Jewish Florence by Giovanna Bossi
Introduction to the history of the town , visit to the Synagogue and Jewish Museum and a walking tour of the city's famous historical sites that bear important
witness of Jewish history in Florence from the XV to the XIX century : Piazza della Repubblica, with the ex-ghetto area and a street near by with memorial plaques of XVIII-XIX, the Cathedral area with the Baptistery Golden Gate (outdoor), and the Ponte Vecchio area, where the oldest Jewish settlement in Florence was founded.
To describe the destroyed Jewish areas, Giovanna shows old photos and plans.
This itinerary can also be a good introduction to a general visit to the city.
There are other sites in Florence that can be interesting for local Jewish history. Here are some of them :
- the old Jewish Cemetery (tombs of XVIII-XIX centuries) but it is only open on the 1st Sunday of each month ; the charge for private opening is Euro 80.00 (for group as well as for private clients)
- The Museum Firenze Comessra (on history of Florence, from Roman time to XIX century) with an important ollection of 19C paintings (T.Signorini) which describes Florence's ghetto area, together with a large model.
- access to special public archives on request can be arranged for family or academic research
Jewish Florence full day itinerary (6hrs):
Full day Jewish itineraries, customized to clients interest, all including some important museums (Academia, Uffizi, Pitti etc.) or special art itinerary (Michelangelo's for example) . Here is a proposal that joins the Jewish history to the art and the famous Florentine craftsmanship:
- Synagogue and Jewish Museum, Academia Gallery (with David by Michelangelo), Museo Firenze (morning only);
- Lunch break;
- the Cathedral area with the Baptistery Golden Gate (outdoor), Piazza della Repubblica (ex-ghetto area), the Ponte Vecchio area, and visit to a traditional artisan workshop in the S. Spirito quarter.
Tours outside Florence: Siena, Pisa and Livorno.
A full day tour (8 hours with Jewish itinerary) can include Siena or Pisa and Lucca (where are no visible remains of Jewish history but it is a lovely city to visit) or Pisa and Livorno (Siena and Pisa don't go well together because, Siena is south of Florence while Pisa is west and that means that the clients would have to spend most of the day travelling).
Jewish sites included in the tour of Tuscan cities :
- Siena : the Jewish area (ex-ghetto) with the lovely XVIII C. Synagogue, behind the Piazza del Campo; we can arrange a visit to the Museum of Contrada della Torre of Palio di Siena (Synagogue is in this Contrada) because there is a great model that shows how the ghetto was.
- Pisa (the oldest Jewish Community of Tuscany; together with Livorno the only Jewish Community in Italy not obliged to live in a ghetto): the Jewish Cemetery (near by the Piazza dei Miracoli with the Leaning Tower) and the beautiful Synagogue; only for very motivated clients. The Jewish Community archive's access can be arranged upon request.
- Livorno : the Jewish Museum with a beautiful aron, and the Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori, where we can see artworks by Jewish Tuscan painters of XIX century, as Modigliani (who was born in Livorno and lived there half of his life). The modern Synagogue (1962) houses a XVIII aron.
Departure from Livorno and after approx 1 Hrs 30 drive arrival at Florence.
Meeting with the guide and inside visit of the Accademia Museum with the Statue of David by Michelangelo. Duomo (exterior) , Baptistery (exterior) with the Paradise Doors by Ghiberti, Piazza della Repubblica with explanation on the Ghetto, photo stop over the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Piazza Santa Croce with exterior explanation of Santa Croce Church with the Star of David situated on the facade. Inside visit of the Synagogue and the Jewish Museum (approx 3 Hrs).
After lunch departure to Livorno and guided visit of the Synagogue and Jewish Museum (approx 1 Hrs 30).
At the end of the visit transfer to the port.
For security reasons Livorno Synagogue (am not sure about Florence) requires the list with all the names of the participants. Exact timing is subject to synagogue's confirmation
In Livorno the coach cannot drop the people off right in front of the Synagogue obviously, but the walk is of max 10 min, even less.
Other customized arrangements (for instance: Pitigliano, that has a nice Synagogue, Museum, Mikwe etc, and it is very interesting but far), can be arranged as well.
In Florence, we can arrange transportation and tickets to Accademia and Uffizi (must be bought together with the tour).