The Synagogue: This massive building was erected between 1901 and 1904 and designed by V. Costa and O. Armanni. The synagogue stands in the area in which the old ghetto used to be before being demolished by King Vittorio Emanuele II after Italy became united (1870). The king rebuilt the ghetto and gave full Italian citizenship and civil rights to Rome’s Jewish community. Since old examples of other similar structures were not available, an Assyrian-Babylonian style was chosen for the new synagogue. One requirement was that the Temple had to be seen from all the highest points of Rome. Today a Jewish museum is also located in the Synagogue. Let’s explore together the Jewish Ghetto, Rome!
Jewish Ghetto, Rome
Via Arenula: It’s one of the main streets in the Jewish Ghetto, Rome and it runs from Lungotevere de Cenci up to Largo Argentina. The street boasts plenty of shops, the Ministry of Justice building as well as an ancient Ara (altar) to the god Atlantis.
Largo Argentina: Actually called ‘Largo di Torre Argentina’ (Tower Argentina Square). This name was given by Johannes Burckhardt (known in Rome as ‘Bucardo’) who from 1483 on, has been the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ of five popes (Sixtus VI, Innocent VII, Alexander VI Borgia, Pius III, and Julius II). He used to sign himself as ‘Argentinus’ because he was born in Strasburg, which the Romans named in Latin Argentoranum.
When in Rome he bought some land and, demolishing old medieval houses, he erected his own palace, now known as ‘Casa del Bucardo’ (House of the Bucardo). In 1730, his building was partly used to make the ‘Teatro Argentina’ (Argentina Theatre) and a broken-off tower that stills stands and gives the name to the square. This medieval tower is known as ‘Torre del Papito’ or the little pope’s tower. During some restoration works, pieces of a huge statue were found and as the diggings progressed, a whole ancient area dating back to the Roman Republic, resurfaced, including four ancient temples.
Portico d’ Ottavia: Porticus Octaviae is located in a monumental area of ancient Rome built during the reign of Augustus. Next to it is the church of St. Angelo in Pescheria (Pescheria is a fish market). The peculiar name of the church originates from the fact the church is adjacent to Portico d’ Ottavia, where a big fish market once stood.
Ponte Fabricio in the Jewish Ghetto, Rome
Ponte Fabricio: The oldest bridge in Rome, built in 62 BC by Lucio Fabricio, at the time, superintendent of roads. It is also known as ‘Ponte dei Giudei’ (Bridge of the Jews) since it is located right next to St. Gregory’s Church where, during the papal times, catholic preaching was mandatory for the Jewish community.
Please look also at Jewish tours of the Ghetto in Rome
Jewish Ghetto, Rome Restaurants
La Taverna del Ghetto: Typical tavern in the heart of the ghetto, has a secular tradition of Roman-Jewish Kosher cuisine and wines. From €35 to €45. Booking: recommended. Phone: 06 68809771. Closed on Friday nights.
Address: Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 8
Nonna Betta: Kosher restaurant located a few steps from behind the Synagogue. From €30 to €35. Phone: 06 68806263. Closed from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
Address: Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 16
Ba Ghetto: Another Kosher restaurant in Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 57. From €25 to €35. Booking: recommended. Phone: 06 68892868. Closed on Saturday.
Ristorante Piperno: Roman Jewish foods; was founded in 1860. Located in Via Monte dè Cenci, 9. Price: not provided. Booking: recommended. Phone 06 686 1113. Closed Sunday night and all day Monday.
Boccione Pastry Shop: in the heart of the ghetto, in Via del Portico d’Ottavia 1, this is a small anonymous pastry-store but, for the Roman Jews, it’s a monument to local tradition. It’s the Kosher bread store of the community, with a very old fashioned way of making all kinds and size of pastries which go hand-in-hand with the Jewish festivities. You can also see Catholic priests and nuns lined up for some cookies… even the pope likes them!
Kosher Bistro: The first opened in Europe. Kosher baguette-shop, located in Santa Maria del Pianto, 68/69, offers a wide range of stuffed baguettes (raw meat, goose breast, raw beef, etc.) all exclusively Kosher under strict surveillance by the Rome’s Rabbi Office (Rabbanut). From €15 to €25. Booking: recommended. Phone: 06 6864398. Closed on Saturdays.
Bete’ Avon: Jewish for ‘enjoy your meal!’. Rotisserie located in Via Portico d’ Ottavia, 1/b. Here you can stop for a healthy snack based exclusively on an Kosher Roman-Jewish cuisine under the supervision of the Roman Rabbanut. Cell Phone: 349 6359521. Also open on Sundays.
Shopping: Many stores are present in the Jewish Ghetto, Rome. Mostly fashion wear and textiles. All you have to do is walk around.