Hotel Toledo is a three star hotel in Naples, located about 800 meters away from Piazza del Plebiscito and 1,2 kilometers away from the harbour, with a great view of the Sant’Elmo Fortress. Set on the outskirts of the Spanish Quarter, a few steps from the famous Via Toledo, with its elegant shops, Hotel Toledo allows you to stay right in the heart of old Naples. Although the 3-storey building dates back to 1725, inside you can enjoy modern amenities. A free internet point is available at reception and comfortable rooms come with Wi-Fi access and satellite television. Enjoy an Italian breakfast on the rooftop terrace, full of plants and flowers, and with plenty of space for you to sit and enjoy the sun. HOW TO GET THERE Hotel Toledo is situated only 150 meters away from the Toledo subway station, on the Metro Line 1. If you need a map to find it, use the one below.
Gay-Odin is a chain of eleven stores, nine in Naples and one in Rome and Milan, that offers wonderful handmade chocolate products. SHORT HISTORY The history of Gay-Odin, the famous Neapolitan chocolate shop, starts at the end of the 19th century, when the twenty-three year old Isidoro Odin, young chocolatier from Alba, embarks on his journey to Naples. Here, the combinations of flavors made by the young alchemist will seduce customers so much that, to satisfy everyone, Isidoro will open two other locations, the first in Via Toledo and then, in 1922, the factory in Via Vetriera, 12. Shortly, Gay-Odin has become a must, and the aromas created by Isidoro are officially part of the flavors of the Neapolitan tradition. In the sixties, Isidoro Odin and his wife Onorina Gay transfer their method to the Castaldi-Maglietta family. Both the choice of ingredients and the processing method remain the same, and Isidoro continues to manage the factory, supported by Nino and Giulio Castaldi. From the workshop of Via Chiaia, to the Chocolate Factory and to the online sale of artisan chocolate, Gay-Odin offers everyone the opportunity to be tempted by the artisan creations of their Maître Chocolatier. HOW TO Read more [...]
Gran Caffè Gambrinus is a historic coffee house in Naples, located in Via Chiaia, near the Piazza del Plebiscito. In the Gran Caffè Gambrinus’ art nouveau halls, the espresso coffee is brewed according to the old neapolitan recipe: dark, dense and hot. In recent years, the café has been enriched with tasty variations to the traditional espresso coffee: cream, chocolate, hazelnut and many other ingredients are combined with care and creativity to offer its guests an unforgettable taste experience. The Gran Caffè Gambrinus offers a vast assortment of typical neapolitan pastries and refined creations of chocolate, entirely homemade. Also, its laboratories are specialized in the production of ice cream. HOW TO GET THERE Gran Caffè Gambrinus is situated in the north corner of Piazza del Plebiscito. The closest bus station is Trieste E Trento, about 50 meters away, on the bus line E6, while the nearest subway station is Municipio, on the Metro Line 1, at about 500 meters away.
Le Officine Bistrot is a restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine, located in Via Andrea d’Isernia 6, in Naples. The restaurant welcomes you in two well lit rooms, minimal and colorful decorated. The service is quite polite and the atmosphere is pleasant. In this elegant and refined setting, Le Officine Bistrot offers its guests a fresh cuisine, linked to tradition, but with surprising touches of new. Here, you can find raw and warm starters, fresh fish, seafood, good wine and delicious desserts. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Crispi-Arco Mirelli, at about 130 meters from the restaurant, on the bus line 627. If you would like to find it on foot, use the map below.
Basilica of San Francesco di Paola is an impressive church in Piazza del Plebiscito, in Naples, one of the most important examples of neoclassical architecture in Italy. SHORT HISTORY Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law through marriage to his younger sister, Caroline Bonaparte, and King of Naples from 1808 to 1815, started a project of urban renewal of the city during his reign. This affected the suburban area, which later became Piazza del Plebiscito, home to numerous convents and gardens, as well as a place frequented by criminals. The French general ordered the demolition of the buildings and the construction of a square that was supposed to take the name of Foro Gioacchino. The works began in 1809, but were never completed due to the ousting of Joachim Murat from Naples and the restoration of the Bourbon crown. Back to the throne, Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies decided to build a church in the square, and the competition was won by the architect Pietro Bianchi, who had partly rediscovered the old project of Murat. Domenico Barbaia became responsible for building the church and the first stone was laid on 17 June 1816. The facade was finished in 1824, the interior Read more [...]
One of the oldest churches in Lucca, Basilica of San Frediano is built in Romanesque style in the square with the same name, Piazza San Frediano. Every year, on the evening of September 13, the candlelit procession of Luminara di Santa Croce, part of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, starts here. SHORT HISTORY An ancient church was built in this place in the 6th century, dedicated to the three holy Levites Vincenzo, Stefano and Lorenzo. The construction of this church is owed to San Frediano, an Irish pilgrim who was bishop of Lucca between 560 and 588. During the Longobard domination, the church was enlarged. At the end of the 8th century, a crypt was built for the body of San Frediano. In 1112, it began the rebuilding of the church, that will be consecrated in 1147 by Pope Eugene III. The project included a church with three naves and an apse, with the facade facing east, unlike the Augustinian rule that oriented it to the west. In the 12th century, the church was lower than we see today. The raising of the central nave and the construction of the wooden ceiling dates back to Read more [...]
