Turin has the third largest Jewish community in Italy after Rome and Milan. It is the capital city of the northwestern region of Piedmont, the one with the highest number of Jewish heritage sites in Italy nowadays all administratively dependent from the Turin community.

Turin was also the seat of the Italian Savoia royal family. The Savoia on the upside played a key role in the Risorgimento (Resurgence) period and wars that brought to the reunification of the Italian peninsula and the creation of the Italian nation in 1861. On the downside, later on king Emanuele III played a submissive and ambiguous role throughout the Fascist era both towards Mussolini’s regime and Nazi Germany, causing the demise of the Savoia dynasty after Mussolini’s destitution in 1943. In fact, in 1946 through a national referendum Italy became a Republic and the Savoia family was expelled and banned from the country.

Our itinerary of Jewish Turin starts from the monumental Synagogue built in 1884 in eclectic style. Its lavish furniture and decorations were destroyed in 1942 during an allied bombing of Turin. However, it’s well worth visiting. It’s divided in the main Temple area on the ground floor and in the Small Temple located underground where the beautiful original decor of the famous Synagogue of Cherasco, a small town not far from Turin included in one of our tours of north Italy, was moved to in 1970.

An interesting fact is that the present synagogue was a “plan B”: in fact, after the Emancipation, the local Community wanted to built an enormous Synagogue to express their proud new status of free citizens.  Therefore, it turned for the project to one of the most  prominent architects of the time, Alessandro Antonelli. Soon after the construction of this monumental gigantic building started everybody realised that it was a task beyond the community’s economic capacity and it was sold to the municipality. The resulting astonishing building, the Mole Antonelliana, became the symbol of the city of Turin. A visit to the Mole Antonelliana is included in the tour of Turin and its monuments and main attractions.

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