Timeline. Through history.

If we don’t understand the past, how can we understand our present and future? To truly absorb, appreciate, and reflect on the country we are visiting, we need to look at pivotal moments in history. Begin your journey through the ages now.

  • Jewish timeline
  • General timeline


  • 800 The Etruscan tribes dominate central Italy, especially around Tuscany
    753 The town of Rome established (according to legend)
    700 Greeks and their culture influential, especially in the south and Sicily
    509 The last Etruscan King defeated and Etruscan culture gradually disappears
    The Roman Republic is established


  • 200 Most of Italian peninsula under control of the Roman Republic
    Rome’s influence expanding outside of Italian peninsula
    Rome most important city in Mediterranean with population of 300,000
  • 163 The first Jews? Jewish traders arrive in Rome from Judea (ancient Israel)
    161 Judah the Maccabee sends emissaries & makes treaty with Rome
  • 63 End of the alliance: Roman general Pompey conquers Jerusalem
  • Jewish prisoners from Israel brought to Rome. Most eventually freed
  • 59 Julius Caesar conquers Gaul (France), invades modern Britain and Germany
    49 Caesar crosses the Rubicon: becomes dictator after civil war
  • Caesar grants Jews special rights, including to use own courts
  • 44 The Ides of March: Caesar assassinated
    27 The Pax Romana: stabile & prosperous empire grows under Augustus

  • 64 The Great Fire of Rome under Emperor Nero
  • Non-Jews, including Nero’s wife, adopt Jewish customs including Sabbath
    70 Roman army suppresses Jewish revolt in Israel. Second Temple destroyed
    100,000 Hebrew slaves sent to Rome
  • 80 Building of Colosseum funded by loot seized from Land of Israel
    Jewish community grows as slaves freed. Synagogues created
    Jewish-Hellenism. Italian Jews read Torah and pray in Greek
    117 Roman Empire reaches its zenith, includes areas from Scotland to India
  • 132 Bar-Kochba revolt in Israel suppressed. Many Jews exiled to Rome
  • Roman Empire faces constant challenges from internal and external forces
    211 Nonetheless, Roman Empire reaches its territorial zenith
  • Pagan tolerance: Jews settle throughout Italy and Empire
    313 Constantine becomes first Christian emperor. Hostility toward Jews grows
  • 330 Roman Empire split in two, with second, eastern capital in Constantinople
    476 End of the Empire: Italy and Roman Empire overrun by Germanic tribes


  • 500 Italy suffers series of invasions with different rulers in different regions
  • Jewish situation varies depending on ruler, region, and church policy
    Jewish population in Italy, once hundreds of thousands, now much lower
    590 Pope Gregory I provides Jews with protection in Rome and elsewhere
  • 1000 Normans establish empire and stability in Sicily and southern Italy
  • ewish communities now mainly concentrated in south and Sicily
  • Dynamic city-states rule the north including in Venice, Florence, and Milan
    1400 The Renaissance: intellectual and artistic flowering in the city-states
    1452 Leonardo da Vinci, polymath and painter, born in Florence
    1469 Spreading the word: Venice becomes world center for printing books
  • Jewish printers in Venice create revolution in access to Bible and Talmud
    1492 Expelled Spanish and Portuguese Jews and forced converts come to Italy
    They are joined by Jews fleeing Spanish-controlled southern Italy
    Jews now based in north. Their position varies from city-state to city-state
  • 1512 Michelangelo completes painting of Sistine Chapel
  • 1515 The first ghetto: Jews of Venice can live only in this residential quarter
    1555 Rome’s ghetto created. Largest of Italy’s ghettos
    1600 30,000 Jews living in 70 Italian towns or cities, mainly in ghettos
    Conditions and restrictions vary from ghetto to ghetto
  • City-states weaken. Italy rocked by wars & invasions by European powers
    1805 Napoleonic France controls much of Italy
  • Napoleon declares Jews are citizens like all other. Ghettos demolished


  • 1815 Napoleon defeated. Italy again under Austrian & European dominance
  • Return of the ghettos and restrictions on Jews
  • Return of the ghettos and restrictions on Jews
    Rise of the Risorgimento: efforts for an independent, unified Italy grow
    1859 Austrians driven out of central and north Italy by Italian nationalists & allies
    1861 Italian revolutionaries led by Garibaldi conquers Sicily and south
    Nation-state of Italy established under King Victor Emmanuel II
    Local identities and languages remain strong. Only 3% speak Italian
    1871 Rome incorporated into new Italian nation
    Life expectancy less than 30 years
  • Jewish emancipation. Jews, less than 1% of population, flourish in new Italy
  • 1890 Economy & industry in north begins to grow
    South much poorer. Mass migration to US, Brazil, Argentina, & elsewhere
    1901 Despite emigration, population grows to 33 million
  • Jewish life increasingly focused on Rome & urban areas
    1904 Three Jewish prime ministers between 1904 and 1911
  • 1912 All adult males eligible to vote