Basilica of San Michele in Foro is a beautiful church in Lucca, located in the square with the same name, Piazza San Michele. SHORT HISTORY In the 8th century, at the center of the ancient Roman forum, a church dedicated to San Michele (Archangel Michael) was built, together with a monastery and a hospital. Around 1070, by the will of Pope Alessandro II, the reconstruction of the church began, and ended much later, in the 14th century. The new church will have three naves, Corinthian columns with capitals and an apse. The bell-tower was built around the same period, but was later cut off by Giovanni dell’Agnello, Doge of Pisa from 1364 to 1368, because the sound of its bells could be heard from Pisa. During the medieval period, access to the church was made by crossing a wooden bridge, called Ponte al Foro, which passed over the canal Fossa Natali. At the beginning of the 13th century, the works were carried out by the architect Guidetto. ART AND ARCHITECTURE San Michele in Foro is a church with a Latin cross plan, built in Romanesque style. The facade is adorned with four levels of loggias and surmounted by Read more [...]
Fontebranda is an interesting medieval fountain in Siena, near the Porta di Fontebranda, one of the remaining gates in the ancient city walls. SHORT HISTORY Fontebranda was first mentioned in the year 1081, expanded in 1193 and rebuilt of bricks and travertine in 1246 by Giovanni di Stefano, for the Wool Guild, who needed a permanent source of water. Fontebranda is, probably, the most famous fountain in Tuscany, because it was mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. St. Catherine of Siena was born and lived near the fountain, and that is why she is also known as the Saint of Fontebranda. ARCHITECTURE The source is characterized by three large ogival gothic arches surmounted by merlons and a row of blind arches with triangular motifs. The front is adorned with four lion-shaped gushes, with the emblem of Siena in the center. Beyond the water tank, there are more than 25 kilometers of conduits, partly excavated and partly inside the wall, whose medium height is about 1.75 meters, with a width of about 0.90 meters. Today, you can walk through this tunnels, where rainwater, collected in a small channel carved in the walkway, flows with an inclination of Read more [...]
Palazzo della Carovana, also known as Palazzo dei Cavalieri, is a palace with a beautiful facade located in Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square), in Pisa, between the Palazzo dell’Orologio and the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. The palace was once the headquarter of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, but since 1846 it houses the Scuola Normale Superiore. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo della Carovana was built between 1562 and 1564 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, drastically restructuring the medieval Palace of the Elders (Palazzo degli Anziani). Some remains of the old building are still visible along the sides of the palace. In 1810, Napoleon suppressed the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen and gave the building to the Scuola Normale Superiore, the university he founded. The double-flight marble staircase was built in 1821 by Giuseppe Marchelli and the rear part of the building was added between 1928 and 1930, after a design by Giovanni Girometti, on the occasion of the revival of the Scuola Normale. ART AND ARCHITECTURE Vasari regularized the uneven medieval facade, fusing three arts he mastered – architecture, sculpture and painting. The sgraffiti with allegorical figures and zodiacal signs, designed by Vasari Read more [...]
The Old Citadel (Cittadella Vecchia) is an ancient fortress built on the Arno river, in Pisa, where, a few hundreds years ago, it was the outer wall of the city. Near the Citadel, it was the Republican Arsenal, where the ships of the Marine Republic of Pisa were built, ships that contributed to the city’s rise as a Mediterranean power in the Medieval times. SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 15th century, the shipyard was enlarged and transformed to what will be later known as the Old Citadel, in opposition to the New Citadel (Cittadella Nuova), built in 1440 on the other side of the city. About the same time, the Guelph Tower (Torre Guelfa) was built. At the beginning of the 1900s, the area was called Piazza d’Armi and housed the 7th Artillery Regiment divisions, the 22nd Infantry Regiment and a small theater. In 1944, during the Second World War, the whole area was badly damaged by bombing, and the citadel along with the Guelph Tower were completely destroyed, with the exception of the Republican Arsenal. In 1956, the tower was rebuilt and the area of the citadel was recovered, after a project of Giovanni Michelucci. Today, Read more [...]
Piazza dei Signori or Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful square in the historic center of Padua, with the famous Clock Tower and the Palazzo del Capitanio on one side and the Church of San Clemente on the other. Its name comes from Palazzo della Signoria, residence of the Lords of Padua between 1318 and 1405, a building that does not exist anymore. SHORT HISTORY Piazza dei Signori appeared in the 14th century on the place of an ancient district, as the result of an urban reorganization promoted by Ubertino da Carrara, Lord of Padua. The war between the Carraresi and the Visconti at the end of the 14th century damaged the square and left it in ruins until the ‘20s of the 15th century, when the Venetians started a work of recovery. At first, the square was paved with terracotta tiles, arranged in a herringbone pattern, gradually replaced starting from the 18th century by tiles of Euganean trachyte. Following a speech by Father Alessandro Gavazzi, on May 9, 1848, the square became Piazza Pio IX, the heart of the anti-Austrian popular movement. Then, it became Piazza Unità d’Italia, to return to its original name during the Fascist era. Read more [...]
