Day 01, Monday: Departure to Italy
Departure on your flight to Rome.
Day 02, Tuesday: Arrival in Rome
Arrival in Rome airport, followed by transfer to the hotel. Begin sightseeing (from the hotel) at 1 PM in the former ghetto area of Rome. Rome is the oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora, and its ghetto remained longer than anywhere else in Europe. As part of our tour, we will see the Jewish Museum, the Great Synagogue, and the Trastevere, where there is evidence of the medieval Jewish community. We will also visit the Campo Di Fiori where, on Rosh Ha-Shanah 1553, the Talmud was burned. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner. Hotel Augusta Lucilla Palace.
Day 03, Wednesday: Rome
Breakfast. This morning begins with a visit to the Arch of Titus and its famous Menorah which, as we will learn, does not correspond to other ancient descriptions. We will then visit the Colosseum, with its legacy of horrors and bravery as slaves fought for their lives to the roars of spectators cheering and booing. This massive structure was actually built with slaves brutally seized after putting down the Jewish Revolt in Eretz Yisrael. Continue to the ruins of the Roman Forum, an international center filled with great palaces and all the pomp that we connect with names like Caesar, Nero and Cicero. Later, drive to the Spanish steps and soon find yourself in the romantic setting of the glorious Trevi Fountain, beloved spot for many great films made in “Roma.” After lunch, enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore Rome on your own or join an optional tour of the Vatican Museum (not included). In the evening, meet for dinner. Hotel Augusta Lucilla Palace.
Day 04, Thursday: Rome – Pitigliano – Florence
Breakfast. Depart Rome this morning and drive towards the hills of Umbria and Tuscany. En route, visit the remote town of Pitigliano, where Jews settled in the 16th century as anti-Jewish sentiment became stronger in the Papal States. Pitigliano became known as “Little Jerusalem” as the Jewish community grew increasingly prosperous throughout the following centuries. Visit the former ghetto, synagogue and Museum. Lunch boxes are provided this day. Continue along typical Tuscan roads to Florence and upon arrival, stop on the hillside Piazza Michelangelo for an amazing panoramic view of the city below. Even the dome of the synagogue is visible. Check-in at the hotel. Dinner. Regency Hotel.
Day 05, Friday: Florence
Breakfast. Begin your walking tour of Florence with a visit to the Academy of Fine Arts (Accademia), home of Michelangelo’s statue of David. Later, continue to the extraordinary synagogue whose dome punctuates the skyline of the city. Visit the attached Jewish Museum with its fine collections. After lunch, continue on the walking tour and be inspired by the beauty of Florence as you walk the charming streets and great squares. Visit the Uffizi Gallery. Return to the hotel in the afternoon. Celebrate Shabbat in Florence. Attend services followed by Shabbat Dinner. Regency Hotel.
Day 06, Shabbat: Florence
Breakfast. Attend services this morning. After lunch, choose to relax or join a short walk to Piazza Delle Signoria. Your tour will take you by the famous Duomo. Dr. Shapiro will also offer a class in the afternoon dealing with an Italian Torah theme. Later, Seudah Shlishit is served. Regency Hotel.
Day 07, Sunday: Florence – Sienna – Livorno – Pisa – Florence
Breakfast. Begin the day with a drive through the Chianti District. Stop in Pisa, the town associated with Galileo (and, of course, the Leaning Tower). It was also the site of important Jewish scholars and even a printing press. Today, traces of the Jewish past are seen at the cemetery and the Pisa synagogue. Unlike most other Italian towns, Pisa never had a ghetto; its Jewish population lived in different areas of the city. Next, continue to Livorno for lunch, hosted by the Jewish community. Livorno was the home of many important figures, including R. Hayyim David Azulai and R. Elijah Benamozegh, and we will learn about them. We will then travel to Sienna where we will see the town square and the fascinating synagogue before returning to Florence later in the afternoon. Dinner. Regency Hotel.
Day 08, Monday: Florence – Venice
Breakfast. Depart Florence and drive north towards Venice. Upon arrival in the floating city, transfer to a small boat and travel in this romantic way to the Dei Dogi hotel. The hotel is housed in a former prestigious palace in the lagoon of Venice. The hotel also boasts a peaceful secret garden and it is located only a brief walk from the ghetto, where lunch is served. After lunch. tour the Jewish Ghetto (Europe’s first official ghetto). The tour will include the various synagogues and the Jewish Museum. At one time, Venice was a world power; and its Jewish community was one of the most important in the world, with noted rabbis, poets, merchants, and actors. Return to the hotel for check-in and time to rest. Later, dinner is served at the ghetto. Dei Dogi (Boscolo Venezia) Hotel.
Day 09, Tuesday: Venice
Breakfast. Today, enjoy the unique flavor of Venice as you sightsee in this legendary city. See the area of Piazza San Marco and visit to the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs (with artwork by Tintorreto, Veronese and Bosch), and see the San Marco Basilica (outside view). Continue, via Venice’s characteristically narrow streets and alleys, to the Rialto Bridge, which spans across the Grand Canal of Venice Island. After lunch, continue by boat to the Venice Lido for an exclusive visit to the Jewish cemetery, which was in use for hundreds of years but only “rediscovered” at the beginning of the twentieth century. Return to the hotel by way of the Murano Island in the late afternoon. Farewell Dinner. Dei Dogi (Boscolo Venezia) Hotel.
Day 10, Wednesday: Venice – Home Flight
Breakfast. Transfer by boat to the airport for your flights back home.