Italian Word of the Week FIORINO

italicsBy Daniela Gross

Let’s be clear. If you ask Italians what a “fiorino” is, most of them more likely will tell you it is a popular van made by Fiat. But the word’s roots actually go back to a time that recalls the glorious history of Florence. The golden florin – in Italian the “fiorino d’oro” – was a coin in use from 1252 to 1533 in the Republic of Florence. It was a precious coin (today its value would be about $200) and was the first European gold coin to play a significant commercial role on the old continent thanks to notable issues of currency and to the international network of Florentine banks. Since 1988 the “fiorino” has become the most important gift of honor bestowed by the City of Florence to those who have distinguished themselves by their achievements. Recently, as you can read in this issue, this award was accorded to Rav Joseph Levi, Chief Rabbi of Florence, for his commitment to interfaith dialogue. It is an important acknowledgment for Italian Jewry and for the historical Jewish Community of Florence (do visit the magnificent Moorish-style synagogue built in 1882 whenever you should visit Florence). The “Fiorino d’oro” recognizes the intricate work necessary to connect the different religions, traditions and habits which has become crucial in contemporary society. This message maybe never as necessary as today.