Hidden Treasures

Piedmont & Northern Italy

October 23 – November 3, 2017

Traveling with You...

Scholar in Residence

Chaim Seidler-Feller recently celebrated his fortieth year of working with students and faculty as the Executive Director of the Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA. Currently Director Emeritus, also serves as Director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. An ordained Rabbi, he also completed a Masters in Rabbinic Literature. Chaim has been a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute, North America, and of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and was rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl. The International Hillel Center has granted Chaim the Hillel Professional Recognition Award “for blending the love of Jewish tradition with the modern intellectual approach of the university.”

Trip Leader
Trip Guide

Lucy Rapoport has guided and accompanied many previous Jewish heritage tours — all to great acclaim. Born and schooled in England before moving to Italy as a young adult, Lucy is fluent in Italian, German, French, and Spanish and has been a tour manager for more than twenty years. Specializing in Europe, Lucy has accompanied previous Jewish groups to such places as Lithuania, Krakow, Prague, Berlin, Croatia, Spain, Romania, Serbia, France, Northern and Southern Italy, and Sicily. With Lucy’s attention to detail, knowledge of history, and considerable expertise in guiding groups, participants will be well served on this trip.

Program Overview

Culturally, historically and spiritually, Italian Jewry is unique —considered neither Sephardi nor Ashkenazi. The Jews of Italy, who have lived there since the destruction of the Second Temple, have always had their own distinct culture, religious rites and cuisine and its northern kingdoms and duchies were home to small but vibrant Jewish communities.

Located at the crossroads of commerce between the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Europe, the Jews of the Piedmont and Northern Italy enjoyed splendor and success for hundreds of years though Jewish presence in most of these areas has by and large disappeared. Nevertheless, many of its small, jewel-like Synagogues are still intact. They are towns without Jews but with spectacular Synagogues that remain as a living testament to once thriving Jewish communities.

Beginning in Bologna, and making our way through the Piedmont, we will enjoy Italy’s beautiful and exotic atmosphere as we travel through Modena, Parma, Turin and Alessandria until we reach sophisticated, bustling Milan. Along the way, we will meet, with members of the Jewish communities of Turin and Milan and learn about Italian Jewish history and culture from our accompanying scholar, Chaim Seidler-Feller.

We invite you to join us as we visit some of these hidden treasures- beautiful, original Synagogues that recall the kabbalists, physicians, bankers, peddlers, and poets who left their mark in the distinctive annals of Jewish Italy

Tentative Daily Itinerary*

Monday, October 23

Arrive Bologna, check in to the 5 star Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni -– superbly located in the City city center. Rest and relax.

Late afternoon: (optional) walking tour of Cathedral Square with its Grand Basilica and charming pedestrian streets lined with quaint shops and cafes.

Evening: Chaim Seidler-Feller, “Jewish Life and Culture in Italy: Between Cultural Integration and Religious Separation,” followed by an opportunity to get to know one another and opening dinner at our hotel (included).

Tuesday, October 24

Today we will tour Bologna, including a visit to its lovely synagogue and the Holocaust memorial, whose architects won the International Design Competition. The winning design – called the Shoah Memorial – is a moving testament to the Jews of Italy who perished in the Holocaust.

After lunch on our own, we will visit the historic, fascinating Anatomical Teatro building–located at one of the world’s oldest continuously operating universities and nearby our hotel.  The Anatomical Theatre, now a museum, and part of the University of Bologna, is completely carved from spruce with an imposing marble table still in position before the teacher’s chair.

Wednesday, October 25
Bologna — Ferrara — Bologna

Day trip to Ferrara – setting of the novel, “The Garden of the Finzi Contini.” Home of some of Italian Jewry’s most outstanding personalities, Hebrew printing flourished and was known throughout Europe as one of the leaders of Jewish publications in the 15th and 16th centuries.  In Ferrara, we will tour the Jewish Museum, see its three synagogues, and break for lunch on our own before returning to Bologna.

Evening: Chaim Seidler-Feller, “R.Obadia Sforno and R.Shmuel David Luzatto (Shadal):Modernizing Sages in Bologna and Padua,” followed by dinner on our own.

