The first Jewish community in Florence dates back to Florence has one of the oldest continuous Jewish communities in Europe. Though there are some mentions of Jews in Florence as far back as the 12th century, the community really started growing in the 14th century. Most people worked as merchants or money lenders.

Great Synagogue in Florence, Italy
The Great synagogue in Florence is the point of reference of the Florentine Jewish community

The Medici family mostly protected the Jewish community due to their financial ties. Still, Cosimo de’ Medici imposed a special dress code and instored a Jewish ghetto in 1571.

Statue of Cosimo I de' Medici in Piazza della Signoria, Florence
Cosimo I de’ Medici On his horse in Piazza della Signoria in Florence

The Napoleonic invasion brought the emancipation of the Jews of Florence and the ghetto was abolished and then torn down. In 1882, one of the most beautiful synagogues in Southern Europe was built and still stands to this day even though the Nazis tried to destroy it.

Bowl of Jewish matzoh balls soup on color wooden table
A traditional Jewish dish: Matza balls in vegetable broth

The German occupation of Italy in World War II sped up the deportation of Jews. 243 Jews from Florence were taken. The numbers could have been much higher if the local community hadn’t helped and hidden Jews.

A dish full of Rugelach, typical jewish pastry
A dish full of Rugelach, a typical Jewish pastry

The city of Florence now boasts a Jewish community of around 1400 people, two synagogues, a home for the elderly and a school. If you are curious to know more about Florentine Jewish history, try this walking tour.

What is Kosher Food

Hummus, falafel, salad and pita in a copper pan, close view
Hummus, falafel, salad and pita. A beautiful Middle Eastern spread

The word Kosher derives from the Hebrew word for “pure” or “fit for consumption“. These food laws derive from the Torah but have been passed down orally from generation to generation. One of the most important rules is the separation of meat and dairy products. These two categories must never come into contact during the meal itself but also whilst being cleaned or prepared.

Kosher Food in Florence

The are two options for jewish food lovers in Florence.

The first one is Ruth’s restaurant.

If you are curious to try Kosher food or want a quick trip to the Middle East, Ruth’s restaurant is the place for you. This small restaurant has a friendly atmosphere and very fast service! It is located near the synagogue in Via Luigi Carlo Farini 2/A.

If you would like to eat meat, make sure to call first. Opening times are

  • 12.30-2.30 pm for lunch
  • 7.30-10 pm for dinner
  • Friday only opened for lunch and Saturday only for dinner

The second one is the Kosher Market

Another option is the Kosher Market in Via dei Pilastri 7A/R.

This little shop offers a variety of Kosher products and also has a small menu with both vegetarian and meat options. Even though there is a small corner of the shop is used to eat, I recommend taking the food to go and have a picnic in one of Florence’s gardens.

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