Shabbat Shalom

I decided to do something else this week instead of a regular Good News Friday or Shabbat Shalom post. As I wrote last week, we were in Florence for a week, and we had a fantastic time becoming “culture vultures” with the wonderful sites and sights of Florence itself, and greatly enjoyed driving around the gorgeous green Tuscan countryside.

As Orthodox Jewish Israelis, we also tried to see as many synagogues and Jewish quarters as we could find. Below are four beautiful synagogues that we visited. We actually attended the Shabbat services in the amazing Florence shul. Sadly the other shuls are basically museums, with more or less no Jewish presence in the area any more. In Livorno there is apparently a small community but the shul was closed when we arrived so we could only see it from the outside.

The central synagogue of Florence:

This synagogue is stunningly beautiful, with its ornately painted walls and ceilings, and its oriental design. The acoustics weren’t great for a prayer service since the sound reverberated off the vaulted ceilings, but the atmosphere was incredible. There also lovely gardens outside the building.

The Hebrew letters מכב”ה are initials for מי כמוך באלים ה’ – Who is like You G-d amongst the gods

The Hebrew letters מכנ”ב are initials for מי כמוך נאדר בקודש – Who is like You glorified in holiness

The shul in Siena

We had a guided tour by a lovely local lady (who also spoke perfect Hebrew) who told us the story of the community of Siena, but there is now no community to speak of and shul is just a museum.

The shul in Livorno (Leghorn)

The original synagogue was destroyed in WWII by the Allied bombing. It was rebuilt on the same spot but in a very modern design. Unfortunately we could not go in to see the interior.

The inscription on the ceiling of the portico reads קדש לה’ – Holy to G-d


The Shul in Pitigliano

The last place we visited was a town called Pitigliano, about halfway between Florence and Rome. It once boasted a sizeable Jewish community and was known as “Little Jerusalem”,  but now, as in so many other places, the shul and the Jewish quarter are just a museum. However the shul was open and besides being a synagogue we could see excavations of the old Mikve (ritual bath), the wine-press, the bet Shechita (slaughterhouse), the matza bakery, the dyeing house and more. It was absolutely fascinating. The town itself is worth a visit in its own right – it is really beautiful!

Time is running out and my photos will not upload so I will leave you here with some online photos. At some point after Shabbat (maybe, maybe not) I will upload my own photos here. My apologies.


the matza bakery in Pitigliano

A street view of the Jewish quarter of Pitigliano

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!


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14 Responses to Shabbat Shalom

  1. Reality says:

    Wow what a great trip you had!Beautiful pictures too.Thank yiu and Shabbat Shalom

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you. I’m just so frustrated because I’ve been working for hours and cannot manage to upload my Pigliano photos, and they are the best ones I have. And better than anything I’ve seen online in my humble opinion.


  2. Jeff Polaski says:

    Bentornata, Bella signora!
    Firenza! Siena! Livorno! So many times we visited there 50 years ago. But, being young and foolish, we missed the synagogues and shuls. We attended the chapel on our base in Vicenza until the Rabbi made Aliyah. The b’rit milah for the Rabbi’s newborn son was at their home. The Mohel came from Napoli; when he rolled up his sleeves, he exposed his red wool long underwear. At that sight, the Rabbanit fainted on the spot.
    Now, we have to go back to see those wonderful shuls.

    • anneinpt says:

      What wonderful memories! Italy is such a beautiful country, we really need to go several more times to explore it all.

      Yes you should go and see the shuls. But Pitigliano is worth a visit in its own right. Such a wonderful place!

  3. Pingback: Shabbat Shalom – 24/6 Magazine

  4. Elise "Ronan" says:

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful trip!

  5. Brian Goldfarb says:

    When we made our trip to Florence some 5 years ago, we didn’t manage to get to the synagogue on Saturday, but we did manage to visit the small museum/exhibition space and have a meal in the cafe/restaurant. We also learned that the Germans, when retreating from Florence in 1944, rigged explosives in the synagogue to greet the liberating allies (they would, wouldn’t they?). However, the anti-fascist partisans active in the city and surrounding area, at great risk to themselves, defused the explosives, which is why you were able to take those wonderful photos.

    Shabbat Shalom indeed!

    • anneinpt says:

      I just heard that story about the Germans from my cousin. I never heard it before. Very interesting! The museum is in the synagogue building so you were right there. Unless it was in a different place at the time. But I guess the synagogue itself was closed. It is only open on Shabbat. We ate in the kosher restaurant next door too. 😀 I recommend it!

  6. Yves Peloquin says:

    Hi Ann,

    and thanks. I visited the beautiful great synagogue of Rome last year and I can see from your pictures that other synagogues in much smaller town are beautiful too. And yes Pitigliano, an Italian city not much known by the tourists is worth a stopping. I am sure you must have several pictures taken in the old town alleys. In your next trip go for a walk in the Vie Cave of Pitigliano, you will love it. Yves P.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Yves, we visited Rome a few years ago and the synagogue is fantastic! Also the museum. All the synagogues we saw were beautiful and a similar style though smaller, except for the Florence synagogue which was also very large and exceptionally beautiful.

      Pitigliano is absolutely beautiful. We didn’t have that much time to walk around but I did get some good pictures of the alleys in the okd city. It reminds me of Jerusalem.

  7. Eliza says:

    They look gorgeous! I always find that the old are so detailed and exquisite.
    I hope you had a great shabbat and enjoy the rest of your stay – oh and that it’s not too hot tomorrow
    Love, light and glitter

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Eliza. We are actually back home in Israel. We were in Italy from Thursday to Thursday last week.

      Yes, the synagogues are gorgeous in a way that the modern ones can never truly be – though some of the modern synagogues in israel are very beautiful in their own way.

      The weather was perfect – we missed the big heat before our visit and the high temps of this coming week. Not to worry, plenty hot enough right here in Israel! 😀

      • Eliza says:

        I know it is. I’m glad I don’t live there! I don’t think I’d ever visit in the summer. Well I wouldn’t ideally choose to.
        Love, light and glitter

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