We had a wonderful holiday in Italy in May 2016, and one of my favourite days was our visit to the gardens of Guidecca.
I thought it would be interesting to re-post this, as Venice, known and loved for so many reasons…is not known for its gardens and green spaces.
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 of three books; Secret Gardens of Venice, Floors of Venice and the Bell Towers of Venice.
We began in the private garden of the Fortune Factory, an old red brick factory, that Tudy had been restoring with specialist architect Maria Forti.
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.
I took endless photos of each garden, but in this post I have concentrated on the two gardens of Guidecca we had mainly come to visit…… the private gardens of 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.
What a surprise to see these glorious gardens so close to Venice.
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.
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.
Our warmest thanks go to Tudy Sammartini, her affection and passion for the Guidecca gardens was obvious.
Farewell to a wonderful country, and salute to the people, the places, the food, and of course….the green spaces.
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.
22 Replies to “Venice: the secret gardens of Guidecca.”
Those gardens look magical. You wouldn’t believe you were in a city at all. And so many places to just sit and drink it all in.
Yes, that is exactly what we thought….imagine that in Venice! And obviously the soil is very fertile.
Beautiful tour of the gardens, Gerrie. I love the idea of the three different lengths of grass. Brilliant.
I love the cute photo of the little dog in his raincoat. 🙂 I think we missed out on our visit to Venice, concentrating on the canals and street cafés. Next time, I’ll make sure to look for some gardens too.
Yes, the little dog is very cute. Most dogs were very well behaved in Venice. Maybe early dog school! I think most of the really nice gardens in Venice are hidden away behind the walls of big hotels.
not much real estate in Venice – those gardens look large, and precious.
Wonderful to conserve the old olive tree.
Yes, that olive tree was amazing. The stories it would tell!
Absolutely magical. How lucky you are to get such an insider’s view of these wonderful gardens. Like you, though, we grieve at the news of the devastation from the recent earthquake in central Italy.
Yes, we were very lucky to see these gardens. It gives a whole different view of Venice.
I’ve been to Venice, but I certainly didn’t see any gardens so I gratefully appreciate your sharing these lovely photos. Gorgeous. 🙂 And prayers to everyone affected in Italy by the recent earthquake.
Thanks Judy, it was a wonderful experience for us, and it is nice to be able to share. And agreed about the poor people who have lost loved ones in the earthquake.
I love Venice so this post brought back many happy memories. What intricate gardens, who knew they where there! I certainly didn’t! Now I know where to look if I ever go back!xxx
I agree, who knew!! However, most are now tucked away behind the walls of expensive hotels.(which is probably the only reason they survive)
Another insight into the hidden gardens of Italy. I too thought the three grass heights were interesting – a touch of pragmatism and design.
Yes, I agree, the grass heights were interesting and the whole garden was quite a change from the formal gardens usually found in Italy.
It looks wonderful, Gerrie.
Thanks Ruth is was a real highlight of the trip.
How lucky to have a local guide to show you these fantastic gardens. The first one is my favourite, I have never seen grass in a garden being cut at three different lengths instead of two. Sarah x
Yes, we were lucky. The lawn cut at three levels was interesting. Some of the garden looked like a meadow…in a little island off Venice!
Oh, Venice looks stunning! We visited Europe over the Christmas holidays but didn’t have a chance to see Venice. We are going to spend the next year or so being full time RV’ers and traveling the US. I would still LOVE to see Venice though! Especially after seeing all your great shots!
Thanks, glad you liked them, it was nice to share that experience. Venice is wonderful.
What a fabulous trip you had, and so lucky to have Tudy Samartini as a guide. Those roses are so wonderful!
Tudy was about 91 years old on that tour!