Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio 9
Tel.: +39 06 4554 2301
Secretary: Diletta Cesana (Tel: +39 340 736 8280)
Established in 1986 by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI) to preserve, conserve, restore and promote the Jewish cultural heritage of Italy. It has a growing database of Jewish heritage sites in Italy as well as itineraries and other resources. The web site features an interactive map where you can click to find sites.
Italy is an enthusiastic participant in the annual European Day of Jewish Culture, held the first Sunday in September. Each year sees events in about 70 localities up and down the peninusula, including visits to Jewish museums, synagogues, Jewish quarters, Jewish cemeteries and other sites. The Italian web site for the Day includes information, pictures, maps, and more.
Links to addresses and/or information on more than 55 Jewish cemeteries.
A project of the Primo Levi Center, the Italian Government Tourism Board and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities that aims to be “a dynamic guide to both historical and contemporary Jewish Italy, allowing viewers to explore, at their own pace, the cultural treasures of the most ancient Diaspora community in the West.” There are lists and links to Jewish heritage sites in many localities around the country.
Chabad’s extensive Jewish travel site provides addresses and information, including history, on more than 90 synagogues and more than 60 Jewish cemeteries, all around the country.
Article by Noemi Cassuto, accessible online.
You can find information on scores of Jewish heritage sites in Italy through the general links listed above. Here below, as on other country pages, we provide information on individual Jewish heritage sites in Italy that have their own web sites or other web resources. They are arranged below by region, north to south.
You can also find detailed information on many Jewish heritage sites on the web sites of individual Jewish communities (accessible from the Communal Contacts page of this web site.)
Piemonte boasts a network of sometimes lavishly ornate synagogues, many of which have been recently restored. The web site of the Jewish community in Torino includes links to extensive historic information (in Italian) and pictures of synagogues owned by the Torino Jewis community, ghetto areas (and some information about Jewish cemeteries) in Alessandria; Asti; Carmagnola; Cherasco; Chieri, Cuneo; Fossano, Ivrea; Mondovi’ and Saluzzo
Article/chapter by Dr. Samuel D. Gruber in Woolf, Jeffrey R. (ed.) Ebrei Piemontese: The Jews of Piedmont. (New York: Yeshiva University Museum, 2008) pp 63-70
via Milano 7
Tel: +39 011 66 99 725
Built in eclectic style in 1871, the synagogue has been undergoing restoration. It is run as a cultural site by the organization CoopCulture (which also administers the Venice Jewish Museum and the synagogue and museum in Florence). The Jewish Cemetery is located on viale Michel.
The early 17th century synagogue (at vicolo del Bellone 3) reopened in 2012 after a six-year process of restoration of its structure and interior fittings, under the direction of the architect Paola Valentini and largely funded by municipal and regional authorities and local banks. The €350,000 main phase of the restoration was completed in 2009 and the building inaugurated on that year’s European Day of Jewish Culture. The synagogue occupies the top floor of a medieval house in the heart of what was the historic Jewish quarter. The sanctuary is small and rectangular in shape, focused on a splendid 17th-century Ark and an oval, waist-high carved wooden enclosure around the Bimah.
Video of the 2009 inauguration:
The most opulent of the Piedmont synagogues, built around 1600 in a structure that on the outside looks like a normal dwelling on vicolo Salomone Olper, in the heart of the former ghetto. The synagogue complex includes the Jewish Art and History Museum and Museum of Lights — a permanent exhibition of Hanukkah menorahs. There are two Jewish cemeteries, the Old Cemetery on via Negri, dating from 1732, and the New Cemetery, still in use, dating from 1904, on via Cardinale Massaia.
The web site includes extensive historical and descriptive information on the synagogue and other Jewish heritage — and includes “virtual tours” of the building as well as photographs.
Norsa Synagogue at Via Govi, 13: built in the early 20th century, it is an elaborate reconstruction, using original wooden fittings, of the 17th century synagogue that was demolished in 1899 during an extensive urban renewal project; Two Jewish cemeteries; former ghetto area (via Giustiziati, via Dottrina Cristiana, via Spagnoli); rabbi’s house, at via Bertani 54
Sabbioneta was built in the 16th century by Vespasiano Gonzaga and laid out as an ideal Renaissance city. Jews lived in Sabbioneta from the town’s early days — even before it was laid out in its present form. There was a ghetto here, and the town developed into an important center of Hebrew printing. Sabbioneta (including the Synagogue) and nearby Mantova (Mantua) were included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2008.
via Bernardino Campi 1
The Sabbioneta synagogue dates from 1824 — its present form is an enlargement and rebuilding of an earlier structure by a noted Lombard architect named Carlo Visioli. It has a gilded ark set behind a low, elaborate grille and flanked by Corinthian columns. The ceiling is decorated by ornate stucco work. The synagogue, along with others in northern Italy, was damaged in an earthquake in 2012.
