My favorite walk along Fondamenta de l’Osmarin – Rio dei Greci -Campo della Bragora – Riva degli Schiavoni – Via Garibaldi – Viale Garibaldi / Serra dei Giardini – Rio di San Giuseppe – Rio di Sant’Anna
Join me for a walk on a fine spring morning around my neighborhood! We’ll eat breakfast in the sun and see the ancient Greek and Dalmatian quarters of Venice. Along the way, we’ll also see the spots to take wonderful pictures of the verdant Venice, and discover cafes, garden shops and the floating market!
We start out our walk at 7:30 am, watch the sun getting a little brighter as it is usually very hazy and humid on a morning in mid-April, as you can see in the image below.
Enjoy a spring morning walk
You can feel the flower-scented breeze in your face as we walk slowly along Rio de l’Osmarin. There aren’t any flowers around you but they grow on the window sills and balconies above, and on the roof terraces. The cafes lining Rio de l’Osmarin are already open, so you can smell the freshly brewed cappuccino mingling with the flower scents.
As you cross the bridge and walk past the church of San Giorgio dei Greci, you can feel the light humid breeze, smelling of the sea as you are standing on top of the bridge. It will take another hour or so for the mist to rise, but you can already make out lighter patches on the sky as the sun is trying to get through. This is why I recommend that you stop here and walk towards the entrance of the green courtyard. The fresh colors of spring are a feast for the eyes.
Rio dei Greci
You’re now walking along Salizzada dei Greci, past Pasticceria Chiusso which is one of my favorite pastry stores. Especially when it’s early I love stopping here and eat their freshly baked apple-marzipan-filled cornetto (brioche) and a cup of frothy cappuccino. But today, I’m walking past the cafe, as this is my favorite season and Venice is full of blossoms, The whole city seems like a melange of pink and blue. You can see the pink-golden light reflected in the picture below where I’m just crossing Rio dei Greci on my way to Campo della Bragora.
San Giorgio dei Greci – courtyard
This is a campo with a couple of green areas where oleanders with huge white and rose blossoms grow, and olive trees on the green zones in a corner. The oleanders blossom from April to early December, so you should be lucky to see them, and take in the smell!
On Campo della Bragora, there’s also a fluffy silk tree: By early june, the blossoms of this albero della seta (mimosa albizia, used as a remedy in China where it comes from). open and especially in the morning, mingles with the lemony-vanilla scent of the oleanders nearby. If you would like to stop here, there’s another cafe where you can sit and enjoy the first sun rays of the day.
Campo della Bragora
Il glicine – wisteria is also coming into bloom during the first days of April! Next to Campo San Lorenzo there’s a particularly beautiful plant which I “visit” as often as I can. I love stopping below its perfumed purple flower cascades on a wooden bench overlooking Rio dei Greci. On these warm but moist spring morning it’s a boon to stop and watch and think. The sky is getting clearer now, the mist is giving way to the blinding sunlight of spring. No breeze, just calm and salty air. More than half the spring days in Venice start out like this.
Pasticceria alla Bragora
This is Pasticceria alla Bragora, located just behind Campo della Bragora. They have the best cornetti alle mandorle – almond brioche in the world, in my opinion 🙂 On sunny spring mornings, I usually sit outside and enjoy either the almond brioche or their almond cake which tastes similar to torta greca, my favorite cake recipe. So you can see, Venetians love a rather sweet breakfast 🙂
While you are taking a break in the sun, let’s recall the story of Castello, the sestiere (district) east of Piazza San Marco where the Greek and Levantine communities of Venice were living. Some of these families still live here, and their gardens are amongst the least known and lushest in Venice!
Castello used to be one large vineyard, herb garden and orchard called el brolo, cultivated by the nuns of San Zaccaria since the year 400 AD. The western part of the brolo became Piazza San Marco in the 7th century. Lina’s garden is the last of what remains of El Brolo.
This part of town, la Venezia Levantina, comprises the Scuola dalmatina, Chiesa di Sant’Antonin and Campo della Bragora. Following the excavations at the courtyard of Chiesa di Sant’Antonin, early Venetian history will be re-written.
Also interesting for you to know is that from the year 1453, more than 50,000 inhabitants of Constantinople were invited to settle after the fall of their town. They brought with them their cultural heritage and that of ancient Greece, returning to a city where ancient Greek (koiné) had been spoken right from the beginning, even before Venice had been founded. This is one of the unknown stories we are telling in our Venetia Heritage Online Class.
The wisteria on Calle dei Morti
We continue our walk towards Riva degli Schiavoni and Torrefazione Girani. This is where I buy our coffee! Via Garibaldi isn’t far away, a best-loved boulevard with lots of street cafes to stop and enjoy a cup of early morning tea and nutella-filled zaleti biscuits 🙂 And it has quiet corners and campielli just behind, looking so green now as you can see in the picture above !
So now we are walking briskly along Riva degli Schiavoni towards Via Garibaldi. I often buy our vegetables from the barca della verdura, the floating market boat moored on Rio di Sant’Anna at the far end of Via Garibaldi. There are many best-loved breakfast bars on my way, but I do have a favorite which is just round the corner. On we go, to Caffé della Serra, a beautiful plant nursery, hothouse, winter garden cafe and terrace in the midst of lush plants and blossoms. While I’m being tented by the wonderful selection of pot plants, young salad plants and sementi (seeds), I’m looking forward to my real breakfast for today. For it’s around 11 am, and that means that the cafe at the back of the garden center / hothouse will be opened.
Serra dei Giardini
I love to sit on their terrace, behind me the pittosporum hedge whose incredibly scented blossoms are just opening. This part of Venice holds so many secret stories: Homes of doges were located here, near the Venetian arsenal, the backbone of the Venetian economy, where the cogs were built for the merchants to transport their goods – and the spices – to and from Venice.
Serra dei Giardini
Serra dei Giardini has a wonderful selection of tea and snacks, just right for our late breakfast: I love their vegetarian toast (rye bread, baked cheese, sliced eggplants fried in olive oil, sour cream – herb dip, yellow mustard, parsley, chives, tomatoes) and lemon blossom tea, and then it’s another cappuccino and a cup of blueberry tea by Tea Forte. Bread and pastries at Serra dei Giardini come from the island of Burano, from the Palmisano bakery.
When you stop at La Serra, don’t forget to take a look at back garden with the little basin called Laguna in Vasca, where Lagoon plants grow, and amongst them, salicornia, a favorite herb that goes into risotto and pasta dishes in Venice.
Riva Sette Martiri
On my way back, I walk towards the Riva which is just a few steps away, crossing a bridge. You get a wonderful view from here back towards Venice …. and in the meantime, you can see, the weather has changed once again, and I can feel a few warm rain drops in my face. After all, it’s April, and we might even experience thunderstorms. So from here, we walk back to Rio di Sant’Anna to buy herbs (bruscandoli and salvia) for a favorite spring pasta sauce (bruscandoli, pinoli, olive oil, Taleggio cheese, plus fried salvia leaves).