Inside the oldest garden in Venice:
Inspiring recipes and seasonal stories from a secret sanctuary, located five minutes from Piazza San Marco.
"50,000 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. - Elizabeth Salthouse on L'Italo-Americano
Recipes of the pre-industrial age, between 700 and 300 years old, had to fulfill a purpose: Food = health = beauty. Food enriched by herbs, blossoms and spices was considered medicine in Venice. The authentic Venetian cuisine is surprisingly "trendy" and has integrated elements from Ayurveda, Levantine cooking, and TCM.
These are the famous Venetian recipes of the pre-industrial age, favorites for centuries all over Europe: The art of creating delicious dishes, beauty products and natural remedies with herbs, blossoms and spices was developed in Venice since the 7th century AD. Ancient know-how so useful in critical times, such as to survive two world wars and famine. That's when grandmother Lina learned to cook historical Venetian recipes and create her own, rose and sage-flavored cosmetics.
Just after WW2, Lina opened her first restaurant in Venice in late April 1945, cooking childhood dishes from the northern Lagoon, where the family had been living during the war, north of the island 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 in particular, the forgotten library of the San Zaccaria monastery, located in the building the family purchased in 1968.
OUR PURPOSE IS TO REIMAGINE AND ENHANCE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE BY SHARING HISTORICAL AND VENETIAN HERITAGE TOPICS WITH VISITORS AND ALL WHO LOVE OUR CITY: DISCOVER THE HISTORICAL VENICE CALLED VENETIA, AND THE ROLE SHE PLAYED IN EUROPE UNTIL 1797.
La Venessiana was featured on:
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 Ann González
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