Spring has finally come to us, too. After rainy times we are now happy that the weather has turned mild and sunny again. So you may have wondered how Venetians prepare their flower beds (aiuole), little vegetable plots (orti and orticelli, there are some of these in town, located in private courtyards and small garden plots), and window herb gardens. As you may have guessed, with regard to private vegetable plots for everyone, or at least for every family, we have some shortage here, as the custom of keeping broli (orchards) in town has long been abandoned. Broli were places in the 10th-16th century, where Venetian families were growing their produce next to their houses, even spreading out into campazzi (squares). These days, the islands of the lagoon are ready to deliver all the bounty we need for cooking with fresh spring greens. But despite difficulty to find space to grow herbs, Venetians don’t give up and use their … window ledges, provided these are neither exposed to the blazing soon at noon, nor looking into northern direction with no sun available at all. Continue reading “L’arte verde in città: How to plant a spring herb garden in Venice”
An August morning in Venice is the best time to discover the moving walls effect, caused by the ever moving waters in the canals
>Features passati inosservati – i blu di agosto: two typcial features that appear in August here in Venice, which might be easily overlooked. Which is the favorite flower of Venice that actually thrives in the hot August sun while the other plants rather stop blossoming or get parched ?? And what about discovering the Venetian “moving walls effect” that is best watched now – in August .. The first August feature I would like to present to you is that special blue color of the slightly ruffled water, causing volatile bright reflections on the sunlit facades.
Have you noticed how that special shade of blue appears, bordering upon a light rose and shimmering brown, slowly turning away from the turquoise of early summer. As the canals get ruffled by little waves, the buildings mirrored in the water come out extremely nitidi – clear-cut and nitid. It is now that you can watch the “moving walls effect” better than during any other season of the year. Lights dancing so sweetly on facades as if a magician had enchanted the houses. I have posted some videos for you which I took a few days ago.
As a child I used to watch the “moving walls”, sitting on a bench in the Giardini Reali and taking in the glittering lights and reflections criss-crossing the walls of the Procuratie Nuove. Just beyond is Piazza San Marco ..
If you would like to discover the “moving walls effect” in Venice, then what you need is a summer morning day, the sun and a wall where a canal flows by. What you get is the lights dancing up and down on the walls as the lights are reflected. The gentle waves twist the reflections of vertical objects, like the wooden posts of landing stages, and the effect is really unique. Multi-layered waters: Blue, shimmering brown and golden rose_ Did you know that the lights of the waters in the canals change with the season. Often you have to wait one year until the same color shade reappears ..
August can be as hot as July, and it certainly is more humid. It seems that this atmosphere which makes for warm but humid mornings, with only the slightest of fogs, favor a terse light ensuring clear-cut reflections. So now is the season where the canals seem a multi-layered blue, what so many painters have been trying to catch .. and they still do .
I took the second video on my way from San Giacomo dell’Orio back to the Rialto area, at Rio Terà Seconda, next to Campiello del Forner (Santa Croce). But of course there are a hundred other places in Venice ideal to watch out for the effect. At the Ponte della Verona, near the Scala del Bovolo, for example, or nearby at Campiello Feltrina, alongside the Rio di San Maurizio.
Both are located in the San Marco district, waiting for you to discover. The second typical feature in August is the light blue of the plumbago plants, adorning our window sills. Small flowers, looking so refreshed in the parching summer light. Plinius the elder is said to have used them as a cure for lead poisoning, due to their color which reminds one of lead.
Near our house there are quite a few plumbago plants coloring Campo San Zaccaria. But you find the pale blue flowers almost everyhwere in Venice on balconies and window sills, exposed to the summer sun.
A dicembre Venezia si veste di rosso: December brings red accents to Venice, as the Stella di Natale plants take over, and Christmas decorations are put in place: Already in the first days of December you notice that Christmas is coming nearer by the advent of this plant with lush red leaves, brightening up shops and windows. Now it is not just the green patches of gardens, from altane to balconies, terraces and window gardens, that bring color to our campi e calli in Venice, but it is the flaring reds of Stella Natale (euphorbia) taking center stage.
Don’t expect Venetians to shut off their outdoor flowers in December – no, shrubs and flower pots are usually there all year long, though the pomegranate, tangerine and orange trees on our terrace may be protected from cooler days and particularly nights by means of plastic sheets. Oleanders remain there, unprotected from cooler salty mists coming in from the open sea, and just on some particularly cold nights, the typical winter flower pots of red and purple cyclamen may be brought in for the night, and are then returned to their sunny spots on the following day in the late morning. Coming back to the Stella di Natale plants …
… in December, you can find them everywhere in Venice, not only in homes, but in shop windows, in particular those belonging to pasticcerie and restaurants. Though, as you can see above, there are some window sills brightened up by these colorful plants of Mexican origin all year round ..
I find the first two weeks of December in Venice particularly restful: there are less people around town, and one can walk for hours on end, though feet can become quite cold by then. Anyone coming to Venice at this time of the year can take the opportunity to unwind, and you could do this by going for a quiet walk of discovery to see what gardens and flowers look like in December. And then get ready for the contrast of the festive red and colorful Christmas decorations. You could start your stroll in lively Campo San Filippo e Giacomo, in the early afternoon sun light (no, it is not always foggy!!) and then continue towards Calle del Rimedio, crossing Campo San Giovanni Novo.
I love Calle del Rimedio because of its dream-like twists and turns of the narrow canal running alongside, opening up to a bacino at one corner. At the other end is Campo Querini Stampaglia.
And then, all of a sudden, dusk and fog sets in just after four o’clock, with street lights being slowly turned on. Back in the San Marco district, you are in for quite a change: busy streets, lined with shops, pasticcerie and restaurants, brightly decorated with – greens and reds – and Stella di Natale ..