The Heart of Southern Italy is a tour company run by Tess and Elena to introduce people to this magical region. Here they write about their latest tour – exploring the Jewish Heritage of this area.
Thanks to its geographic position, the region of Puglia (Apulia) has always represented a transit point between the rest of Europe and the Near East throughout the ages.
Since Roman times, through the ports of Brindisi, Taranto, Otranto, Bari, Trani and Barletta, a lot of Jewish families have transited and even settled, forming large communities which flourished during the Middle Ages.
On this guided tour, you will be taken on a journey in time, through Jewish history in Puglia and Basilicata. You will be taken on a historic walking tour of the Jewish Museum in Lecce, set inside a historical palace in which traces of Jewish past (such as a few mikvot and a mezuzah) still remain.
Our local guide, an English and Hebrew-speaking historian (PhD in History of Religions, specialized in the history of Judaism in Apulia), will take you to the places that testimony the unique history of Jewish communities in the region, such as Trani and its oldest functioning synagogue in the Diaspora, Oria and its famous medieval Jewish thinkers and Nardò, with its history of hospitality of the Displaced Persons liberated from concentration camps in WWII.
Trip highlights include visiting a farm, which produces wine and olive oil Kosher certified by the controls of the OU and Rabbi Hochman, local food making and tasting, seaside views of the Mediterranean and Matera’s meandering stone streets.