On this half-day walking tour of the Cannaregio district, discover the synagogues, kosher bakeries and quiet, residential squares of Venice?s former Ghetto.
A melancholy calm permeates the Venetian Ghetto, which today is home to a mere 50 Jews. During the Renaissance, however, it was a beehive of activity with an intense cultural life and five Synagogues to serve the various nationalities of Jews who settled here.
The oldest of these is the Scuola Tedesca of 1528 where German Jews followed the Ashkenazi rite, while the Scuola Levantina (1538) and Scuola Ponentina (1580) administered to Sephardic Jews from the Balkans and Spain. We will visit several of these Synagogues, as well as the Jewish Museum with its fascinating collection of antique ketubboth, or marriage contracts. A striking bronze monument to the Holocaust stands in the Ghetto's main square. The whole neighborhood was once full of foundries where bronze cannons were cast - "gettare" in Italian - from which derived the name "ghetto" subsequently applied to the Jewish quarters of other European cities. On the Calle del Forno the old outdoor oven for baking unleavened bread is still in use. After a snack at a kosher bakery, the tour continues along the quiet Rio della Misericordia. To the right of the Ponte dei Mori is the little palace [no. 3399] where the great 16th century painter Tintoretto spent the last 20 years of his life. He was buried in the nearby Gothic church of the Madonna dell'Orto close by two of his largest and most dramatic canvases: the 50-foot high "Last Judgement" and "Worship of the Golden Calf".
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