One of the more fascinating things that I saw during my last trip to Sicily was behind the wall where this eclectic lantern is hanging. It’s the Bagno Ebraico, Mikveh, or Jewish Bath of Siracusa that was discovered 20 years ago, when Amalia Daniel di Bagni was renovating a building she purchased to build a hotel. That property became the Residence Hotel alla Giudecca, where today, on the hour, you can enter history with a visit 3 stories down below the street level (18 meters underground!).
Down the stairway that was cut into the stone, and that was once filled with earth and garbage and hidden behind a wall, you will find chambers with 5 freshwater, spring fed tubs also cut into the ground’s stone. The tubs are large enough to immerse yourself in them. This was the point of the mikveh, to ritually cleanse oneself with springfed, fresh water. Seeing the bath was fascinating. And learning about why it was hidden – – because of the Spanish Inquisition that started in 1492 – – was tragic.
(No photos allowed. You must visit!)