Rome's Jewish ghetto

The old Jewish neighborhood of Rome

With all the focus on Rome's role as the capital of Christendom, many folks forget that Rome is also home to one of the oldest Jewish populations in the world outside of Israel or Egypt.

The Jewish Ghetto of Rome

The kernal of the Jewish community in Rome dates back to the age of the Roman Empire, when Jews emigrated to Rome to settle. To this day, Rome has a thriving Jewish population, with the focus still centered on the medieval Jewish Ghetto neighborhood, a tangle of quiet streets directly north of Tiber Island, east of Campo de' Fiori, west of the Forum, and across the Tiber River from Trastevere. (Bounded by the Tevere to the south, Via Florida to the north, Via Arenula to the west, and Via del Teatro di Marcello to the east.)

The neighborhood retains Rome's main synagogue (an early 20th century Art Nouveau building on Lungotevere Cenci, with services daily; tel. +39-06-6840-0651; no cameras or cellphones with cameras allowed) and a Jewish cultural center (, along with some excellent restaurants (Da Giggetto, Sora Margherita) specializing in Roman Jewish dishes (like carficofi alla giudia) plus several bakeries (bagels, anyone?). Anotehr useful link:

(For the record, "ghetto" derives from Venetian dialect—Venice was the first city to make the chilling decision to force all Jews to live in one part of town, creating the world's first ghetto. At any rate, Italy's Jewish neighborhoods are still referred to as "ghetto," a word that—despite the dispicable heritage of segegration, which started in Rome in 1555 under Pope Paolo IV and lasted until Italian Unification in 1870—doesn't carry quite the same negative connotation as it does in American English.)

Exploring Jewish Rome

If you are osbervant, I have separate pages on kosher dining in Rome and kosher lodgings in Rome.

For the observant and mildly curious alike interested in getting a better sense of Rome's venerable Jewish history, try one of these tours:

Tours of Jewish Rome

Tips & links

More Rome tours
How long does Rome take?

Planning your day: Rome wasn't built in a day, and you'd be hard-pressed to see it in that brief a time as well. Still, you can cram a lot into just a day or three.

To help you get the most out of your limited time in the Eternal City, here are some perfect itineraries, whether you have one, two, three, or four days to spend in Rome.

» Rome itineraries

Rome tours

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Rome's Jewish Ghetto
Bounded by the Tevere to the south, Via Florida to the north, Via Arenula to the west, and Via del Teatro di Marcello to the east.

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