CLOSE-UP OF THE JEWISH FLORENCE: THE SYNAGOGUE AND THE JEWS IN FLORENCE OVER THE CENTURIES
The city of Florence, a flourishing economical centre since the Middle Ages, has always had a large Jewish community. Cosimo the Elder was the first to favor the presence of Jews in Florence in 1437, calling them explicitly to handle pawn shops and small loans. Florence was the centre of the international banking system, it had minted the strongest currency of Europe (the golden florin, in pure gold) and needed a strong commercial and financial background in order to guarantee monetary liquidity. But the relation between Florence and the Jews was not only of economic nature. It was cultural as well.
FLORENCE AND THE JEWS
Florence in the Renaissance period was amongst the most open-minded societies. Since it was an international hub, you could find a true melting-pot, with immigrants coming from every part of Europe. Cosimo the Elder protected greek and jewish scholars because he was eager to recover the most ancient tradition of philosophy and religion, and he recognized the indubitable value of these pre-christian cultures. Unfortunately, the wind changed with the new political order. Actually, another Medici, Cosimo I, in 1570 opted the first ghetto of Florence. All was destroyed during Florence’s period as Italy’s capital city, but we can virtually reconstruct it thanks to documents and maps found in the Jewish Museum of the Florence Synagogue.
THE SYNAGOGUE OF FLORENCE
The Florentine Synagogue is one of the most beautiful ever built. Erected thanks to a bequest of a devoted Jewish man (David Levi) in 1881, it shows an eclectic moorish style, unique in its genre. It’s located in a very attractive 18th century district where the temple is the heart of a little Jewish neighborhood where you can also find the only kosher restaurant in Florence. The last will of the donor was to create a temple worthy of the beauty of Florence, which must be very recognizable. This is the reason of the choice of the majestic green copper dome, third in size after the Cathedral’s dome and the Medici Chapels’ one.
With our Jewish Florence tour we will visit the temple and the museum’s upper floors.
How long? 2 hours
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