Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 28, Venice. I boarded the train at 8:38 a.m. and made my way to Venice. It's a 3 hour trip by high-speed train. The weather continues to be beautiful, with a warm sun and humidity. But, it's pretty comfortable, and the kind of weather I enjoy. As I left the train station in Venice, I was greeted with what appears to be a beautiful city. The train station is on the Grand Canal. My directions to the hostel were to take the “white bridge on the left, turn right on the Grand Canal and go to 555”. The directions were perfect and I arrived in 10 minutes or less. The hostel is “on” the Grand Canal, just a few seconds from a whole raft of activity. I immediately thought that coming here from Florence was a good decision.

I checked in at the front desk and was given a variety of directions about the city and a map. There are no limit to the sights to see here – including Morano (the famous glass is made there) and a Jewish section. After checking my bags, I left the hostel and started to roam around the area. I crossed back over the white bridge and, through no planning of my own, wound up at the border to the Jewish section. I took it as a sign, and continued to walked into that part of the city. I found the “Singagoge”. My timing was excellent, and I joined a tour of the area and the three remaining synagogues of Venice.

As is the case with the other parts of Italy, even though Venice was a Republic on its own at the time, there was a Jewish Ghetto from the 16th to 10th Centuries. Like Rome, the city was unified” and the Jews were liberated in the 1830's, more or less. The tour through the synagogues was very interesting. Our guide told us about the evolution of Jewish community in Venice and the building of the synagogues. It turns out that, at the time, Jews were excluded from being craftsmen, so the buildings (and interiors) were built by non-Jews. It is interesting, but not surprising, that the synagogues have no Jewish symbols, and one of them displays a prominent Christian symbol. No doubt this reflects the realities of the time.

As a lucky find, there is a delightful restoranti and bar in the Jewish section next door to a hotel with wireless internet!! So, for 5 euros an hour, I'm able to get on-line and take a breather from walking. Given that I have 2 or more days to enjoy the area, this will be a great place to setup an itinerary for a few days of activity. I'm using my little ASUS pc to get on-line and buy a beer or “cafe Americano” to justify my sitting at one of their tables. Great fun.

It's now around 3:30 p.m. or so. I'll wander a bit more and continue to discover the ins and outs of the city. So, as always --- more later!!