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Friday, May 25, 2007


May 20, Venezia

I'v never heard so many church bells ringing in unison before, loud and incessant throughout the day reminding the parishoners of mass, I suppose. It's a glorious sound when you first hear it but, just as I've heard other travelers complain of the five daily calls to prayer (ampliphined) in Muslim countries like Turkey and MOrooc, for instance, it can become somewhat overbearing. Especially when there's a church on your doorstep or, in the case ouf our Hotel Orion, right outside our window!

Needless to say we were early to rise again,and after our pre-reakfast stroll and a substantial repast we headed off in hopes of dinging the ghetto. Our early morning adventure took us over the Rialto Bridge. One amazing phenomena here is the way the light reflects and shimmers off the buildings from the canals. Quite a gorgeous sight but impossible to capture in a photo. The Rialto has been a commercial centre since the 9ths century when the city's first fish market was established here. Ships from around the wrld docked here and it was here that the Grand Caal was first spanned. The Ponte dei Rialto is the most used bridge across the canal. It has three sections, with shops b uilt right on the bridge.

We intended to get a vaporetto to the ghetto in Cannaregio but by mistake got one going the wrong direction and ended up a long ways off at the Lido. Oh well, a beauitful day for a cruise. We hung around the square at the Lido awhile watching the ordes of weekend holidayers heading for the beaches; draknk campari and relaxed, then caught a boat back to Venice, this time in the right direction.

The germ 'geto' (ghetto) originated in Venice, referring to the foundries where metals for canons were cast. "Ghetto" comes from the cinders piled where founderies were set up in Canneragio. The Venetian word 'to smell' - gettare, hence the name 'geto veccio' (old foundry) for the first site and 'geto nuevo' for the second. With the arrival of the Jews in the 14-15th C. the meaning and pronounciation changed as the 'ghetto' became the place to assign them. They were actually locked in at night, not allowed freedom to venture around the city. Because they couldn't expand outside their area, they had to build up -- so the buildings in the ghetto are much taller than in other parts of the city and it is still isolated from the rest of Venezia. Until Napoleon conquored Venice in 1797, Jews were only allowed to live in that part of the city. Remember Shakeare's "Merchant of Venice"? It took place mainly in the ghetto of Venice.

In the main piazza is a memorial wall to the many Jews who wre rounded up by the Germans during the war and carted off to death camps. There is one old synagogue here and all the shops sell Jewish items. We stopped at a cafe for a lunch of goulash and salad then attempted t find our way out of there by foot, an exhausting adventure. On the way we intended to locate an internet cafe (no luck) so gave up and stggered back to our hotel for a much deserved nap.

This evening we decided to take it easy. Believe it or not, DID find a web cafe, but the computer wouldn't let me sign into my blog, then went back over to San Marco Piazza to sit on the stone benches contemplating the sights as we listened to some jazz. Later went for gelato and amaretto for our dessert treat. Then home for a well deserved sleep.

NEXT: Some of Venice's naval history

1 comment: said...

Hi everyone,
To keep your memories of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice fresh, have a look of the website
Have fun :-)