In Remembrance of the Shoah

The ShoahA hearty welcome back to the friends of Tuscany Travel. A happy New Year to you all and to all those who are joining us for the first time.

The Tuscany Travel staff will guide you once more throughout this new year to discover the most hidden parts of Tuscany, in the hope that, from one article to the next, you may all come to appreciate and love our culture and traditions as much as we do.

Last month we wished you a happy festive season with an article about sfratti, the traditional pastry from Pitigliano, a town near Grosseto in the Maremma area, whose history is linked to Jewish traditions and to the ethnic group’s historical experiences in this town.  This time we wish to continue looking at one of the most painful episodes in human history, and of the Jewish community in particular: the Shoah.

On January 27th The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed throughout the world, to remember the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazi regime before and during World War II, because of an Anti-Semitic ideology that had been propagated through Germany and Europe since the 1920s. Even though Italy had traditionally been a broad-minded and tolerant country, in 1938 the Fascist government promulgated an anti-Semitic law that exiled thousand of Italian Jews to ghettos, internment or extermination camps (which were set up following the Nazi example).

Italian Jews were traditionally well-integrated in society, with which they lived in harmony, introducing features of their own cultural heritage into existing traditions. They contributed economically, politically, financially and culturally to the improvement and development of modern societies. As we wrote last month, Tuscany has also had important Jewish communities that settled and grew over the centuries. These were actively involved in a very prolific cultural exchange, particularly in golden eras such as the Renaissance, which in Tuscany and its main city, Florence, reached its highest expression in the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The most important Tuscan Jewish community was in Livorno. The city was one of the principle Mediterranean seaports, purposely founded by the Medici family to provide direct access to the sea. As a seaport, Livorno naturally fostered religious and cultural exchange and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I, even promulgated a law, called the Livornina Charter, which allowed everyone, without discrimination, to come and live in the city.

Tuscany has organized many events marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, to remind people of the tragic events of the last century. These focus on those places where Jewish people were actually massacred, such as Castelnuovo Garfagnana, from where a special train carrying Tuscan students will depart for Auschwitz on January 25th.

Florence is remembering the Shoah by organising several events, and one which we wish to mention is Stones, written and performed by the Orto-Da Theatre Group. It is a performance inspired by a Nathan Rapoport sculpture dedicated to the victims of the Jewish Holocaust, which was placed at the entrance to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1948.

The theatre company comes from Iran and was founded towards the end of the last century, when cultural conflicts between tradition and innovation were still very much felt there (in fact, the company’s name was inspired by those conflicts: ORTO stands for orthodox and DA for dada).

Many events have been organized for young people and students in particular, as representatives of our future. They have to learn from past mistakes so that similar ones may not be made again. They need to keep the memory of the Shoah alive and uphold human rights against any kind of abuse of power, making no distinctions of race or religion. There will be meetings, talks, screenings, book readings, concerts and stories from those people who really experienced those tragic events, which we have probably only heard about.

As we conclude this story, I would like to leave you with the thoughts of Piero Terracina, an Italian man who was the only Auschwitz survivor from his family:

Auschwitz was a place where survivors were deprived of all rights. No memories were admitted; the need to survive was even greater than the memory of one’s own family.

Commenti (1) | January 15, 2010

One Response to “In Remembrance of the Shoah”

  1. Ian Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 16:19

    When in Rome, take the time to go to Tivoli Hadrian’s gardens are a place you can walk arnoud the ruins and see how decadent his life was, and what a passion for architecture he had. Amazing really.Rome has so much to see and do you can spend a lot of time there. Do the Vatican, the ruins, the fountains, everything. Read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and make your own Roman tour. (Fantastic book if you haven’t read it by the way)Since you are going to Florence, you have to go to the Michael Angelo Museum. I love art, and though not highly informed about it, I do appreciate it. When you walk into the museum, you will notice 4 statues that are in the midst of being completed they were the last works he was working on when he died. The are called the 4 prisoners. You see, MA sculpted in marble from the front to the back, not top to bottom. They are a bit like Han Solo after the Empire Strikes Back I FELT them emerging from the stone. I was highly moved don’t know why, but was truly emotional experience for me. Then there is the orignal DAVID. It’s amazing, and if you have to be a tourist to see it, suck it up. It’s like nothing you have seen before.You have to go to the flea markets near the Duomo (also a must see). In the flea markets I bought a leather jacket from a woman who spoke in gypsy accent. She sold me a jacket ’cause it was so soft. She kept saying it is lamb Once I bought it, she fell back into normal accent she was from Brooklyn. Too damn funny, but I still have the jacket, and it is still soft as butter .You are going to have a fantastic time!Drink ROFOSCO wines they are wines that don’t really age well, but are fruity and light for the summer. Fantastic. You won’t get a bad meal for sure If you go to Milan (not worth it though) eat the risoto with veal milanese. TDF (too die for)If you are willing to take the train ride, go to venice. No place on earth like it at all. Truly a marvel. Eat at the Tratoria a al Madonna at the base of the Rialto Bridge. ASk for the squid in black sauce. It might not be on the menu, but they will make it for you it’s a specialty. Take the tour in English at the cathedral. Extremely informative and rich with history and entertainment.enough for now if I think of more, I will repost.

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