The Jewish community and traditions have had an effect on the world over, from Israel to the United States; however, the community in Venice set a standard both for how they lived and by what the community experienced, and these stories are yours to unfold. Venice is a city of romance and mystery set in the distinct heart of a famous lagoon. Your flight will land at Marco Polo International Airport where your private transfer will await your arrival. At the shore of the illustrious Grand Canal, you will meet a private boat ready to take you to the dock of your lavish hotel located on the island of Venice.
The city of Venice is, in fact, more than 100 islands connected by a series of arching bridges, beneath with boats travel daily. The Grand Canal stretches two miles long and offers views to elaborate churches and decadent palaces as wooden plinths rise out of the water to support walkways and antique homes. Before traveling to your hotel, your boat takes you on an introductory tour of the canal.
Travel past the captivating dome of Santa Maria della Salute and alongside the palace of Ca’ Grande. The structure was erected in the mid 16th century with a High Renaissance design and Ionic columns wrap around the ground floor with Corinthian columns that decorate the façade of the second floor, combining for an impressive image of the Cornaro family’s former wealth and power. Venice presents its history with pride and elegance, embodying a community proud of its past and eager to share stories of its former wealth, prestige, and regulations.
The authentic neighborhood of Cannaregio stands adjacent to the bustling atmosphere of St. Mark’s Square. At breakfast, you will partake in an Italian tradition of strong espresso and a sweet brioche. The contrasting flavors balance perfectly as though predicting your exploration of the city to come. Your guide will meet you in the lobby after breakfast and lead you across the famous Rialto Bridge. The marble edifice was constructed in the 16th century after the original wooden bridge burnt down. Jewelers and silversmith, along with elegant mask-making shops line the arcade crossing over the bridge. The morning Rialto Market fills with vendors selling produce, from eggplant to baby artichoke.
Next door, the fish market bursts with locals eager to find the freshest catch of the day. The regulations for the market adorn the sides of a building etched into a marble slab, and the same rules apply to the vendors and the patrons today as they did centuries ago. Your guide will lead you deeper along the labyrinthine streets into the district of Cannaregio to find the neighborhood that gave the world the term ghetto. Walking along the current streets presents a small community of two kosher restaurants, a rabbinical school, and five synagogues. The first places of worship erected in the city came with the increase of Northern and Eastern European Jews in the 14th century.
The Doge officially formed ghetto in the early 16th century, separating the Jewish community from the rest of Venice. People worked as moneylenders, in the textile trade, owned pawn shops and practiced medicine. The contribution of the Jewish community upon the city of Venice is indelible with the power and wealth of the former Republic. Napoleonic forces took down the gates in the 19th century, but your guide will point to where the gates once stood. Antique homes surround the main plaza on three sides as the Baroque and Rococo style of the Canton Schola highlights the beauty and dedication of the community in Venice. The crafted eight wooden panels represent biblical episodes from Exodus, including the crossing of the Red Sea.
The traditions and perseverance of the Jewish community in Venice stand in the context of its outside influences. In the boat yard of Squero San Trovaso craftsmen build gondolas, an art form passed down from father to son through the generations. Fishermen return from the open lagoon with nets overflowing with mussels and anchovies set for the market. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the center of the religious and civic life of Venice during the Republic, at St. Mark’s Square. The illustrious Gothic architecture of the Doge’s Palace borders two sides of the piazza with the gilded façade of St. Mark’s Basilica acting as a crown.
Bulbous domes soar into the air, set above spires and arching porticoes. Frescoes adorn the open spaces inside the archways and receding arcades. The landmark was erected in the 9th century AD and contains Byzantine treasures taken from Constantinople. The interior contains hints of frankincense and myrrh that linger from mass as natural light pours through the windows, spreading across the more than 45,600 square feet blanketing gilded mosaics. The shimmer creates an ethereal atmosphere inside the historic structure.
Massive pillars, each nearly 43 feet in diameter, support the Basilica’s five domes. The floor embodies earthly solidarity through the intricate geometrical patterns made with marble inlay. Pieces of decorative glass flicker inside the intricate animal and floral designs. The elegance and grandeur of the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace offer context to the history of Venice and its relationship to the Jewish community. In the evening, you will meet with a local kosher chef to learn the secret flavor combinations known as Cucina Ebraica.
In the morning, the familiar bustle of the market returns to the Rialto Bridge. The sunlight flashes against the marble columns of the Ca’ Grande as cafes set out tables and chairs alongside the serene wakes of the Grand Canal. Your guide will meet you at the hotel once more and escort you across the water onto mainland Italy, and westward to the charming city of Padua. Locals take pride in the history of the city, whose roots date back to the 12th century.
The city’s university was founded in the 13th century with ties to Dante Alighieri and Galileo Galilei. The river reflects the golden stone on the palace water as the tower of an earlier castle remains a reminder of former glory, which became an observatory in the 18th century. Your guide will lead you along the wide cobblestone streets and through the Renaissance styled square of Piazza dei Signori as the arcades lining the walkways add a graceful ambiance to the cityscape. Padua opened a permanent exhibition dedicated to the rich traditions of Jewish life and heritage in the city.
The German synagogue opened in the 16th century in the heart of the Jewish quarter near the historical city center. The structure was rebuilt in the late 1990s, and the Italian synagogue features a long and narrow space with an elaborate ark and intricate wooden bema. Legend surrounds the platform, which says the structure was erected from a single tree that had fallen in the local botanical gardens as the gilded doors protect the Torah inside the ark. The luster of Padua continues into the afternoon as you step aboard a boat that traverses the Brenta Canal to showcase the lavish villas of former Venetian nobility.