After you pass Peggy Guggenheim Museum, on Grand Canal, coming from the Ponte dell’Accademia, you have on your right a relatively small but very elegant building, built in a Gothic style with Renaissance elements, called Palazzo Dario or, closer to the Venetian language, Ca’ Dario. SHORT HISTORY It is not known exactly when Palazzo Dario was built, but some say that it underwent a major reconstruction in 1487 and the architect Pietro Lombardo was the one who dealt with the project. The architect restored the palace for the Venetian Senator Giovanni Dario, an important man of those times, diplomat and trader alike. After the death of Giovanni Dario, in 1494, the palace was inherited by his illegitimate daughter, Marietta. Married to Vincenzo Barbaro, she has practically brought the palace to the Barbaro family, which already owned two palaces – one in the immediate vicinity (Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff) and one on the other side of Canal Grande, closer to Ponte dell’Accademia, Palazzo Barbaro. Ca’ Dario will be in the possession of the Barbaro family until the middle of the 19th century. After that, it will change its owners several times until 2006, when it will be bought by some Americans Read more [...]
The palace with one of the most characteristic facades overlooking the Grand Canal, Palazzo Barbarigo, is located in the sestiere Dorsoduro, not far from the Ponte dell’Accademia, between Palazzo Da Mula Morosini and Campo San Vio. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Barbarigo was built in the 16th century, in the middle of the Renaissance. At the end of the 19th century, the palace became the headquarters of the Compagnia Venezia Murano, producer of glass and mosaics. The company renovated the building and had the facade covered with mosaics designed by the painter Giulio Carlini and applied in 1886 by Fratelli Testolini (Testolini Brothers), owners of the Fratelli Testolini company, specialized in the production of sculpted artistic furniture, glassware, mosaics, textiles and furnishing accessories. ARCHITECTURE Palazzo Barbarigo is a typical sixteenth-century building, of beautiful proportions, with simple arched windows, juxtaposed at the center of the upper floors and linked horizontally by marble bands. The frieze between the upper floors shows thirty-five cherubs pursuing various arts, including painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. The two murals commemorate the 16th century royal visits in Venice of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, speaking to Tiziano on the scaffolding of St. Mark’s Basilica, and of Read more [...]
Only a few meters away from the Rialto Bridge and the Rialto Market, there is a church considered to be the oldest in Venice, the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, or San Giacometto. SHORT HISTORY It is believed that the church was consacrated on March 25, 421, but the studies have shown that it was built much later. In a document from 1097, the place is mentioned, but without the church, and the first certain information dates back to 1152. It seems that the church was consecrated in 1177 by the Doge Sebastiano Ziani. In 1513, the church escaped the serious fire that devastated the nearby market. In 1531, it underwent a restoration, and again in 1601, after an order of the Doge Marino Grimani, with the floor being raised to face the high water. Currently, the Church of San Giacomo is a rectorial church, dependent on the parish of San Silvestro. ARCHITECTURE Interesting are the exterior with the bell tower, the large clock and the Gothic porch, one of the last examples of this kind left in the city. The clock, added to the church in 1410, was restored in 1749, and the entire facade was Read more [...]
The Church of San Barnaba is a beautiful church in Dorsoduro, in Venice, with a facade inspired by a Greek temple, known by many for being featured in a few scenes of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. SHORT HISTORY The church was founded in 936, on the place of a previous church, San Lorenzo, which would probably have been built at beginning of the 9th century. Because of the numerous fires, the Church of San Barnaba underwent several reconstructions, until it was consecrated on December 6, 1350. The current appearance dates back to 1779, when it was completed the renovation work begun in 1749, on a project by the architect Lorenzo Boschetti. In 1810, in full Napoleonic rule, the parish was suppressed and the church was deconsecrated. ARCHITECTURE The façade of the church, designed by Lorenzo Boschetti, was built in 1749 in a classical style, with Corinthian style columns. The interior has a single-nave structure, with six side altars, three on the right and three on the left, all decorated with paintings, except one, and a presbytery with a square plan. The bell-tower, built in Romanesque style, stands detached from the church. The bell-tower, with Read more [...]
The Church of San Rocco is one of the four plague churches in Venice, along with San Giobbe, San Sebastiano and the Salute. The church was built for the Confraternity of San Rocco, founded in the plague year 1478, with the mission to help the poor and the sick, particularly the people suffering from the disease. San Rocco is the only Venetian church designed as a sacrarium for the remains of its titular saint, St. Roch, whose body is preserved within the high altar. SHORT HISTORY A church was standing on this place before 1485. The new church was built after a design by the architect Pietro Bon, starting with 1489. In March, 1490, the left side-chapel of the presbytery was finished and ready to receive the remains of St. Roch, which were to be brought from San Silvestro. A competition for the construction of the high altar was won in 1517 by Venturino Fantoni, who designed a reliquary-altar, developed in Venice by the sculptor-architects Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. After 1680, the church was almost entirely demolished and rebuilt between 1726 and 1733 by the architect Giovanni Scalfarotto, who kept only the fifteenth century chancel and the ground-plan of Read more [...]
