We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Secret Garden in Venice

There have been books written about Venice's secret gardens. Where are they ? Always behind wooden or iron doors, surrounded by brick walls, away from Venice's curious visitors.  And always, when you find one, you feel as though you have been given a special little gift, the opportunity to sneak a peak at something rare.

My post today isn't about going on a secret garden hunt in Venice. No, it's about my own secret garden project in Venice. If you are a reader of my blog, you know from past posts that we had a marvelous secret garden at our previous apartment. Totally walled in, 600 square meters of private green space filled with iris beds, rose bushes, all sorts of flowering perennials, trees, a grape arbor that produced grapes, and yes, grass that needed to be mowed on a regular basis. Who mowed grass in the historic enter of Venice??? We did.

That garden was huge, and required lots of tender loving care. Although we were very reluctant to leave it, when it was time to search for smaller apartment, we were ok with our decision. Little did we know we'd take on yet another garden with the new apartment in Sant'Elena. Yes, we're now on Garden Numero Duo.  This one is smaller, about 1/4 acre, and also as sorely neglected as the last one had been. So we're back to work again. Welcome to my own "Secret Garden".

It's quite a work in progress. This one has been so badly neglected, the weeds have now grown to almost trees and are about as tall as I am. From front to back, side to side, there was nothing but wilderness.  Unfortunately, we didn't get down into the garden as soon as the weather turned warm. Our first priority was to get the terrace set up: new sun umbrellas delivered and constructed, lots of geraniums hauled home and potted.  With that work completed, it's time to kick it into high gear on the garden work. And the weeds that we should have tackled a few weeks ago have had lots of rain to nourish them into full blown monsters.


Above is a photo of Mike digging up stumps. I'd already finished pulling weeds from the area in the foreground.

Along the brick wall are not one, but two wonderful old troughs with running water.  We cut back a climbing vine that had taken over the wall. It looked nice, but I happen to be allergic to that particular vine. Anyone else allergic to Virginia Creeper??  And why has it followed me all the way to Venice?  There is a nice pink climbing rose along a back part of the wall.  I have visions of some terracotta lions on plaques taking up residence on this wall some day soon. 

This is the beginning of the weed pile that has since grown to about triple it's size. Our trash collectors will only take away one bag of garden trash per day. At that rate, I'm going to have enough bags to last us till November.

The first bed uncovered!  The whole entire garden has beds established, delineated by brick edges, with walkways in between.  We've gotten two of the beds completely de-weeded, and have planted one bed with tomatoes, the other with zucchine.  We have a smaller bed along the brick wall planted with eggplant peppers and watermelon.

There's lots more work to come down in our "Secret Garden". In the middle there is a lovely section with rose bushes we're working on clearing out, and 3 more large beds that are half-way cleared. I'm  already planning an iris bed along one of the brick walls.

Now you know what I've been keeping busy with.  We are so looking forward to some homegrown vegetables from our own little "Orto".  I think we have too many zucchini plants, we'll be selling some to the fruttivendolo in Sant'Elena!  Or I'll be making LOTS of zucchini bread!

As the season progresses, I'll be posting garden progress.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Vogalonga 2013

One of my favorite Venice events is the Vogalonga, a 30 Kilometer rowing event that starts and ends at St. Mark's. It's a non-competitive race open to just about every rowing type boat imaginable from one man kayaks to 16 man boats, canoes and drum boats. This year's event began, unfortunately, in a light rain, that progressed to a heavy rain at a few points during the day.  Not a good day for the rowers. The good news is the sun came out towards the middle of the afternoon, just as rowers were finding places to pull up their boats to rest at the end of a long, wet 30 kilometers.

This year 1,700 boats and 7,000 rowers from all over the world participated.

Between 9 am and 3pm, the Grand Canal is closed to all motorized boat traffic, so no vaporettos available. If you needed to get somewhere today, you were walking, or taking a very long route around the outside of the city, or- worse case, renting a private water taxi that was also taking a long route to your destination as they also were not allowed on the Grand Canal  during the regatta. I have to say, while  we were waiting for the first of the boats to return to the Grand Canal, the silence on the canal is almost eerie. It's something you don't see too often, so when you do, you can't help but be awe struck by how just how grand this canal is.

Here's a look at the Vogalonga course, beginning at St. Mark's square, down around Sant'Elena, past Certosa Island, Sant Erasmo island, Burano, Mazzorbo, Murano and back through Venice down the Cannaregio canal to the Grand Canal ending at St. Mark's.

 I positioned myself at the waterfront at Sant'Elena at 9:00 am this morning, in the rain, and was able to get some great photos.

Later in the morning I was at Rialto, watching as rowers were making their way down the Grand Canal. Right in front of me I saw a man swimming. At first I thought he had fallen overboard off one of the boats. I looked closer and noticed he had flippers, a wet suit and swim cap, and was being accompanied closely by a gondola with 2 rowers front and back. This man hadn't fallen in, he was actually SWIMMING the Vogalonga!!!!  Made me think of Lord Byron!
 The next few photos are post-Vogalonga, after the rowers had completed the course. These colorful kayaks were stowed at the Rialto fish market. All of the participants who came with these boats were changing out of their wet clothing under cover of the fish market.
 Here a group of rowers were pulling their boats up at Campo San Trovaso, and headed to the wine bars across the canal for some spritz's.

And this guy pulled his boat up at the memorial in front of Giardini. A little unorthodox, but hey, it's Vogalonga.