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Tailor Made Tour Experience

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Owning an altana in Venice in 2021: a tailor made priviledge

altana with flowers

Wecome back! Today I will tell you about the Venetian altane and its frivolous function.

Wandering around and getting lost in the alleys of the Lady of the Mediterranean you often keep your head down watching google maps and you end up missing curious details, such as nisioeti, secret gardens, patere, laundry hanging, etc

In a city with very rare balconies, terraces and patios, you will surely have noticed the wooden structures above some roofs or just up against dormers, thinking that this is what they are.

Well, the altana is not really a terrace, but if you are lucky enough to occupy the apartment on the top floor or, even better, to own the entire building it is actually the only outdoor space in your own property!

If you plan to use the altana to sunbathe or relax under your beach umbrella or among balcony plants and flowers, I'm sorry to disappoint you but this is an open place, full of light and air, where an annoying wind would cause both vases and umbrella to fall, where you risk to drop your personal belongings into the canal through the wide cracks between the floorboards.

Today the altanas are very popular because they offer a spectacular view over the roofs of the city and its lagoon and because they are not easily duplicated. What do i mean? First of all, let's not forget that Venice is a heritage Unesco therefore, in order to build a new altana, it is necessary to prove that there was one already in the past. Finding this kind of information is anything but simple: we check the land registry and even the canvases of the great landscape painters such as Guardi and Canaletto. Below, a particular of "The miracle of the cross at Rialto” di Carpaccio.

altana carpaccio

In the past, the altanas were mainly used to dry clothes but performed also a more frivolous function. Let's take a step back. In the sixteenth century it was fashionable among noblewomen to wear red hair (have you ever wondered why we talk about Titianred?). First they would oxygenat it with a mixture of bicarbonate, egg and chlorine (!!!), then they would dress up head to toes and go up to the altana.

Why so covered up? The tan craze is a relatively recent trend. In fact, up to the mid 1900s both aristocrats and bourgeois regarded tanned skin as disgraceful as it implied working outdoors (in the fields, for example) and a lower social condition. For this reason ladies kept their skin as fair and pale as they could by wearing hats and gloves and by carrying parasols, especially in summertime.

But let's go back to Venetian noblewomen, who sat on the altanas for hours wearing the solana, a hat open at the top, on whose wide brim they spread strands of hair in the sun. Well, the oxygenated hair "burned" in the sun taking on the much desired color.

So much for highlights, degradé and shatush!!!

If you want to enjoy a beautiful view sipping a glass of wine on the altana Contact me. In the meantime let me explain a bit about these peculiar architectural devices in the following videos.


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