May 3, 2016

May in Venice is better than April, . . .

But June is best of all. Then the days are hot, but not too hot, and the nights are more beautiful than the days. Then Venice is rosier than ever in the morning and more golden than ever as the day descends. She seems to expand and evaporate, to multiply all her reflections and iridescences...
~Henry James, Italian Hours

Venice is an island city that owes its survival entirely to man’s ingeniousness in taming the natural landscape.  Land is therefore a precious commodity.  Perhaps as a consequence, few Italians take greater pleasure in flowers and gardens than these island dwellers, who seldom own more than a few feet of ground, and tenaciously cultivate every inch of soil within these narrow bounds.

Those gardens, sprinkled among the buildings, reveal an intensely urbanized people nonetheless determined to enjoy the pleasures of nature, who insists that their outdoor life be as fruitful and varied as that of a person who owns acre upon acre of land.  The unique urban character of Venice is accentuated in these pockets of greenery.

The visitor approaching by air will glimpse a closely knit urban plan studded with green jewels.  The same visitor may be frustrated if he tries to discover many of the gardens that have beckoned so promisingly, as many are in private hands.  However, an itinerary is easily followed, as the public gardens are there for all to see.

Rooftop terraces have supplanted the formal garden for many Venetians.  Plants, some extremely large, are potted along the edges of terraces, alternating with statuary to create an impromptu garden.  

Glimpsed from the street or the boardwalk along a canal, these snatches of greenery suggest the fascination of the secret gardens of another era, evoking the “intellectual delights” once woven into the incredible urban fabric of Venice.

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