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October 2015

#Venezia: Archeologia degli Inizi

Walking and Talking #5: Strada Nuova and the Ghetto

Strada nuova (New Street) is the longest street in Venice, a commercial area, full of shops, in the Cannaregio district, connecting the railway station (Santa Lucia) to a very popular location. After crossing Ponte delle Guglie, we turn on the left and enter into the Ghetto.

It was Venice that invented the concept of the ghetto, until 1390 the Jews’ Venetian enclave was near a foundry or geto. When the foundry was moved to the Arsenale, the name was given to this remote area, re-defined in 1516 as the “new” ghetto.

Throughout the centuries Venice’s attitude to Jews remained ambiguous. The Senate voted to create the world’s first ghetto, Jews were given only ten days to repair to the chosen place. Its outer walls and houses were windowless and its canal, crossed by two bridges, was closed at night and guarded by four Christian soldiers, paid for by a tax levied on the Jews. Abolished by Napoleon in 1797, it was reintroduced by the Austrians and finally disappeared after the Italian unification (1861).

Today the place remains an important cultural centre for the Jewish community. The Jewish Museum of Venice is located in the Campo of the Ghetto Novo, between the two most ancient Venetian synagogues. The campo preserves its distinguishing features.


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Walking and Talking #4: Giudecca and architecture

“A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit.”
Ezra Pound

The Giudecca is a small island just in front of the Fondamenta delle Zattere where ancient, modern and contemporary architectures coexist and represent a rare example of Venetian urban development.

East of the Giudecca, facing the bacino di San Marco, we can admire the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, the homonymous church was designed by Palladio and the island is the headquarters of Fondazione Cini, a famous international cultural centre with a library hosting more than 150,000 volumes.

The Junghans former industrial area of the Giudecca has been converted into a residential complex by the architect Cino Zucchi – the smokestack is still there – and a theatre.

The Molino Stucky  – an abandoned flower mill – is now part of the Hilton group.

In the same district, 94 houses designed by the architect Gino Valle. In Campo di Marte another group of social buildings by Alvaro Siza, Carlo Aymonino, Aldo Rossi and Raphael Moneo, with the reconstruction of a typical Venetian campiello.

The island offers an extraordinary array of architectures, beyond the famous Chiesa del Redentore by Palladio, and the Zitelle (the church of young maidens, wrongly attributed to Palladio), with two horizons, one along the Giudecca channel, and a hidden side opening towards the lagoon.

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For more info on tours and prices, please contact me via email:

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