Though Jews first came to Rome from Jerusalem in 161 BCE, many people are not aware of their enduring history in Italy. They arrived during Chanukah, asking the Romans for protection from the Syrian king Antiochus, and have been an integral part of Roman society ever since. They are neither Ashkenazim nor Sephardim; in fact they are as Roman as all others who live here.
Their role in the city and culture is huge, and through the centuries they have contributed to Roman society with unique art, architecture, literature, religion, and food. In order to experience the rich Jewish culture and history, and depending on your interests, we offer a number of different walking tours. All are child-friendly, three hours long, and the meeting points are generally near the sites we'll visit.
Tours through Jewish Rome have been in existence since 2002, and the guides still have the same passion, if not more, for this sometimes forgotten aspect of Italian life.They offer more than a simple walk through the city; we in fact open the doors into the customs of the Roman Jews who are, as an anonymous source described them, "orthodox in structure, conservative in philosophy, reform in behavior and Catholic in religion." One example of an exciting tour follows; all of them are equally fascinating and will take you through areas you might otherwise miss on your visit.
The Jewish Ghetto Tour includes a visit to the Jewish Museum, the Main Synagogue and the Ghetto area itself and will enhance your understanding of Rome as a complex, integrated place. During your journey through the narrow and lively streets of the Ghetto you will discover 22 centuries of struggle and joy, culture and misery, anecdotes and legends. You will meet local people, and get insightful, first-person perspectives on the history of the Ghetto and Roman Jewish life.
The tour starts at the Jewish Museum, opened in 2005, where you will view an extensive collection of Torah covers, sacred texts, and other liturgical objects collected from the 16 through the 20th centuries. From there you will visit the Spanish Synagogue, a hidden gem, filled with original furniture of the Sixteenth century. You will then tour the grand Main Synagogue, a striking architectural edifice on Lungotevere Cenci. The Main Synagogue was built in 1904, sixteen years after the demolition of the Ghetto walls, in the Assyrian-Babylonian style.
No visit to Rome is quite complete without a glimpse into how the Jews have flourished in this city through the centuries. The tour will give you insight and understanding into what Roman Jews have been doing in Rome for 22 centuries and how this vital community has survived, with their faith and tradition intact, the Barbarians, the Inquisition, 330 years of segregation in a Ghetto, forced baptisms, and the Shoah. It will change your perspective, and enhance your trip to Rome in ways you cannot anticipate, as you walk through the streets and places of worship of the Roman Jews.
Of course for the best tour it is essential to have a great guide, and our Roman Jewish Tours are offered by the owner of the company ( Jewish Roma Walking Tours ) , Micaela. She is a native of Rome, from a notable Jewish Roman family (ask her about being a salumiera) and is a formally trained Art Historian. Micaela will delight you with a lively, enjoyable, and educational tour; and make you feel at home in the Ghetto.
A Jewish restaurant in Rome's ghetto
All of Micaela's tours can be private or semi- private, with a maximum number for each tour calculated to offer you the best experience. The Ghetto tour is maximum 15 people, the Vatican tour maximum 10 people, the Ancient Jewish Rome tour is maximum 6 people, and the Jewish Catacombs maximum 15 people. The costs change depending on the number of participants - let us know when you plan to visit us and we can let you know how many people have booked for those dates.
Your visit to Rome won't be complete without Micaela's tours.
This tour is a must see by Jewish and non Jewish. Micaela makes history come to to life. I personally really enjoyed and I am not even Jewish. -Paolo
For more information about Micaela and the tours, check out Ghetto Tours in Rome
Please read our article on The Jewish Ghetto in Rome