Slow traveling means taking the time to find the hidden gems a city has to offer. We found Rome to be a busy place, with lots of hustle and bustle.
But if you really look, you can find plenty of neighborhoods to relax and enjoy the culture around you.
The Jewish Ghetto or Jewish Quarter in Rome is one of those treasures. Hidden in a small area of Rome, it’s the oldest Jewish community in all of Europe.
Its history is one of persecution, segregation, and terror, but those days are long gone. Today it’s a vibrant neighborhood, full of life and some of the most expensive real estate in Rome.
WHERE IS IT?
It’s about an 18-20 minute walk from the Historic Centre of Rome in a four-block area located between the Tiber River, Turtle Fountain, the Theater of Marcellus and the Palazzo Cenzi.
EAT, EAT, EAT
All good trips start with food, so the first thing to do is enjoy a Kosher meal. Or maybe even a kosher cake.
If the weather is good, sit outside so you can people watch and soak up the culture. I don’t know about you but Mike and I could watch people for hours. It’s one of our favorite past times.
Maybe that’s why we slow travel, so we can fit our people watching times into our itinerary.
TRY THE ARTICHOKES
And when in Rome, do as the Romans and try the Cariciofo alla giddily . They are everywhere.
Cariciofo alla giddily is the crispy artichokes that are a specialty of the Roman Jewish cuisine. It was originally prepared to celebrate the end of the Yom Kippur fast.
Regrettably, and I mean regrettably, we did not try any. That’s one of those ‘head slap’ moments because who doesn’t like anything that is FRIED!
WALKING THE STREETS
Strolling the streets is an absolute must. Use the Rick Steves App, and take a self-guided tour of the area first. He gives you a great in-depth view of the history and architecture of this little neighborhood and it’s downloaded right to your smartphone.
THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE OF ROME AND JEWISH MUSEUM
If possible visit The Great Synagogue, the largest in Rome. The Synagogue was built in 1904 in memory of the Jewish Ghetto, a time when Jews were forced to live in wet, squalid conditions for over three centuries. The walled off area was plagued by flooding and poverty and was finally torn down in the late 1800s.
Today the eclectic building houses two beautiful Temples and the Jewish Museum. Admission is limited, either by reservation made ahead or on the day of your visit.
VIEW THE ASTOUNDING ARCHITECTURE
As you walk through this little area you will feel like you stumbled upon a hidden city. There is everything from Archaeological remains to Roman ruins, medieval buildings and everything in between:
- Teatro di Marcello
- Portico d’Ottavia
- Fontana delle Tartarughe
- Brass Stumbling Stones -Memorializing Holocaust Victims (outside 23 Via Sant’Ambrosio and #2 Via Della Reginella)
This area is so steeped in history, I would definitely take the time to learn about it before you visit. It wasn’t always an upbeat and vibrant neighborhood, it has an ugly past for the Jews that lived here 500 years ago and then again during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s.
So whether you hire a guide, take a guided tour, or just read up online make sure you ‘know before you go’.
I do hope you get a chance to visit this hidden gem while in Rome. If you have already been, make sure to let us know below if we missed anything!
Happy Trails 👣,