In the Biennale Giardini area, there is a place that reminds me of the Palais des machines built on the occasion of the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889, a building made of glass and iron. This place is called Caffè La Serra, a meeting spot hosted inside a greenhouse.
Originally, this greenhouse was built in 1894 with the scope of hosting all the tropical and decorative plants used at the Pavilions of La Biennale. Most plants and flowers grown here were then used to decorate the halls or ballrooms of the palaces belonging to the local aristocracy and also the flowerbeds in Lido!
But then... after almost a century of humble activities, this place was abandoned. All Venetians remember that until some years ago this La Serra looked very poorly. Probably its decadence may have seemed fascinating to some, but I always thought it was a pity that such a lovely building was left in such a state.
Luckily the cooperative NON SOLO VERDE took over. The place was first renovated by our municipality, then in July 2010 NON SOLO VERDE was entrusted with its management. At present, this greenhouse hosts a beautiful flower shop, a space for educational activities and a gorgeous cafeteria with indoor and outdoor seating.
I usually come here when I have some spare time, so I can sip a nice cup of tea and curl up with a book. The main focus is gardening, so you will find lots of magazines about flowers and gardening techniques all over the place, but... unfortunately I have a black thumb, so I bring my own book! In fact, I am not such a great customer when it comes to plants...I love them and, for this reason, I avoid taking them home! The only plants that survive with me are succulent plants...ideal for forgetful gardeners like me!
Anyway, the furniture is simple and the atmosphere friendly. During the Biennale, Caffè La Serra also displays some contemporary art or photography exhibition, so it's really impossible to get bored. It's frequented by all sorts of people: families, locals, youngsters, tourists, artists, aspiring artists and so on.
People often ask me where they can find a green area or a park to bring their kids. Well, in Venice there are some parks, although I don't find them that great. So I always say: Sant'Elena if you want to have an outdoor picnic or Caffè La Serra if you want to enjoy a nice coffee and unwind while your kids run and play, perfect option to kill two birds with one stone!
Personally, when I come here, my priority is relaxation. You can choose among a wide variety of teas, coffee, freshly squeezed juices and organic juices. It's also possible to drink the very popular spritz (Please note: spritz is not necessarily with Aperol !!!!! My husband says that Aperol is for women, men should drink Campari spritz! Here known as spritz al bitter), a glass of wine or one of their craft beers. I particularly like the Assiria, a craft organic blonde beer produced in a micro brewery in Friuli Venezia Giulia, with an intense flavour and a lightly zingy aftertaste, perfect for vegans and celiacs too.
With regard to snacks, there are both sweet and savoury options, like sandwiches, savoury tarts, selections of cured meats and small salads; or, for your sweet cravings, some buttery croissants, some muffins and a variety of cakes. Anyway, they always serve a little biscuit with your coffee or tea...
What else can I say? That Caffè La Serra is vegetarian and vegan friendly, that they use local produce and that it's a great place to stop by if you are visiting La Biennale. In summer, the trees outside offer shade and you can recover from Venice's terrible heat sitting down, sipping a cold drink and enjoying the lovely breeze that will give you some -believe me- really sought-after feeling of comfort.
It's a great spot also if you are looking for Venetian cicchetti, in fact they offer a Venetian mix at a very reasonable price (10 euros!), which includes: sarde in saor (sardines marinated in onion and vinegar with raisins and pine nuts), moscardini alla busara (baby octopus with tomato sauce), a seafood salad and some baccalà mantecato (creamed stockfish).
And...last but not least, this place invites people to be creative and that is what I really love about it! Just look at this piano...it's there and anyone can feel free to play it and liven the atmosphere with some music.
A great combination of food, art, photography, gardening classes and so on! A little magic world made of happy people that care about the environment and work hard to improve the surrounding area.
Highly recommended to flower lovers and anyone looking for a peaceful place immersed in the green! My vote is a YES!!!
Address: Viale Giuseppe Garibaldi 1254, 30122 Venice (VE)
Phone: +39 041 2960360