Approximately 250 meters to the Rialto Bridge, overlooking the Canal Grande, there is a palace known for the architectural structure of its ground floor, with a portico along the whole facade divided by very tall columns, Palazzo Michiel dalle Colonne. SHORT HISTORY The palace may have been built in the 13th century by the Grimani family, whose coat of arms is carved in an old well in the courtyard. Originally, it probably followed the Venetian-Byzantine style typical of the period. From 1661, the palace is attested as the property of the Zen family, and is named dalle Colonne (of the Columns). To them, we owe the partial rebuilding to a design by Antonio Gaspari, completed in 1697. In 1702, the palace was given to Ferdinando Carlo di Gonzaga-Nevers, the last duke of Mantua and Monferrato. He lived there from 1706, when he was exiled by the Austrians who emerged victorious from the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1712, the palace was bought by the Conigli family, nobles of Verona. It seems they have never used it and, two years later, in 1714, they sold it to the Michiel, already owners of various other properties. Like the Zen before, Read more [...]
The Church of San Stae stands on the right bank of the Grand Canal, as you come from Piazzale Roma, heading to Piazza San Marco, between Palazzo Vendramin Calergi and Ca d’Oro, at an equal distance. Its external facade, characterized by rich decorations, faces the Canal Grande, and you can not pass beside it on a vaporetto without at least one admirative look. SHORT STORY The church is said to have been built in 966 and dedicated to Sant’Eustacchio (San Stae, in the Venetian dialect). St. Eustacchio was the commander of Trajan’s army, who would have seen a crucifix between the antlers of a deer, while hunting. The first reference is in a document from 1127, where the church is remembered as a filial parish of San Pietro. This original church, rebuilt in the 12th century following a fire, was demolished in 1678. The current church was built by Giovanni Grassi, who realigned it to face the Grand Canal. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade, which has the form of a temple, with an imposing triangular pediment, supported by columns resting on high pedestals, was built by Domenico Rossi in 1709, whose design was the winner of a competition. Read more [...]
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is an imposing palace on the Grand Canal, in Venice, where the composer Richard Wagner died in 1883. Also, from 1950, Palazzo Vendramin Calergi hosts the oldest casino in the world, Casino di Venezia, established in 1638. SHORT HISTORY The palace was commissioned in the late 15th century by the Loredan family to the famous architect Mauro Codussi. The building was his last work, brought to completion in 1509, five years after his death. In 1581, the palace was sold to the Duke of Brunswick and, after some legal troubles, in 1589, it was bought by a rich nobleman, Vettor Calergi, for his wedding with Isabetta Gritti. Vettor Calergi had only one daughter, Marina, who was married, in 1608, to Vincenzo Grimani. The palace passed, by inheritance, to the sons of Marina with the obligation to take also the surname Calergi. The three sons of Marina remained famous for their ferocity – after the cruel murder of Francesco Querini Stampalia, they were banned from the Republic and deprived of the property, but after a donation to the Senate for war expenses, they were reinstated in assets and titles. In 1739, for dynastic reasons, the palace passed to Read more [...]
The Church of San Geremia e Santa Lucia is a church in Venice, located on the left bank of the Grand Canal, as you are heading to Piazza San Marco, right before its confluence with Canale di Cannaregio. SHORT HISTORY The Church of San Geremia was founded in the 11th century by Mauro Tosello, who used it to house the arm of St. Bartholomew brought from Apulia in 1043. The church was dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah, an old testament figure. The church was rebuilt in 1174 by the Doge Sebastiano Ziani and reconsecrated in 1292. Later, the church was demolished and rebuilt again in 1753, by Carlo Corbellini, a Brescian priest and architect. The first mass was celebrated on April 27th, 1760, during the final works of reconstruction. Following the damage made by the Austrian bombardment from 1849, two facades were built in the second half of the 18th century, one facing Campo San Geremia (St. Jeremiah Square), and the other one oriented towards Cannaregio Canal. A chapel built in 1863 contains the relics of the Sicilian Santa Lucia, stolen by Enrico Dandolo during the Sack of Constantinople, which, in 1204, marked the end of the Fourth Crusade. Read more [...]
Palazzo Flangini is, practically, the first truly monumental building that you meet on the Grand Canal, in Venice, when you are traveling with the vaporetto from the railway station, heading to the Rialto Bridge. Near the Scuola dei Morti, the Flangini Palace consists of two-thirds of an unfinished building, probably designed by Giuseppe Sardi in the second half of the 17th century. SHORT HISTORY It is said that the palace remained unfinished because one of the two brothers who inherited it, in spite of the other, had one of the wings destroyed, cutting the palace in half. The reality, much simpler and more prosaic, is that the old owner lacked the funds and was unable to buy the nearby area necessary for the completion of the building. The building have been built between the years 1664 and 1682 and is attributed to the architect Giuseppe Sardi by the art historian of the 18th century Tommaso Temanza, but some think it could be the project of Baldassarre Longhena. Currently, the building is divided into several private properties. Following an important restoration, the entrance hall and the portego of the building have been taken over by the Valorizzazioni Culturali society, with Read more [...]
