Naples, Italy cruise excursion, Jewish tour options

Naples.... A bit of History

The history of the Naples’ Jewish Community started about 2000 years ago and is a very rich history, e.g. evidence of Jewish existence was found in Pompeii and, during the middle ages, Jews were always active in the Naples story.

In the early XVI century, in Naples there were three “Giudecca” (Jewish Quarters): one for Sicilian Jews, one for Spanish Jews and a larger one for the native Jews.

But this coexistence was dramatically interrupted in the years 1510-1541, with the banning of all the Jews from the Kingdom of Naples and the South of Italy.

Therefore Naples never had a ghetto, unlike Rome or Venice.

For about 350 years there were no Jewish communities in the South of Italy and, in the meantime, most Jewish sites were lost in several urban renewals in Calabria, Sicily and Naples.

The Community was revived only in the year 1864 after Italian unification and, nowadays, the Naples Jewish Community counts only 120 persons. There is a cute synagogue, established in the year 1864 with the contribution of the bankers Rothschild, which is the only place where kosher food is available in the South of Italy.

On request, the present Synagogue, located in a different area of Naples, can be visited. There is Minian every Shabbat.

Why visit Naples?

Must see places are Herculaneum, Pompeii, the Rothschild’s building and pizza.

Naples is full of history, mystery and surprises! Naples (Nea-Polis or “new city”) is the third-largest municipality in Italy, after Rome and Milan. Its historic city centre is the largest in Europe, a World UNESCO Heritage Site, and one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to the Bronze Age. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous culturally and historically significant sites, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Known mainly for its stunning architecture, Naples is also synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city, as well as with the distinct sound of the mandolin, a musical instrument developed here.

Naples Jewish Tour

The Naples Jewish Tour is usually included in the amazing “Naples old city tour” and consists in a two and half hours walking tour in Naples visiting the present synagogue and the site where Jews used to live since the Roman times and where two ancient synagogues inadvertently survived (because, in the XVI century, they were changed into churches), together with a few slums where Jews used to live. While touring, the history of the Naples Jewish community will be widely explained. If you will have enough time, a visit to the ancient (year 1873-1963) Jewish cemetery of Naples can be made too.

Note that the ex Jewish quarter and the present Synagogue, are located in different areas of Naples, and will be visited if open to public. Closed during August.

Note: Recently, Synagogue visits are subject to booking due to security reasons. Tours of Naples and its surroundings.

Here is a list of different tours of Naples and its surroundings that can be performed in one or more days, and as I am specialized in customized private tours, all tours can be adapted to your personal needs and choices.

Planning your tour

Naples has an incredible number of sites that deserve to be visited (Roman ruins and excavations, castles, royal palaces, churches, museums, picturesque quarters, panoramic sites, etc.) It would take at least a full week to see just a little part of them, but as you have limited time, I strongly suggest you to visit the old city center that is rich in interesting sites and unique emotions.

Therefore, depending on your interests (art, history, Roman excavations, panoramas, real Neapolitan life, architecture, etc.) your Naples tour can be individually planned.

1) Only Naples: one full/half day tour

Jewish and General Naples-

Walking tour – up to 7/8 hours (upon arrangement)

We shall visit the ancient city center (over 2600 years old) with its extraordinary and unique sites and monuments including underground sites, churches and the above-mentioned Jewish tour.

Near the port of Naples, the imposing medieval towers of the Maschio Angioino Castle (or Castel Nuovo) and the elegant Royal Palace of Naples, home to Bourbon Kings, hark back to Naples medieval history. One of Italy’s finest coffeehouses, Bar Gambrinus, is located nearby and offers the passerby the finest of Italian espresso. The expansive market hall Galleria Umberto is a fine example of Naples’ Risanamento (a decade-long period of reconstruction of Naples architecture.)

Naples ancient city tour

From the Galleria, a mile-long walk brings you to the thriving quarter of Pignasecca, where market stalls and the warren of narrow roads and alleyways show off the epitome of Neapolitan lifestyle. The long and narrow street of Spaccanapoli was historically one of the east-west streets of the original grid of the Graeco-Roman city of Neapolis. Cutting Neapolis in two parts, this street, with 2600 years of continual use, contains many of the most famous sites in Naples: The Sansevero Chapel with the famous statue of the Veiled Christ; The Roman Cardo and Market excavations under the Church of San Lorenzo, and Via San Gregorio Armeno, home to Christian devotional manufacturers.