The Jewish cemetery, about half a kilometer outside the town on the way to Borgofreddo, was founded in the second half of the 19th century; the last burial was in 1937. Long abandoned, it underwent clean-up and restoration in recent years.
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
via Graziadio Isaia Ascoli 19
34170 Gorizia (GO)
Vast, Byzantine-style synagogue built in 1912 when Trieste was the leading port of the Habsburg empire; Jewish cemetery, ghetto, Jewish Museum, Risiera di San Saba (Nazi concentration/death camp), as well as other sites in the city. Active community.
Former Ghetto in the heart of the historic center of town, with active and disused synagogues; five Jewish cemeteries dating back to the16th century. In 2015, the former Ashkenazic synagogue (Sinagoga Tedesca) — torched by Fascists in WW2, then structurally restored in the 1990s — was reopened as a Jewish Heritage Museum. The museum arranges tours of the Jewish cemeteries.
Historic ghetto, with five synagogues (Scuola Canton, 1532; Scuola Grande Tedesca or Great German Synagogue; Scuola Italiana, 1575; Scuola Spagnola or Ponetina, mid-16th century; Scuola Levantina, early 16th century), all located on upper stories of Ghetto buildings and most of which form part of the important Jewish Museum. Two Jewish cemeteries on the Lido, the oldest dating back to the 14th century. Small active Jewish community; active Chabad presence; kosher facilities. Holocaust memorials on the main Ghetto square (Ghetto Novo). The World Monuments Fund web site has pages on the Schola Canton (synagogue from 1532) and the 14th century Jewish cemetery on the Lido, both of which received renovation funding from the WMF.
The web site has information on the Ghetto history, the synagogues and the ancient Jewish cemetery.
The web site includes an interactive map of the Ghetto, with the location of heritage sites. There is also a page with information on the 14th century Jewish cemetery.
Web site devoted to the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, its sites, and its Jewish community.
Ghetto; Synagogue (completed in 1928); Jewish cemetery from 19th century; Jewish Museum (opened in 1999). Active Jewish community.
In November 2017, it was announced that the “lost” medieval Jewish cemetery that had been ordered destroyed in 1569 by Pope Pius V had been rediscovered. To date, all that had remained of that cemetery were four elaborate 16th century gravestones, now displayed in the Civic Medieval Museum.
Viale della Repubblica 8
Visitor information and reservations:
Informaturismo, Tel: +39 (0) 522 631770
Museum, Tel: +39 (0) 522 691806
Opened in 1781, the cemetery was the third built (and only surviving) Jewish cemetery in Correggio and has about 70 burials, with inscriptions in both Hebrew and Italian. A history of the cemetery in English can be found HERE on the web site of the town museum. The cemetery is open to visitors on weekdays and Sundays, but you must reserve at least two days in advance via the museum of tourist office at the number above.
Synagogue (from 1624; noted for gilded bimah and ark); Jewish cemetery
The Florence Jewish community web site has a section devoted to a slide show mainly detailing the architectural history of Jewish presence in Florence, including the construction of the great synagogue, completed in 1882, but also including maps, documents and other material on Jewish presence and heritage in Tuscany.
Video prepared by the Jewish Community in Florence showing Jewish heritage sites in Florence, Siena and Monte San Savino. It is part of the “Toscana Ebraica” or “Jewish Tuscany project.”
Active Jewish community with a detailed web site (some material in English) providing information and photos.
Large, Moorish style synagogue with Jewish Museum in the complex (the synagogue has the biggest dome in Florence after the Duomo); active Jewish community.
Monumental Jewish cemeteries.
Once a major Jewish center; today home to a small Jewish community.
piazza Benamozegh 1
There is a small, modern synagogue, designed by the Roman architect Angelo di Castro, that was inaugurated in 1962 on the site of the magnificent old synagogue, built in the early 17th century and expanded in the 18th century, which was hit during an Allied bombing raid in World War II and later pulled down.
Built in reinforced concrete, it features vertical exterior and interior ribs and two rows of hexagonal windows. The sanctuary focuses on an elaborate carved wooden Ark, originally from Pesaro (it dates from 1708 and is signed by one Angelo Scoccianti dal Massacio).
Video of the 1962 inauguration of the synagogue:
The monumental 19th century Jewish cemetery reopened in January 2015 after renovation.
MONTE SAN SAVINO
Small town with ghetto; former synagogue built in 1729-32 (at via Salomon Fiorentino 13) ; cemetery dating to the 18th century; former pawn broker shop.
In Italian. The guide can be downloaded from the web site of the Salomon Fiorentino Cultural Association, which promotes Jewish culture and heritage linked to Monte San Savino
“La Piccola Gerusalemme” — “the little Jerusalem.” Stunning hill town with Synagogue built in 1599, restored in the 1990s; Jewish quarter/ghetto including matzo bakery; Jewish museum. There is a Jewish cemetery outside the town walls. Kosher winery. Well-developed Jewish tourism.