Scuola dei Morti (School of the Dead) is a small and charming building from the 17th century, overlooking the Grand Canal, in Venice, placed between Palazzo Flangini and the apse of the Church of San Geremia. SHORT HISTORY The building belonged to the Congregazione della Santissima Madonna del Suffragio dei Morti, known also as the School of the Dead, a religious congregation that, in 1624, has joined the homonymous Confraternity of Rome. A few years earlier, in 1615, the congregation held meetings in the Church of San Geremia, until the parish priest gave them a piece of land in the ancient cemetery, to erect a chapel for the meetings, permission approved by the Venetian Senate in 1659. At the expense of the Savorgnan family, the school was built, but was then destroyed during an Austrian bombing in 1849. Today, after an integral reconstruction, the building is used by the parish of San Geremia. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the one-storey building is simple and has a skull in the center, between two large windows, with an inscription below reminding about the congregation of Scuola dei Morti. HOW TO GET THERE The best place to admire the Scuola dei Read more [...]
Palazzo Malipiero is a palace located on the eastern bank of the Canal Grande, just 100 meters away from Ponte dell’Accademia. The palace is very close to Palazzo Grassi, separated only by the small San Samuele Square. The palace is famous, first of all, as the residence of Giacomo Casanova for a few years, when he was still a teenager. In the chambers of this palace, it seems, the Venetian lover learned the art of love that he will practice so tenaciously later. SHORT HISTORY The palace, also known as Ca’ Grande di San Samuele, was built in the 11th century by the Soranzo family. At the beginning of the 15th century, the palace was in the possession of a powerful Venetian family – the Cappello family, following a marriage. By the mid-sixteenth century, the Cappello family comisioned the widening of the palace and the construction of the facade facing the Canal Grande, which still exists today. Also in the 16th century, through another union, the palace passes from the possession of the Cappello family to that of the Malipiero family. Like the other owners, the Malipiero family took care of the palace, being responsible for a series of Read more [...]
Found across the Canal Grande from Ca’ Pesaro, between Palazzo Ruoda and Rio di Noale, Palazzo Gussoni Grimani Dalla Vida is one of those historic buildings that support the architectural image of a city. Venice, to be a true open-air museum, needs each of these buildings, which, side by side, build a charming ensemble. SHORT HISTORY The palace was designed by the architect Michele Sanmicheli and built between 1548-1556 for the Gussoni family. In the following century, the edifice served as the headquarters for the Accademia Delfica, founded in 1647 by Francesco Gussoni. After the death of the last Gussoni, in 1736, the palace, on the line of kinship, was given to the Minio family. In 1978, the building was sold to the Grimani family, and later, in 1814, it came into possession of the Dalla Vida family, recognized as the last owners, before the palace became the property of the Italian state. Between 1614 and 1618, the Gussoni Grimani Palace was the residence of the English diplomat Sir Henry Wotton, the Doge’s counselor at that time, and also the author of a limited number of poems and translations. ARCHITECTURE The façade of the palace was initially adorned Read more [...]
Also known as the Duomo di Murano, the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato is one of the oldest buildings in the Venetian lagoon. Of byzantine conception, the church preserves the relics of Saint Donatus of Arezzo, martyred in the 4th century after Christ, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Flavius Claudius Iulianus. SHORT HISTORY A document from the year 999 shows that the church had been built in the 7th century, when many refugees from the continent arrived on the Murano Island. Initially, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and later, in 1125, when the relics of St. Donatus were brought from Cephalonia, it received a second patronage. The church, apparently, has been rebuilt at that time, in a Byzantine style, in the form that resisted, to a large extent, until today. The mosaic inside is marked with the year 1141, when these reconstruction works were completed. In the 18th century, the church was redecorated in Baroque style and later, between 1858 and 1873, a return to its original style was attempted. This development of the building was condemned by several voices, because the result was a hybrid between the 12th century style and the Read more [...]
Most of the tourists who arrive on Giudecca Island are attracted by Il Redentore, the famous creation of Andrea Palladio, and only a few know that the island hosts another church attributed to the great architect, the Church of Santa Maria della Presentazione, also known as Chiesa delle Zitelle or, simply, Le Zitelle. SHORT HISTORY Le Zitelle is part of an ecclesiastical complex set up by the Jesuit Benedetto Palmi, to provide shelter to beautiful young girls (zitelle) from poor families who otherwise would become prostitutes. Poor virgins were taken in and trained in lace and music making. They were protected until the age of 18, when they could choose between marriage or becoming nuns. If they chose the marriage, a husband will be found and a dowry will be provided. The church was built between 1581 and 1588 by the architect Jacopo Bozzetto, after a project belonging to Andrea Palladio, which was initially intended for another location. The assignment of the church to Andrea Palladio is somehow controversial. Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio argues that in the absence of the documents that would link Palladio to this creation and because Palladian style is not very Read more [...]