Near that area was located the ancient main Giudecca (Jewish quarter) where only two synagogues survived because they were transformed into churches. During a short visit to this quarter we shall see also a few ancient slums were Jews lived before 1541.

An unconventional detour underground will have you exploring Subterranean Naples. Diving into Naples ancient past, it is here that you will be able to see an ancient Greek aqueduct and part of an ancient Roman theater where the Roman Emperor Nero once sung.

Following this, the Archaeological National Museum exhibits antiquities from Pompeii and various other ancient Roman sites. In addition, a visit to the Naples Synagogue (dated 1864) will give a fascinating insight into today’s Neapolitan Jewish community.

2) Amalfi Coast Tour and Roman Excavations: full day tour

We start our tour in the morning at 8,30 am, driving from Naples to Ravello where we visit Villa Rufolo and/or villa Cimbrone, that offer an unforgettable panoramic view, then we drive along the Amalfi coast back to Naples. We’ll have a short look at Amalfi and then visit the little quaint town of Positano.

In the early afternoon, after a stop for a short lunch or sandwiches, we can visit Pompeii or Herculaneum Roman excavation. Then, in 20-25 minutes drive, you will be back in Naples at the port or at your hotel.

3) Roman Excavations and Naples: full day Tour (including part of the Jewish Tour)

How did an ordinary day in Pompeii 2000 years ago look? What was life like back then? How did the romans had fun? There is so much left to see; we will see a real roman town with its roads and buildings, but also its varied population composed of pagans, Jews and Christians. We will visit the two theaters and imagine the comedies and tragedies that were once played there. We will look at the thermal baths and the Roman shopping avenues. By the end of the tour you'll have a good idea of the Roman lifestyle of 2000 years ago.

This tour includes the visit of Pompeii or Herculaneum and the Jewish quarter, as part of the “old city center tour”.

We start our tour around 8,30am and, after a 20 minutes drive, we visit Herculaneum or Pompeii excavations.

At about 12,30 pm we drive back to Naples and start the “old city center tour”. Obviously it will be a shorter tour but it will be performed according to your requests and will include the ancient Jewish sites.

4) Naples Jewish Tour (two or three hours tour)

By request, a shorter Naples Jewish Tour can be performed, skipping the old city center monuments and sites. This short tour lasts about two/three hours.

Its scheduling hours are to be agreed in advance and are subject to availability.

(Visit of the present Naples synagogue is not guaranteed during all the week, because it is not open every day and therefore a visit depends on the presence of the secretary or a custodian to have it opened).

If you spend more than one day in Naples Remember that all tours can be customized according to your wishes:

Island of Capri and Blue Grotto I suggest you visit the Island of Capri by yourself (with my supporting instructions).

In my opinion, Capri is too romantic to be visited with a guide disturbing your lovely and private moments…..

Campi Flegrei tour can include:

the Grotta di Seiano and its Roman theater, the Solfatara flat volcano, the Baia submerged town (tour by glass bottom boat or diving), the Castle of Baia Museum and the Amphitheater of Pozzuoli.

Museum of Capodimonte for its great paintings collection, San’Elmo Castle for a great panoramic view of the town, the new metro stations that all include masterpieces of modern architecture, the Duca di Martina ceramics museum, Castello dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) on the Naples sea, San Martino museum for its view, paintings and other masterpieces, Via Caracciolo the sea promenade of Naples, the Vesuvius volcano,

Touring fees upon request

Basic recommendations My recommendations while touring in Naples and its surroundings are only these:

1) Be sure not to wear on you any golden item (e.g. : golden rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.) or expensive watches (Rolex, Cartier, etc.)!

2) Always wear comfortable shoes as there will be a lot of walking!

3) If you have problems in walking for long time, going up steps or any other special request, please detail it while booking and I will try to find the best solution for you.

Hope to see you soon in Naples!