Last year we went on holiday to Venice and I thought it would be a good opportunity to seek out green spaces and sources of produce in other parts of the world. In the end I didn’t find much.
Thanks Alice 🙂
For most visitors to Venice, the only green they’ll notice is the emerald gleam of the algae-filled canals. After all, Venice is a city of stone and marble; of labyrinthine streets and peeling plaster. And lots and lots of water.
But spend enough time in La Serenissima, and you’ll soon notice its many pockets of green. In the five months I spent there, I was lucky enough to discover many of its secret secret gardens, agriculture islets and shaded parks. And also to eat lots of the delicious produce that came from them.
For those in search of all things gardening in Venice, there are plenty of stops to choose from. From grand greenhouses to agricultural islands, this is your guide to the city’s most peaceful green spots.
Ask any Venetian the direction to the closest park, and they’ll probably point you towards the Giardini. Created by none other than Napoleon himself, this green space has been the go-to destination for an afternoon ‘passeggiata’ for centuries. Now you can lounge in the shade of its many trees, watching life on the lagoon slowly float by.
Don’t forget to stop by the Serra dei Giardini. This 19th century greenhouse houses Venice’s only garden centre, and a really lovely cafe.
The island of Torcello feels a world away from Venice. Just a 5 minute boat ride from the colourful island of Burano, Torcello was once the most powerful trading centre in the Lagoon, with a population of 20,000. Now only 10 people remain. But climb the campanile of Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta and you’ll see what makes this peaceful island so special – artichokes. And plenty of them. Like San Erasmo (the biggest agricultural island in the Lagoon), Torcello is criss-crossed with fields and waterways. It makes for a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Sit back and enjoy all that greenery with lunch in the large garden of Taverna Tipica Veneziana. Serving up delicious fried fish from the Lagoon and locally grown veg, this place is a real hidden gem.
You’d never guess that Parco Savorgnan was steps away from one of the busiest streets in Venice. Hidden behind a gate on Canale di Cannaregio, this shady park is perfect for relaxing with a book on a summer’s day. Travelling with little ones? It also has a small playground that’s very popular with locals (as I discovered while working as an au pair here a few years ago!).
Campo San Giacomo
Unlike other Italian cities, Venice doesn’t have piazzas (apart from Piazza San Marco, of course). Instead it has campi. And plenty of them. As the name suggests, a campo was once a field – so it makes sense that these squares should continue to host the occasional vegetable patch, like the one in Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio in Santa Croce. It might seem small to most gardeners, but this community vegetable patch serves as a reminder that Venice isn’t just a holiday destination – for many, it’s a home.