La Piccola Gerusalemme Association web site features maps, photos, etc.
RESOURCE: The book “The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews” by Edda Servi Machlin is sadly out of print but not hard to find second hand. In it Machlin, who grew up in Pitigliano, provides not only recipes, but a detailed memoir of Jewish life in the town, with photos.
Synagogue built in 1787, just off the central Campo. Still used for services, but also now administered as a museum. Jewish cemetery.
Jews have lived in Rome for more than 2,000 years and the city today has the largest Jewish community in Italy. “Cathedral synagogue,” il Tempio Maggiore, dating from 1904 (and other more modern synagogues); historic ghetto area (rebuilt and modernized around 1900); Jewish Museum in the synagogue complex, ancient Roman-era Jewish catacombs (there are known to have been five) monumental Jewish cemetery; ruins of ancient Roman-era synagogue at Ostia Antica. The Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum shows the triumphal return of Roman troops, Jewish prisoners and the captured Menorah after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
The web site has information about the synagogues, the ghetto and other Jewish heritage.
The ruins of a synagogue dating from the 1st to 4th centuries C.E. at Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port, were discovered in 1961. Ongoing excavations are proceeding, including those carried out by the University of Texas.
Naples has a synagogue dating from the 1920s. It is the main Jewish community in southern Italy and coordinates programs and projects in the South.
Ancient Jewish Catacombs, discovered in the mid-19th century, with 54 inscriptions in Latin and Greek dating from the 3rd to 6th centuries CE. Another 23 inscriptions in Hebrew, from a 9th century Jewish cemetery. Early Medieval inscriptions in Venosa contain, among other things, the earliest documentary evidence for the use of the Talmud in Europe.
The Foundation for Italian Jewish Cultural Heritage states:
They contain loculus tombs arranged along the walls or set into the ground; other graves are organised in cubicles (chamber tombs containing multiple graves), and arcosolia (tombs placed in arched recesses). Some areas present ornate frescoed decorations featuring traditional Jewish symbols such as the menorah, the lulav and the shofar. Epigraphs in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, sometimes in two languages, attest to the high level of integration with non-Jewish society, as well as being an important key to understanding how the community was organised at that time;
The site can be visited but prior arrangements must be made.
Trani was home to a large Jewish community from the first part of the 11th century, but the community largely disappeared with forced conversions at the end of the 13th/beginning of the 14th century. Benjamin of Tudela visited in the 12th century, describing: “Trani on the sea, where all the pilgrims gather to go to Jerusalem; for the port is a convenient one. A community of about 200 Israelites is there, at their head being R. Elijah, R. Nathan, the expounder, and R. Jacob. It is a great and beautiful city.” Final expulsion of Jews came in 1510.
There is an old Jewish quarter, or Giudecca. Trani’s four synagogues were turned into churches: those of Saints Quirico and Giovita (subsequently St. Anna), St. Maria of Scolanova, St. Leonardo Abate and St. Pietro Martire.
Two survive intact:
— The Scolanova (synagogue originally built around 1240) was returned to the Jewish community in 2006 and again functions as a synagogue.
— The St. Anna Synagogue Museum is housed in the Scola Grande synagogue that was built in the 13th century and transformed into the Church of St. Anna. Surviving gravestones from the medieval Jewish cemetery can be seen in the Museum, and one gravestone and fragments of others can be seen in the construction of buildings in the town.
Lengthy article by Francesco Lotoro about the medieval Jewish community and Jewish heritage, as well as recent developments.
Sicily had a large Jewish population — up to 60,000 — before the expulsion in the 15th century. There are 62 documented “giudecche” or Jewish quarters known to exist on the island.
The Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage has resources (accessed on clickable map) for sites in Palermo, Catania, Siracusa, Marsala, Noto, Agrigento, Taormina, and Messina.
Ancient Mikveh in the former Giudecca, or Jewish quarter, where Jews lived until the Jews were expelled in 1493.
Via Giovanni Battista Alagona, 52
Tel. +39 0931 22255
The Mikveh, which has five immersion pools, is believed to date from the Byzantine period and be the oldest surviving Mikveh in Europe. It is located today beneath a 17th-century residence that is now the Hotel alla Giudecca, at Via Alagona 52. The Mikveh was discovered in 1989 during renovation work on the building. A synagogue is thought to have stood at or near the site of today’s church of St. John the Baptist.
The Giudecca developed on island of Ortigia, bounded to the west by Via della Giudecca, to the south by Via Larga, by the sea to the east, and crossed by parallel streets: Via dell’Olivo, Vicolos I II, III and IV Giudecca, Vicolo dell’Arco and Via Minniti.