THREE PLACES WHICH FOLLOW THE TRACES OF JEWISH CULTURE
The suggested one-day itinerary by car will take you to three very interesting spots to discover. Ghirla is a small town on the lake, in Varese province 70 kilometres from Milan. Como lies on the homonymous lake 45 kilometres from Milan, and can also be easily reached by train (Trenitalia or Ferrovie Nord Milano). If you have time, it’s worth spending an entire day. Monza, 15 kilometres from Milan, can be easily reached by train from Garibaldi Station or MM Red Line Sesto FS. It might be worth a half-day visit.
GHIRLA AND ITS LAKE
Ghirla is a small town called “ghetto” on the Small Lake in the Varese province, 70 kilometres from Milan. The renowned touristic town houses overlook the lakeside: beyond the main street, only a few feet away, a very small village called “the Ghetto”, with low houses, with three subways, cobbled streets, and remains of an old oven and a power hammer. There are many signs that Jews stopped here for some time. The lake, today a swimming area, is filled with boats. It freezes during the winter, enabling people to skate or play hockey.
COMO, LYING ON THE LARIO
Como welcomes you with monuments and an amazing lakeside, but has few Jewish memories. 45 kilometres from Milan, it is a beautiful touristic town on the homonymous lake. Since 1435, for one century only, some Jews managed a bank: first in San Fedele parish, where once stood the old cathedral, in Via Vittorio Emanuele; then in San Giacomo parish, behind the Duomo, next to merchants’ Consoli di Giustizia palace. Since 1950, on Mount Olimpino, the graveyard houses a Jewish section. We recommend visiting the Romanic-Gothic Broletto, with tower, marble façade and portico facing Piazza Duomo, and the Duomo, an interesting example of Lombard Renaissance with its tripartite façade, decorated with sculptures and a rose window. In the central nave there are 16th century tapestries. The lakeside pedestrian walk is not to be missed.
A PEARL ON THE THRESHOLD OF MILAN
Monza has traces of Lombard’s past in the Duomo and Jewish remains in the Carrobiolo. It’s a town of Lombard origin, situated 15 kilometres from Milan. The historical town centre develops around the Duomo: thanks to several documents it has been established that, in the streets behind the Duomo lived 1500 Jewish money-lenders coming from Emilia and Veneto. They lived also around the Carrobiolo, a church probably built on a pagan cemetery in the second half of the 13th century and in the area of San Pietro Martire parish. The homonymous church, built as part of a monastery, hosted the Inquisition. On the square, in front of the façade, there is a monument dedicated to Mosé Bianchi, a painter from Monza. Factual note: on the church façade a Star of David stands out, as a glass decoration. We recommend visiting the Duomo with its green and white marble façade and big rose window. On the left side stands a massive bell tower. Inside, we recommend visiting Teodolinda’s chapel, the Lombard queen who converted her subjects to the Christian faith. On the altar, the iron crown used to crown the sovereigns in the Middle Ages, and Napoleon in 1805. In Piazza Roma stands the Arengario, the old Town Hall (13th century). Monza is renowned for the royal palace with its sumptuous park, in which there’s also the famous racetrack that for almost 100 years has housed several international races and once a year also the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix.