The sisters arrived in Venice on the heels of Pope Benedict XVI who paid a pastoral visit over the weekend. He began his visit with a gondola ride from St Mark’s Square to the Basilica della Salute Church, then presided over mass for 300,000 in San Guiliano de Mestre Park. Although much of the local crowds had dispersed in the area, excitement was still in the air upon our arrival in this seemingly stone city.
As many know, Venice covers an area of only 458 square miles with a population of approximately 310,000, where all of the transportation is by foot or by water. All of the buildings in Venice are supported on oak and pine piles that are driven deep into the ground. The piles are quite sturdy since they can not decay in the waterlogged soil without oxygen.
There are gardens in Venice. A number of the present day parks were once private gardens belonging to the city’s nobility. These precious green spaces can be tiny, some hard to find, some inaccessible, but those that can be accessed are interesting and peaceful. Close by San Marco, the Giardinetti Reali (Royal Gardens) was originally created by Napoleon in the 19th century. It offers pathways, tall trees, flowers, and plenty of benches.
The gardens we loved best were the simple window gardens similar to those we saw in Paris. Geraniums seem to be the flower of choice for a window box. The bright red blooms complimented the colorful facade of the buildings along the calli (alleyways) as we admired a multitude of them from our gondola, quietly floating along the streets of Venice.