Jewish Heritage Europe

Heritage & Heritage Sites

GENERAL

Fondazione per i Beni Culturali Ebraici in Italia Onlus (Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy)

Lungotevere Raffaello Sanzio 9
00153 Roma
Tel.:  +39 06 4554 2301
Secretary: Diletta Cesana (Tel: +39 340 736 8280)
Email: fondazione@ucei.it
Skype: fbcei.onlus

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.

European Day of Jewish Culture

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.

International Jewish Cemeteries Project, Italian Page

 Links to addresses and/or information on more than 55 Jewish cemeteries.

 J-Italy.org

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.

 JewishItaly.org

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.

The Italian Synagogue through the Ages

Article by Noemi Cassuto, accessible online.

INDIVIDUAL SITES

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 (PIEDMONT)

Ceiling, synagogue in Saluzzo, Italy

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;   AstiCarmagnolaCherasco; Chieri,  Cuneo; Fossano,  IvreaMondovi’ and Saluzzo

The Synagogues of Piedmont

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

Italian Television Documentary on the Synagogues and Jews of Piedmont

Jewish Heritage Europe post on the Synagogues of Piedmont and the Challenges of Tourism, September 2017

ALESSANDRIA

Synagogue

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.

Synagogue web site, with hours, ticket information, etc

ACQUI TERME

Jewish itinerary in Acqui Terme, including streets, buildings, and the important Jewish cemetery (in Italian)

BIELLA

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.

See report on the first-phase restoration in Jewish Heritage Travel

Video of the 2009 inauguration:

CASALE MONFERRATO

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.

Web site of Jewish Casale Monferrato – casalebraica.org

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.

LOMBARDIA

A Catalogue of Synagogues and  Jewish Cemeteries in Lombardia, edited by Stefania T. Salvi, was published in 2013. It is available online or can be downloaded.

Here is a map taken from that book, showing places and numbers:

Map of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in Lombardia. Taken from the book “Tra Cultura Diritto e Religione Sinagoghe e cimiteri ebraici in Lombardia,” ed. S.T. Salvi

 

MANTOVA (MANTUA)

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

World Monuments Fund page on the Norsa Synagogue

Click for a tourist itinerary of Jewish sights in Mantova (in Italian)

Download a detailed PDF Guide (in Italian) to Jewish heritage and history in Mantova

Download a PDF booklet (in Italian) on Mantova Jewish history

SABBIONETA

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.

Synagogue

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.

Information on the synagogue (in Italian)

Downloadable pdf Brochure about the Synagogue (English/Italian)

360 Degree Panoramic View of the Synagogue (plus other photos and information)

FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA

GORIZIA

Synagogue/Museum

via Graziadio Isaia Ascoli 19
34170 Gorizia (GO)

Former ghetto. 18th century Synagogue (with “Jerusalem on the Isonzo” Jewish Museum). The Jewish cemetery is across the border in Slovenia, in a suburb called Nova Gorica/Rozna Dolina.

Read our JHE article about the cross-border effort to restore the cemetery

“Amici di Israele” organization that runs the museum and is involved in the cemetery restoration

TRIESTE

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.

Jewish Trieste web site — triestebraica.it

triestebraica.it – Jewish sites in Trieste, with link to map

Places with Jewish associations around the city

The Trieste Synagogue, history and architecture

VENETO

PADOVA (PADUA)

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.

 Click for information sheet with museum hours, etc

JHE Post on Visiting Jewish Heritage Sites in Padova

Padova Jewish Heritage Museum Facebook Page

Extensive information on the ghetto (in Italian)

“In Ghetto” Civic Association

Download a detailed article by David Malkiel on 16th century Jewish tombstones in Padova

VENICE

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.

Jewish Museum

The web site has information on the Ghetto history, the synagogues and the ancient Jewish cemetery.

Jewish Community website

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.

Ghetto.it

Web site devoted to the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, its sites, and its Jewish community.

Web site for the 500th anniversary of the Venice Ghetto (in 2016) with information, list of activities, etc

JHE Photo Galleries of the Old Jewish Cemetery and the New Jewish Cemetery

EMILIA ROMAGNA

BOLOGNA

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.

JHE article about the four surviving 16th century gravestones from the medieval cemetery

 JHE article on the rediscovered medieval Jewish cemetery

360 Degree Panorama of the Synagogue, plus Other Photos and Information

CORREGGIO

Jewish Cemetery

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.

LE MARCHE

SENIGALLIA

Synagogue (from 1624; noted for gilded bimah and ark); Jewish cemetery

360 Degree Panorama of Synagogue, plus other pictures and information

TUSCANY

Jewish Heritage in Florence and Tuscany slide presentation

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.

Jewish Heritage in Tuscany Video

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.”

FLORENCE

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.

Beit Hatfutsot article on the Florence synagogue and its architecture

360 Degree Panorama of the Synagogue, plus other images and information

LIVORNO

Once a major Jewish center; today home to a small Jewish community.

Synagogue

piazza Benamozegh 1
57123 Livorno

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:

See panoramic view of the synagogue on synagogues360.org

Jewish cemetery

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.

Downloadable PDF brochure/guide to Jewish Sites in the town

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

PITIGLIANO

“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.

SIENA

Synagogue built in 1787, just off the central Campo. Still used for services, but also now administered as a museum. Jewish cemetery.

360 Degree Panoramic View of the Synagogue, and Other Photos

LAZIO

ROME

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.

360 Degree panoramic view of the Ghetto

Video about the Tempio Maggiore (Great Synagogue)

Rome Jewish Museum web site

The web site has information about the synagogues, the ghetto and other Jewish heritage.

Ostia Antica Ancient Synagogue

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.

 Photo gallery of the ancient Jewish catacombs at Villa Torlonia

CAMPANIA

NAPLES

Jewish Naples web site

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.

BASILICATA

VENOSA

Strada Provinciale Ofantina
Tel: + 39 0972 36095
Email: sar-bas.venosamuseo@beniculturali.it
sar-bas@beniculturali.it
sabap-bas@beniculturali.it

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.

PUGLIA (APULIA)

TRANI

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.

 History of Jewish community in Trani

Lengthy article by Francesco Lotoro about the medieval Jewish community and Jewish heritage, as well as recent developments.

SICILY

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.

SIRACUSA

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
E-mail allagiudecca@hotmail.com

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.

Click Siracusa on the web site of the Foundation for Italian Jewish Cultural Heritage

Article about the Mikveh (2012)  in Best of Sicily web magazine