Italian winery denies that it has no room for Jews

By Jennifer Lipman, July 16, 2012

An Italian winery has furiously denied claims by an Israeli tour operator that it refused bookings for Jewish and Israeli visitors.

A tour operator based in northern Israel contacted the Fattoria Sant'Appiano in Tuscany over the weekend, intending to arrange a visit for some Israeli clients. The winery has a four and a half star average on the travel rating website Trip Advisor.

The woman, who said she was passed from the owner to her English-speaking daughter Barbara, said she told them that she had some clients interested in staying there.

According to the woman, Barbara said "that she did not take Israelis".

"I asked her, does that mean that you won't allow Jews? She responded yes," said the woman, who asked not to be named. She said she repeated the question and was told the same thing, and did not get the chance to ask about specific dates.

Her claims were denied by the Fattoria Sant'Appiano, whose hostess said it was "a terrible misunderstanding" and that Israelis and Jews had stayed there in the past.

"I attempted to explain that we have no more room for any visitors from now to September afternoon for us high season, but we would be happy to welcome this person's group in the morning," said Barbara. "We are happy to have visitors from Israel, Canada, the United States and anywhere else and we bear no ill feelings to Jewish people. I apologise if I offended someone, it was not my intention."

An Italian mediator, Giorgio Pogliano, who contacted the winery after hearing of the allegations, said he was totally convinced by the explanations. He also noted that if they had intended to discriminate against Jews or Israelis, "all they would have to do is to say that, oh, it turned out there was no room" rather than openly voice prejudice.

He said: "I believe this was a tragic misunderstanding but, even if it wasn't, I do hope you know it is not representative of the attitudes of 99 per cent of Italians."

Last updated: 2:16pm, July 16 2012