The city of Verona is famous for its rich history of Roman ruins that decorate the historical city center, and it is known as the fateful resting place of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. You will make your way to the charming city after breakfast and linger in the cafes that border the graceful arcades of Piazza delle Erbe. The center of the city stands atop what was once the Roman Forum as 14th-century marble depiction of the Madonna adorns a fountain that stands across from a marble column crowned with St. Mark’s lion.
The trickling water creates a tranquil atmosphere against the opening shops and bakeries along the cobblestone streets. At the edge of the historical city center stands the Roman Amphitheater, and the structure was built in the 3rd century with 44 rows of seating. The ancient stadium remains useful, holding eager spectators during the summer’s Verona Opera Festival when the acoustics are it their height. Verona allows you to discover myth and history side by side, from the treasures of the Santa Maria Matricolare Cathedral to the home of Juliet Capulet.
The former Jewish Ghetto no longer stands in Verona, covered by history but never forgotten. The local synagogue features a symmetrical design with white pillars that frame the large door. The interior includes a stunning décor of traditional Jewish symbols while another synagogue contains marble plaques that frame the doorway set along Via Rita Rosani. Latticework fills the windows beneath an adorning Star of David set above the portico. The latter synagogue was erected in the late 19th century and refurbished after the Italy’s liberation of World War II.
The aroma of freshly baked brioche overtakes the cobblestone streets once again as the morning breaks. Bakeries open their doors and let the scent drift from their ovens and display cases until overtaken by the vibrant Rialto Market as the morning hours go by. Your guide will lead you away from the Venetian lagoon, this time to head east to Trieste, a city that borders the country of Slovenia. Visitors to Italy often surpass Trieste for more famous northern cities, such as Venice or Milan; however, the city casts an impressive image with unmistakable cuisine and enchanting grace. Bell époque cafes border open piazzas and the breeze billows against cast sails leading boats out to the Adriatic Sea.
The city of Trieste stands isolated from the Italian peninsula as it connects the shoreline to the foothills of a lush plateau. Unlike Venice, the streets of Trieste represent a more Austrian sensibility, having flourished under the Hapsburgs instead of under Napoleonic forces in the 19th century. Your guide will lead you inland from the harbor to the elaborate synagogue, which holds the claim as the largest in all of Europe. The structure was erected in 1912 to house the significant Jewish community of the city, but after damages occurred during World War II, the synagogue has been meticulously restored, returning the luster and beauty to one of the most important synagogues in the country.
A structure blends marble pillars, an imposing central dome, and a late Roman design as inspired by ruins found in Syria. The various styles amalgamate the community of Trieste, a collection of Jews connected by the Roman, Byzantine, and Hapsburg Empires. After exploring the streets and footsteps of the community, your guide will take you to Risiera San Sabba, the only World War II extermination camp built on Italian soil. The camp is now a museum close to the city center, and the red brick structure was originally constructed in 1913 as a rice-husking facility. The camp transitioned into a refugee center in the 1950s, often assisting people fleeing from communist Yugoslavia.
Venice maintains a majestic atmosphere throughout the day, especially in the morning as the barges pass through the Grand Canal setting aside their packages along the docks. Gondolas moor alongside the quiet, more narrow canals that jut away from the main waterway. The lamps reflecting in the placid water shut off as the sunlight spreads over the city as morning breaks. You have followed the path of the Jewish community in around Venice, ranging from the 14th-century exoduses through contemporary culture. You have illuminated a history often overlooked or surpassed by visitors to northeastern Italy to find beauty and inspiration in a past rattled with tumult. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Marco Polo Airport with plenty of time to check-in for your flight home.
The cities of northeast Italy embrace their connection to the Jewish community throughout the centuries as the contributions of the Jewish culture are highlighted with local museums and commemorations of what once was. Your 7-day Jewish culture tour offers an in-depth discovery of the past and an immersive experience in the current communities found in Venice, Padua, Verona, and Trieste, from the exoduses around Europe to the comforting feeling of finding a home in Italy. Your journey will begin with your arrival in Venice, the city on the lagoon. Your private transfer will meet you at the airport and escort you to the edge of the Grand Canal. Step aboard your boat for a private tour of the canal’s culture, architecture, and art before you settle in at your luxurious hotel on the main island of Venice.
The next day, your guide will provide a private tour of the Jewish ghetto and the distinct Venetian neighborhoods before you traverse the islands of Murano and Burano. Delight in the traditional cultures highlighted by the various districts, along with a demonstration of the coveted glassblowing practice on Murano. The following day, your guide will offer you context to the Jewish community in a larger Catholic world by taking you on a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. In the evening, you will embrace the local culture with a private cooking class focused on the blend of Italian and Jewish cuisine.
You will spend the next day in the city of Padua, following in the footsteps of the once prominent Jewish community. Visit the former ghetto, find the preserved synagogue, and admire the remarkable architecture and art before you board your boat on the Brenta Canal set for the Venetian lagoon. Stop at a collection of villas for insight into the wealth and power of the old Venetian nobility before you reach Venice. The following day, you will set out for a full day tour of Verona to traverse the historical city center, which showcases its elaborate history rooted in the Roman Empire.
Follow your guide to trace the past and present lifestyle of the Jewish community. Travel to Trieste the next day to discover the largest synagogue in Europe. Enjoy your exploration of the city’s history, unique to its borders, and visit Risiera San Sabba, the only extermination camp erected in Italy during World War II. Before you return to Venice, you will enjoy a pleasant ride through the countryside to visit a renowned vineyard. Conclude as your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and lead you to Marco Polo International Airport for your flight home.
$1920 per person (excluding international flights)
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