Italy has the oldest diaspora in Europe. Jews have been living here continuously for more than 2200 years. They settled all over the peninsula in different periods, leaving behind an artistic legacy that forms an important part of the Italian cultural heritage. Around seventy synagogues were built between the Middle Ages and the 19th century, and two in Roman times. Jewish museums across Italy safeguard precious objects, furnishings, books, tombstones and steles, and documents from every era.
Interest in Judaism on the part of the non-Jewish public has grown over the years; and meanwhile, Jewish institutions themselves have become more aware of the historic and artistic value of their heritage and specific features. Many sites are now equipped for welcoming visitors, and some have become museums offering guided tours, bookshops and restaurants.
This website of the “must-see places” of Jewish Italy is curated by the Fondazione per i Beni Culturali Ebraici in Italia [Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy], which is part of the Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane [Union of Italian Jewish Communities – UCEI]. The foundation was set up in 1986 and its mission is to promote the recovery, conservation, restoration and promotion of Italian Jewish historic artistic heritage. The artistic legacy is so vastly rich that it is difficult to choose. The “must-see places” are, then, just an initial selection that we propose.
This website is a “work in progress” which we aim to continue, by including your own suggestions too.