Rome Guide
Hevenu Shalom Alehem - We wish you good life and peace (Jewish traditional song)

Rome Jewish shops and restaurants, the Libyan Jews in Rome

Roman Jews have a very full community life. As soon as you step inside the quarter in Via Portico d'Ottavia, you immediately realize that you are not just about to visit a few monuments, but rather that you are about to undergo an experience. There is a vast array of cultural activities and religious celebrations going on all the time. You find a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants, suiting all tastes and all wallets. Reviews (like "Shalom") report the community events, and they are a reference for all. Hospitals (in the Tiberina Island) take care of the ill. Schools, of all levels, are responsible of the upbringing of the youth. Bookshops, Judaica shops, clothing shops, jewellers, and even electrical appliances shops complete the picture.
In addition, and completing the community life and culture, in Rome you also find the very interesting Libyan Jewish community. They were the last Jews to flee the pogroms in Libya (the remaining moved to Israel).


"CARAVAGGIO", a large, fine and quaint studio, with separate kitchen, bathroom, foyer (2 persons).

"MARCO POLO", a one bedroom, sitting room attic with large roof garden with spectacular views of all Rome, (2-3 persons).

"BOTTICELLI": a two double bedroom, sitting room, dining room 2 bathroom apt., with patio and fireplace (4-5 p.).

Shops, restaurants in the "Ghetto"

A customer comes out the confectionery, with bags loaded with pastries

Rome's best kept secret lies in a tiny unmarked corner of Via Portico d'Ottavia. It's the Jewish confectionery, a whole-in-the-wall with an all-female austere personnel.
Specialities include "Torte di ricotta e visciole" (ricotta and damson tarts), "Pizza Ebraica" (Jewish Pizza, irresistible sweet crunchy little cakes with raisins, candied fruit and almonds); "Mezzaluna" (Half Moon, glazed cakes with marzipan and candied fruit), and finally "Torta di Mandorle" (Almond tart).

Probably the expression "to sell like hot cakes" was invented here. The little shop in fact is always crowded. Rome's gluttons, mothers bringing the pastries back home... every one has a good reason to leave loaded with sweets.

As if it were a magical horn of plenty, the ladies prepare 1000s upon 1000s incredibly delicious state-of-the-art pastries, which are sold nearly instantly. How they accomplish to do it in the little kitchen in the back is a mystery.

Other household shops of the quarter include Kosher groceries, the bookshop "Menorah", and "Judaica", a shop of all things Jewish. Finally in the quarter you find many renowned jewellers, of which the most famous is "Astrologo".

Kosher grocery shop

The bookshop "Menorah", in Via del Tempio

Jewish restaurants

Jewish restaurants can be found not only in the Ghetto, and they also prepare Oriental Jewish specialities.

The two most popular restaurants in the Ghetto are:

- GIGGETTO, in Via Portico d'Ottavia 21/a (tel. +39 066861105),

- PIPERNO, in Via Monte Cenci 9, (tel. +39 0668806629).

Both restaurants prepare typical Roman Jewish cuisine, which thus preserved the traditional popular Roman cuisine. Only in the Jewish quarter practically you are thus able to find and taste the old Roman cuisine, which disappeared elsewhere, and from the table of contemporary Romans. The most renowned dish is "Carciofi alla Giudia", Jewish fried artichokes.

Outside the Jewish quarter, we recommend ALFONSO 1, in Via Brescia 23, and ALFONSO 2, in Via Galla e Sidama 9/b (in the Nomentana area, tel.(+39 0686200184), serving Libyan Jewish cuisine (oriental cookery).
The speciality is Cous-Cous in all its variants, beans with cumin, and weets (Garbelluz). Closed on Sunday. Prices are reasonable (appr. 20 Euro per person).

Libyan Jews in Rome

The only real change after WW2 in the Roman Jewish community was the settlement in 1967 of 3,000 Libyan Jews, thus Sephardi or Oriental Jews. They were the last Jews forced to leave Libya after the pogroms of 1945, 1948 and finally of 1967. The remaining 30,000, usually the less well-off, found refuge in Israel. The Libyan Jews lost their homes, businesses and possessions (many also lost their lives).

Notably, the Libyan Jews live usually in a different quarter, around Piazza Bologna, as its buildings and the layout somewhat resemble Tripoli, Libya's capital, where most come from. They also follow their own rite, and they have two synagogues, the most important is the "Beth El", in Via Padova. An authorization is required to enter, for security reasons.
The imposing Post Office of Piazza Bologna, the reference point of the quarter

Initially the Roman Jews, who are creatures of habit, used to their traditions, and somewhat conventional, felt uneasy interacting with the refugees. Yet the Libyan Jews ardently follow the same religion, they are also hard working, creative professionals, and were thus able to better their social status. Moreover, they are dynamic and imaginative in their social interactions, and increasingly cultured. This brought the two communities together, with many mixed marriages. Ultimately the Roman Jewish community gained new energy, and new life.">click here to learn more