Hidden treasures

Pitigliano, the little Jerusalem

Historical Curiosities
Pitigliano_piccola_Gerusalemme

Pitigliano, the little Jerusalem

Pitigliano is a delightful village in the Maremma area of Tuscany, perched on a block of tufa that is seamlessly replicated in the peculiar village’s buildings resting on it. The ancient stones of the narrow alleys and houses have witnessed vicissitudes that are lost in the ancient origins of this town. Surely the peaceful coexistence between Christians and Jews is one of the most beautiful events in the history of Pitigliano. The name that still distinguishes this pleasurable village can be attributed to this coexistence: 'the little Jerusalem'.

You just have to wander round the village to see the signs of the Jewish presence, evidenced by such buildings as the Synagogue - rebuilt in 1995 after the one erected in 1598 had collapsed - the premises where once was the kosher butchery and the bakery where matzo used to be baked. But there is more to it! Just think that kosher wine is still produced in a local wine cellar!

The relationship between Jews and Pitigliano, however, has very ancient roots. It seems that the small Tuscan village first welcomed Jews in the 15th century, even if the community’s size increased considerably following the restrictions resulting from the Pope edicts of 1555 and 1569 and the decrees of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1570 and 1571. Since Pitigliano was one of the few places untouched by such measures, from this moment on the chapter of the beautiful coexistence between Jews and Christians as two perfectly integrated communities came into being.

This is demonstrated by the celebration called 'The night of the Orvietani' that took place until a few years ago, in memory of an episode in 1799, when all the inhabitants, as well as the village’s rulers, rose in defence of the Jews from the cruelties of the anti-French military that wanted to loot the ghetto. This celebration is still vivid in Elena Servi’ memories, born in 1930, one of the last Jews remaining in Pitigliano. She also remembers the dark period of the Nazi racial laws and when she was forced to abandon Pitigliano with her family. Fortunately, a bunch of young people have founded an association that promotes Jewish culture and is aptly called 'Little Jerusalem', thanks to which it is possible to visit the Synagogue, the Jewish Museum and other places in the ghetto.

A beautiful and fascinating story, don’t you think? Do you want to discover some more? Then visit our section on the

Villages of Tuscany and choose one of the tours that, combining history, art, tradition and good food, will make lead to the discovery of many tales, anecdotes and interesting facts about these wonderful gems.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Tuscany: Senza lilleri non si lallera!

Senza_lilleri
Figures of speech

If you have already read other anecdotes on Tuscan expressions, you have probably understood by now that in the land of Dante there is ...

View

Pisa: The ghost of Galileo: Ghostbusters at work in Piazza dei Miracoli!

Fantasma_Galielo
Mysteries & Legends

Even the great Galileo Galilei was Tuscan. He was a Pisan, to be precise, where he studied medicine before devoting himself to science....

View

Lucca: Santa Zita and the miracle of the pulses

Santa-Zita
Mysteries & Legends

In Italy there is a Saint to protect the workers of every profession. Santa Zita, one of the most beloved characters of Lucca, is the p...

View

Florence: Why does everyone in Florence call a tracksuit a ‘toni’?

Tuta_toni
Figures of speech

In Tuscany we don’t have a proper dialect, but you just have to move a couple of miles to hear different ways of saying that are spec...

View

Top posts

Arezzo: Guido d'Arezzo and the invention of the music

Guido-d-Arezzo
Big Names

In Talla and surroundings people have no doubt: the inventor of the musical stave, the inventor of the music notes and also of the mode...

View

Pistoia: The Kiss of the Christs in Gavinana

Il-bacio-dei-cristi
Local Traditions

It is a very ancient but still popular rite. Two large processions that meet up with a Christ on the cross in front of each one: the he...

View

Siena: Piero Carbonetti and his tin drum

Piero-Carbonetti
Local Traditions

Subversive, persecuted, anarchist, homeless, dreamer: it is really difficult to define Piero Carbonetti, Tuscan bred and born and Garib...

View

Pisa: Kinzika, the young woman who saved Pisa from the Saracens

Kinzika
Local Traditions

It was really her, a young woman with an Arabian name, Kinzica, of the noble Sismondi family, to save Pisa from being sacked by Saracen...

View