Thursday, October 26
Modena — Parma

Depart Bologna for Parma, with a stop in Modena to visit its historic and haunting synagogue- at one time, located in the center of the old Jewish ghetto (which existed from 1638 to 1859) and it is one of the largest Synagogues in Italy.
From Modena, we will continue on to Parma- acclaimed for its art, architecture and gastronomy – an elegant city with a compact historic zone, a historic Romanesque cathedral, and a stunning 12th century Baptistery.

Upon arrival we have lunch (included) and visit the Biblioteca Palatina, or Palatina Library, best known for preserving its rare book collection and its valuable, and impressive collection of old Hebrew manuscripts.

Check in to the Grand Hotel. Dinner at our hotel (included).

Friday, October 27
Alessandria — Turin

Depart Parma for Turin with a stop in Alessandria, the third largest city in the Piedmont region, with its own unique Jewish history dating back to the 15th century. The Jewish ghetto in Alessandria can still be discerned in the buildings which remain – complete with galleries, balconies, and internal passageways. Here, we will visit its 1871 post-Emancipation synagogue- famous for its neo-baroque façade and admired for its exquisite interior.

Lunch along the way (included) before continuing on to Turin.

Check in the 5 star Principi de Piedmont hotel in time to attend Shabbat services and have dinner (included) with some of the leading members of the Turin community.

Saturday, October 28

Morning: Free to relax, explore Turin on our own, or attend services at the synagogue — a short walk from our hotel.

Afternoon:  Walking tour from our hotel to the world famous Museo Elizio (Egyptian Museum). Famous world-wide, the Museo Egizio is an archaeological museum specializing in Egyptian archaeology and anthropology—housing one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in Europe with over 30,000 artifacts.

Evening: Chaim Feller, “Distinctive Features of Ashkenazic, Sephardic and Italian Synagogue Architecture and Prayer,”  followed by dinner on our own.

Sunday, October 29
Turin — Piedmont — Turin

Day trip to southern Piedmont, where we will visit two charming, small town Synagogues- hidden treasures off the beaten track that few see or visit and would be forgotten and abandoned if not for the Jewish community of Turin still preserving them for those visitors who are interested.

Evening: free, dinner on our own.

Monday, October 30
Turin — Milan

Our morning will start with a visit to the Turin Synagogue school, community center and home for the aged run by the Jewish community of Turin, before we depart for Milan. En-route, we will visit the synagogue and museum in Casale Monferrate. A spectacular architectural gem, The Synagogue, built in 1595, is renowned for its exquisite Baroque interior – with walls and ceiling embellished with elaborate painting, carving and gilding.

From here, we will continue on to Milan and check in to the 5 star Grand Hotel et de Milan – where Verdi lived and composed many of his operas over the course of more than 20 years.

Tuesday, October 31

Milan sightseeing:  Overview tour of Milan: including the Duomo, the Galleria and one of Milan’s many museums (Brera Gallery or Castello Sforzesco)

Evening:  (optional) for those interested: a night at the opera! La Scala, located a five minute walk from our hotel, will be performing Verdi’s “Nabucco” this evening.

Dinner on our own.

Wednesday, November 1

Morning: Visit Santa Maria della Grazie, renowned for “The Last Supper” fresco by Leonardo de Vinci before continuing on to the Milan train station to see the new Holocaust memorial – “Platform 21.”  Situated in an area below the railway tracks, it is now a place for reflection, study and research that is open to all.

Lunch on our own followed by a guided tour of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.  An important library and art museum, it contains Hebrew manuscripts as well as artworks that include da Vinci’s “Portrait of a Musician”, Caravaggio’s “Basket of Fruit”, and Raphael’s cartoon of “The School of Athens”.

Evening: visit Milan’s main Synagogue, including presentation by Chaim Feller, “The Italian Ketubah: Cultural Synthesis and Creativity,” and dinner with the Chief Rabbi of Milan and leaders of the Jewish community (included).

Thursday, November 2

Our morning will start with a tour of one of Milan’s leading museums: the Pinacoteca, Palazzo Reale Museum, or 1900 Museum.

