Thursday, September 3, 2015

Venice: Canareggio, Cicchetti and the Ghetto

We got a late start yesterday morning, catching up on some sleep and spending a lazy morning in our apartment. Finally, around 11:00, we headed out to a pasticcerie (pastry shop) Mark had seen the previous afternoon on the Fundamenta della Misericordia for a pastry. Along the way, I took some more pictures of this beautiful and quaint neighborhood.

We then retraced our steps and headed to the Orto vaporetto stop for our journey around Venice to pay tourist homage at the Piazza and Basilica of San Marco.

After much confusion and several missed boats, we finally got on the right vaporetto (water bus) heading to San Marco. We could have walked, but we are trying to keep the walking to a minimum because of Mark's health.

We paid homage to the Piazza San Marco. We saw the lines of people waiting to get into the basilica and decided to pass - at least for now. We sat down at a table outside the famed Caffe Florian for a bite to eat. A waiter dropped of a menu: 6 Euros each for the privilege of listening to their live music (which was nice); sandwiches starting at 17 Euro.

We opted to get up and walk back to the sandwich place under the gallery that sold sandwiches for 4 Euro. Two sandwiches and two Coca Lites for a total of 13 Euro vs. 48 Euro plus tip at Caffe Florian. We sat down on the steps in the cool shade, ate our sandwiches, and listened to the music from Caffe Florian from one side (for free) and, from the other, a Russian woman patiently reading to her friends exactly what her guide book had to say about the Campanile (the San Marco bell tower, pictured below). It was ... an experience.

The right side of the Basilica was shrouded in scaffolding. It took this picture of the left side.

After lunch, we walked around the tourist-choked alleys between San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. I found a Christmas ornament (I collect them) - a miniature Venetian mask - amidst the dozens of tourist shops that line the warren-like streets and alleys that spread out from San Marco.

We made our way to the Rialto Bridge, thankful for the directional signs attached to the corners of buildings, and took a vaporetto up the Grand Canal to a stop where we could get off and walk to a supermarket. There we picked up some limes for our gin and tonics and some eggs and coffee for breakfast. Then home to rest before heading out for our evening chichetti (appetizer) and wine tour of the old Jewish ghetto.

We loved it.

On our way to our designated meeting point at the Ponte (bridge) delle Guglie near the old Jewish quarter, we entered another area that is pure Venetian, with old women talking back and forth between balconies and market shopping taking place below.

He was a rather despondent looking fellow. No wonder he wasn't getting any passengers.

Ciccheti are a Venetian thing: small snacks or side dishes, typically served in traditional bàcari (cicchetti bars). Our first stop was only a few steps from our meeting place. Here, we had a glass of proseco and some battered dishes of ham, cheese, rice and other ingredients. Members of our little group were from the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and the States. It was fun to get to know some of them over the course of the evening.

From this first bar, we walked a short distance to the entrance to the original Jewish ghetto. It turns out that the word "ghetto" originated in Venice. The small island where Jews were originally confined had been the site of a foundry (geto), and German immigrant Jews hardened the "g," creating the word that was used all over Europe to described the areas of cities where Jewish communities were contained.

Mark and our guide, Ricardo. He reminded me of our son Nathan, pictured below with his girlfriend.

Severs at a small restaurant near the entrance to the ghetto were only too happy to pose for a picture.

After exiting the ghetto, we crossed yet another bridge and walked down the Fundament degli Ormesini to our next bar, where we had a glass of pinot gris and sampled some more cicchetti.

These cicchetti featured cod, a sort of olive tapenade, sun dried tomatoes and ham and cheese.

It was then on to our final bàcari, which was a bit funky. The owners make their own organic wine, and they served up chopped organic tomatoes, curried octopus, and a pumpkin custard cake, all delicious.

It was a wonderful evening.

According to our guide, this is one of two bridges in Venice where organized fist fights took place. The winner was the one who knocked his opponent into the canal.

Curried Octopus

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