“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
Rome's Jewish residents have shaped the city's history since imperial times, serving as political advisors, working in key trades, constructing the Colosseum and inventing Roman dishes like carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes). But in 1555, Pope Paul IV revoked their rights, requiring Roman Jews to relocate near the fish market at Rome's ancient Teatro Marcello. Napoleon lifted the restrictions in 1798, but Roman Jews only gained full rights as citizens after Rome joined the independent Kingdom of Italy in 1870. The community celebrated by commissioning the art nouveau Great Synagogue, which now houses Rome's Jewish Museum. But with the rise of Italian fascism and the Nazi occupation of Rome, more than 1,000 Ghetto residents were deported to Auschwitz death camps. Yet the community stood its ground, and the Ghetto remains a center for study, culture and Roman Jewish cuisine, including the city's signature fish stew and potato pizza. Security has been tight in the Ghetto ever since politically motivated attacks on the synagogue in the 1970s, so bring your passport and expect bag checks on religious holidays.