The former Jewish ghetto and its workshops
The layout of Bologna's 16th century ghetto can still be precisely traced amid the narrow streets in the medieval heart of the city: here, a maze of alleys, covered bridges and small windows tells the story of a whole community forced to live in a specific area of the town by order of the Papal State beginning from 1556. In Bologna, Jews lived in the ghetto until 1569, when they were expelled for the first time. In 1586, they were allowed to come back to town and lived here again until 1593, year of their final expulsion: 900 people left Bologna and no Jewish community was allowed into town for more than two centuries.
Entrances to the Jewish quarter were opened in the morning, sealed at dusk and constantly watched: one entrance was at the beginning of via de' Giudei, a second one at the intersection between via del Carro and via Zamboni, a third one in via Oberdan, where an arch looks onto vicolo Mandria.
The ghetto is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas in town enlivened with artisan workshops and encircled by palaces which belonged to rich Jewish merchants and bankers. The itinerary is dotted with the historical workshops identified in the census taken by the Province of Bologna.
Opened on May 9th, 1999, the Jewish Museum of Bologna (MEB, Museo Ebraico di Bologna) was established with the aim of preserving, studying and promoting the rich cultural Jewish heritage deeply rooted in Bologna as well as other places in Emilia Romagna.
The only original entrance to the former ghetto which still exixts today is the vault connecting San Donato church (18th century) to the ancient Manzoli-Malvasia palace built over the remains of a 13th century house, of which only a few door arches remain.
Other Jewish venues
The Ghetto workshops
Located in the former Jewish ghetto, Chiara Melandri’s comprehensive interior design shop designs and produces objects, imports furnishings designed by internationally famous artists and budding designers, and creates, redesigns and gives new life to personalised spaces.
The Corticelli family has a long professional tradition in the production of shoes made to measure. The grandfather, Adolfo, was already working as a shoemaker in 1929 and he passed the art of shoemaking to his son Otello. From a very young age Cosetta developed a passion for this highly creative artisan trade while assisting her father.
The experience gained in the workshop of Maria Cristina Vignale concluded in 2006 with Elisa Mattei and Elena Dalle Donne taking over the business located in the former Jewish ghetto of the city.
“Il Bagatto”, which opened in the city in 1970, makes evening wear and formal dress articles for men and women in addition to restoration of antique crochet, lace, curtains and antique clothing, embroidery by hand on canvas and silk, repairs and reconditioning of fur and leather articles.