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Italy » Lombardy » Mantua » Jewish Mantua Tour (Jewish Tour)

Some history of the Jewish Mantua Tour
Manuela has a degree in Language Mediation and Intercultural Communication and she is a professional free-lance licensed tour guide for Mantua (It. Mantova), Ferrara, Bologna, Modena and Parma. Manuela was born and still live in the middle of the Po Valley on the border between Lombardy and Emilia Romagna Regions, exactly where lots of Jewish communities, protected by the enlightened polices of the families Gonzaga and Este, were founded and where, despite their slowly disappearance, their presence is still witnessed by synagogues, cemeteries, street and place names, monuments and food. In addition to classic tours and itineraries such as visits to city centres, palaces and food tours Manuela is used to organize and suggest tours on special subjects like, mentioning some, the Jewish presence in some Seigniories in the North of Italy, the birth of theatres in Renaissance time, Renaissance patronage, Music heritage.
Jewish Tour
Jewish Mantua Tour 

Manuela Roversi;
Mantuan Jews referred to Mantua as “Kiriah ha Alizah” “The happy City”
The first Jews settled in Mantua in 1145. Under the Gonzagas, who encouraged the activities and talents of their Jewish subjects, Mantua was a haven of relative racial and cultural tolerance and the community grew to reach 3,000 in 1610, at that time Jews constituted about 7.5 percent of the population of Mantua. In 16th and 17th century Mantua was the centre of Jewish music, theatre and one of the birthplace of Jewish printing. Jewish communities were well deep-rooted in all the province of Mantua with synagogues and cemeteries in Sabbioneta, Bozzolo, Rivarolo Mantovano, Gazzuolo, Pomponesco, Viadana, Revere and Sermide. Not to forget that Casale Monferrato (Alessandria) belonged to the dukedom of Mantua from 16th to 18Th century and the Gonzagas encourage settlements of Jewish communities there. Up to the 19th century the Jewish community of Mantua was the only one important in the region Lombardy, the community of Milan, re-founded in 19th century, depended, at the beginning, on the one of Mantua as it was founded by Jews coming from Mantua and its province.

Thanks to the guided tour in the city centre of Mantua you will learn about the Gonzagas and their relationship with the Jews and discover where the old Ghetto, built in 1612, was. Of the 12 Sinagogues of the old ghetto only one has survived, the Norsa-Torrazzo, first built in 1513 and later on rebuilt in 1902. The tour starts from Piazza Sordello where the Gonzagas’ Palace stands and goes down up to Piazza delle Erbe where the old Ghetto started and one of the Ghetto gates stood. Walking along some streets of the old ghetto you can see the old Ghetto square in Via Giustiziati, the facade of the Rabby's house built in the 17th in Via Bertani, via Scuola Grande where two synagogues were destroyed in the 20th century, Via Portoni where one of the 7 ghetto gates stood. Back to the city centre the visit goes on with the Basilica of Saint Andrews, designed by Leon Battista Alberti, where it is placed a painting of Virgin Mary together with the Jewish family Norsa. The family is painted with the colours and markings used to identify Jewish people in 16th century (the chapel with the painting is often closed). The Norsa family is here represented as the funders, as a result of a sanction, of the former Santa Maria della Vittoria church painted by Mantegna’ pupils (seasonally opened). The Norsa family also paid the alterpiece which was painted by Mantegna himself, the painting is now, following the Napoleonic suppression, at the Louvre museum in Paris. Reachable on foot or by car, the beautiful *synagogue Norsa with its clean white walls decorated with stucco and the pink-and-white stone reflects a refined humanism of the Mantuan Jews (Synagogue visit must be reserved). In Mantua it is also possible to visit the Jewish cemetery, built during the Napoleonic invasion at the beginning of the 19th century outside the city centre. At that time the old cemetery in the city centre was closed and not using it any longer went irreparably lost

* The synagogue Norsa, now national monument, is open from Monday to Friday from 9,00 to 11,00. Sundays on request. Reservation for the visit is required

** Jewish cemetery is about 1, 5 km far from the city centre. Car or taxi are needed for moving up to there. Opening times from 9,00 to 12,00 am and from 3,00 to 5,00 pm. Closed on Saturdays and Fridays afternoon

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