We are pleased to offer Jewish Heritage and Sicily History tours by Moshe Ben Simon who was born and raised in Tel Aviv. After his military service in the Israeli army, Moshe moved to Sicily where he studied Literature and Philosophy and earned a B.A. from the University of Messina with his final thesis, “Inquisition and ‘Jewish Herecy’ in Sicily in the Period Between Ferdinand the Catholic and Charles V.” For the past 25 years, he has worked and lived in Sicily as a tour guide, specializing in the Jewish history of the island.
Our tour starts in the Acradina quarter, the site of the earliest Jewish settlement. We will visit the catacombs of S. Giovanni and the crypt of S. Marciano, who according to legend was killed by the Jews of the city. Then we’ll continue to the island of Ortigia and walk in the narrow streets of the Giudecca (the ancient Jewish quarter) and visit the site of the Synagogue and the Miqwè- Jewish ritual bath, 11 metres below ground level, the oldest ever found in Europe.
We will continue our visit in the Duomo square to admire the Baroque architecture of the city, passing trough the Bellomo Gallery, where some of the tombstones from the Jewish medieval cemetery are displayed.
Messina & Taormina
We’ll discover the centre of Messina and its ancient Jewish quarter and visit the Norman Cathedral with its latin inscription against the city’s Jewish community and the beautiful Palazzo Penso- Jewish family heritage.
After our visit to Messina, we will drive south up to the rocky city of Taormina to visit the Greek Theatre and walk to the site of the Jewish quarter and the mediaeval convent of S. Domenico.
Catania & Taormina
Our tour starts with a visit to Catania’s Cathedral, built in Norman times and dedicated to Sant’ Agata, the Patron Saint of the city. Some time will be devoted to the inscription of the Jewish exile decree. Then we’ll move on to the impressive Castello Ursino and its ponderous keep, erected by Emperor Fredrick II in the Swabian period. We’ll look at the Jewish symbols in the castle architecture and the Greek period inscription on Jewish tombs conserved in its collection.
After the visit to Catania, we’ll drive north up to the rocky city of Taormina where we’ll visit the Greek Theatre and its antiquarium, Later, we’ll walk to the site of the Jewish quarter and the mediaeval convent of S. Domenico.
Agira & Catania
We’ll drive to the small city of Agira located in the interior of the island to visit the remains of a medieval small Jewish community. Here we’ll visit the site of the ancient Synagogue and the stone Aron Hakodesh, with its Jewish inscription.
After lunch, we’ll drive to the city of Catania for a guided tour including the famous Duomo dedicated to Saint Agatha and the Norman Ursino Castle testimony Jewish influence on its architecture and the Jewish tombs collection conserved in its atrium.