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Tour in the Jewish Ghetto

Tour in the Jewish Ghetto
Tour in the Jewish Ghetto
between history and film sets
Tour in the Jewish Ghetto
Tour in the Jewish Ghetto

Always well defined in an area in the heart of the capital, the Jewish community of Rome has ancient origins and has been present for over two thousand years with its own identity and historical memory. The Ghetto is one of the most beautiful hidden treasures of the whole city: visiting this small neighborhood, one part delimited by the Tiber and the other from Piazza Venezia, is synonymous with an experience not only historical, cultural and religious, but also urban planning . His strong cinematographic vocation has also made him the setting for many Italian comedies.

Considered the oldest in the Western world, the Ghetto of Rome was built by order of Pope Paul IV in 1555 which revoked all the rights granted to Roman Jews and originally endowed it with only two entrances to enter and exit. Life for the Jews was very hard and was subject to a series of obligations and prohibitions: the obligation to reside within the ghetto and to always carry with it a distinctive sign of belonging to the Jewish community, prohibition to exercise all types of exception of rags and clothes and owning real estate. In these prohibitions, the Jewish community saw an opportunity and for this reason many of its members became cunning clothing merchants and skilled businessmen in the field of loans.

On October 16, 1943, the Nazis surrounded the neighborhood and captured over 1,000 Jews by forcibly taking them from their homes; after two days the prisoners were loaded onto the carriages of a train bound for Auschwitz and sadly of the 1,023 deportees only 16 survived. It was only in 1849, following the proclamation of the Italian Republic, that segregation was abolished. In 1870 the Jews were equated with Italian citizens and over the years the old streets and old buildings were demolished to give way to three new streets: Via del Portico d'Ottavia, via Catalana and via del Tempio.

One of the most popular tourist destinations of the Ghetto of Rome is represented by the Synagogue: the Tempio Maggiore has a large two-storey building with a square base surmounted by a large dome. A place of prayer and a very important cultural reference point for the Jewish community, the Synagogue houses in its basement the Jewish Museum and the Spanish Temple. It was designed and finished in 1904 by architects Osvaldo Armanni and Vincenzo Costa, inspired by Assyrian-Babylonian motifs. As planned, the Temple is visible from every vantage point in the city.

Another symbol is the Portico d'Ottavia: an ancient monumental passage dedicated by Emperor Augustus to his sister Octavia and transformed under Septimius Severus and Caracalla, with the replacement of the columns with a large arcade, where the church was built which became, in medieval times, Sant'Angelo in Pescheria. It dates back to the 2nd century BC and is one of the most interesting monuments in this area. On the ruins of the Portico, during the Middle Ages, a large fish market and a church were built. It is precisely the Portico d'Ottavia that acts as a movie set for many well-known films of the great Italian comedy. In particular, some scenes of An American in Rome, of 1954, are set here: the story of the crazy Nando Mericoni winds its way between Portico d'Ottavia and Teatro Marcello. Here was also set one of the most famous films of Neorealism: Guardie e Ladri (1951) by Steno and Mario Monicelli, in which Totò plays a crook who tries to escape Aldo Fabrizi, a guard.

A small jewel hidden in the Ghetto is the fountain of the turtles: built towards the end of the 16th century for a challenge, it is said that Duke Mattei ordered to erect this splendid fountain in one day, making it build in front of the windows of his father. loved to prove that you are an important man. The turtles were erected in 1658 by Bernini. It is precisely here that Palazzo Costaguti rises, Pasolini's first Roman residence and used several times as a location for both the external and internal spaces of the building. It was used by Carlo Verdone in Troppo Forte (1986) as the home of the fake lawyer Giangiacomo Pigna, played by Alberto Sordi.

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