Italian Jews: Rome, the Renaissance and Beyond

Mar 02, 2020 730

For most Americans familiar with Italian Jewry, the images that linger come from Vittorio De Sica’s evocative 1971 film, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, the Academy Award-winning picture based on Italian writer Giorgio Bassani’s prize-winning 1962 novel.

Set in Bassini’s picturesque hometown of Ferrara, Garden mixed the beauty of provincial Italy, and the allure of gorgeous young people at ease, with a slowly mounting anxiety—the creeping horror by which Italy in 1938 turned on its Jews, and captured, killed or deported some 9,000 of them.

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