Friday, October 27, 2017

Traveling - Last Day in Vencie

Last Day in Venice

The sun is out today and it's beautiful, but it started as many days appear to begin in Italy - cloudy, breezy, cool and then as the day wears on the clouds clear, the sun comes out and the day turns perfectly beautiful and warm. After all, Italy is like a very large island jutting out into the Mediterranean with ocean weather surrounding it. Santa Croce, where we spent most of our time, is actually one of the islands that make up Venice.

After breakfast we headed off to the Jewish quarter in another section of Venice called Cannaregio.  This is a part of history I must admit a lack of knowledge.  The Jewish Ghetto, as it's called even though it’s no longer a ghetto, but restored and actually beautiful, dates back to the 1400s. The Jews were expelled during the world wars as from many other countries.  It was another sad place and time.  The area is fascinating and, while perhaps not quite as elegant as other parts of Venice, it still is very similar in architecture and layout and on the other side of the Grand Canal.

We wanted to see at least one of the synagogues, but we learned that we would have to pay for a formal tour as no one can just enter a synagogue without first being scanned and cleared by security. This was my first experience in what Jews have experienced for years.  I left the others to take the tour and I instead headed back to Santa Croce to sketch and photograph, this being our last full day.  It was a wonderful feeling of freedom to be by myself and only responsible for me.  I could wander wherever I liked and make my way back to the hotel at my own pace. No shopping!

One item I should point out.  Most people in our country have seen photos, images of Italy and Venice all their lives, so much so that they almost seem like symbols, but once here, it still doesn’t feel like reality.  We were talking at dinner the first night, as we looked out the window of the restaurant at a canal, magnificent architecture, gardens spilling over old stone walls, people walking by, but it didn't look or feel real.  It could have been a Disney stage set for Venice, a TV program depicting a scene out of Italy.  Actually being here still doesn't feel real.  Reality unfortunately begins to set in when faced with the beggars, pan-handlers, and the fear of pickpockets.  Apparently in Florence the Florentines are growing tired of all the tourists (as one might expect) and I assume also here in Venice.  They say they are losing their own culture to tourism as well as to urbanization in Florence.  With all of this come higher prices and higher living costs so high many locals are leaving.  Those who cannot move on or move up are forced lower and lower much like many other countries including my own.  Some of the beggars, though, look almost too traditionally the part so some of the activity may also be staged to con and pull on the heart-strings of the many tourists. Hard to say for sure which is why it works!