The main square of the Venice ghetto. The building on the right, which is now a hotel, used to house the Jewish community retirement home. (photo by Ashernet)
Next month will mark 500 years of what most consider the world’s first Jewish ghetto, though some historians contend that a similar type of area, which confined Jews to a restricted quarter, was set up in Frankfurt a short time before the ghetto in Venice. The word ghetto comes from the Italian ghèto, meaning slag, as the area chosen to contain the Jews of Venice had been used as a foundry. Today, some 500 Jews live in and around the ghetto area. There are kosher restaurants, two small hotels that offer kosher breakfast and one that also caters for lunch and evening meals. In the main square, apart from two of the historic synagogues, there is a Jewish museum and a kosher restaurant, run by the Venice City Council.