Piazza Grande, one of the most beautiful squares in Tuscany, has been the focal point of public life in Arezzo since the ancient times. The Romanesque apse of the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, built in the 12th century, dominates the west side of the square. Next to the church is the Baroque Palazzo del Tribunale (Palace of Justice) and a little further is the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, where the Museum of the Fraternita dei Laici is located. On the north side, it can be found the Palazzo delle Logge built between 1573 and 1595 after a project by Giorgio Vasari. In front of the Palazzo delle Logge, across the square, there are a series of ancient buildings including the 13th century Torre Faggiolana, the Palazzo Cofani-Brizzolari and the Lappoli tower-house, also from the 13th century. In Piazza Grande, twice a year, in June and September, Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) take place, a traditional festival with a medieval fragrance. HOW TO GET THERE As the main point of the historical center of Arezzo, Piazza Grande is not hard to find. The nearest bus station is Viale Buozzi Opp 5 – Prato, about 250 Read more [...]
The Fraternita dei Laici Museum was founded anew in 2010 in the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, in Arezzo, to exhibit a series of works collected between the 14th and the 19th century. SHORT HISTORY The first collections of the institution were exhibited at the Fraternita dei Laici Museum from 1820, the year of its foundation, to 1935, when most of the art (archeology and science collections, and the library saved after the 1759 fire) was partly sent to the town Civic Museums. Most of the works, about 6000 of them, including 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and ancient furnishings are still in the palace and represent the core of today’s exhibition. ART The Museum is composed of the Quadreria, the Council Room and the Primo Rettore’s Room. Besides the ancient works, the collection was completed around 1780 with the magnificent Gallery of Portraits, a series of effigies of grand dukes and benefactors who made the institution rich since the Middle Ages, including works by Pietro Benvenuti. The Bartolini Collection, composed of drawings, prints, plaster casts and books, is named after its founder, the sculptor Ranieri Bartolini, who left it to the city of Arezzo after his death. Read more [...]
Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici is a palace in Piazza Grande, in Arezzo, known as the headquarters of the Fraternita dei Laici, an institution founded in 1262, still active today and very involved in projects of social and cultural interest. SHORT HISTORY The Palace, begun in 1375, was completed only in the second half of the 16th century. Between 1550 and 1560, the façade was finished with the construction of the balcony and the lunar phases of the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic Clock, built in 1552 by Felice di Salvatore da Fossato. The part of the Palace towards the apse of the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve was completed in the second half of the 17th century, following a project by Giorgio Vasari. The renovation of the Palazzo della Fraternita in 1781, supported by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, led to the opening of the Library of Fraternity to the public. Today, the palace hosts the Fraternita dei Laici Museum, reopened in 2010. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The original painting of Christ from the external lunette of the central portal, replaced by a copy at the end of the 1970s, is now in the National Museum of Medieval and Read more [...]
On the staircase leading to the Cathedral of Arezzo, is placed an imposing statue of Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany between 1587 and 1609. The statue was designed by Giambologna, or Jean Boulogne, known also as Giovanni da Bologna, sculptor remembered for his marble and bronze statuary, but it was sculpted by Pietro Francavilla, a French-Italian sculptor. The statue was erected by the people of Arezzo as a sign of gratitude for the reclamation of the Valdichiana (Chiana Valley), which was an important addition to the territory of Arezzo. HOW TO GET THERE Being only a few meters away from the Arezzo Cathedral, the statue is not hard to find. The closest station is in Via Ricasoli, where you can get with the bus CS2.
The statue of Ferdinando III of Habsburg-Lorraine, located at the end of Piaggia di Murello, in the intersection with Via Saracino, was executed by the Florentine sculptor Stefano Ricci. The statue was placed in Piazza Grande, on 13 April 1822, and a century later, in 1932, it was moved to its current position. Ferdinand III of Habsburg-Lorraine was the Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1790 to 1801 and from 1814 to 1824, Grand Duke of Salzburg from 1803 to 1805 and Grand Duke of Würzburg from 1805 to 1814. The statue was erected in gratitude for his excellent work in the field of communication between Arezzo and Tuscany. Via Anconetana, at the time the main communication route with the Adriatic, was one of his projects. The relief placed at the base of the monument is the work of the Aretine sculptor Ranieri Bartolini. The relief describes allegorically the union of the two tuscan rivers, Chiana and Arno, emblematic moment for the valleys of Arezzo. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is in Via Ricasoli, about 100 meters from the statue, but if you are discovering the historical center of Arezzo on foot, you will probably pass by Read more [...]
Across the road from the Palazzo del Comune, there is another palace called Palazzo della Provincia, seat of the Province of Arezzo, one of the ten provinces of Tuscany. Together with the Palazzo del Comune and the Cathedral of Saints Donato and Peter, Palazzo della Provincia forms a complex very close to an ideal agora, where the main administrative centers of the city are concentrated, in a dominant position of the San Pietro Hill. SHORT HISTORY On February 24, 1913, the administration of the Province decided to build its new headquarters, commissioning the engineer Giuseppe Paoli for this project. The project consisted in a new building to be used as offices and the restoration of two pre-existing buildings. The masonry work, carried out by the company Giuseppe Rossi of Arezzo, was started shortly after and ended only on September 27, 1925, with the official inauguration of the headquarters. Concerning the decorative works, the realization of the frescoes is entrusted, at the suggestion of the designer, to the painter Adolfo De Carolis, in 1922. The sketch is immediately approved and the works – started in the summer of 1922 and executed entirely by De Carolis, are concluded at the end Read more [...]
