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In the first three centuries of the empire Jews were found in Campania: Naples , Capua , and Salerno ; in Basilicata, Apulia, and Calabria : Bari , Otranto, Taranto, Venosa , and Reggio ; and in Sicily : Syracuse , Catania , and Agrigento .In northern Italy, the presence of Jews has been traced in Civitavecchia, Ferrara , Brescia , Milan , Pola, and Aquileia .It was mitigated by his successor Nerva , but the tax was not abolished until two centuries later.The Jewish uprisings against Roman rule which broke out in Judea, Egypt, and Cyrenaica during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian and culminated in the heroic but vain revolt of Simeon Bar Kokhba (132–5) are not recorded to have affected the Jews in Italy.The communities centered on the synagogues, of which 12 are known to have existed in Rome, although not contemporaneously. This picture emerges from the numerous inscriptions found in the Jewish catacombs rather than from the evidence provided by the generally hostile Roman intellectuals.Outside Rome the position was substantially similar, as may be deduced from tombstone inscriptions.
Cultural standards were not high, although there were painters, actors, and poets. The religious convictions and customs of the Jews aroused a certain interest among some sectors of the Roman population and sometimes attracted adherents.Initially, Jews settled in the ports: Ostia, Porto, Pozzuoli, Pompeii, Taranto , and Otranto .They subsequently spread inland, although it is impossible to state the relative numbers.The record of Italian Jewry provides one of the most complex and fascinating chapters in the history of the Jewish Diaspora.
The Jewish population in Italy today is approximately 28,000.
Antoninus Pius (138–61), Caracalla (211–7), Alexander Severus (222–35), and probably other emperors displayed benevolence toward Jews.