Focused on Jewish Florence, the tour traces the presence of the Jewish community from its beginnings to today
Not the first thing that pops to mind when thinking of Florence, Jewish presence in the Tuscan capital nonetheless extends back 9 centuries, in what is one of the most enduring Jewish populations in Europe.
This 3-hour private walking tour in Florence sets out on an exploration extending from one side of the historic center of the city to the other. Focused on Jewish Florence, the tour traces the presence of the Jewish community from its beginnings to today, ending at the breath-taking present-day Great Synagogue, historically built in the 19th century.
Along the way, some of the major highlights of Jewish Florence will be seen. Guests will discover the community’s ties to the Medici family, their strife with the Republican government and Savonarola, their relationship to the Grand Dukes and ultimate emancipation in the 1860s.
Stops will include Piazza della Signoria, the façade of the Orsanmichele church, Piazza della Repubblica where the Florence Ghetto stood for near-on 3 centuries, and Piazza Duomo where the Gates of Paradise depicting Tanakh stories can be seen on the Baptistry in front of the city’s iconic Cathedral. Guests will then be led along Via delle Oche, where 2 small synagogues once stood, before concluding with a visit to the Great Synagogue and museum.
Predominantly forced to live in Florence’s Ghetto, the Jewish population grew to around 1000 people by the 1700s. Emancipation and the Ghetto’s destruction came in exchange for full citizenship being awarded in the subsequent century.
The Jewish population tripled during the Holocaust, however the peaceful life in Florence ended upon fascists rounding up Jewish people to be sent to Auschwitz. Many families were hidden and survived, albeit in greatly reduced numbers.
Nonetheless, the Great Synagogue was damaged and looted by the Germans. It was also subject to damage during flooding in the 1960s, with a line being clearing visible showing the height to which the waters rose within.
Today, there is also a Jewish museum, two synagogues, a Jewish school, eateries, and an ancient Jewish cemetery.
Please Note: The synagogue is always closed on Saturdays and may have limited viewing possibility on Fridays.
WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE
- Discover a niche history of Florence, focused on a small yet powerful population.
- Traverse the city with a private guide, discovering the presence of the Jewish population and their impact on Florence as a whole throughout the ages.
- Visit the Great Synagogue and museum, hearing about the fascinating history of its construction, destruction and present-day grandeur.
- Find out about the Ghetto where the Jewish people were forced to live and how the local population came to their defense in times of trouble.