“It smells of cardamom and cinnamon, oregano, rose, violet, flexible branches of cypress, nightingales in exile, this rare priceless jewel …”. So an Armenian poet describes the charm of the Island of San Lazzaro, a fragment of the East in the middle of the Venice Lagoon.
A place outside the routes of mass tourism, a different face of Venice that offers travelers the discovery of an ancient culture and a parenthesis of calm and silence after the multicolored madness of the Venetian Carnival.
The small island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni is located between the Lido and the Lazzaretto Vecchio, as states the name of the saint to whom it was consecrated. In the early 1700s, the Armenian monaco Manug of Peter, called “Mechitar”, to escape the persecution of the Turks arrived in Venice and received permission from the government of Venice to settle here and found a convent. Even today the monastery is one of the first centers in the world of Armenian culture and is the mother house of the order of Mechitaristi.
The northern part of the island was the object of planting a beautiful garden, inspired to those secrets of the Far East: enriched, in particular, with rows of pine trees and large crops of roses. From these rose gardens, where among the many varieties stood out the wild rose, the monks began to produce a famous jam, the Vartanush, made from the petals of these roses. Born from an ancient recipe, originally from Armenia proper, jam with rose petals, is a true goodness; to achieve it you need to pick the flowers in late spring, in May, by collecting the first sunrise.
Jam made from it has a bright red color and is fragrant. The particular of this jam processing technique provides that the roses are hand gently browsed and that each petal is cut off the nail, ie, the part of the petal attached to the corolla, because, being a slightly bitter taste, sweetness would remove the finished product. The petals so cut are put in a bowl, adding an equal amount of sugar and the squeezed lemon juice. Always well prepared petals are hand rubbed with force, so as to promote fiber breakage and spillage of humors. The obtained mixture, then, is left to macerate for a time (in this way the petals are mixed with the sugar syrup and the lemon juice), and subsequently the mixture is put to boil, evaporate leaving up to the right consistency. When cooked jam you put in jars, which, tightly closed, are kept in the dark.
In San Lazzaro, Mechitar and his monks, as well as realize the beautiful garden, they attended to enrich and restructure the old buildings, the oldest dating back to the year one thousand.
Today the island is one of the main centers of Armenian culture in the world and is a point of reference for scholars of Oriental languages.
The island is home to a small church which was rebuilt in 1883 after a fire, an art gallery with paintings by Palma the Younger and also a fresco by Tiepolo, a rich museum collections of all kinds including the Egyptian mummy of Prince Nehmekhet perfectly preserved, a library of 4500 manuscripts and 100,000 books.
An oasis of silence and sweetness!
“Part of the lyrics are taken from http://amicomario.blogspot.it/”