Europe’s oldest Jewish population is in Rome, Italy. Jews started to immigrate into Rome when ancient Judea was still part of the massive Roman Empire. Jews have a deep seeded cultural place at the heart of Italy. However, since Christianity is the biggest religion in Italy, these Jewish traditions have slowly been overshadowed, but not completely erased.
The Jewish Quarter of Rome
Roman Jews have been living in Rome for more than 22 centuries. Among the must-see destinations are the Jewish Museum, the centuries-old Synagogue, and the Roman Ghetto itself. The Ghetto is considered as meeting place by many Jews in the area. This is a good place to meet and interact with local Jews and learn about their lifestyle and traditions which they have cultivated for thousands of years.
For a more gastronomic tour of the Ghetto of Rome, there is the Kosher Bakery which serves the delectable Pizza Giudia.
Although the Vatican is known as the heart of the Roman Catholic faith, some parts of the city have Jewish edifices and cultural buildings that celebrate the Jewish faith. Among the must-see sites here are the Picture Gallery and the Gallery of Candelabra. The Lapidario Ebraico, the archive that holds the records of the first Roman Jews, is a tru historic gem for anyone interested in Jewish history. They are magnificent to behold and simply breathtaking to experience.
Ostia Antica Synagogue Tour
No Jewish heritage tour of Italy would be complete without a visit to the Ostia Antica Synagogue. It is an archeological site located about 30 kilometers northeast of Rome. It was discovered in 1961. The synagogue features ancient Jewish artworks. Among the discovered ancient relics were a menorah, and an inscription that references an ark.