Jewish Cemetery in Finale Emilia (Italy)

Jewish Cemetery in Finale Emilia (Italy)
The Jewish Cemetery in Finale Emilia represents a fundamental trace of the Jewish presence in the area in the last 400 years.

About the Cemetery

The wrought iron gate - entrance of the cemetery

Four hundred years of history narrated by the fifty-eight tombstones that have remained standing to this day; the horto of the Jews (as the Christians called it in ancient times) actually houses the burial places of almost the entire community that has lived in Finale Emilia.

The entrance is through a wrought iron gate, dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, bearing on its top the Star of David, inside which the word Shalom (Peace) is engraved.

Inside, the arrangement of the tombstones, all oriented strictly towards the south-east (towards Jerusalem), ideally divides the space into two parts: on the right, the twenty-three oldest burials, with inscriptions in Hebrew; on the left, the most recent ones, with inscriptions in Italian or bilingual (Italian and Hebrew).

In the centre of the cemetery is the most important tombstone: that of the founder of the Jewish cemetery, the well-known banker Donato Donati, who in 1600 obtained permission from Duke Cesare d'Este to purchase land for cemetery use.

Other illustrious names are linked to this place, even if not physically buried here: the general Rubino Ventura, who had his fortune in what is now Punjab, the well-known librettist Clemente Coen and the journalist Arrigo Levi (a direct descendant of Donato Donati).

Cemetery rehabilitation

After years of neglect, during which access to the cemetery was made impossible by vegetation that had grown out of control, in 1987 a group of volunteers from a local association "R6J6", supported by the Municipal Administration of the time and by numerous benefactors, armed themselves with shears and patience and brought to light a precious treasure that everyone had forgotten about: a fundamental trace of the Jewish presence in Finale Emilia.

On 23 October 1992, the cemetery had been subjected to serious anti-Semitic vandalism, with three tombstones broken and dozens damaged.

Thanks to an important restoration carried out in 2015, promoted by the association Alma Finalis, the tombstones are now white and shiny in their new look.

Today, the cemetery is no longer used for burials, but it is possible to visit it freely on public holidays and every Sunday from March to November.

Important graves and monuments

Grave of Donato Donati

Some of the important graves and monuments at the Jewish Cemetery in Finale Emilia are:

  • Donato Donati - Natan ben Semu’el Natan (1631)
  • Elvira Castelfranchi (1945)
  • Simha Formigine (1585)
  • Aharon Castelnuovo (1855)
  • Cabiria Ferrari in Rimini (1966)

Cemetery Significance

From an artistic point of view, the restoration work carried out over the years has made it a place of rare beauty and much appreciated by visitors.

The variety of shapes of the tombstones is surprising: two- or three-arched tombstones, richly decorated sarcophagi, a stone topped with a crown reminiscent of the Torah scroll. This is a varied and thought-provoking collection of art-historical tombstones.

From a historical point of view, the cemetery is the subject of regular guided tours on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Day of Jewish Culture, as well as visits by appointment.

In May 2020 it was the subject of the "Giornate di Primavera del FAI" (FAI Spring Days) initiative organised by the FAI (Fondo Ambientale Italiano); aware of the importance of the place, FAI chose the Jewish cemetery together with the old ghetto area, and over 600 visitors came and visited them during the opening days.

We are also promoting knowledge of this property and its history by involving schools of all levels, like guided tours for primary schools, and study and research courses for high schools. Several researchers, especially from Israel, have taken an interest in the cemetery and visited it.

Beside burials, it should be noted that the cemetery also contains five commemorative plaques in memory of the most tragic period in Jewish history. These commemorate victims of the racial laws of 1938 and of the Shoah, but also people who distinguished themselves by saving Jews in difficulty (the so-called Righteous Among the Nations), like Don Benedetto Richeldi. Finally, there is also a plaque in memory of Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, benefactor of the Jewish cemetery and promoter of its reopening in 1987.

You can find a short video about the cemetery at THIS LINK.


Vicolo Gozzi 1,
41034 Finale Emilia (MO)


Anna Rita Molesini
Phone: +39 349 7394298

Basic cemetery data

Managing organization: Association Alma Finalis APS
Cemetery area: 3582 m2
Cemetery type: religious cemetery
Number of graves: 58