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Where do you want to travel?

A reader’s journey through Jewish Italy.


From: “Synagogue without Jews, and the Communities that used and built them”, by Rivka and Ben Zion Dorfmann. Almost all the Holy Arks of the Renassaince and Baroque period in Italy adopt the same solution. They may be made of marble or wood, but the style is identical, generally with upper and lower sections. In […]


The Jews of Italy

Arnaldo Momigliano 1. Italian history is always a difficult subject. Behind it and inside it there is the extraordinary variety of regional and urban units; the history of Florence is not the history of Pisa, or even that of Arezzo, or Siena, or Volterra. Where the Jews are involved, the differences in local traditions are […]


The first written mention of a Jewish presence in Trieste is in the 14th century. After this tiny village came under Austrian protection in 1382, German Jews settled there, engaging in moneylending, banking and trade. In 1697, Trieste’s 60 Jews were forced to live in a ghetto. To create a mercantile empire, the Hapsburg rulers […]


In 1516, Venice’s ruling council confined all the Jews in a small area not far from today’s train station, where there had been getti, or foundries. The gates were locked at night, and restrictions were placed on Jewish economic activities. Jews were only allowed to operate pawn shops and lend money, trade in textiles, and […]


The four synagogues of Trani were converted into churches during the wave of anti-Judaism that followed the fall of Apulia to the Kingdom of Naples. Three hundred of the Jews remaining in the city were forced to convert to Christianity. The four synagogues were renamed Santa Maria in Scolanova, San Leonardo Abate, San Pietro Martire, and […]


While Jews did not settle in Venice until the 13th century, many Jewish merchants and moneylenders visited and worked in the city beginning in the 10th century. Jews were mentioned in documents from 945 and 992 that forbade Venetian captains from accepting Jews onboard their ships. In 1252, Jews were not allowed to settle in the […]