Published: October 20th 2011October 20th 2011
16th Century Synagogue, Jewish Ghetto
this is the outward facade of the 16th century synagogue I visited
Note: All events discussed in this entry occurred on March 1, 2007. For more updated trips and entries, please refer back to this blog at a later date. An updated trip or entry will NOT include a note like this. Thanks and enjoy!
I woke up to find myself alone in the dorm, however I decided to grab some breakfast and head out to do some more sightseeing. Today, I decided visit Piazza di San Marco again to see the museums there, however I also wanted to check out the Jewish Ghetto. I first learned about the ghetto from an online article I had read back in the summer of 2006 before starting my study abroad program in Dijon. I was convinced to see it because apparently this was the oldest, and continuously active Jewish ghetto in Europe! I think it had existed since the 12th or 13th century, and the Jews who lived here apparently were treated quite well and did not experience the bigotry in other parts of Europe.
I first decide to eat lunch at a lovely trattoria nearby which served really good, reasonably priced seafood. I ordered a glass of local white wine and fried
Synagogue, Jewish Ghetto
This is the outward facade of the 19th century synagogue I visited
local mullet, all for about 12 euros! The mullet was cooked simply with olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley, but was moist, tender, flaky and had a nice, crisp crust. To date, this is one of the best seafood dishes I have ever had in my young life and I have yet to top it.
As I leave the trattoria and cross the bridge over to the ghetto, I run into two American girls I had met during my stay at the Archi Rossi Hostel in Florence, Italy. Apparently these girls were also students at IAU in Aix-en-Provence like myself, and were on vacation in Italy, and were now spending their first day in Venice.
"How was Bologna?" They asked me. I shrugged,
"It was alright. How are you two liking Venice?"
"Oh we love it," says one of them, "we just left the Jewish ghetto it is so amazing!"
"And we also went to a bakery and got some local cookies. You want one?" Says the other.
"Sure!" I say. The one who mentions the cookies and who is also holding the white, paper bag containing them in her left hand, passes me one.
"I'm actually heading towards
the ghetto," I tell them, my voice garbled thanks to my cookie. I wait a few minutes in order to digest some of it before asking, "how far away is it from here? Can you tell me how to get there?"
They both nod. "Yeah, sure. Less than a minute away really! Just cross this bridge and keep on going straight you can't miss it!"
"And don't forget to go to that bakery!" Shouted the other.
I laughed and said "I won't! Enjoy your visit and I'll see you back in Aix!"
I follow their instructions and sure enough, I begin to see lots of Hebrew and signs that include the word "Jew" in them. I finally make it to a square, which contains the headquarters for the synagogue/ghetto tour. I pay 10 euros, initially for the tour in English, however I decide to take the one in French since it started sooner and there were more people for that one than the other. We get to see at least 3 synagogues; the eldest which dates from the 13 century I think, the second from the 16th century and the last from the 19th century. This was my first
Mini Plaza/Courtyard 1
When you walk throughout Venice, you often come across little plazas like this. What's nice about them is that you do find a lot of cafes, you'll see children playing with their toys they're lots of fun.
experience in a synagogue, so I cannot really comment much on what I thought architecturally and interior design wise, however the set up was different than any Christian church I've visited. I do not remember seeing any sculptures of important figures of scripture as you do in a Catholic church. I do remember seeing Hebrew written on the walls and seeing painted depictions of lambs and goats I think. I remember finding it interesting that bleachers were built stadium style, surrounding the ground floor and the alter where the rabbi would practice. I remember noting that all three of these synagogues were simple in design in comparison to a Catholic church, however they were still aesthetically pleasing. Nonetheless, I will note that the color palate seemed to be plainer than even a mosque, especially from what I've seen in photos. I remember seeing a lot of gold, black and brown, and maybe white, but no other colors.
After the tour, I decided to look for the Piazza di San Marco, however I got dreadfully lost. I followed the signs but then they disappeared! I began to panic because I had no clue as to my exact location! I just
wandered aimlessly up and down bridges, through little plazas with filled cafes and markets, and past alleyways and small streets lined with Venetian masks, Burano lace and Murano glass. I finally made it to the Piazza di San Marco, but all I had time for was to visit the Dodge's Palace, and even then, I had to leave after 2 and a half hours because the museum was closing. this was not enough time to really get to see this palace, which has dozens of rooms, a huge courtyard and a dungeon however it is worth a visit. I got to see the Dodge's personal gondola, as well as his funeral one. I also got to see the parliamentary room, the ball room, and several other salons that were used for political purposes. Fortunately I was also able to visit the inside of the Bridge of Sighs, which got its name because it was the passageway that took prisoners to the dungeon. I did get to see the dungeon, and I spent quite a bit of time along the courtyard, which I found quite impressive and ornate. It was on my way to more rooms from the courtyard that an
According to some data I heard while here, I think there are close to 140 bridges in Venice! I'd believe it because you do see them a lot!
employee told me that they were closing, therefore ending my visit.
I decided to go back to the hostel at our designated time of 6 PM GMT (For more information, please refer to the blog entry entitled "the Piazza di San Marco at Night.") I met up with my Finnish and Minnasotan acquaintance, and we discussed dinner plans. The three of us agreed upon a restaurant called Il Profeta, located about 4 blocks away from the hostel on a secluded, residential street. Even though the exterior location of the restaurant looked rather empty, the inside was far from it. We had to wait an hour to be seated, and the restaurant was filled with a deluge of conversation. It also took us 2-3 hours to get our food because our waiter was close to being the only one on duty that night and there were probably close to 20-30 tables! I don't remember what everyone else ordered, but I got the pasta Il Profeta, which was my choice of pasta with a fresh tomato, ricotta and eggplant sauce. To start, we were given complimentary bread with a homemade spread of tomato and ricotta. I remember that both dishes were
Random Bridge 1
This is one of several photos I took while hopelessly lost in Venice. However I can't complain too much about the detour because everything I passed looked photogenic like this!
sensational; the ricotta was creamy and smooth, the tomatoes fresh, sweet and acidic and the eggplant fork tender and slightly smokey. We also shared two bottles of the house red wine and saluted our Finnish acquaintance, who was going to leave tomorrow morning. We thanked her for her companionship and wished her safe travels. That meal at Il Profeta was probably the best meal I had in Italy to date. We then went back to the hostel and got ready for bed.
There are more photos below