Italy: The new Jewish Museum of Fondi

Italy: The new Jewish Museum of Fondi

The new Jewish museum of Fondi, Southern Lazio, Italy, located in Piazza dell’Olmo Perino, is housed in the building  that, according to tradition, once served as an ancient synagogue and is known today as “La Casa degli Spiriti” (The Haunted House).

The aim of the museum isn’t just to recover and promote an important chapter in the history of Fondi, but also to shed some light on a community that made an important contribution to the city’s economic and cultural growth.

Recent studies have highlighted the importance of the Pontine Jews in the history of the

Jewish Diaspora. Not only do some of Rome’s most symbolic families derive their surnames from the towns of Cori, Sermoneta, Sonnino, Terracina and Gaeta, among others, but these places have also left a lasting mark on the religious and civil history of Italy. The Pontine Marshes proved a relatively peaceful “region” for Jewish settlers, as its being a border area was ideal for them to beat a hasty retreat when such a need arose.

The Jewish quarter of “Giudea” in Fondi is regarded as having been one of the most important ghettos of its time, owing to the number of members that made up the community as well as the numerous professions practiced there. The production and processing of natural fibres led to products of excellence such as the “Olmo Perino cloth”, and the citizens’ efforts in  farming  left  traces  which  are  still  evident  today,  such  as  the  vast  plantations  of  orange  trees stretching all the way from Fondi to Suio. They also excelled in cattle breeding and meat trading, as well as crafting saddles and making jewellery.  Moreover, there were those who practiced more traditional professions, in the fields of medicine and money lending.

They were an industrious community, living and interacting peacefully and profitably with the neighbouring Christians, so much so that if restrictive measures or bans were imposed against  the  former,  the  latter  would  rise  up  to  defend  them:  without  their  businesses  the  entire city would fall into poverty. (Source: Museo Ebraico di Fondi).

Museo Ebraico di Fondi

Share this post: