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Visiting the Jewish Catacomb on the Vigna Randanini

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The Jewish catacomb was discovered in 1859 on the property then known as the "Vigna Randanini" between the via Appia Antica and via Appia Pignatelli. The catacomb can be visited by small groups of no more then twelve people on the first Monday of each month. As a custodian must be present to open the gates and accompany the visitors through the underground galleries, it is essential for groups to reserve well in advance; individuals can inquire about spaces available on already-scheduled tours. The proprietors of the Vigna Randanini organize a schedule of these public visits and can be contacted by e-mail (laeti@tiscalinet.it) or by fax (+39/06/68806897). They can be contacted also for special permission to visit the site at other times. Scholars may want to contact as well the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (Inspector for the Appia region: Dr. Rita Paris). Material from this catacomb can be found in several collections inside and outside of Rome (The Museo Nazionale Romano, Capitoline Museums, the Berlin Museum, the Jewish Museum in New York, and the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford). The International Catacomb Society has an extensive collection of pictures from the site, as do the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology and, from more recent work done in the catacomb, the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma.

Interested parties should always bear in mind that the catacomb has no permanent lighting system: it is the responsibility of the visitor to bring flashlights or lamps. The limit on group size stated above is to minimize the risk of injuries and allow each participant to see the catacomb’s many interesting features. The itinerary starts from the exterior mausoleum on the via Appia Pignatelli and continues through several of the wider galleries until it reaches the areas containing the "kokhim" graves and painted cubicula. This is the same route one takes to exit the site, although there is a second entrance close to the via Appia Antica (no. 110). The catacomb’s condition is very good, and its smaller size than many of the Christian catacombs open to the public allows a visitor to see diverse regions, tomb forms and many inscriptions during a tour. The International Catacomb Society can recommend multi-lingual guides familiar with the site.

The address of the Jewish catacomb is the via Appia Pignatelli, no. 4. At the corner of this street and the vicolo della basilica di San Sebastiano is a large double gate: this entrance is used for parking on-site. The catacomb can also be reached by public transportation using the following routes: bus 218 from San Giovanni in Laterano to the catacomb of San Callisto or 118 from the Ostiense subway/train station to the church and catacombs of San Sebastiano. From these points, take a left onto the vicolo della basilica di San Sebastiano and follow this lane to the corner; the gates to the catacomb are on the first left.

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