Following the traces of Judaism in Apulia

The Puglia has been for centuries very important to the process of expansion of Judaism in the Mediterranean Countries. The purpose of this tour is to let people know an historical period of extraordinary importance for this land, often overlooked in favour of the most popular periods: the Messapic age and the Baroque age . The main centres of Judaism in Apulia were Bari, Oria, Trani, Lecce and Santa Maria di Leuca.

Thursday: Arrival at Bari Airport. Private transfer to Bari and walking tour of the city, discovering Medieval and post-war Judaism. At the time of the Normans, the Jewish communities were increasingly numerous and flourishing, especially from the point of view of the trade; the maritime cities such as Bari, Otranto, Gallipoli and Trani were very important. Lunch at leisure. In the afternoon guided tour of the city with the visit of the Basilica of St Nicholas situated in the heart of the old town, and visit of the Norman-Swabian Castle, built by the Normans in the 12th century and restored by the Emperor Frederick II between 1233 AND 1240.. Arrive to the hotel, accommodation, dinner and overnight.

Friday: Breakfast and departure for Castel del Monte. Castel del Monte is one of the most beautiful and mysterious castle in the world. It is on top of the Murgia hills and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle has a mysterious octagonal shape: Ezekiel tells us that God sent an angel to dictate the measures of the new temple in Jerusalem, it had to be measured 111 cubits. For some people the Castel del Monte is not a simple castle, but a new temple of God, the God of Akhenaton, who was led out of Egypt with Moses and was the father of the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Light lunch. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening return to hotel, dinner and overnight.

Saturday: Breakfast and transfer to Trani. Visit to Synagogue. Lunch at leisure. In the afternoon guided tour of the city: the cathedral and the Jewish neighbourhood, where Jews were living, perfectly integrated into the urban fabric and daily activities of the city. A witness of a living and numerous presence, there were four synagogues in Trani, then transformed in as many churches dedicated to SS. Quirico and Jovita (later St. Anna), S. Maria di Scolanova, S. Leonardo Abate and St. Peter Martyr. In the middle ages, Trani was an important trading centre in Southern Italy, both for its strategic position and for the presence of a big Jewish community of traders, the largest in southern Italy. In the evening return to the hotel, dinner and overnight.

Sunday: Breakfast and departure to Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019, famous for its Sassi, ancient dwellings carved into the rock, believed to be the third oldest city in the world. During the II World War, Matera was the first southern Italian city to rise up against the Nazis. In the second half of the fifteenth century is attested in Matera a Jewish community, whose members were active in the trade of grain, the production of which still characterizes the agro Matera today. Guided tour of the city and free lunch in one of the historical centre’s restaurants. In the evening return to the hotel, dinner and overnight.

Monday: Breakfast and departure to Oria, the most important Apulian middle-age centre of Judaism. Guided tour In Oria. Between the 8th and 10th centuries, Oria reached the pick of its cultural prestige, mainly thanks to the presence of a big Jewish community. During the Middle Ages was living in Oria one of the most important Jewish communities of the Mediterranean. Traces of this community are still extant. Guided tour of the historical city centre and the old Jewish neighbourhood. Lunch in a restaurant. In the evening arrival at Lecce, hotel accommodation, dinner and overnight.

Tuesday: Breakfast and guided tour in Lecce. At the beginning of the 15th century the Jewish community of Lecce was very lively , from the point of view from the trade, from the craft and also from the arts. One of the most important characters of the Jewish community in Lecce was Abraham de Balmes, whose was dedicated one of the major streets in the historical centre, which runs through what turned out to be the ancient Jewish neighbourhood of Lecce. Visit to the Baroque city and the middle-age Jewish neighbourhood with the Medieval Jewish Museum, which houses important remains and findings of this community because it was the Synagogue of the city. Lunch in a city centre restaurant. In the afternoon transfer to Guagnano for visiting a farm, which produces wine and olive oil Kosher certified by the controls of the OU and Rabbi Hochman. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight.

Wednesday: Breakfast and departure to Santa Maria al Bagno. This location became a camp for Jews refugees during the II World War. Guided tour of the town and the Memorial Museum, which preserve the witness of Jewish survivors to the horror of the extermination camps. Continue to Gallipoli and visit of Giudecca (Jewish neighbourhood of Gallipoli). Lunch at leisure. In the afternoon visit of Santa Maria di Leuca which hosts witness of the Jewish presence in this area. Dinner in restaurant. Return to hotel and overnight.

Thursday: Breakfast and departure to Bari Airport.