  • 1914 Italy initially remains neutral upon outbreak of WWI
    1915 Hoping to gain disputed lands, Italy declares war on Austria & join Allies
    1918 Over 600,000 Italians killed in WWI; economy severely damaged
    1924 The world’s first Fascist government: Mussolini win elections
    1926 Mussolini seizes dictatorial powers
  • Fascists do not initially interfere with Jewish social & legal equality
  • 1927 Fascists strike agreement with Catholic Church
    1935 Mussolini, dreaming of new Roman empire, invades Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
  • 1938 Italy strengthens links with Nazis; passes anti-Jewish legislation
  • 1940 Italy, seeking territory, joins WWII with Germany and Japan
    Suffer military disasters in Greece, Balkans, Ethiopia, North Africa, Russia
  • Italian Fascists discriminate against but do not kill or deport Jews
  • 1943 Crumbling regime: Western Allies occupy Sicily and south of country
    Italy surrenders to Allies; Mussolini arrested
    Germany occupies northern Italy, restores Mussolini to power
    Long struggle between Allies & Nazis (& civil war) for Italy begins
  • Nazis start implementing the Final Solution in occupied northern Italy
    Considerable Jewish and non-Jewish resistance to Holocaust
    7,682 Jews out of pre-war population of 44,500 killed
  • 1945 Allies liberate all of Italy. Mussolini killed while fleeing


  • 1946 Italy poor & devastated. 1.2 million homes destroyed during war
    King deposed and republic created. Women’s suffrage was introduced
    Purge of former fascists quickly abandoned
    1947 Economy stabilizes with Marshall Plan assistance from US
    1948 Christian Democrats, a center-right Catholic party, wins election
    For next 50 years, they will lead coalition governments and control state
    Strong Italian Communist Party is their main opposition. Cold war tension
  • Primo Levi’s later-famous book on Auschwitz published but largely ignored
  • 1951 Italy embraces European economic integration & proto EU organizations
    An economic (& baby) boom. Population 47.5 million, double that of 1871
    Northern economy moving fast from agriculture to industry and services
    Massive aid and land reform program launched in south
    1954 South remains poor with average incomes less than a third of that in north
    Local loyalties still powerful. Only 20% speak Italian exclusively
    1960 An “economic miracle.” Economy grows by a remarkable 8 % each year
    Millions moving from rural south to urban north
    1962 Vatican II reforms Catholic Church & condemns anti-Semitism
  • 1965 32,000 Jews. Largest community in Rome including newcomers from Libya
  • 1970 Life expectancy has risen to 72. Birth rates dropping, divorce legalized
    1973 The Years of Lead begin: Far left & right terrorism, economic turmoil
    1978 Abortion laws liberalized
    1980 Economic recovery led by rise of small and medium-size businesses
  • 1982 Palestinian terror attack on Rome’s Great Synagogue
    1986 John Paul II first pope to visit Italian (or any) synagogue for centuries
    1987 State recognizes Jewish right not to work on Shabbat and Jewish holidays
  • 1993 Italy founder member of European Union
    1994 Corruption scandals destroy Christian Democrats & other parties
    Rise of populist political parties and leaders especially Silvio Berlusconi
    Birth rates drop to 1.18 children per woman
  • 1997 Life is Beautiful wins Oscars and raises Italian interest in Holocaust
  • 2008 Italy, with high levels of debt, hit hard by Great Recession
    2015 Italy at forefront of migrant crisis from Syria and Africa
    2017 74.4 % define themselves as Catholic, 27% as actively engaged
  • Museum of Italian Judaism and the Shoah opens in Ferrara
  • 2018 Anti-immigrant regional party heads Italy government
    2019 5 million foreign residents, about 9% of population
    Italian population 60.6 million
  • Jewish population 30,000






We have everything you need to know before you go. Check out our Instagram my_j2adventures for cool updates and interesting tidbits.



Whether you have a journey in mind, want to join a featured trip, or simply want to explore, drop us a note. We work really hard to be a loved travel company that delivers amazing and memorable experiences. So please do not be surprised when we say “yes” to every reasonable request you make!


    Just like you we're concerned for the future. And like you, J2 stands for equality, tolerance, pluralism, and true democracy.