Venice’s central islands are the uncontested main attraction to visitors in the Venetian lagoon. Giudecca is a smaller, predominantly residential island in the sestiere (borough) directly south of the central islands and much quieter for it. In ancient times, the island was known as the Spinalunga, or Long Thorn, perhaps for its curved sickle like shape. The current name ‘Giudecca’ is believed to be a corruption of the Latin word ‘Judaica’ and could be interpreted to mean the traditional Jewish quarter. However, although ‘giudecca’ is the name of several Jewish sections of town in Southern Italy and Sicily, the term is not one commonly used in Northern Italy. Historically, Giudecca was an area of large palaces, extensive gardens, vineyards and orchards.
I went exploring around the Bauer Palladio hotel and gardens, which is a direct water taxi ride from the south bank of central Venice. The hotel is located in a stately older mansion with large imposing green doors. Inside, the hotel’s spacious lobby rooms are decorated with massive hydrangea vases. The Palladio’s three garden system is a geometric windy maze, well shaded with great trees and decorated with springtime wildflowers. I had fun exploring the expansive gardens and even stumbled upon a second mansion, decorated with a similar hydrangea vase. The island’s waterfront is laid out along a vertical path and I spotted some really cool reflective doors – perfect for selfies :)
I highly recommend wandering a bit off the traditional central Venetian islands (which can be infested with tourists in peak summer season) and visiting some of the off-beat islands around the lagoon.
For more on transportation around Venice’s island network, check out venetian water taxi rides here.