There are records of a number of different areas in Naples having been inhabited by the Jewish community. These voluntary groupings came about, depending on the period, due to various factors (the quality of relations with the majority society, as well as the need to share a culture, facilities and businesses). It is not known which neighbourhood was the first to host a Jewish group. What’s certain is that Jews lived in the area at the foot of the Monterone hill near the monastery of San Marcellino – which can now be seen between the S. Marcellino steps and Via Leopoldo Rondinò – from the tenth century onwards. The vast efforts made during the Byzantine siege of 536 to defend a nearby section of city walls has, however, led to theories of there having been a Jewish presence in the area even as early as that. A few centuries later, according to an official deed from 984, there are reliable records of a synagogue
and, later, other Jewish-owned properties. San Marcellino was an area with plenty of wells and baths, and it is almost certain that there must have been a mikveh
near the synagogue. As the Jewish population grew in the 12th
centuries, the Giudecca spread as far as what is now Piazza Portanova and beyond; this section was named Giudecca Grande
or “di Portanova”.