Ferrara is rich with a Jewish history that dates back to the middle ages. Visitors can appreciate the countless landmarks that pay tribute to this heritage firsthand. The Ghetto area has remained intact both in look and layout throughout various restorations and is now a pedestrian area complete with historical markers and boutiques. The area where the Jewish population once lived has never lost the commercial character it had since its inception and remains a pleasant place to meet up, look around, learn, and shop.
The Historic Community Building in Ferrara was built as early as 1481 (and possibly earlier) and is another important stop on this Jewish itinerary. It was the site of the city’s first synagogue, at 95 Via Mazzini. The building currently houses synagogues, community offices, a prayer room, and a museum which narrates the cycle of life, houses historically significant objects like the keys to the ghetto, as well as sacred objects. Most importantly, the museum tells the story of the community from the establishment of the ghetto, through the French occupation, to the unification of Italy, and celebrates the Jewish contribution to literature. The city’s Addizione Erculea Jewish cemetery goes back to the 15th century and is the final resting place for writer Giorgio Bassani.