This time we are taking you on an exciting trip to Northern Italy! Two weeks ago we were visiting some smaller destinations, I personally haven ́t visited before. Flying through Milan, just some 2 hours’ drive away, the first destination we arrived at was Ferrara. Having read “The gardens of the Finzi – Contini” by GiorgioBassani and admired the movie by three of the doyens of European Jewish cinema Arthur Cohn, Gianni Hecht Lucari and Artur Brauner I was always eager to visit the Unesco World Heritage site in the Po valley.
Looking for relics of the very special atmosphere of "The Gardens of Finzi-Contini", “the almost idyllic isolation of the walled estate with park and tenniscourt in the middle of the old town of Ferrara”, which painted the background for the novel about the failing Jewish bourgeoisie which ended in deportation, we strolled around the city.
Medieval cobblestone, Gothic façades, and a fairy tale castle set a nice framework for discovering my preferred sites: Jewish Ferrara. We found it quite easy to find the former “Ghetto” and were surprised how much effort the city of Ferrara puts into making the Jewish Heritage accessible. There are street signs, making it easy for everybody to get around in the old city, including the Jewish area. We did know in advance that the famous synagogue, in fact housing three synagogues, the German Synagogue (Scola Tedesca), the Farnese Synagogue (Scola Farnese) and the Italian Synagogue (Scola Italiana) is closed for renovation until the end of the year but it was definitely a highlight to locate it the middle of the old cobblestone streets! The Jewish museum of Ferrara is located in the sameancient palazzo (at Via Mazzini 95).
The highlight, however, was a visit to the new Jewish museum : Museo Nazionale Dell’Ebraismo Italiano e della Shoah (MEIS), a bit outside of the city center and not too easy to find. In any case, we were impressed how friendly we were
informed and even guided by the locals! We had the great pleasure to see the quite recently opened exhibition “The Renaissance speaks Hebrew”, a stunning collection of artefacts, which you do not expect in a smaller city like Ferrara. Visit and find out about the immense Jewish influence the Renaissance in Italy experienced. Join us on our tour, discovering the gardens of Ferrara!
To see the highlights and experience an in-depth tour of Jewish Ferrara: