At first glance, Venice looks a dense built city in which vegetation could barely survive. It might come as a surprise to know that there are many hidden gardens of Venice scattered all around the six sestieri – often where you least expect them!
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This sestiere has large parks in Giardini and Sant’Elena. However, if you want something quieter and more private, try the Serra dei Giardini, which has a display of exotic plants and a pleasant coffee shop next door.
The garden of the Prioral Palace of the Order Malta is probably the biggest private garden of the city, though it’s only open on certain occasions. Check their website to know when it is open.
The church of San Francesco della Vigna owes its name to the Italian word for vineyard, vigna. The church is connected to St. Mark, Venice’s patron saint, who took shelter there and was welcomed by an angel. The angel said the words that have become the city’s motto. “Pax tibi Marce Evangelista meum”, or “Peace be with you Mark, my Evangelist”.
Right next to the bustling railway station, the church of the Carmelites hides a vegetable garden. There, gardeners create delicacies available for purchase at the shop attached to the garden. You can rest until your train departs at the relatively large Parco Savorgnan, close to the Guglie bridge.
North of the city, the garden Villa Groggia was part of a demolished palace but with a still working theatre and a swimming pool.
On the north-western end of the city, a secluded and quite forsaken bit of greenery can be visited at your own risk. In fact, the place is tranquil but not attended to but still a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Get in through the gate at the number 3144.
If looking for a fancier location, the garden of the Grand Hotel dei Dogi is the right one. Exclusively for the patrons of the bar and restaurant, it gives the idea of what the walled gardens were for the wealthy Venetians.
Very close to the Scalzi Bridge, the Palazzo Soranzo Cappello has a beautiful English landscape garden recently reopened. Usually, you can only visit after you send an application to the Soprintendenza. However, on some occasions, it’s free to enter. You can find many literary references, from D’Annunzio’s Il fuoco to Henry James’s The Aspern Papers.
Another nice English landscape garden free to visit is the one of Ca’ Zenobio, former home of the College of the Armenian Fathers of San Lazzaro, near Campo Santa Margherita.
Ca’ Rezzonico is a Baroque palazzo on the Grand Canal that hosts the museum of the 18th century with a great Italian garden.
Giudecca, one of the many islands, has lovely plots all along the southern side. You can find beautiful gardens behind the Fortuny textile factory.
There is a tiny garden that overlooks a quiet area of the lagoon. It’s located right behind the magnificent church of the Redentore. Behind the church of Zitelle, you can find Villa Heriot, an odd-looking building with a nice garden.
Finally, on the easternmost tip of Venice, you can find the Belmond Hotel Cipriani. It has large, splendid floral and vegetable gardens that you can visit if you are a guest. If you want to reward yourselves with a fine dinner, you can visit their excellent restaurant.
Enjoy the best gardens of Venice!
©Photo Credits: San Francesco della Vigna (Photo by Roberta Bianchi), Villa Groggia (Photo by Thom Ouellette), Ca’ Zenobio (Photo by Giacomo Caruso)
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