(14 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis) Venice, Ferrara, Florence, Pisa, Livorno, Siena, Pitigliano, Rome
Italy's Jewish population is one of the oldest in Europe, with a history extending over two thousand years. This luxurious and educational tour focuses on the legacy of the Jewish population permeating Italy's art, architecture, cuisine and history.
Start in Venice at the lavish Hotel Cipriani—the city's best—on secluded Giudecca Island. On a full-day private tour, visit ornate synagogues, the Jewish Museum, and the new and old ghettoes-the word is originally Venetian—first created in the 16th century. Have lunch at a kosher restaurant, then visit the ancient Jewish cemeteries on Lido Island—the first one was established here in the 14th century. During leisure time, you might like to indulge in eclectic Venetian cuisine, discover hidden neighborhoods, and admire the modern masterpieces of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Next, travel to Florence, stopping in Ferrara en route. Jews have left indelible traces in Ferrara's local arts and literature. As a recent example, Giorgio Bassani lived in Ferrara and set his novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis there. Visit the medieval center of town, home to the Jewish Museum, the old ghetto and three synagogues (two are still active). In Florence, spend four nights at the exquisite Villa San Michele. Trace the long history of Jews in Florence, from at least the 15th century. The Medicis welcomed Jews to Florence and extended privileges and freedoms unavailable to them elsewhere in Europe. During a half-day tour, visit the former Jewish ghetto, the 19th century Moorish style Tempio Israelitico, and the Jewish Museum. See the medieval Basilica di Santa Croce, famous for its Giotto frescoes and the tombs of Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo. A Jewish architect designed the church's 19th century neo-Gothic facade, working a prominent Star of David into the composition.
During leisure time, you may wish to cross the river to explore the market squares, antique districts and artisan workshops of the Oltrarno district. Perhaps take an art tour and visit the world-renowned Uffizi or the excellent Museo del Bargello—a prison in the 13th century and now home to sculpture by Michelangelo and Donatello. Or visit smaller museums such as the Ferragamo shoe museum. Stroll the terraced Boboli Gardens. Enjoy regional culinary specialties at the Mercato Centrale, sample gelato, and shop for Florentine gold jewelry, handmade paper, gloves, leather, antiques and housewares. Of course, also enjoy Florence's superb trattorias and take leisurely walks along the impossibly beautiful Arno River.
During a privately-guided day excursion, drive to Pisa and Livorno (Leghorn) to visit two of Italy's oldest Jewish communities. In Pisa, see the synagogue, Jewish cemetery and Piazza dei Miracoli (site of the Leaning Tower). Livorno was once a publishing center and was the port into which Jews imported the first coffee into Italy. It was also Amedeo Modigliani's hometown. Visit Livorno's synagogue, Jewish Museum and waterfront—the town never had a ghetto.
Next, travel deeper into Tuscany, stopping in the hill town of Siena en route. The Jewish community here, though very small now, dates from the 13th century. Browse Siena's shops and tour the old ghetto, the synagogue and the sloped Piazza del Campo. Take a half-day excursion to Pitigliano, a town that seems to grow from the tops of steep grey cliffs. "Little Jerusalem," as it is known, maintains its strong Jewish heritage, visible in its synagogue, cemetery and active kosher bakery.
Finally, travel to Rome for a three-night stay at the stylish Hotel de Russie, known for its superb location and beautiful garden. Jews have been living in Rome continuously since the 2nd century B.C.E. and today the Jewish community here is Italy ' s largest. During comprehensive private touring, travel though time and explore layers of history. Discover the ancient pagan and Christian monuments, the splendors of Baroque and Renaissance palaces and churches, and the surprising urban addictions to the modern city. Tour the Roman Forum and see the Arch of Titus—depicting the Roman conquest of Jerusalem—the monumental synagogue, the ghetto and the Jewish Museum. Other highlights of Rome include the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the morning fruit and flower market of Campo dei Fiori, the Villa Borghese, the ruins along the Appian Way, and beautiful Aventine Hill. In Piazza Delle Cinque Scole, also known as Piazza Giudea (Jewish Square), you might like to sample dishes cooked alla giudia ("Jewish way"), a style still influential in many local dishes.
Private arrival transfer to hotel for 3 nights
Full-day private tour
At leisure at Hotel Cipriani
Venice - Ferrara - Florence Private transfer to hotel in Florence for 4 nights. Visit Ferrara en route
Half-day private tour
At leisure in Florence
Pisa & Livorno
Full-day private excursion to Pisa and Livorno
Florence - Tuscany
Private transfer to hotel for 3 nights. Visit Siena and Tuscan towns en route
At leisure at hotel
Half-day excursion to Pitigliano
Tuscany - Rome
Private transfer to Rome for 3 nights
Half-day private tour
Half-day private tour
Transfer to airport
Four Seasons Florence
Castiglion del Bosco
Hotel de Russie
Per person (double occupancy)
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All Artisans of Leisure tours are private and depart daily.
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