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Jewish tour in Reggio Emilia

The tour mainly goes through the streets of the town centre, linking the places and the histories of the ten Jews of Reggio Emilia deported to Auschwitz.

 

Tour: town centre
Duration: 48 minutes
Difficulty: easy
Footage: 3.8 km

Source: Istoreco. History and Memory in the town. REGGIO EMILIA 1943 - 1945

 

The history

Jewish families were present in the town since the beginning of the XIV century. They settled in different times and they mainly came from other parts of Italy and, from the end of the XV century, from the Iberian Peninsula because of the harsh persecution. The community settled in Reggio Emilia, to exercise the interest-money loan, was an important cultural centre (Printing houses, and other activities..) for a long time, and it gave Birth to important personalities as Israel Bassani, Anania Coen, the baron Ulderico Levi and Aronne Rabbeno.

The ghetto was officially established in 1555, as per Pope Paul IV's bull "Com nimis absurdum". Duchess Martinozzi, Duke Alfonso IV's widow and State's regent in the name of her minor son Francis II, decided that Reggio Emilia Jews, "dispersos per urbem" till then, should be obliged to reside in the currently called streets: San Rocco, Caggiati, della Volta, dell'Aquila, Monzermone and Gennari. The community, despite the Catholic Church and the political power, was delighted with a relative autonomy: the had an own government, the rabbinical court, the hospital, the guesthouse, the school and the service centre. The Ghetto was firstly released by the Napoleonic troops then, finally, on the occasion of Italy's Unification. With the Jewish emancipation, the number of the Jews settled became always lower. Before the racial laws, emanated by Fascism in 1938, in Reggio Emilia remained only 65 Jews and about one hundred in the whole province. Nine Jews were caught and sent to Auschwitz in 1944: Oreste Sinigallia, Benedetto Melli, Lina Jacchia, Olga, Bice and Ada Corinaldi, Beatrice Ravà, Ilma Rietti, Iole Rietti. To these we have to add Lucia Filzi, from Correggio, and some foreign Jews residing in the province. Most of them could escape, mostly to the Apennines. After the war, communities of Reggio Emilia and Modena got together.

 

Jewish Cemetery

Start: Canalina Jewish Cemetery

Until the end of the XIX century, the Jewish community had its own Holy Confraternity, dedicated to the funeral practices, according to the tradition. Before the Napoleonic Saint-Cloud edict, there were five important Jewish cemeteries in the town. The suburban San Pellegrino Jewish cemetery at the beginning of via della Canalina, was inaugurated in the 1808. It is divided in two different areas, one ot these created afterwards. In the ancient area are no pictures on the headstones, according to the Jewish tradition. The cemetery is open only in special occasions.

 

 

 

 

 

Villa Levi

1st stop. Corinaldi Villa, viale Montegrappa 18

Past San Claudio Bridge and Cecati parking, you will arrive at the ring road. Turn right and go straight untll Porta Castello (piazza Diaz). Here, turn left to viale Monte Grappa. At the 18 street number, you find the home of three sisters Ada, Bice e Olga Corinaldi, who lived here untll they were caught. The three sisters were caught December 4, 1943 and sent to the municipal jail. After a stay in Villa Levi (see picture) in Coviolo, in the suburbs of the town, they arrived in Fossoli, then in Auschwitz 4 days later. The Corinaldi sisters died in the Lager in that same month.

 

 

 

 

 

San Tommaso Jail

2nd stop. San Tommaso Jail, via delle Carceri 2

Go through via San Girolamo, just in front of you, go straight until the end of the street, cross via Emilia and go straight again to via Samarotto. Then, turn left in via Dante Alighieri and left again in via Roma where you have reached via delle Carceri and the ancient jail. Today is a decentralized office of the State Archives, former Corpus Domini convent, whose planner was Antonio Casotti. In the entry register were physically described all the Jews, captured in December 1943, so we can learn that the three Corinaldi sisters were only 1.45 tall and Beatrice Ravà only 1.40 cm. Old, tiny women, nevertheless so "dangerous".

 

 

 

 

 

Synagogue

3rd stop. Jewish Ghetto

Go back to via San Domenico, cross via Roma and proceed straight on via Sessi. On the left you can admire San Nicolò church and the former Post Office Palace now called Palazzo Busetti. Go straight to via San Rocco where, before the opening of the Ghetto, was placed one of the access doors of the town.
3.1 Via Monzermone. At the 6 street number, December 4, Beatrice Ravà and her two daughters were arrested. The three women were killed in Auschwitz February 28, 1944. At the 8 street number lived Oreste Senigallia, a furniture maker who came from Milan. He was arrested in November 1943. After his arrival in Auschwitz, nothing was heard about him. On the corner between via Monzermone and via San Rocco, where today is the block of the same name, was the Jewish hospital.
3.2 Via dell'Aquila. The parallel street is via dell'Aquila, where at the 3 street number is the Synagogue. It was built in 1672. After some interventions that, in the next two centuries, had tried to redefine the building's sacred image and its decorative aspects, in 1849 the architect Domenico Marchelli was entrusted with the task of rebuilding the temple. January 15, 1858 the Synagogue was unveiled. After World War II, when Reggio Emilia's Jewish Community joined Modena's, the temple lost its religious importance and was used as a bicycles storage and a printing office. Near the Synagogue were the Spanish religious school, the bakery and the guesthouse.
3.3 In the via della Volta were located the tavern of the Ghetto (2 street number).

via San Pietro Martire

4th stop. Via San Pietro Martire 14

Leaving the Ghetto, go through via Caggiati towards via Emilia Santo Stefano, turn left and take the first street on the right, via San Paolo. After crossing it, turn left in via Berta and go straight in via San Pietro Martire. The 14 street number was the place of the Administration of assets seized to the Jewish population. Within a short time, all the shops were seized, as well as all the businesses (buildings and rural funds) and the artworks. To Benedetto Melli and his wife Lina Jacchia, deported to Auschwitz, were confiscated a linen shop in via Emilia San Pietro and a three-floor building.

 

 

 

 

 

via Del Portone, 14

Arrival. Dorina Storichi House, via del Portone 14

We finish our tour with a hospitality and resistance place. Go through via San Pietro Martire and cross corso Garibaldi, turn left in via del Portone. The 14 street number was the house of Dorina Storchi, a fighting partisan. After September 8, 1943, in Dorina's home, arrived a lot of veterans from the concentration camps and from the Italian army. Among them was also a Jewish couple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deepening

The Synagogue and the Jewish Ghetto
Stumbling Stones: permanent tribute to the ten Jews of Reggio Emilia died in Auschwitz