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Following a highly successful tour of Jewish Italy in 2017, Shalom is pleased to announce that the tour will be repeated from 8 – 23 October 2018. Focusing on the history of the Jews in Italy, the tour will be led by Paul Forgasz, who lectured for many years in Jewish history at Monash University’s Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation. For the past several years he has led Jewish study tours to various European destinations.

What is special about this tour?

As with any tour, you will visit various towns, cities, and sites of both Jewish and general historical interest.  Local guides will be on hand to explain the features of these sites. However, under Paul’s expert guidance, you will actively engage and interact with these places through the reading and analysis of texts, group discussions and simulations. You will thus step back into history, as you explore the amazing story of Italy’s Jews. You will re-live significant historical moments and experience the gamut of the Jewish historical experience in Italy: the earliest presence of Jews in Roman times, the highs and lows of the medieval Jewish experience, and Italian Jewry’s encounter with modern world.

To register your interest, email Paul Forgasz.

Tour operator

The local travel agent is FBI Travel. At the Italian end, all land arrangements will be handled by Jewish Italy, an Italian-based tour operator specialising in Jewish travel in Italy.

Italian land package

The cost of the tour is still to be confirmed. However, by way of general indication, the cost of the 2017 tour was 5880€uros per person (twin share), based on a minimum number of 15 participants. The cost of a single supplement was 1350€uros.

The following are included in the land package:

  • Four star hotel accommodation (15 nights) and buffet breakfasts
  • 4 evening meals and 2 lunches
  • Full time bilingual tour manager/escort and experienced English speaking local guides
  • Entrance fees to sites and deluxe motor coach travel as per itinerary
  • Tips for guides and bus drivers
  • Study sessions with Paul Forgasz as per the itinerary and study materials

Not included in the price:

  • Airfare and airport taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Hotel transfers to and from the airport
  • Tips for hotel staff (at your discretion) and bus driver
  • Hotel porterage
  • Hotel extras such as mini bar, room service
  • Meals other than breakfast and meals designated above

What happens next?

Upon confirmation of the final tour price, you will receive an updated version of this information brochure, including a link to the online registration page.

At the time of registration you will be required to make a deposit of $2000 per person in order to secure your place on the tour.

To register your interest, email Paul Forgasz.

Hotel information

Please note that the following hotels may be subject to revision, particularly in view of the fact that demand in some of the cities in our itinerary are at a premium and reservations cannot be locked in until such time it is decided that the tour will definitely proceed.

Venice: Splendid Hotel http://www.starhotels.com/en/our-hotels/splendid-venice-venice/

Padua: to be advised

Bologna: I Portici Hotel http://www.iporticihotel.com/en

Florence: Hotel Pierre http://www.hotel-pierre-florence.com

Rome: Hotel Forty Seven https://www.fortysevenhotel.com/

Tour itinerary 

Day 1 – Monday 8 October: Venice

Check into Venice hotel. Welcvome dinner in the evening.

Day 2 – Tuesday 9 October: Venice

In this morning’s study session, will be devoted to biographical portraits of some Italian Jewish figures who made significant contributions to Jewish religious thought and were closely connected to a number of the places that are included in our itinerary. The focus of our afternoon tour will be on Jewish Venice: the medieval ghetto and its beautiful synagogues, as well as the Jewish Museum. The day’s program will end with an evening canal ride. Overnight in Venice.

Day 3 – Wednesday 10 October: Venice

The day will commence with a study session in which an historical overview of the Jews in Italy will be presented. This will be followed by a guided walking tour which will include the must-see Venice sites: St Mark’s Square, the Basilica of San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Doge’s Palace. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be at your lesiure. Overnight in Venice.

Day 4 – Thursday 11 October: Venice-Padua

This morning we depart for nearby Padua, for centuries one of the most important centres of Jewish life in Italy, where we will visit the city’s beautiful baroque synagogue and old Jewish ghetto, as well as the world renowned Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. In the late afternoon, the study session will continue with the previous day’s historical overview. Overnight in Padua.