Lunch on our own; afternoon free to relax and/or visit other sites of interest.

Evening: Closing meeting and dinner (included).

Friday, November 3

Depart for home….


*Please Note: Daily schedule may be modified subject to weather or unanticipated changes.


Bologna: The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel Majestic “già Baglioni”, is the oldest and most prestigious hotel in Bologna. Situated in the heart of the city on Via dell’Indipendenza, it is within walking distance of Piazza Maggiore and the famous Due Torri (Towers of Bologna). This superb five-star deluxe hotel is situated in a Palazzo which dates back to the first half of the 18th century. With a mix of antique furniture and modern amenities, the hotel is a perfect blend of classic Italian style, elegance and hospitality.

Parma: The Grand Hotel de la Ville

The Grand Hotel de la Ville, within walking distance of the historic area, is located in the exclusive Barilla Center-an innovative mix of industrial architecture which includes upscale shops and restaurants. This hotel is known for its warmth, attention to detail and excellent warm and friendly staff.

Turin: Principi Di Piemonte Hotel

The sophisticated Principi Di Piemonte Hotel is situated in the center of Turin — close to the world famous Egyptian Museum of Turin and Piazza San Carlo. Founded in 1930, this five-star hotel is noted for its superb setting and its wonderful location. All its rooms are decorated in an elegant, modern style and its amenities include a full service Spa, fitness center and sauna.

Milan: Grand Hotel et de Milan

Opened in 1863, the five-star Grand Hotel et de Milan preserves all the charm of an ancient Milanese “house”. Located in the heart of the city, just a few steps from the renowned La Scala Opera House, the Fashion district and the Duomo Cathedral, the Grand Hotel et de Milan the perfect choice for our stay in Milan. Among the many distinguished guests that stayed there was Giuseppe Verdi-who lived and worked there for over 20 years. With its recent renewal, the interior of the Grand Hotel et de Milan is discreet and refined and blends the best of both old and new worlds.

Book Your Trip

Share This Trip

Request Information

Deluxe Accommodations

Travel in comfort. We stay at deluxe hotels with fine amenities. Accommodations for this trip listed below the itinerary.

Book Your Trip

Program Details

Please Note: on-line registration is closed. Please call to be added to wait list.

Program cost: $6850 (plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for nonmembers)

  • Eleven nights’ accommodations at deluxe hotels*
  • Full breakfast daily; three lunches; five dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • Entrance fees to all museums and sites on itinerary

*Per person, double occupancy; single supplement ($1200) and gratuities ($160) additional.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person will secure your place on the trip. A second non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person due on April 20, 2017. The balance is due in full by June 20, 2017.

Prefer paper?

Download and print the trip information.

Registration Information

Limited to 30 participants, the program will entail considerable walking, including uneven terrain. Participants need to be in active, good health, able to keep up with the group, ready to travel and experience group and cultural differences with grace. If you have any questions, or need help with your travel plans, please call the Jewish Heritage Travel Office at 845.256.0197.</h5>
<h5>Land Program Cost</h5>
Program cost: $6850 (plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage membership fee for nonmembers)
Program fee includes:
Eleven nights’ accommodations at deluxe hotels*
Full breakfast daily; three lunches; five dinners
All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
Entrance fees to all museums and sites on itinerary
*Per person, double occupancy; single supplement ($1200) and gratuities ($160) additional.

<h5>To Register</h5>
To reserve your place, please complete the reservation form and return with a non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person (payable to The Jewish Heritage Travel Program). Second non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person due on April 20, 2017. Balance due in full by June 20, 2017.
Participants are urged to purchase travel insurance for losses necessitated by having to cancel participation due to health issues. For your convenience, insurance forms will be sent upon registration, or consult your own insurance agent. Please contact The Jewish Heritage Travel office at 845.256.0197 for more information.
Refunds and Insurance: Cancellations received up to 120 days prior to departure: full refund less non-refundable deposits, per person; 119-90 days prior to departure: 50% refund per person after non-refundable deposits. No refunds after this date.
All rights are reserved by the Program Directors to make faculty substitutions
and/or to modify the itinerary (including hotels) as needed.