Comacchio, Ferrara, Ciao Emilia Romagna, and Hello Venice

Comacchio is a tiny little town in a lagoon on the Adriatic sea, a Venice wannabe.  It boasts a miniature grand canal, several lesser canals crossed by a few bridges. The canals and bridges are what makes it; without them this would be another poor provincial town. I don’t think it’s worth a detour, it’s off the beaten track and not en route to anywhere, but I’m a sucker for canals and thus, found this little town endearing. Not charming, although it could’ve been, but interesting. Its small size and shortage of sights notwithstanding, somehow, we managed to kill an hour and half here, and then took off for Ferrara. Ferrara is another medieval town, a Unesco world heritage site, but we were getting a bit jaded with medieval towns, stunning churches, and grand main squares. Unfortunately, today is Monday, and all museums are closed. So basically, we had lunch, walked around the old town, passed through what used to be the Jewish ghetto, and left for Venice.
We arrived in the evening. This was the first time we drove into Venice itself and parked near the train station. Our hotel is a 12 min walk over two bridges, one of them Calatrava’s. It’s new and made me think of a lizard’s tongue stretched over the grand canal.
Our hotel is in Correggio. This is another first. We have never stayed in Correggio and really, the only place we ever visited in this area of Venice was the former ghetto, the mother of all ghettos, the first in Europe that gave all the other ghettos its name. The first time we visited Venice, the former ghetto was devoid of Jews (all deported in WWII) and thus became a de facto memorial to the dead race. The second time we came here, there was a flock of chabadniks pestering the visiting Jewish males to join them a prayer, so they would get some points for doing a mitzvah. It’s quite different now. Chabadniks succeeded in revitalizing the ghetto. But instead of the perished Sephardic and Italian Jews, the only Jews here now are hassidic. For better or for worse, the ghetto now has kosher grocery stores and restaurants, and many galleries selling Judaica. Joining them, there are several cool artsy stores having nothing to do with Jewishness.
Aside from the ghetto, Correggio is not the most charming Venetian neighborhood. It’s too close to the train station, there are many tourists dragging their suitcases to or from their hotels. It’s more residential though; well, as residential as an area in Venice can get. It’s less striking, more subdued, more mundane than the rest of Venice. But fortunately, Venice is small enough to get everywhere by foot, which we are going to do the next two days.


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