Day 5 – Friday 12 October: Venice-Ferrara-Bologna

Departing from Padua, we head to Ferrara, where we will visit the city’s 15th century synagogue as well as the area of the old ghetto. Once home to some 2,000 Jews and ten synagogues, it became one of the most flourishing and important Jewish centres in Italy. The Italian Jewish writer, Giorgio Bassani was from Ferrara. He is the author of the celebrated book, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which is based on the family of the same name who also lived in Ferrara, but met a tragic end during the Holocaust. We will continue to Bologna, where we will gather to celebrate Shabbat.

Day 6 – Saturday 13 October: Bologna

Given that Italy has for centuries been the home of the Vatican, the situation of the Jews in Italy was more intimately and directly connected with the Papacy than elsewhere in Europe. This morning’s study session will therefore focus on the topic of the Popes and the Jews. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure. Overnight in Bologna.

Day 7 – Sunday 14 October: Bologna

Today’s tour of the city will encompass both its general and Jewish sites, including the synagogue, museum and historic centre. In the 15th–16th centuries the Bologna community included many rabbis and noted scholars and there were 11 synagogues in the city during this period. After the advent of Guttenberg’s press, Bologna became an important  centre of Hebrew printing.

In the late afternoon, we will gather for a viewing of Vittorio de Sica’s 1970 film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, followed by a discussion over tea, coffee and assorted refreshments. Overnight in Bologna.

Day 8 – Monday 15 October: Bologna-Florence.

This morning we depart for Florence where we will meet Dr Lisa Kaborycha, a scholar of the Italian Renissance, who will pesent a fascinating  lecture on the role of Florence as the birthplace and cradle of the Reniassance, paying particular attention to the Jews in the Renaissance. Afternoon at your leisure and overnight in Florence.

Day 9 – Tuesday 16 October: Florence

This morning we visit Florence’s green-domed Great Synagogue and the Jewish Museum. There will also be a guided tour of the Academy Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. The afternoon will be free for you to expore the city at your leisure. Overnight in Florence.

Day 10 – Wednesday 17 October: Florence-Siena-Florence

The day will commence with a guided tour of Florence’s historic centre and the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous art museums in the world. We will then depart for the Tuscan countryside, where we will enjoy a sumptuous lunch in the renowned hill-top restaurant, Osteria 1126. Following lunch, we will continue to Siena – home to a once substantial where we will visit the synagogue and historic centre. Overnight in Florence.

Day 11 – Thursday 18 October: Florence-Pisa-Lucca-Florence

On this second of our day trips, we will visit Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower. Pisa may be the first city in the Tuscan region in which Jews settled as early as the 9th century. It is also one of two cities in Tuscany that never had a ghetto. The presence of a once large Jewish community is evidenced by some beautiful landmarks in the city, such as the synagogue and the remarkable Jewish cemetery, both of which we will visit. On the way back to Florence we will stop in the beautiful city of Lucca, known for the well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling its historic city centre. Overnight in Florence.

Day 12 – Friday 19 October: Florence-Pitigliano-Rome

Today we depart for Rome, stopping along the way in the beatiful village of Pitigliano. It came to be known as La Piccola Gerusalemme or “Little Jerusalem”, because of its once-thriving Jewish population which settled there in the 16th century. We will visit the restored synagogue, mikveh and kosher butchery. Tonight we gather to celebrate Shabbat in Rome. Overnight in Rome.

Day 13 – Saturday 20 October: Rome

This morning, in our final study session, we will continue our previous discussion of the Popes and the Jews. In this session we will focus on the difficult issue of the Catholic Church and the Shoah and on the remarkable post-Holocaust transformation of Jewish-Catholic relations. The rest of the day you will be free to explore the city at your leisure. Overnight in Rome.

Day 14 – Sunday 21 October: Rome

The day will commence with a guided visit to Rome’s great Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, the ghetto area and Tiberina Island, which has been connected with bridges to both sides of the Tiber River since antiquity. In the afternoon we will take a tour of the ancient area of the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. Overnight in Rome.

Day 15 – Monday 22 October: Rome

In this final day of touring, in the morning we will visit Rome’s historic center and see various sites including the Spansih Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. The day will end with a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basiilica. In the evening we will come together for a farewell dinner. Overnight in Rome.

Day 16 – Tuesday 23 October: Rome

Hotel checkout.

To register your interest, email Paul Forgasz.