Discovering Southern Italy's Jewish Heritage

A New Destination from Our Friends at The Heart of Southern Italy

Author: The Traveling Professor/Monday, April 29, 2019/Categories: Italy

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Our friends, Tess & Elena from The Heart of Southern Italy present their brand new tour, Discovering Southern Italy's Jewish Heritage.

Here is their description:

Thanks to its geographic position, the region of Puglia (Apulia) has always represented a transit point between the rest of Europe and the Near East throughout the ages. Since Roman times, through the ports of Brindisi, Taranto, Otranto, Bari, Trani and Barletta, a lot of Jewish families have transited and even settled, forming large communities which flourished during the Middle Ages. On this guided tour, you will be taken on a journey in time, through Jewish history in Puglia and Basilicata. You will be taken on a historic walking tour of the Jewish Museum in Lecce, set inside a historical palace in which traces of Jewish past (such as a few mikvot and a mezuzah) still remain. Our local guide, an English and Hebrew-speaking historian (PhD in History of Religions, specialized in the history of Judaism in Apulia), will take you to the places that testimony the unique history of Jewish communities in the region: Trani, where Jews were living perfectly integrated into the urban fabric and daily activities of the city and had four synagogues then transformed in as many churches, and its oldest functioning synagogue in the Diaspora; Oria,the most important Apulian middle-age centre of Judaism, and its famous medieval Jewish thinkers and Nardò, with its history of hospitality of the Displaced Persons liberated from concentration camps in WWII.

And again, Castel del Monte, one of the most beautiful and mysterious castle in the world. On top of the Murgiahills and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle has a mysterious octagonal shape: Ezekiel tells us that God sent an angel to dictate the measures of the new temple in Jerusalem, it had to be measured 111 cubits. For some people Castel del Monte is not a simple castle, but a new temple of God, the God of Akhenaton, who was led out of Egypt with Moses and was the father of the three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Trip highlights include a visit to a farm, which produces wine and olive oil Kosher certified by the controls of the OU and Rabbi Hochman, local food making and tasting, seaside views of the Mediterranean and Matera’s meandering stone streets. European Capital of Culture 2019, famous for its Sassi, ancient dwellings carved into the rock, believed to be the third oldest city in the world. During the II World War, Matera was the first southern Italian city to rise up against the Nazis. In the second half of the fifteenth century is attested in Matera a Jewish community, whose members were active in the trade of grain, the production of which still characterizes the agro Matera today.

Suffice it to say, our attentive, flexible and connected tour leaders, who will take care of you in every way on a tour unlike any other, will show you into Puglia’s secrets and mysteries.

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