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Venice Jewish Ghetto Tour With Local Food and Wine Tastings by City Wonders Review - Outstanding Combination of Food and History

By Dianne R. Davis and Burt Davis

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You can enjoy a talk on Venetian history and a walk through Venice's 500 year old Jewish Ghetto, with food and wine tastings along the way during a 2½ hour tour offered by City Wonders. The time passed quickly as our guide Francesca took our ten member multi age and multi national group through the winding streets of Venice as she filled us in on the history of the area.

 

We had previously taken tours with City Wonders - formerly known as Dark Rome tours - and were impressed with the knowledge of their guides and their access to parts of the sites that most tourists are not able to visit. (See Dark Rome Tour of Roman Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum Review - A Must Do and Crypts and Catacombs Tour Review – Dark Rome Tours Shows Unique Aspects of Roman History.)

 

There's the gondola, it must be Venice

 

As we waited at Ponte Del Guglie a picturesque designated meeting point by one of the canals, we were immersed in the culture of Venice. Behind us were shops bustling with activity and in front of us was one of the famous canals of Venice. Both a gondola and a water bus passed by as our group began to assemble.

 

Our knowledgeable guide Francesca began by showing us a map of the area

 

We visited the Cannaregio neighborhood off the main tourist area. Francesca told us that the many islands that make up the city of Venice were originally settled between 500 - 700 AD as local citizens fled there to avoid conquest by the barbarian tribes approaching Italy.

 

We learned that the Venetian Republic developed wealth by exporting salt which was a natural resource in the area. The Republic had its own language, ruled much of the Adriatic Sea region and maintained its independence until conquered by Napoleon in 1797. It became part of the new Italy in 1866, but many locals still have their own habits and speak the Venice dialect.

 

A walking tour gives you a chance to experience the culture

 

Francesca led our walk through Cannaregio where we sampled wine and cicchetti, the Italian phrase for appetizers, at several local restaurants. The selected restaurants were for the most part not tourist spots, but rather places where the locals dined.

 

Exterior of Da Luca E Fred Restaurant

 

Da Luca E Fred Restaurant

 

Fried Cicchettis

 

The affable men behind the counter were happy to serve us some wine

 

Our first stop was at the popular Da Luca E Fred restaurant where we sampled an assortment of cicchettis and sparkling white wine. We had a variety of fried cicchettis consisting of combinations of cheese, bacon and eggplant. A good start to the evening.

 

This portal was the original entrance to the Jewish Ghetto

 

As we walked through the Jewish Ghetto we learned more about its past and present. Our guide told us that Jewish people had always been welcome in Venice due to their basic intelligence and financial skills. During the Middle Ages, they were restricted to jobs as merchants, doctors,or money lenders. The 500 year old ghetto was created by the Doge of Venice in 1576 in order to protect the Jews at night. They were required to be in the walled ghetto by nightfall. Industrial foundries were cleared from the area so the Jews could move there.

 

Francesa showed us one of the fresh water wells

 

The ghetto walls were opened by Napoleon in 1797 when he conquered The Republic of Venice. Today many Jews still live there in the midst of the general population who make up the majority. Orthodox or Hasidic Jews began to populate the ghetto about 15 to 20 years ago. Their presence in the area is obvious in part because of their conservative style of dress and the shops which address their specific dietary and other needs.

 

Kosher Food is available

 

The Bet Midrash Luzzatto – one of the five Synagogues

 

The ghetto contains several large squares that house five active synagogues as well as several churches. There are several Jewish schools as well. We learned that the Venetian population went to great lengths during WWII to protect the Jewish population from the Nazis. Because of the pro-active stance they took, only 200 Jews were known to have been killed and there is a plaque bearing their names.

 

We enjoyed some lively conversation at Al Timon Restaurant located on one of the many canals

 

A delicious assortment of meats and cheeses was served with more wine of course

 

Folks of all ages were gathered and chatting in front of Osteria Del Riccio Peoco

 

The final stop of the tour was at Osteria Del Riccio Peoco. This tiny restaurant, located on a small square about 20 minutes walk from the famous St Mark's Square, is frequented by the locals.

 

Tasty meatballs and brochette

 

More Italian Wine!

 

The Venice Jewish Ghetto Tour with Local Food and Wine Tastings takes you off the beaten tourists' paths and is a great way to experience and learn about a part of Venice that most visitors never see. The group members of various ages and from english speaking world locations add to the fun of the tour. We highly recommend it. Contact City Wonders for more information.

ALL PHOTOS BY DIANNE R. DAVIS OR BURT DAVIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on Nov 16, 2016

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