Captivating journeys through off-the-beaten-path Venice and Lagoon, with simple yet exquisite recipes, videos and sumptuous photographs.

Botanical Cuisine and Spices

The art of creating delicious dishes, beauty products and natural remedies with herbs, blossoms and spices was developed in Venice during the past 1600 years. And in the recent past, this ancient know-how was used to survive the two world wars in the Lagoon. That's when grandmother Lina learned to cook historical recipes and create her own, rose and sage-flavored face and body creams.

Lina opened her first restaurant in Venice in 1945, cooking childhood dishes from the northern Lagoon, where the family had been living during the war, just north of Lio Piccolo and Torcello: People went foraging for herbs in spring and used herbs and wild fruit in their staple dishes in winter.

In the 1960s, Lina started collecting ancient recipes from monasteries in the Lagoon and in Venice: San Francesco della Vigna, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, and the forgotten library of San Zaccaria, located in the house she bought in 1968: 

Recipes of the pre-industrial age, between 700 and 300 years old, which had to fulfill a purpose: Food = health = beauty. Food enriched by herbs, blossoms and spices was considered medicine in Venice. Slow food in modern times, healthy and delicious. The authentic Venetian cuisine is surprisingly "trendy" and has integrated many elements from Ayurvedic, Levantine, and TCM cuisine.

Secret gardens and their recipes

55,000 Venetians live in the historic center. Their numbers are down from 150,000 two centuries ago but this core of residents holds a deep love for their home:  Iris and her grandmother are passionate to show people that there's much, much more to Venice than just St Mark's, beautiful though it is. 

So they write about the hidden, private side of Venice. From courtyard gardens to secret orchards, medicinal botany to vegetable patches. Most lie behind anonymus, vertiginous, red brick walls, totally unknown to passers-by or their guidebooks, and astonishingly gardens cover almost half the surface area of the city. Often the only clue you'll have to being near a secret sanctuary is a waft of heavy vanilla, jasmine or lemon balm as you pass by. 

And most of the time you're probably no more than just a few feet away from an old vineyard, an ageing convent garden or, as Iris puts it, the second Venice, known only to residents.

If you're lucky she'll take you there through her writing or in person. And if we're lucky Venice, her history and her gardens will survive in the safe hands of Venetians like Iris and her grandmother Lina. - Elizabeth Salthouse on L'Italo-Americano

Meet your hosts

Lina Teresa

Associazione Cavalieri di San Marco, founder of three restaurants in Venice. Co-Founder of La Venessiana

Lina is a member of the Cavalieri di San Marco Association, founded by former noble families of the Serenissima Republic of Venice in 1571, when Venice fought the all-decisive battle of Lepanto. She is 98 years old, and opened three restaurants and a hotel near Piazza San Marco. Lina is deeply interested in Venetian cuisine and garden heritage. Since 1968, she has taken care of the library and terraced gardens of San Zaccaria monastery in Venice. Lina's kitchen is the home of our spice atelier! For our online experiences, Lina provides the most wonderful inspiration, memories of the past, wisdom for the future, and very special stories about Venice.

Iris Loredana

Sustainability expert, Venetian culinary historian, spices and aromatherapy. Co-Founder of La Venessiana Magazine.

Iris was educated in Venice and Vienna: She speaks seven languages, amongst them Greek, Latin and Venessian, the former languages of Venice. Iris wrote her thesis on the ecology and urbanization of the Lagoon of Venice, and business in times of unprecedented change with a focus on Europe and the Veneto. Together with Lina, she started La Venessiana - The fragrant world of Venice in 2011. In her spare time, Iris loves developing recipes, taking photos, and researching ancient books on spices and on Venice.

La Venessiana was featured on:

I want to live in your Venice! You describe the city in such rich and loving detail. Such wonderful information about a Venice we usually don’t see! Thank you for lending me your eyes and your knowledge. - Kathleen Ann González

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