Heretics and Infidels: different Faiths and Foreign Communities in cosmopolitan Venice

Heretics and Infidels: different Faiths and Foreign Communities in cosmopolitan Venice

Following in the footsteps of the German community from Rialto to Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

In the heart of Venice, alongside the bridge and opposite the market is the magnificent Fondaco dei Tedeschi – the trading hub of merchants from beyond the Alps who have for centuries cultivated business, cultural and more pleasurable informal links with Venice.

Lutheran texts were brought from Germany which along with the sermons of Lutheran monks proselytised spiritual renewal provoked a fierce debate throughout Venice from markets and shops to private houses.

On this Tour we will visit the places most frequented by German merchants, from the Fondaco at Rialto to the imposing Dominican Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo to discover both the small and large acts of rebellion against the dogma of Rome.

On request, we can visit the church of San Bartolomeo where merchants from Nuremberg, Augsburg had altars and whose Catholics had close ties up to the fall of the Venetian Republic.

German Heretics of the Rialto and Jewish Infidels at the Ghetto.

A look at two important communities with whom it was important to find a compromise about Faith in order to maintain the flourishing Venetian economy.

The German community posed a problem for the city as many of their number were Lutherans at a time of bloody religious wars throughout Europe following the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Venice was able to walk a fine balancing act in having working relations with the Protestant residents of the city and their Northern homelands.

The Jewish community were not seen at traitors to the true faith but rather as ‘Infidels’ who, from the time of the first Jewish families settling, Venice’s government set down a series of norms and conventions for their tenure in the city.  In the 16th cent. the rules became more rigid and Jews, whether from the Middle East, Italy or other places, were required to make their home in an area put apart specifically for them and delimited by a series of canals – the Ghetto.

On this Tour we move from the Rialto, at the very heart of the city, across the “sestiere” area of Cannaregio to arrive at the scenic Campo del Ghetto in the North of the city.


Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Campo dei Gesuiti, the Jewish Ghetto

Duration of the tour: 

2-3 hours

Cost of tour: 

starting from 75 euro per hour (+ entrance fees)

The square and church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo

The Germans’ Warehouse

The jewish Ghetto