made up mostly of ivy and wisteria, protrude into the canal next to Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini.
Al Nono Risorto - a great place if you love having lunch under wisteria - great in April !!
Pittosporum plant protruding out into the canal
In Venice, there are even berceaux located on terraces. On Rio dell'Osmarin, you can view a house that actually has a berceau on its 2nd floor terrace, so due to restricted space available to make gardens here in Venice, gardens are often shifted upwards, from first or second floor to roof-top gardens. These roof gardens (altane) usually don't have berceaux as these roof-top structures are quite small and there is not enough space for heavy pots where to plant the creepers. Usually, for berceaux in Venice, wisteria, ivy, roses, pittosporum, vine and American vine plants are used.
Berceau consisting of American vine, on the 2nd floor terrace
And finally, I am giving away a "Venetian wisteria secret": Calle de la Pietà, which you reach from Campo della Bragora, is actually covered by a wisteria archway, the only wisteria-clad archway there is in Venice .. imagine what that looks like in late April ..
Wisteria paradise above Calle della Pietà
Calle della Pietà, at its end you see the white oleander bushes in the midst of Campo della Bragora
Wisteria-covered archway with connecting bridge between two buildings

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