In Search of Jewish Rome

Click on our interactive map to see highlights of this walking tour.

Rome was already a bustling metropolis when the first Jews arrived in the second century B.C. (making the city’s Jewish population the oldest in Europe). Those who followed settled in the Trastevere neighborhood, then moved across the river in the Middle Ages to occupy a corner of what is now the Sant’Angelo district. In 1555, Pope Paul IV enclosed some 3,000 Jews into a tiny, walled ghetto within the quarter. While most of the wildly overcrowded buildings (as well as the confining walls) were demolished long ago, the ghetto remains the heart of the Jewish community in Rome, its shops and restaurants modern-day ambassadors of Jewish-Roman culture, wedged in with ancient Roman ruins and centuries-old Catholic churches. Tuesday through Thursday is the best time for this half-day walk which explores the meeting of two ancient cultures.

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