We woke up early today to catch the train to Venice from Porta Nuova, Verona. The train system in Europe is far superior to the American train system! The trains were very timely, and you had a lot of room to spread your legs. I took an excellent nap during the hour we took to get there!
Arriving at Venice was almost magical. The train travels straight across the water, and you see this beautiful old city come into view. Stepping out of the train, you could immediately smell the salty water and hear the seagulls overhead. It feels like Venice is in the middle of the ocean, not a lagoon! We hopped on one of the many water taxis, which are a great way to travel around the waterways, and we were brought to a gondolier dock. Here, you can take a gondola ride through some of the quiet, smaller canals that wind through buildings built when Venice was first founded.
After our beautiful gondola ride, we walked into the San Marco district, where the city center can be found. The sun started to come out at this point, so we finally started to warm up (being on the water, the wind is very strong, and VERY chilly!). From here, our tour guide showed us around San Marco Square, and we explored some of the older neighborhoods of Venice.
I was surprised to learn about the flourishing Jewish community that could be found in Venice. Ever since its founding, Jewish people from every country have always been welcomed in Venice to practice their religion and to practice as doctors, moneylenders, and merchants. Even after the Pope pressed jurisdiction on Venice, the Jewish people were still able to live in Venice and practice as they wished, as the Venetian government turned a blind eye and ignored most of the Pope’s requests in practice. Venice has one of the lowest numbers of Jewish people who were exiled by the Nazis into concentration camps because of how their unique place in the city protected them. Those who did directly die at the hands of the Nazis often did so to protect dozens of lives of their family and neighbors, allowing them to escape.
After our tour, we walked around, enjoying the sunset over the canals and gelato with Dr. Bursic and Mr. Bursic before heading home on the train. It was a long, windy day, but it was so rewarding to see the beautiful history of Venice!