Though not a well-known destination in China, Yangzhou has charms worthy of seeking.

Situated at the northern bank of the mighty Yangzte River, Yangzhou grew to attention during the Sui Dynasty, under Emperor Yangdi. It was named the southern capital of China – Jiangdu – until the completion of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal – one of the largest man-made canals in the world.

Like many great cities throughout history, Yangzhou underwent a succession of ruling parties, from the Wu Kingdom to the Qing Dynasty. What has remained consistent is this city fostered foreign trade, development and cultural exchange through the ages. The discovery of Katarina Vilioni’s tomb dated 1342, suggests a thriving Italian community existed in the city. Vilioni was the daughter of an Italian merchant, her father likely involved in the silk industry.

Two hours from Wuxi by bus, my university took us for a weekend excursion, where I captured some photographs.

Ge Garden is a human devised oasis, built by Huang Zhiyun in 1818 during the Qing Dynasty.  A rich salt merchant, Zhiyun admired bamboo for all it symbolizes – uprightness, longevity and good luck.  The Chinese characters for bamboo leaves resemble the world ‘ge’, thus Ge Garden was baptized.

The garden is a veritable wonderland of serene pools among a canopy of trees and clusters of bamboo.