SANTA MARIA AL BAGNO, GALLIPOLI & NARDO
During today’s excursions, we will tour the places visited by the women in the documentary film, Shores of Light. The film follows three women from Tel Aviv who return to Puglia to visit where they were born and raised between 1946 and 1948.
You will stroll the stone streets of Puglia’s small towns – including Santa Maria al Bagno, Santa Caterina, Nardò and Gallipoli. The group will be accompanied by a Jewish history expert from the university – who assisted the film maker in researching Puglia’s recent past. Dinner and overnight in Lecce.
In the final years of World War II, numerous Jewish refugees arrived to Puglia from northern and eastern Europe. Having escaped Nazi persecution, the refugees resided in southern Puglia – awaiting the time when they could emigrate to Israel.
The headquarters of emigration were located at Villa Saetta in the town of Santa Maria al Bagno. The “Jewish Municipality” was housed at Villa Persone. Other historic villas in the area – Villa Fonte and Villa Falco — were converted into cafeterias and training schools for the thousands of Jewish refugees.
The refugee community’s Synagogue was housed in a private home on the town square. Refugees were housed in holiday homes, as well as with the local residents of S. Maria al Bagno. About 2600 refugees were reported in Puglia in 1946, reaching 4000 on May 5, 1948 — the birth of the State of Israel was declared.