Lonely Planet Writer

Venice’s neglected Royal Gardens to be restored to their former glory

Plans are in motion to restore Venice’s Royal Gardens, situated between St Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal, to their former glory after a period of neglect. The €5-million project will be paid for by Italy’s Ministry of Culture and the insurance company Generali, each stumping up half of the total cost. The aim is for the project to be completed by the second half of 2018.

A picture taken on 7 Apri, 2017 shows a general view of the Royal Gardens of Venice.
A picture taken on 7 April, 2017 shows a general view of the Royal Gardens of Venice. Image by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

The 5500-sq km gardens, which were originally intended to create a link between St Mark’s Square and the waterfront, were created under Napoleonic and Austrian rule in the early 19th century on the site of some 14th century barns.

Royal Gardens, Venice.
Royal Gardens, Venice. Image by Elliot Brown / CC BY 2.0

The restoration will recover the original ‘Mediterranean’ spirit of the gardens – the original geometric beds will be planted with evergreen and flowering species such as hydrangeas, camellias and magnolias, and there will be a long, wisteria-draped pergola. According to the gardener-architect Paolo Pejrone, “It will be a triumph of green and leafy branches, a play of transparency and shadows: the leaves of all types, thin, ribbon-like, supple and enlarged, shiny, leathery or fluffy and opaque.” In addition, the park’s neoclassical pavilion and adjoining greenhouses will be restored and turned into a cafe, and the wooden drawbridge linking the gardens directly with St Mark’s Square will be repaired and brought back into use.

Venice Park Gardens
Royal Gardens, Venice Image by Elliot Brown / CC BY 2.0

The project is being spearheaded by the non-profit Venice Gardens Foundation, which will be responsible for maintenance of the gardens once the restoration project is complete. Adele Re Rebaudengo, president of the foundation said, “We are proud to start a process that will restore this magical place, very much loved by Venetians, to its former splendour and significance”. Maintenance of the Royal Gardens and subsequent work to improve other green spaces within the city will be paid for by the profits from the cafe in the park’s pavilion.

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