Italian Jewish Art and Culture in Northern Italy

Jews have lived in Italy for the last 2000 years—longer here than in any country outside of Israel. Although always a small community (today the Jews in Italy number only around 35,000 people), over the years they have developed an incredibly rich tradition, religious art objects and books, wonderfully preserved synagogues—in amazingly disparate parts of Italy (including far away Sicily).
Sophisticated Italy is pleased to present these programs on the Jewish tradition in Rome and Tuscany, as well as in Northern Italy. While it concentrates on Jewish aspects and culture in these areas it obviously does not overlook the other art highlights that dot these noted tourist treasures. These itineraries are designed for small groups—they can be organized from 6–8 persons and we can also add parts to other tours you may be making. The tours focus on the historical, cultural and religious traditions that have made Italy such a special place. Please note these are not kosher tours (although kosher meals can be obtained upon request).

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FIRST DAY (Friday)

Arrival in Milan. Transfer to hotel in the heart of Milan’s most famous shopping district. Brief walking tour of principal sights of Milan with special guide. Welcome reception and dinner where you will be greeted by one of our representatives.

SECOND DAY (Saturday)

Day free.

THIRD DAY (Sunday)

Transfer by private bus to Casale Monferrato to visit the German-rite synagogue which was built in 1595. This Temple, in sumptuous Piedmontese baroque style, was restored at the end of the 1960s and shortly afterwards declared a national monument. In the same building there is a museum which contains precious religious texts. Visit the large new cemetery with its various monumental tombs. Lunch in a typical trattoria followed by a visit to Asti to see the Ghetto, its synagogue and the Jewish Museum. From Campo del Palio we walk along Corso G. Ferraris and Via Lamarmora, arriving in Via Martiri Israelitici where important historical records have been preserved in the Jewish cemetery. Return to Milan. Evening free.


After breakfast, depart for Mantua. Arrival and visit of the ghetto where four hundred years ago six synagogues were operative. Visit of the Norsa Torrazzo Italian-rite synagogue which has now been rebuilt in Via Govi, also a national monument, and the Palazzo Ducale which hosts important Jewish documents from 1522 to 1810. After lunch in a typical Mantovan trattoria, transfer to Sabbioneta to visit the Via della Stamperia named after the Jewish printing guild. It contains Salomone Forti’s workshop and a prayer room. Visit of the sixteenth-century synagogue with its stuccoed ceiling giving the effect of a wind-filled sail. Transfer to Verona, check-in to hotel and overnight.

FIFTH DAY (Tuesday)

After breakfast, transfer to Ferrara to see the Jewish Community building. This is the city where the novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani takes place. On the first floor we find the secretariat of the community, the Rabbi’s apartment and the Scola Farnese, still operative, and the Scola Tedesca (German synagogue) which is still used for Jewish holidays. There are also rooms that were occupied by the medieval Rabbinical court and the Scola Italiana (Italian Synagogue). Today these rooms are used for the Jewish Community’s cultural events. Lunch in a typical Ferrarese restaurant and time to walk the beautiful streets of Ferrara including a visit to the Palazzo dei Diamanti. Transfer to Venice. Check-in hotel. Evening free.
Optional afternoon classic Venice Highlights tour visiting the Cathedral of San Marco and the Doge’s Palace.

SIXTH DAY (Wednesday)

After breakfast, depart for a walking tour of the old Ghetto, visiting the Spanish and Levantine synagogues, the Jewish Historical Museum, and the German and Italian synagogues in the New Ghetto. Lunch on own with afternoon free to wander through Venice. Evening free.

SEVENTH DAY (Thursday)

After breakfast, transfer to the Lido to visit the ancient Jewish Cemetery. Afternoon free. Evening farewell dinner.

EIGHT DAY (Friday)

Transfer to Venice Airport for return flight to US.