The Church of Saints Lorentino and Pergentino (Chiesa dei Santi Lorentino e Pergentino) is a small church located along the former ancient Roman road which connected Chiusi, through Arezzo, to Florence. SHORT HISTORY Some historians cite the ancient Passion of Saints Lorentino and Pergentino, dating back to the VI-VII century, to identify the church as the place of the burial of two Christian martyrs, Lorentino and Pergentino, beheaded on 3 June 250 by the Emperor Decius. Little information exists regarding what happened with the church between the burial of the martyrs and the Middle Ages. A document from 1135 shows that the church belonged to the Benedictine abbey of Saints Flora and Lucilla. In the year 1204, the parish was given to the monks of Camaldoli, to compensate the sale of their church of San Pier Piccolo. They took care of the church from 1252 until the sixteenth century. In 1663, it seems that, of the entire complex, only the church remained. Later, the church was also abandoned and reduced to a barn. This process of continuous decay up to the loss of the entire western part, that of the façade, and the near construction of numerous huts and Read more [...]
Palazzo del Comune, seat of the Town Hall of Arezzo, was built in 1333 as Palazzo dei Priori, on the top of the hill of San Pietro, a short distance from the Cathedral of Santi Donato e Pietro. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Comunale, located on the west side of Piazza della Libertà, was home to the supreme magistrature of the Comune of Arezzo. The original facade of the building, from the 14th century, can be seen from Via Ricasoli, as the rest of the structure has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries. In 1454, there was a first major renovation and, in 1466, the large clock was mounted on the tower. In the second half of the 16th century, a new makeover of the palace began after a design by the famous Florentine architect Alfonso Parigi, which ended in 1602. The layout of the stairs was changed and the large internal portico was built. In 1650, the façade collapsed and some frescoes painted by Lorentino d’Andrea were lost. The reconstruction was carried out by slightly withdrawing the front of the building. In 1715, a bell dedicated to the Madonna and San Donato was placed in the tower. The last major Read more [...]
Janniderma is a brand under which are designed, produced and sold only exclusive leather products 100% made in Florence. In Janniderma boutique, you can find leather garments and bags, esclusive fashion creations individually being handmade by skilled Italian artisans. Their collections are not mass produced and each piece is unique. Janni was born in Greece in 1957, and in 1982 he graduated in architecture at Florence University. In 1991, he created the Italian brand name Janniderma, designing its collections which he sells exclusively in his boutique located in via dei Benci, 16R and on his website. HOW TO GET THERE The nearest bus station is Corso Dei Tintori, on Line 23 and C3, only 120 meters away from the store. If you need precise directions, use the map below.
Massai Orafi is a jewelry store in Florence, with a history of more than 50 years, which produces bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings with a special design. Situated in the historic centre of Florence, on the top floor of a sixteenth-century building, Massai Orafi creates unique handmade pieces of jewellery using techniques that were transmitted from the ancient time of Florentine goldsmithing. Visit the workshop to discover their extensive selection of jewellery and gain an insight into how a piece of jewellery is made. HOW TO GET THERE The shop is about 200 meters from the Ponte Vecchio bridge and only 100 meters from the nearest bus station, Porta Rossa, on Line C2.
Bartolucci is a network of stores that first appeared in Italy, then spread around the world, producing and selling wooden decorations. In Florence, there are three Bartolucci stores, located in Via della Condotta, 12 (Firenze 1), in Via Borgo dei Greci, 11 (Firenze 2) and in Via Guicciardini, 6/R (Pinocchio Store). Bartolucci offers gifts and collectibles, accessories for interior decoration and toys, all made in Italy. Each object is based on an original design, hand-worked and assembled through a process which includes, on average, more than ten steps. In particular, the models of the Pinocchio line have a high-quality craftsmanship, as they all are entirely hand-made and hand-painted. Bartolucci name is linked to woodworking since 1936. In that year, four Bartolucci brothers founded a small accordion factory in Belvedere Fogliense, which remained in business until the fifties. In 1981, Francesco Bartolucci resumed the family tradition, by carving his first puppet. HOW TO GET THERE The store from Via della Condotta is only 60 meters away from Piazza della Signoria. The closest bus station is Condotta, about 130 meters from the store. For the right directions, use the map below.
Villa Antea is a family-run yet luxurious B&B located in one of the most charming neighborhoods of Florence, only 15 minutes walking distance from the historical center of the city. With only six rooms, it is not just a bed and breakfast, but a little piece of paradise from where to discover one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. The B&B is the ideal choice for a romantic and quiet stay slightly outside the hustle of the city’s everyday life. Each room is decorated with satin fabrics and antique furniture. The bathrooms are large, entirely decorated with Carrara marble. Like a boutique hotel, Villa Antea has bright, cozy and spacious rooms with very high ceilings. HOW TO GET THERE There are two bus stations at the same distance from the B&B. One is Puccinotti and the other is Ruffini, both on the Line 12. For the right directions to the hotel, use the map below.
