Let's start the walk with a little history. Early sixteenth century Europe was a dangerous place for Jews. Following their expulsion from Spain in 1492 the Italian states came under pressure to do the same. Venice, an independent republic, resisted the pressure since Jewish bankers were fundamental to their trading economy. Instead they decided to force all the Jews to live in one area of the city and to lock them in at night. The area chosen was a disused iron foundry in the north-west of the city. The word 'ghetto', means 'iron foundry' in Venetian. It consisted of an island with a wider than usual canal around it. Bridges were replaced with drawbridges that could be raised and lowered in the evenings and the mornings. Soon the city's Jews were joined by Jews from other parts of Europe and a vibrant community of second hand clothes dealers (one of the only professions they were allowed to do) who doubled as money lenders grew up. The ghetto became the most densely populated and overcrowded part of Venice. The necessity for the Jews to live in the ghetto died with the Republic of Venice in 1797, but the area remained the centre of the Jewish community due to the presence of the city's synagogues. In the late 1930s, Venice's Jews faced discrimination again, this time at the hands of Mussolini and later the Nazis who deported hundreds of them to the death camps. After the war, the community revived and turned ghetto turned into the vibrant Jewish area it is today.
Campo di Ghetto Nuovo
The Jewish Museum of Venice
Giovanni Volpe Bakery
Kosher Restaurant Gam Gam
Anglo-Italian food and travel writer. Born in Venice but raised in the UK I´m uniquely placed to bring you insider details about Italy, the bel paese.