Giardini Pubblici & Biennale
Lonely Planet review for Giardini Pubblici & Biennale
Modern angles and swing sets jutting out amid the greenery signal that you’re entering the Giardini, home to Venice’s Art Biennale. During the Art Biennale’s June–September run in odd years, curators and connoisseurs swarming national showcases ranging from Geza Rintel Maroti’s 1909 Secessionist-era Hungarian Pavilion, glittering with mosaics, to Peter Cox’s 1988 boxy yellow Australian Pavilion, frequently mistaken for a construction trailer. Carlo Scarpa contributed in one way or another from 1948 to 1972, trying to make the best of Duilio Torres’ Fascist 1932 Italian Pavilion (now the Palazzo delle Esposizione ) and building the entrance courtyard, the daring 1956 raw-concrete-and-glass Venezuelan Pavilion, and the winsome, bug-shaped Biglietteria (Ticket Office). In even years between Art Biennales, you can wander the gardens in peace and admire the facades of the organic 1958 Canadian Pavilion, a kind of retro ski lodge design with a tree growing right through it, and the postmodern 1996 Korean Pavilion, in an ingeniously converted electrical plant. During the Art Biennale, it may be hard to see the forest for the tree-art installations in these gardens – but this is the broadest swath of green space in Venice, with shaded benches, a few giostre (swings and other playground equipment) and waterfront snack bar-restaurant Paradiso. The Giardini came about in 1807, when Napoleon decided he needed a little breathing space, and ordered them built here. Never mind that there was an entire residential district here, including four churches: the emperor needed his shrubbery. But he didn’t have long to enjoy the scenery, since they were completed just three years before his demise in 1811.