Little Jerusalem In Tuscany (Pitigliano)

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Hello dear readers,

Our grand sukkot vacation is rapidly approaching, and I’m so excited! We haven’t been to Europe in years, so I’m making sure to do all of my research well in advance! Our sukkot hotel is located in Tuscany, so I’m looking at travel arrangements for all the classic places in Italy: Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence. Want to make sure we see it all while we’re in Italy (while still having a relaxing vacation, of course!). The program offers full- and half-day excursions to exciting places like Florence and Pisa, and we’re still figuring out which ones we want to do.

HOWEVER.

In the course of my research I came across a town in Italy that I also wanted to share with you, as many people (myself included) have never heard of it.

It’s called Pitigliano. It’s also known as “La Piccola Gerusalemme”, or “Little Jerusalem”. Sounds like the perfect place to visit, am I right?

From Rome to our sukkot hotel it’s about a five-hour drive, and Little Jerusalem is around halfway. (Side note: Aryeh is excited about driving in the scenic Italian countryside; I’m less excited about driving alongside Italian drivers LOL…). Pitigliano had a large Jewish community starting from the 16th century, following the counterreformation. There’s a synagogue dating from 1598! In addition to the Jewish museum, there are the mikvah, the Jewish cemetery and the building where the kosher butcher was once housed, and a special cave that they apparently was used just for forno delle azzime — baking matzah! Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any Jews there anymore; most were evacuated during the Holocaust.

Today, even without a strong Jewish community, Little Jerusalem is still little indeed, with around 4,000 residents and 25,000 visitors per year. Still, from the pictures it does look beautiful, and worth a half-day’s visit perhaps. I thought we could visit on September 29, which is the date of the annual city fair, but that’s erev Yom Kippur so probably not the best day to go! (It’s also before our flight, so we wouldn’t want to rebook our airfare just for this fair…)

I know we haven’t traveled through Europe with our kids for a long time, but I always stress to them (and mention it to you too, dear reader) that it’s important to stay connected to our Jewish roots and the Jewish people, wherever they may be. It can be easier to do in a big city like New York or Jerusalem, but I tell my children that it’s important to visit and make our presence felt in smaller places too, like Little Jerusalem. So if you’re visiting overseas, whether it’s in Italy or elsewhere, try to make sure you see the local Jewish museum and check in with the local Jewish community!

More soon,
Ariella

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