And in the recent past, this ancient know-how was used to survive the two world wars in the Lagoon. That's when grandmother Lina learned to cook historical recipes and create her own, rose and sage-flavored face and body creams.
Lina opened her first restaurant in Venice in 1945, cooking childhood dishes from the northern Lagoon, where the family had been living during the war, just north of Lio Piccolo and Torcello: People went foraging for herbs in spring and used herbs and wild fruit in their staple dishes in winter.
In the 1960s, Lina started collecting ancient recipes from monasteries in the Lagoon and in Venice: San Francesco della Vigna, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, and the forgotten library of San Zaccaria, located in the house she bought in 1968:
Recipes of the pre-industrial age, between 700 and 300 years old, which had to fulfill a purpose: Food = health = beauty. Food enriched by herbs, blossoms and spices was considered medicine in Venice, so we thought that during our changing, fast-paced and unsure times, adding healthy and delicious touches to food might be useful.
"55,000 Venetians live in the historic center. Their numbers are down from 150,000 two centuries ago but this core of residents holds a deep love for their home:
Iris and her grandmother are passionate to show people that there's much, much more to Venice than just St Mark's, beautiful though it is. So they write about the hidden, private side of Venice. From courtyard gardens to secret orchards, medicinal botany to vegetable patches. Most lie behind anonymus, vertiginous, red brick walls, totally unknown to passers-by or their guidebooks, and astonishingly gardens cover almost half the surface area of the city. Often the only clue you'll have to being near a secret sanctuary is a waft of heavy vanilla, jasmine or lemon balm as you pass by.
And most of the time you're probably no more than just a few feet away from an old vineyard, an ageing convent garden or, as Iris puts it, the second Venice, known only to residents. If you're lucky she'll take you there through her writing or in person. And if we're lucky Venice, her history and her gardens will survive in the safe hands of Venetians like Iris and her grandmother Lina."
€39,80 / year
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I want to live in your Venice! You describe the city in such rich and loving detail. Such wonderful information about a Venice we usually don’t see! Thank you for lending me your eyes and your knowledge.
Kathleen González, Seductive Venice Blog