Discovering Italy: Crossroads of Culture, Heritage and History: Venice July 12th by Meg Frank

Our day started with a beautiful ferry ride from Murano to Venice. We met our tour guide in St. Marks Square. There she gave us a brief history of the creation of the square and explained how Venice came to be such a powerful and wealthy city. She pointed out the symbols of St. Mark – the lion and Venice – the peacock. We toured the beautiful Basilica of San Marco which contained wonderful architecture, dazzling mosaics and 60 different types of marble. The Doge’s Palace, located adjacent to the Basilica, was toured next. The Doge was the ruler of Venice. His palace also held the senate and the courts. We walked through the supreme courts, the prisons and the Bridge of Sighs. We then walked through the shopping district and had a delicious lunch at Al Cantinon. After lunch we ventured to the Ancient Ghetto of Venice.

Jews were moved into ghettos in the 14th century. Because Venice was more tolerant of Jews than other areas, many Jews stayed and lived in the ghettos where they built synagogues. We learned that at the time the synagogues were built in the 16th century, Jews were not permitted to be architects so they were designed by Christians. We took in the beautiful baroque style used inside the synagogue which contrasted sharply with the plain, simplistic facade which reflected the Jews need to hide in plain sight at this time. Also in the ghetto we were able to see the monument created to honor the Jews from Venice who were murdered in the Holocaust. For our evening, we were free to explore Venice and cross the numerous bridges, shop in the cute stores and enjoy the Italian cuisine. And as we rode the water taxis back to Murano we were treated to a beautiful sunset. 

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