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Venice was once a huge edible flower garden … Partly unkempt areas teeming with reeds and little lakes in the midst of town were normal in the 12th century. These lakes were called le piscine (pools) and their presence resounds to this day in street names like Piscina Frezzeria.

Every single spot was used to grow something. As Venice was into the spice industry, spezieri used not only the ingredients delivered from the Levant, Asia and Africa, but also grew spices themselves – in Venice. Plus they needed lots of blossoms and aromatic herbs !!

The Venetian beauty industry was in full swing by the 13th century. Saponifici (soap factories) spread to every part of Venice  just like in the 15th century, the zuccherifici (cane sugar refineries) would. These industries needed herbs and blossoms to enrich cosmetics and their sugar mixtures. No Venetian nobleman would have eaten his sugar without flavoring it with herbs, blossoms and spices !!

So you see how much wisdom and how many recipes we’re lacking today !!! Gardens were used for many purposes here, complete self-sufficiency was obtained. People grew spices and herbs like Michiel did in his world-famous botanical garden in the 15th century. They used the blossoms to make drinks, soaps, cosmetics and medical remedies. People grew and harvested blossoms and spices wherever they could find a good spot to grow them, also in public areas like the campazzi and sold their flowers to the soap and sugar manufacturers.

Campazzi were jointly used green areas between the buildings, not just to feed poultry an animals but also to grow blossoms and sell them to the cosmetics industry. As early as the 14th century, Venice introduced cosmetics in Europe and was one huge healing garden herself …

By the 14th century, Venice was the town in Europe boasting the largest number of botanical gardens, for everyone loved experimenting with plants, and they were required by the cosmetics, beauty and perfumery industry of the Venetian Republic.

Find out more about the Venetian Fragrant Past in “Beauty” andin this article on La Venessiana: