Discovering Lecce’s Jewish heritage: from ancient streets to the Palazzo Taurino Museum
Lecce was the first place in Puglia to have street names in Hebrew as well as Italian. These plaques recall the presence of the ancient Giudecca quarter. The three streets are Via della Sinagoga, near Basilica Santa Croce where there was a Synagogue in the middle ages, Vico della Saponea, which recalls in its name the ancient activity of Jewish soap makers and Via Abramo Balmes, which was dedicated to the figure of Jewish doctor born in Lecce.
Visit the Jewish Museum “Palazzo Taurino” where, in the 15th century, the Synagogue was located. The Museum is a testament to the two-thousand-year-old presence of the people of Israel in the “heel” of the Italian boot, from the diasporas in Roman times up to the aftermath of World War II. The museum contains an ancient Torah exemplar, an altar and eternal torch, in addition to the ablution tanks where men and women purified themselves. Most likely this location was chosen due to the proximity of the underground river, the Idume. The Synagogue was destroyed by the Christians at the end of the Fifteenth century when the Jewish population was dispossessed of their property and belongings and their places of worship were destroyed.
To conclude, visit one of the most beautiful secret gardens in Lecce, tucked inside the ancient palace of a noble family where you will meet Gabriella, whose mother was of Jewish origin but who from a young age was educated according to the precepts of Catholicism. Enjoy a guided visit of the property and a Kosher aperitif with the owner.
- Tour of Lecce with our expert guide
- Private visit to the Jewish Museum
- Private visit of a noble palace and secret garden with the owner
- A kosher aperitif with the owner
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