Two new Jewish Museums open in Italy

18 Jul 2016

It has been a fruitful couple of months for Jewish heritage preservation and museums in Italy. After the announcement of €25 million allocated for the completion of Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah (MEIS), another two, albeit smaller, Jewish Museums have opened - one in Lecce, and another in Fondi.

Outline of the Palazzo Taurino.

The permanent exhibition of the Palazzo Taurino - Jewish Museum of Lecce is titled Sotto il Barocco: Meeting the people in medieval Lecce and was curated by Fabrizio Lelli, an associate professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Salento (in Lecce). As the title suggests, focus has been placed on the Jewish presence in the city from 9th to the 15th century.

In these evocative underground areas you will be taking a trip in time, going back to a time when the town was truly multicultural, multi-faith, and multilingual. Your journey will be multi-sensorial taking in the smells, the sounds and the visual images of the past.

The initiators of the project converted the cellars of the building, called Palazzo Personé, into the cultural centre "PALAZZO TAURINO - Medieval Jewish Lecce". Housed in the cellar of what is today a Bed and Breakfast, the permanent exhibition features remnants of Medieval Jewish life, including artefacts such as mezuzot, columns of the former synagogue, a number of Hebrew inscriptions, and a mikveh.

The permanent exhibition of Palazzo Taurino will also be accompanied by a number of temporary exhibitions, workshops and guided tours. For more information, please check

The Jewish Medieval Museum of Fondi opened in mid-July, on the presumed former location of the medieval synagogue and the Jewish quarter.

The museum's objective is, according to it's website,

to bring back to memory and highlight the long presence of the Jewish community in the city, which probably settled in the area in late antiquity and lasted until the middle of 1500s.

The permanent collection is housed in five rooms, each having a specific focus, from general Jewish history and culture to introducing the history and artefacts of the Jewish community of Fondi, places of worship, the art of weaving and dyeing techniques, and finally, the financial business sector of medieval Jewish Fondi.

For more information, and, in case the road takes you from Rome to Naples via Fondi, to download the audio guides, check out the museum's homepage.

JEU aims at providing a platform for a pan-European exchange on Jewish life, thought and culture that extends beyond national and linguistic barriers.

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