Jewish landmarks in Asti have a history which goes back to the 14th century and give us many interesting stops during our visit here!
The ghetto here went from what is now Via Aliberti to Via Ottolenghi and was enclosed by gates.
At the entrance to via Aliberti, the first house belonged to the family of Isacco Artom, secretary to Prime Minister Cavour. The religious painting on its façade was reportedly commissioned in order to get permission to put in a window overlooking the ghetto.
At no. 39 we find the Jewish school, the Clava Institute.
At no. 8 Via Ottolenghi we find the synagogue which was built in 1601. The large prayer room here is almost square, and finely decorated with marble columns and 18th century benches. This original winter temple is now a museum with ceremonial objects, vestments, photos, and Asti-rite liturgical manuscripts (old French rites which were abandoned in France).
Of special significance is the Jewish cemetery which serves as the resting place for several important Asti Jewish families including the Artom family.
The first Jews in Asti came here in 812 although there was no permanent and settled group here until the end of the 14th century after Jewish expulsion from France, Germany and Spain. They were forced to practice money-lending and were subjected to many restrictions. In 1601 the first prayer room was built, and still exists today. In 1724 the ghetto was established. They were later emancipated by the Statute Albertino in 1848 which granted ghetto dwellers to come and go as they wished, enter liberal professions, universities and the army, and gave them equal rights to other citizens. In 1829, Isaac Artom became Prime Minister Cavour’s Secretary. Daily life in the Contrada degli Ebrei was recorded by Chaplain Stefano Incisa (1742-1819), who was a local historian of Jewish Asti.