Rewriting the Jew in Restoration Italy

The Stories of Salvatore Tivoli and Samuelle Cavalieri
  • Ariella Lang
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


In the years following the fall of Napoleon, the Vatican found itself embroiled in two particularly striking cases of conversion: the first, known as the Labani affair, involved a young Roman Jew named Salvatore Tivoli, who converted to Catholicism in 1804 at the age of twenty-three, taking the name Giuseppe Labani. According to Rome’s baptismal registry, he was one of only twelve individuals to convert that year.1 Since conversion entailed cutting ties completely with the Jewish community, the rector of the Catechumens, Don Filippo Colonna, hired Tivoli as a cook until the young man could find accommodation and a job outside of the ghetto.2 About a year after his conversion, however, Tivoli had a change of heart, renounced his newly adopted religion and sought to return to Judaism. He could not return to the Jewish community in Rome, since under Inquisition law apostasy was a crime for which one would be imprisoned.3 Forced to flee the Papal States altogether, Tivoli sailed to Turkey, where he settled among the Jewish community of Adrianopolis. In 1808, however, Tuscany was annexed to the French empire. For Tivoli, this change of government meant that he could finally return to one part of the Italian peninsula without fear of being arrested.


Jewish Community Papal State Jewish Woman French Revolution Italian Peninsula 
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© Ariella Lang 2008

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  • Ariella Lang

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