The Jewish Ghetto of Florence

A lecture by Mark Roberts


The Ghetto of Florence was set up in 1570, was enlarged in 1705-1715 and was finally demolished in the late 1880s. Mark Roberts tells its surprising story.


In the 15th century the Medici family enjoyed good relations with the Florentine Jews, yet it was the first Grand Duke, Cosimo de’ Medici, who in 1570 set up the repressive Ghetto of Florence on the pattern of those in Venice (1516) and Rome (1555). His great-great-grandson, Cosimo III, doubled the size of the ghetto in 1705-1715. Despite the enforced segregation and the appalling civic disabilities to which the Jews were subjected, there was a positive side to ghetto life: Hebrew culture, religion and learning flourished as never before within the confining walls of the ghetto. After the 19th-century emancipation of the Jews, the Florentine ghetto was finally demolished in the late 1880s. Mark Roberts tells its surprising story. 



If you are in Florence and would like to attend the lecture in person at the British Institute Library, please register here or send an email to

The registration fee is 12 Euro per person. All participants are invited to wear a mask throughout the event. 


To join this lecture online, simply click on this link to register and receive the Zoom meeting invitation:

The virtual doors will open at 18:00 Italian time on Wednesday 6th December. 


A recording of the virtual lecture will be published on our YouTube channel. Clicking on the link above, you authorise the British Institute of Florence to use your image, name and comments.


There is no charge to attend the event on Zoom, but we ask you to consider making a donation to support the Institute and its beautiful library if you wish to attend an event.




Special thanks to Penny Howard for her Sponsorship of this lecture.