Casale Monferrato

Nowadays only two Jewish families still reside in Casale Monferrato. However, this small town in the countryside of the Piedmont region once had a numerous and prosperous Jewish community that had started settling here since 1492. In fact this was the year marking the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, some of which, for some unknown reasons, decided to settle here. The community grew in number, reaching 650 people, a staggering figure considering the size of Casale, and grew also in wealth, as the local Synagogue shows: a small polished jewel established in the XVII century. This is located in the area that around the middle of the XVIII century will become the local ghetto.

The Synagogue is hidden behind an anonymous building facade, as custom before the emancipation. Once you enter the small door of the Synagogue, your eyes will be met by an incredible explosion of colours and of the Baroque painted decorations covering every single inch of the Synagogue walls and ceiling. The visit will continue to the Museum located on the upper floor of the Synagogue, by the womens’ gallery, where one of the largest collection of Judaica in Europe is on display. Right next to the museum there is a section completely dedicated to the Chanukkiot and their role in religious practice and as an artistic inspiration. The next stop will be a “sweet” one: the local historical pastry shop “Portinaro” to taste one of the local specialties – the “krumiri rossi” – in their kosher version. And then off to the rolling hills of the wine making Monferrato area for a taste of kosher wines.

Then, the tour, depending on how tipsy you will be, will take you to one or more Jewish attractions in other nearby Piedmont locations.

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