We had a wonderful holiday in Italy in May, and in my eternal quest to find green spaces where ever we go, here is my favourite place in Venice……the magical island of Guidecca.
Guidecca is a pencil thin island not far across the water from St Mark’s Cathedral. As we arrived on the vaparetto, the rain stopped, the sun came out, the coffee shops opened and the touches of greenery could be seen along the canal.
We were lucky enough to meet up with Tudy Sammartini, a long time resident of Venice, a designer and passionate gardener, and author to three books; Secret Gardens of Venice, Floors of Venice and the Bell Towers of Venice. Tudy was our guide, and had an intimate knowledge of all the gardens we visited in Guidecca.
In the 16th Century Guidecca was the centre of trade and horticultural discovery. The whole region was very fertile, and full of orchids, vineyards and gardens of rare exotics.
The two gardens of Guidecca we visited are part of the Hotel Bauer, and Hotel Cipriani.
The first garden had been restored to its former glory by Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the owner of the Hotel Bauer on the island.
A very old olive tree still thrives in the grounds of the hotel, testimony to its historic past.
Historic documents record orchards and vineyards too, and fruit trees can be seen around the gardens today.
The lawns are cut at three different heights, the first is closely trimmed for visitors to walk along, the second is slightly higher, and the third is left to grow wild as a meadow.
There are over 200 different kinds of ancient roses throughout the garden, and together with all the other blossoms on this sunny spring day, the birds and the bees were enjoying this garden as much as we were.
There is a pergola with Isabella grapes and roses. At the base is lavender, and the rest of the garden is full of Iris, catnip, columbine roses, and grasses.
Small herb gardens surround the pergola.
Here is another ”room” to the gardens. The tall trees and greenery make this a place of peace and reflection.
Nearby is the Hotel Cipriani where the wife of the CXVIII Doge designed her Renaissance garden.
The vineyard of ‘Refosco’ Merlot and Cabernet grapes still thrives in the rear garden of the hotel, and the grapes provide plenty of wine for the hotel cellars.
Casanova was said to have courted the young novice Caterina Capretta in this very vineyard. Imagine Casanova today……… the tweet goes out, and millions of followers would know his whereabouts in two minutes!
The vegetable and herb gardens of this hotel were well looked after……here is a member of the kitchen staff snipping herbs for the lunch time menu…. impossible to get much fresher than that!
Around the pond is a statue of the young Sea God Triton, on his sea horse, looking out onto the waters of Venice.
And so ended our tour of the gardens of Guidecca.
Here is a last glimpse of the island as we crossed the bridge to wait for the vaparetto.
This was a day to be remembered.
And just as I write this, all those in Italy affected by the earthquake this week, are very much in our thoughts.
Farewell to a wonderful country, and salute to the people, the places, the food, and of course….the green spaces.