By Mauro Bertagnin, Ilham Khuri Makdisi and Susan Gilson Miller
Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Vol. 14, No. 2 (2003)
Abstract: During the late Middle Ages the city of Trani in southeastern Italy was home to a significant minority population of Jews. This community reached a highpoint during the thirteenth century, when under the protection of the progressive King Frederic II, it combined successful commercial activities with the presence of noted religious scholars. A conception of Jewish separation, even isolation, has been central to the study of late-medieval and early-Renaissance cities in Italy — particularly after the sixteenth century, when the prototype of the ghetto was invented in Venice. However, the giudecca of Trani was compact in size and diverse in architectural character and largely open to the city around it, indicating that this ghetto model may have been far more limited in time and space. Indeed, the elaborate spatial arrangements of Trani’s giudecca indicate a specific form of coexistence the lasted five hundred years. Today, only the buildings of this once-vital community remain to provide evidence of its former existence at an important Mediterranean crossroads.