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Journey into Little Jerusalem in Pitigliano

From the synagogue to the ghetto, there are plenty of monuments that remind us of the city’s Jewish heritage

The link between Pitigliano and its Jewish culture is extremely old: the first community to find refuge in this tufa-carved town dates back to the end of the 15th century. This is when the synagogue was built (1598). Unfortunately, the original structure was partly destroyed during the Second World War, but was later expertly restored and can be visited today (except on Saturdays and Jewish holidays).

On the walls, decorated with stuccos and decorations, are numerous commemorative inscriptions in Hebrew. The Tevà is at its centre, while, in the background, you can see the holy ark in wood, the Aròn. On the upper level, behind a richly inlaid balustrade, are the benches of the women's gallery. The upper part of the synagogue is reserved for women.

The Jewish population has always been perfectly integrated in Pitigliano, so much so that the town is nicknamed "Little Jerusalem".

The synagogue in Pitigliano
The synagogue in Pitigliano
The ghetto in Pitigliano
The ghetto in Pitigliano

Signs of this long cohabitation can be found in the Jewish ghetto. It’s an evocative journey into the historic centre of Pitigliano, through rooms carved from tufa rock, testimonies of the life of the Jewish community. They include the Azzime Bakery, where sweets and unleavened bread were prepared, and the Milkve Bath, which sits under the synagogue and was a special tufa-rock tub, where the young took ritual baths, an act of purification in the Jewish culture. There’s alsothe cellar, where the kosher wine was kept and the Kascher Butcher, entirely dug underground in the tufa rock and where meat was once slaughtered according to Jewish tradition.

The Museum of Jewish Culture was created to better preserve this ancient heritage and includes stories and objects from the community. It is the starting point for visits to the Synagogue and the entire museum complex.

While few Jews live in Pitigliano today, a strong bond remains between them and the city, exemplified in everything from the restoration and conservation of its Jewish monuments to the decision to make kosher wine at Pitigliano’s Cooperative Cellar to the foundation of the "La Piccola Gerusalemme" Association, which promotes initiatives for the enhancement of Pitigliano’s Jewish history.


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