The Jewish Ghetto of Rome is an area that I love. It’s well preserved, beautiful, tranquil and not overrun with tourists. Like nearly everywhere else in Rome, the Ghetto is full of its own rich history and charm.
Very briefly, the history is: Jewish people lived freely and finely in Rome until 1555 when a mean Pope (Paul IV) segregated them into their own walled quarter of the city and limited their personal freedoms.
They had to deal with awful rules, including a strict curfew and living in cramped conditions packed behind a wall, for three centuries.
The walls of the ghetto were torn down in 1848 and 20 years later, the Jewish people were given back their full rights as citizens.
After Italy unified in 1870, the government offered the Jews a nice piece of land on which to build a new synagogue. No thanks, they said.
Instead, they chose to rebuild it in the ghetto, where they had lived for centuries. Not rewriting history, but reclaiming it.
The beautiful new synagogue, built in 1904 is called the Synagogue of Emancipation.
Today, the Jewish Ghetto is a charming area full of shops, cafés and restaurants. It’s also the best place in Rome to get delicious carciofi alla giudia, which is a Jewish-Roman dish of crisp-fried and salted artichokes.
Some Ancient Ruins in the Jewish Ghetto
Graffiti in the Ghetto
Street view of the Ghetto