Tuesday, August 20, 2002

With the little bridges and tacky chandeliers, Venice did seem a bit like Disneyland at first. It's not a city like Prague, where "real life" happens among the old buildings.

But it is beautiful and relaxing. Murano is not just an expensive tourist trap, but also a place to get away from the crowds and have a pleasant walk around. The Guggenheim collection has Kandinsky and Ernst. The Doge Palace is worth seeing. Saw an interesting collection of books and manuscripts on alchemy at the National Library.

The Jewish ghetto is tiny; the synagogues there (particularly the 2 Sephardic ones) are beautiful. It looks like little has changed in the ghetto's external appearance since 1943, when Salo (what happened to Mussolini?) declared Jews to be enemies of the state and shipped them out. Knowing that made the place seem depressing.

The Palazzo Bo at the University in Padua was good to see; so were the Roman ruins and the Piazzas in Verona. Padua seems more like a "real city"; we skipped "Juliet's house" in Verona.

At the train station in Padua I asked how to get to the main cemetery. They did a bit of a double-take and told me that it's not much of a tourist spot. We didn't make it there as it was far away, but I wanted to see the grave of the 16th-century Jewish philosopher/statesman Don Isaac Abarbanel.

There were lots of Israelis around in Italy and I didn't encounter any anti-Israeli sentiment. I think that we are more sensitive to loud noises than the Italians.

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