Past and present collide in a unique and often passed over quarter of La Serenissima, Venice’s Jewish Ghetto. A vibrant community throughout history, the “ghetto” is a must see destination for seekers of the true spirit and diversity of Venice, Italy.
The origin of the word ghetto comes from this place, Europe’s first marginalized community.
In Venetian dialect iron work foundries were called “geti”. The foundries were located here as the area is completely encircled by canals. Isolating the island, thus minimizing the threat of potential fire risk while simultaneously offering a convenient location to contain a rapidly growing community in the early 1500s.
The first individuals to live here were Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. In their native tongue the word “geti” (foundry) became “gheto”. Which evolved to our present day use of the word “ghetto”, defining an area of a city who’s members are of a particular socio – economic or minority group.
Upon entering this community take notice of the height of the buildings, the tallest in Venice. Hosting up to seven floors, built to accommodate the growing number of people emigrating to the islands.
Today, the campo is brimming with children playing. The smell of fresh baked bread and pastries waif through the calle (streets). Antique shops, furniture restorers, art galleries and Kosher restaurants mingle with typical Venetian merchants.
My favorite activity here is a visit to the The Museo Ebraico di Venezia (Hebrew Museum) followed by a canal side lunch at Gam Gam Kosher restaurant.