Pitigliano’s synagogue is the only synagogue in the entire province of Grosseto. It doesn’t get used much any more, but in earlier centuries, it was the heart of the region’s Jewish community.
Following the Papal Bulls of 1555, the Jewish community fled Rome and the surrounding countryside, seeking haven in Tuscany. Many came to Pitigliano where they were welcomed by the local rulers, who were no friends of the pope. One of the first buildings they established after settling into the community was the Synagogue, which dates back to 1598.
The Synagogue is open to visitors as part of the Jewish Ghetto museum. You start at the large arched portal that leads to an open courtyard. Here is an epigraph that dedicates the construction of the Synagogue to Jeudà, son of Shebbetai.
On the entrance door of the Synagogue are the words:
“And do unto me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst, open unto me the gates of righteousness: this is the gate [that leads] unto the Lord”
Inside, the walls are decorated with stucco. It is clean and minimalistic with numerous commemorative epigraphs written in Hebrew. At the center is La Tevà – the pulpit from which you can read the Torah. Behind that is the Aròn – the holy wooden ark – and at the top, the matroneo.
The furnishings of the Synagogue are very old, most date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Nearby is the Jewish museum with various objects from the Synagogue and the other rooms in the Jewish ghetto, as well as clothes, photographs and stories that speak of the Jewish community in Pitigliano.
From April to October from 10am to 1pm and from 2.30pm to 6pm
From November to March from 10am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 5pm
Closed: Saturday and Jewish holidays
Visit the Jewish Ghetto and Synagogue
My sister in law wanted to visit the old Jewish Ghetto and Synagogue in Pitiagliano. It was a wonderful experience except the Synagogue was closed for the time we were there. The old quarter was clean and interesting to see, especially since it has such history and goes back to the 15th century.
Open a surprising window on Jewish life
Thriving under an open minded Duke Orsino, oppressed by the Di Medicis, emancipated in the 19th century at at its height comprising 1/4 of the Pitigliano population, the Jewish community was an integral aspect of life in this tiny town. You can see the heart of their old community centre with mikveh, bakery, butchery and synagogue. Sadly, not enough people to sustain it as a living community, but a wonderful museum and tribute.
So beautiful, emotional and uplifting to visit this area and learn about it’s Jewish heritage and history. Didn’t know anything about efforts to save Jews in Italy during WWII until I visited here. We had a local guide, who was excellent, but you could visit and understand most everything without a guide. Security checked bags before going into the synagogue. Strollers not permitted.
The 5 Euro admission to this site is well worth it! How important to capture the significance of La Piccola Gerusalemme, The synagogue captures underrated spiritual practice while the everyday life of the Tevila or ritual bath, the ovens for baking matzoh, the kosher butcher and a small window to the world of Jews in Pitigliano though the ages.
An interesting cultural tour
Besides the religious and cultural characters of this Jewish Ghetto, other historical and geographic aspects of living in underground Pitigliano are well exposed.
Tuscany at its best
Pitigliano is a picture postcard town of some four thousand villagers nestled in the mountains of Tuscany. The ancient town is located inside a wall hewn from a cliff. Alleyways are bordered with houses built long ago, bearing wooden shutters and displaying colorful flowers by their doorsteps. The townsfolk are extremely helpful and down to earth. A visit to the old Jewish ghetto and reconstructed synagogue is riveting. The mountain winds are invigorating. A day spent here is Tuscany at its best.
Small town, Big History
Until WW2, Pitigliano had a thriving Jewish Community dating back to the 16th century. Sadly it no longer exists, but the Synagoge, and other rooms have been restored. The building is a museum and one can do a self guided tour. However, in retrospect, I regret that we did not arrange a private tour because I think we were not able to fully appreciate the history of Jewish life. The Synagoge is closed on Saturdays.
A must in Toscana
this is a really important historical sight in Toscana. learning about the Jewish community, the rapport between the community and the local people is eye-opening. there is one Jewish women currently living in Pitigliano and she is very happy to tell her story of survival during the war. Anna Servi, 85 years old .We attended a screening of a movie in the Jewish center about the story of the city. the hall was packed with local residents, all non Jews, who feel connected to the story of the Jews.
A Synagogue is the place of worship sacred to the Jewish religion, the name derives from the word ebraicbet knesset, which means house of the assembly. The first Synagogue was probably created between 597 and 537 BC. After the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon, the first assembly was born and counted 120 prophets, scholars and scribes. The assembly of Babylon established the language rules for prayers in Hebrew and Rabbi Jochaban Ben Zakkai set out to create common places of worship for all Jews, with the aim of preserving their religious identity following persecution. The Synagogue represented a real innovation for that historical period, it was in fact the first building that allowed the faithful to attend the rites and the same principle was later adopted in Mosques and in Christian Churches. Synagogues became not only a place of prayer but also of study and teaching. Jewish people were forbidden to live in a city that did not have a synagogue.
Most of Synagogues have three naves and all are built in such a way that the faithful can turn to Jerusalem during prayer. The ark that contains the Holy Scriptures (Torah) is located in the wall facing Jerusalem, opposite is the pulpit, placed on a raised platform, above the ark (Aròn) there is a light that remains lit. It is considered to be an eternal lamp, in memory of the Menorah in the Temple of Jerusalem.