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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 […]

Pisa

Pisa may be the first city in the Tuscan region in which the Jews settled. A contract was given in 850 that registered a Jewish home-owner. By 1165, Benjamin of Tudela, on his trip from Spain to Jerusalem, discovered a Jewish community of 20 families living in Pisa. In the 13th century, the “Alley of the Jews” (Chiasso di […]

Venice

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 […]

Parma

Parma is an Italian city, formerly capital of the duchy of the same name; the seat of an ancient Jewish community. When the plague devastated Italy in 1348, many of the Jews of Parma fell victim to the fury of the populace, which regarded them as the cause of the pestilence. In the fifteenth century, […]

Torino

Turin was the capital of the duchy of Savoy and later of the kingdom of Sardinia; it is now the capital of Piedmont province. The presence of Jews in Turin was recorded by Bishop Maximus in the fourth century, but thereafter no evidence of Jews exists until 1424, when the French Jewish physicians and bankers, […]

Saluzzo

From 1142 until the end of the sixteenth century, Salluzzo was the capital of the independent domain of the Marquis of Saluzzo. Contended for by France and Savoy in 1548, the king of France, Henry II, took the city under his rule and, in 1588, the Duke of Savoy Carlo Emanuele I occupied it. The […]

Ancona

Jews were living near Ancona since the first century. By 1300, they had organized a Jewish community within the city. A letter from that time, sent by the poet Immanuel ben Solomon of Rome, pleaded for exemption of the Ancona community from heavy taxation, due to economic hardship and persecutions. Jews engaged in money lending […]

Veneto

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 […]

Piedmont

When Italy became a unified country 150 years ago, the Region of Piemonte was its center and the catalyst of its early development. As the oldest minority in Europe, Italian Jews held a high stake in a process that sanctioned their emancipation, and they actively participated in shaping the new national life. Since the 15th […]