If you move away from the most famous streets and calli in Venice, you will come across hidden places, surrounded by silence and filled with history and mystery.
To echo the classic images of the lagoon city (gondolas, aristocratic palaces and canals) are its secret gardens, small corners protected from the tourist flows, which reveal to those who visit them the true soul of Venice.
Venice is in fact full of ravines, vegetable gardens, courtyards and urban parks, often left as inheritance to the population by ancient monastic structures and noble palaces, where you can enjoy timeless atmospheres and which dot the urban structure of the city like a mosaic.
The secret gardens in Venice: the historic gardens
Do you know that in Venice there are over 500 green spaces? Some are truly unmissable, like the vegetable garden of the Convent of the Redeemer, located on the island of Giudecca, behind the temple built in honor of Palladio. There the Capuchin friars grow vines, olive trees, vegetables and herbs and there is even a beautiful grove overlooking the lagoon. It really deserves to be seen!
If instead you are fond of the English style gardens, you can take a trip to the Giustinian palace. Its large courtyard is divided into two parts: the actual courtyard and a charming English garden. On the perimeter wall that protects the hortus conclusus from prying eyes, some rows of horse chestnuts, laurels and badgers are flanked. On the background, on the other hand, the façade of the building is completely covered by a century-old wisteria.
A few hundred meters from here stands another enchanting green area, sandwiched between the Foscari and Vendramin palaces and located just in front of the Chiesa dei Carmini: after passing through the portico, you enter a bright garden, rich in typically Venetian architectural elements, many of them dating back to the eighteenth century and recently restored.
If you decide to go there you will be kidnapped by the interweaving of art, nature and history that you breathe in this place and you will remain in silent contemplation as happened to me.
Absolutely delightful is the rose garden located in the courtyard of Palazzo Cappello Malipiero Barnabò, which, however, can’t be visited; you can admire it only through the balustrade that protects it. The private garden of Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, located on the Giudecca island in Via Marin, is also very beautiful. To access it you have to cross the entrance of the building and cross a courtyard cut in two by a driveway, surrounded by sculptures that portray as many Roman emperors.
If you enter the garden, you will find the so-called ancient “brolo”, or the orchard cultivated by the inhabitants of the building, from which you can enjoy a striking panorama, dominated by the dome of the Church of San Simeone Piccolo.
The secret gardens in Venice: public parks established in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
The green areas in Venice do not end in private gardens, but they also continue in the areas open to the publicwhere it is pleasant to walk in every season, observing the redness of the autumn leaves, or the blooming branches in spring.
Among these I suggest you the Giardini Papadopoli, which overlook Piazzale Roma, in the heart of the city, from where you can easily get there by bus. Until a few decades ago, these gardens occupied a total area of 12 thousand square meters and inside they included an amazing collection of exotic plants and flowers!
The Royal Gardens, however, were built by the French in honor of the then Viceroy of Italy Eugene of Beauharnais. Spectacular and rich in plants coming from half of Europe, they were connected to the Giardini di Castello, defined as Napoleonic.
Another garden often mentioned in the ancient chronicles due to the presence of exotic plants and large citrus greenhouses is linked to the Palazzo di Ca’ Savorgnan. Today, the public park reaches 9500 square meters and has over 200 specimens of trees, including an ancient oak and two ginkgo.
So, are you ready to discover all the most secret and curious green corners of Venice? You didn’t think that the lagoon reserved such beauties, did you? Take a tour of the secret gardens and then let us know how it went!