Jewish Florence


Benjamin of Tudela recorded finding a Jewish community in Florence when he visited in 1159. The history of the Jews in Florence really begins with Italian Jews from the south emigrating to Florence and the Tuscan region by the beginning of the 14th century.
In 1430’s the Medici family officially invited Jews to the city to act as moneylenders. At that time, Jews lived opposite the city center, across the river Arno which divides the city and the life of the Community was relatively stable under the Medici family.
Lorenzo il Magnifico defended the Jews from expulsion and from the violent sermons given by Bernardino da Feltre.
Italy’s persecution of Jews increased by 1545 at the height of the Catholic Reformation when the Council of Trent exiled Protestants as well as Jews. In 1555, Pope Paul IV ordered all Jews to be segregated in ghettos.In 1570, Cosimo I de’Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, created ghettos in Florence and Siena. Jewsih religious, social and cultural life continued to flourish inside the ghetto and two Synagogues were built.
In 1593, Ferdinando I de’Medici , Cosimo’s successor, enticed Portuguese Marrano Jews with protection from the Inquisition and economic incentives.
The restrictive conditions were somewhat relaxed after 1737, when the House of Lorraine came to power. After an interruption during the years of French rule, the gates were definitively dismantled in 1848 and Jewish emancipation was recognized by the Parliament of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
In the late 19th century, an urban requalification plan led to the demolition of the original buildings, and the construction of the blocks which still exist today.


This tour begins at the Moorish-style Synagogue. The interior is inspiring with wood and bronze carvings, marble floors, mosaics and long stained glass windows. The Nazis used the Temple as a garage for military vehicles during WWII. Annexed to the Synagogue there is a small but meticulously arranged Jewish museum with its ritual objects dating back to the 17th Century, silver ornaments, embroideries and ancient marriage contracts.

Visitors will not, then, be able to see particular buildings or vestiges of the ghetto, but simply identify the area on which it once stood. One inscription on the entrance door to the bathhouse read, “The Jews were separated from the union with Christians but not turned out.” 


Ask me how to:

Find the best accomodation (hotel/apartament/B&B)
Book for Shabbat
Eat Kosher
Visit the present Synagogue
Have a Kosher wine and food tasting

Explore Florence and its sorroundings with us:
Classic Florence walking tour
Uffizi Gallery Tour
Cathedral of Florence (Duomo complex)
Livorno (kosher eat&sleep)


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