Verona, besides setting the scene for Romeo and Juliet, is also the site of many important Jewish landmarks. The first stop is the city's ghetto, whose main street was Via Portici. In 1638 the Corte Spagnole was a narrow alley for the Sephardic Jews. The streets here have kept their original appearance and you will notice the buildings have arcades and projecting roofs.
At the heart of the ghetto is the German rites synagogue, which was opened in 1864. The present entrance is at no. 3 Via Portici. The complicated façade with its three vertical parts and false towers as well as the portal with its pillars full of images of Jewish symbols are a museum piece by themselves! The prayer room is furnished with oriental-like decorations, lush details and inlaid stonework and the wall with the holy ark is particularly beautiful. Of note is the richly decorated vaulted ceiling. Don't forget to visit Verona's Jewish cemetery, located at Via Antonio Badile, at Borgo Venezia, and dates back to 1855 replacing two earlier burial sites, the first of which dated from 1755 and was located at Porta Nuova in Orto Parolini.
The 1600 Jews of Verona were probably the only Jews on the peninsula to celebrate the establishment of their ghetto, after the long and arduous negotiations about how to distribute the dwellings and shops. Jews here lived for 100 years under Venetian rule when the ghetto was established and they were finally granted permission to stay and settle in the city. The first Jews here were German rites Jews followed in 1638 by Sephardim Jews from Venice and Marranos from Spain in 1655. In 1675 the two groups came together to build a synagogue and join their rites. At that time, 900 people lived in the quarter. In 1797 the doors of the ghetto were taken down by the French and later put up again during restoration of the monarchy and the return to Austrian rule. In 1864 the community numbered 1400 members and opened the synagogue which is still in use. In 1866 Jews gained emancipation through the annexation of the Veneto to the Kingdom of Italy.