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Streets if the old ghetto, Urbino

At the time of its establishment, the ghetto of Urbino numbered 369 people, a total of 64 families. The lights hanging from the ceiling of the synagogue are exactly 64: it was customary for every family to maintain a lamp.

The ghetto was established around Via Stretta. The Jews were compelled to build the wall surrounding the confined area. The ghetto remained accessible through three gates, which were closed every night at sunset. Entire communities in the neighboring towns were forced to move into the ghetto of Urbino, bringing three rabbis to the same city: Mosè da Porto from Sant’Angelo in Vado, Consolo de Raffaelle from Norcia, and Giacobbe Moscati from Fossombrone.

The area of the ghetto is clearly visible in a bird’s eye print from 1689 by Luci: the three gates, the bridge, the three main streets between Via delle Stallacce and Via Stretta. About half way on Via Stretta there used to be a square connected by a staircase to the street immediately above.

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Streets of the old ghetto, Urbino

The only source of water for the inhabitants of the ghetto was a well in Via Stretta. At number 15 of the same street, a home from 1600 which had belonged to the sciattino (schoket), remained intact until recently. Isaac Perugia, the last member his family, lived there at the end of the 19th century. He carried on the activity of his father David, son of Emmanuel, also sciattino and synagogue care taker in the second half of the 1700’s. In a separate room of the small building there was a prayer room, accessible from a separate entrance. On the ground floor there was a small shop of “carni cascirre” (Khosher meat).

In 1797, with the arrival of the French, the doors of the ghetto were torn down and burnt. On their ashes was planted the “Tree of Liberty”. The rejoicing was short-lived: two years later, when the French retreated, riots broke out in the streets of the ghetto, homes and synagogues were invaded, destroyed and looted.