Formerly called “the island of cypresses”, San Giorgio Maggiore is one of the most beautiful islands of the Venetian lagoon. Located right in front of San Marco, once here there was an important mill, owned by the Doge, many vineyards and lush gardens serving the markets of Venice with fresh products. The island has been portrayed in several famous paintings including Canaletto and Monet’s ones. Thanks to the important Benedictine monastery located in the island, the site is worldly renowned for the works of genius architects Andrea Palladio and Baldassare Longhena. In 1951 Vittorio Cini decided to open the Cini Foundation dedicated to his son Giorgio sadly died in a plane crash in Cannes.
The Cini Foundation, the first Italian example of a humanistic institution created in a historical period when only science and technology seemed to animate the national cultural debate, took on the task of recovering and preserving the immense artistic and historical heritage of this island. Center of studies, research and debates, over time the Foundation has become a multidisciplinary cultural institution of international importance, stimulating a virtuous tourism on the island through the creation of high-tech services, including four exciting video-guided itineraries.
San Giorgio is easily reachable with the ferry boat number 2 from the train station. The complete tour begins with the visit to the San Giorgio Bell Tower which, being 75 meters high, offers a truly unique panoramic view over the city and the lagoon. From here the visit proceeds to the monumental site of the Foundation with its two magnificent cloisters, the historic Library, one of the most important of Venice, and the imposing staircase both designed by Baldassarre Longhena, which foreshadow another wonder: the Borges Labyrinth, a fascinating reconstruction of the maze-garden built by the architect Randoll Coate in honor of the Argentine writer. The labyrinth, 1150 meters long, is composed of 3250 plants reproducing Borges’ name, and represents one of the central themes of the author’s imagination. Inspired by the short story “The Garden of Forking Paths” dated back to 1941, the garden-labyrinth seen from above has the shape of an open book where blind people (Borges died blind) can move towards the exit using a hand-trail where, at the same time, they can read the story.
Inside the park of the Cini Foundation there are also the Vatican Chapels, ten chapels designed by as many international architects for the Venice Biennale 2018, and a selection of original art-works by artists such as Carsten Höller, Julião Sarmento and Marina Abramović. All the video guides work with touch technology creating a truly unique experience for the visitor thanks to special contents such as photos, videos and original interviews.
For a gourmet break it is possible to stop at the San Giorgio Cafè, the new refreshment area created by the Cini Foundation and curated by the famous Italian chef Filippo Lamantia. With a poetic view of the marina, the Café is perfect for a quick breakfast, a delicious lunch or a truly romantic aperitif with a view of one of the most photographed skyline in the world!