Rome’s Jewish Ghetto is an often overlooked treasure of Rome. This neighborhood is rich in archaeological and cultural heritage, delicious traditional Roman cuisine and religious history that dates back many centuries.
Rome’s Jewish community is probably the oldest in the world outside of the Middle East, dating back to around 161 BC. The community has endured from classical times on up to the present and still has a vibrant community of about 15,000 people.
The history has gone through continual ups and downs including the difficult period during the second world war.
No one knows the Jewish Ghetto better than Micaela Pavoncello. Listen to my fascinating chat with Micaela as she recounts some of the amazing stories about her Jewish Ghetto neighborhood.
When in Rome: the Jewish Ghetto with Micaela
If you make a trip to Rome be sure to schedule a tour of the Jewish Ghetto with Micaela Pavoncello. Her Jewish Roma website has lots of tour options to choose from but you'll probably want to start with the Ghetto and Jewish Museum Tour.
Micaela knows her history inside and out plus she shares her personal insights and stories that are hers alone and absolutely fascinating.
She's always strolling around the neighborhood and knows all the locals, many who have lived in the Ghetto for a lifetime. On her tour Micaela might introduce you to Emanuele a charming multilingual 92-year-old Jewish man who as a 12-year-old boy just barely avoided deportation during the second world war. He was saved by a tram driver during the October 16, 1943 round-up and mass deportation of Roman Jews. The driver kept him hidden on his tram for almost 3 days until Emanuele was reunited with his father. His mother was deported and sent to Auschwitz where she was gassed.
Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones)
As you walk through the Ghetto, and many other areas in Rome, you’ll find names of the deportees engraved in Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stones). These are sampietrini stones covered with a brass plate and the name of the Jew who was deported, the date of deportation and concentration camp where he or she was taken. Stolpersteine are always placed on the pavement just outside the home of the Jew who was deported.
Micaela will point these out to you on the tour and she'll also share her own story of her 10 year endeavor to get her Grandmother’s Stolpersteine placed outside her home.
Other Jewish Rome Tours
Micaela offers many tours including a tour of the Ostia Antica Synagogue, the Jewish Catacombs, and the Jewish Vatican.
If you aren’t traveling to Rome you can still participate virtually in the Jewish Ghetto through Micaela’s Zoom Virtual Tour.
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