ORVIETO, town in Umbria, central Italy. Jewish loan bankers appeared there as early as 1297, being given citizenship rights and permitted to carry weapons. In 1334 one of them was sent as envoy to a neighboring town. The prosperity of the Jewish community induced many families from outside to settle there, as did a group of Jews from Viterbo in 1396. The anti-Jewish sermons of the *Franciscan friars later caused the position of Jews to deteriorate. However, Jewish moneylending activities continued until a monte di pietá was established in 1464. After Orvieto came under the rule of the Church in the second half of the 16th century, anti-Jewish legislation was strictly enforced. When in 1569 Pius V decreed the expulsion of the Jews from the Papal States, the Jewish community effectively ceased to exist, although some families came back for a short time under Sixtus V (1585–90). The name of the church of St. Gregorio nella Sinagoga in Orvieto still commemorates the former Jewish settlement.
Roth, in: RMI, 17 (1951), 430ff.; Milano, Italia, index.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.