Strolling in Venice: the Guetto opens its doors and secrets to us

Campo del Guetto Novo

The ghetto and why visit it:

  • You will visit a little-known corner with fewer tourists

  • You will learn about the Hebrew culture and the history of this ghetto, the oldest in Europe

  • And you will enjoy kosher gastronomy

The name comes from the old foundries to make cannons ("getto", foundry in Venetian) and from Venecia appears the word ghetto to name places of marginalization. Enjoy 360 ° views of the itinerary: A WALK THROUGH THE GUETTO OF VENICE.

What you are going to discover: The 3 areas of the Ghetto: the Ghetto Novo, the Guetto Vecchio and the Ghetto Novissimo. Their synagogues and their customs. The spectacular ceiling of the church of Sant'Alvise and a beautiful view from the Tres Archi bridge on the Cannaregio canal.

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This walk begins at the Fondamenta dei Mori, in the Cannaregio neighborhood, which is accessed on foot from thestop vaporetto 4.1; 4.2; 5.1; 5.2, the water bus, stop "S. Alvise" or taking a walk from where you are.

In the following spherical photo you can visualize and move around the main sites you will visit:

* If you see it in black, click on the upper left gray hexagon



Before entering the Ghetto we stroll a part of the Cannaregio neighborhood, to soak up the atmosphere of the area, quiet and relaxed, away from the crowds of tourists.

The letters in fuchsia color correspond to the points marked on the Google Maps map:

A House of the painter Tintoretto

Walking along this pier, you will find the house in which Tintoretto lived for the last 20 years of his life (specifically at number 3399).

We will also see if we look at the adjacent square, Campo dei Mori (B) the three statues of the Mastelli brothers and the statue of their iron-nosed servant, Antonio Rioba. They say that the Mastelli, silk and spice merchants, from Morea, became so rich and so greedy that they ended up transformed into statues when they tried to swindle an old woman who was actually Saint Magdalene.

La casa de Tintoretto
Tintoretto's house

Move freely with the white arrows:

Continue along the same bank of the canal until you take on your right, street dei Reformati (C) until:

D Sant'Alvise church

Do not miss the spectacular ceiling fresco or the painting of the Flagellation by Tiepolo.

We go down Calle del Capitelo towards the Bridge dela Misericordia (E), one of the two entrances used to access the Ghetto.

One of the two old entrances to the ghetto: the Misericordia Bridge


Marked with purple stars, we find the places that are named in the ghetto in this article


The Ghetto was a small city within another city


29th March 1516: the Serenissima decreed the concentration in the lagoon of some 700 Jews of German and Italian origin mainly, in an isolated area of ​​the city, formerly the headquarters of a foundry. Unhealthy area, close to prisons and the convent of San Girolamo, whose religious had the task of burying the executed. Thus was born the first ghetto in history.

Only 2 access bridges; 3 synagogues: the German, the Canton and the Italian. Three pawnshops on each side of the square: Banco Rosso (red); the Green and the Black, due to the color of the receipts that the Jews gave to the client; and second-hand objects businesses.

The bridges over the Rio di San Girolamo and the Rio del Ghetto (currently the Guetto Vecchio Bridge and the Misericordia Bridge) were equipped with gates, closed at night and controlled by guardians paid by the Jews themselves. Other guards patrolled the canals by boat.

German Jews engaged in lending money at pawnshops, to interests controlled by the republic, and also to the second-hand market (the strazzaria). They built splendid synagogues: the Tedesca and the Canton, in addition to 3 other smaller scuole. Italian Jews build the Scuola Italiana.


Inside the gates, in addition to the places of study and prayer, there was a theater, a music academy, cenacles, and literary halls. On the main street of the Ghetto Vecchio there were all kinds of shops: from those of more daily use to a bookstore in the campiello delle Scole; there was a hotel with 24 rooms, in the Levantine School, an inn and a hospital in the Barucchi court.

The Levantines, subjects of the Ottoman empire, shone in maritime trade, and the Serenissima granted them in 1541 the area of ​​the Vecchio ghetto to live in.

They displayed their riches: they wore luxurious dresses and built a sumptuous synagogue: the Scuola Levantina. The merchants brought with them oriental customs and wore turbans; women wore splendid robes, tall stiff caps with stone ornaments, expensive jewelry, in contrast to the modest customs of the German Jews of the neighboring Ghetto Nuovo.

The Ponentini, from 1589, fwho came from the Iberian Peninsula also settled in this area.


Finally, the Ghettto Novisimo was opened in 1633. It is a modest area between calle di Ghetto Novissimo and calle del Ormesini .


In Campo di Ghetto Novo, the narrowness of space forced to sharpen the ingenuity and to build the synagogues on top of the buildings to respect the law that prohibits that between heaven and temples any type of human construction.
Thus arose the penthouse-synagogues, such as the Scola Canton- Foto: Didier Descouens / CC BY-SA (

In addition, this lack of space caused the buildings to grow upwards, being built up to 6 and 7 floors, which constitute the first skyscrapers of the time.

Venetian "skyscrapers"


In the ghetto, today we can find up to 5 synagogues: Schola Tedesca; Schola Canton; Schola Levantina; Spanish Schola (the largest and most beautiful) and Italian Schola. Two of these synagogues are still active. They can be visited, as well as the Hebraic Museum, but only in small groups. More information:

Scola Italiana
Italian Synagogue
Scola Tedesca Canton Museo Ebraico
German Synagogue ; Hebraic Museum entrance and Canton Synagogue. Photo: Greg Schechter / CC BY 2.0 <
Scola Spagnola
Spanish Synagogue. Photo: Scuola Canton Didier Descouens / CC BY-SA (
Levantine Synagogue. Photo:Ricardalovesmonuments / CC BY-SA (

El Banco Rosso, ha sido restaurado y está abierto al público, y parece que el término "estar en números rojos" deriva de la actividad de esta casa de empeño.

The Banco Rosso, has been restored and is open to the public, and it seems that the term "being in the red" derives from the activity of this pawnshop.

Bamco Rosso
The Banco Rosso is located under the arcades




Definitely, you will not find great Venetian palaces and spectacular churches in this neighborhood, but there are plenty of details that will surprise you:

  • The Jewish businesses and shops,which are many, but in the neighborhood just live today 50 families of Hebraic religion;

  • The grooves in the door lintels for mezuzahs, small scrolls of parchment that have two verses of the Torah written inside a box, and that identify the house as Jewish and that remind that in the book of Exodus, God indicates the Jews to mark the jambs of their houses with the blood of a lamb so that, when the plague falls on Egypt, the marked houses will not be visited by the misfortune

  • The Kippah. As a sign of respect when visiting synagogues, a small hat usually made of cloth

  • Menorah: the seven-branched Jewish candelabrum, a sacred object of Judaism.

  • The restaurants with kosher cuisine

  • The Jews dressed in black with whom you can come across


As a stop for lunch or dinner, taste Jewish specialties, in the "Gam Gam Kosher" restaurant or, for typical sweets, the "Giovanni Volpe bakery"