Alloro B&B is a romantic Bed & Breakfast in the historic center of Florence, a 5 minute walk from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, in a 15th century palace with an internal courtyard facing a picturesque alley. The B&B has only 5 rooms, a mix of Florentine tradition and modern comforts. In the morning, they serve breakfast in the hall, or, if you want it, in your very own room. The hotel staff speak Italian, English, French and German, and they can suggest what to see, how to get around the city, where to go shopping and where to eat. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Cappelle Medicee, on Line C1, about 100 meters away from the hotel. If you need the right directions to the B&B, use the map below.
Sina Villa Medici is a five-star hotel included in Sina Hotels Group, one of the most luxurious accommodations you can find in Florence. Recently, following a nine-month refurbishment, Sina Villa Medici received a new and splendid look. The entire hotel underwent a makeover which respected the history of this ancient palace, that has attracted so many celebrities down the years. The rooms have parquet flooring, modern furnishings, fabrics in shades of grey, TVs starting at 42” and lighting that sets just the right atmosphere. The new look has also been adopted in bathrooms, which have been completely modernized. Almost all the rooms have balconies or terraces with views overlooking the hotel’s lush private gardens and Florence’s monuments. Despite the fact that Villa Medici is right in the heart of Florence, the hotel’s incomparable setting is a green oasis with its garden and swimming pool. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Rucellai, on Line D, only 50 meters from the hotel. About 600 meters from Sina Villa Medici, is the Church of Santa Maria Novella and the train station with the same name.
La Buchetta is a restaurant located on Via dei Benci, 3, offering traditional Tuscan cuisine. From their menu, it stands out the famous Bistecca Fiorentica, a traditional beefsteak that you must try on your visit to Florence. The restaurant has a great menu of meats of any types, but not only meat is excellent here. Antipasti, pasta, ravioli, salads and many others are delicious and nicely presented. Very pleasant atmosphere with background music, amazing food and excellent wine, make dinner in this restaurant a real delight. HOW TO GET THERE La Buchetta is about 250 meters away from the Basilica di Santa Croce and only 50 meters from Ponte alle Grazie. The nearest bus station is Benci, on Lines 23, C1 an C3.
About 750 meters from Palazzo Pitti, on the historic Via dei Serragli, 108R, in Florence, there is a trattoria from the ‘30s called Diladdarno, that offers traditional Florentine and Tuscan cuisine, always cooked with fresh ingredients. The Trattoria Diladdarno, whose narrow little white door hides an unexpected large room, colorful and welcoming, welcomes you with open arms, far from the noise of the city. Under the guidance of the chef, the restaurant aims to offer a personal and genuine vision of traditional Florentine and Tuscan dishes, using Italian meats, seasonal vegetables, extra virgin olive oil from the Florentine hills, homemade focaccia and tasty cheese. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Campuccio, only 20 meters away from the restaurant, where the bus number 11 is stopping. On foot, if you are coming from the Palazzo Pitti or the Ponte Vecchio, use the map below.
San Miniato al Monte is a beautiful church which stands on one of the highest points in Florence, overseeing the city from above for nearly 1000 years. SHORT HISTORY St. Miniato was an Armenian soldier, who was killed in the year 250 AD by the Roman soldiers of Emperor Decius, because he converted to Christianity, and Christians were persecuted at that time. He is considered the first martyr of the city and his remains are supposedly kept today in the crypt of St. Miniato al Monte. The oldest historical evidence of a church dedicated to San Miniato dates back to the year 783. The building was neglected and unsafe, and the Florentine bishop Ildebrando began to build a new one on April 27, 1018. The church was finished two hundred years later, in the 13th century. In 1373, the Olivetan monks arrived in Florence, called by the Pope Gregorio XI, and settled in the monastery, where you can still find them today. The Chapel dedicated to the Cardinal Giacomo di Coimbra (Cardinal of Portugal) was built between 1461 and 1466 by Antonio Manetti and finished by Antonio Rossellino, after his death. During the 16th century, with the emergence of Read more [...]
When you arrive to Piazza della Repubblica, your eyes are instantly attracted by the impressive triumphal arch. Near the Arcone, you discover the gorgeous carousel from the beginning of the 20th century and, a little further, the Column of Abundance (Colonna della Dovizia), but this is not all. You have to turn around a few times and take a few breaths to perceive it as a whole. SHORT HISTORY Piazza della Repubblica is the center of the city since Roman times, when here was the forum which gathered the most important religious and civil buildings of that period. Over time, this area maintained its function as a meeting place, starting to host the market, which was institutionalized after the year 1000. Piazza della Repubblica it was defined as a public space intended for trade, while the square of the Duomo (Piazza del Duomo) was a place for politics and Piazza della Signoria for civil affairs. In the 16th century, the square was renamed Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), due to the construction of the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo near the Ponte Vecchio. Here was also the Jewish Ghetto, where Cosimo I had forced to reside the Jews in the city. Read more [...]
Santa Maria Novella is a wonderful Dominican church located in the square with the same name, near the train station with the same name, in the beautiful city of Florence. SHORT HISTORY In 1219, twelve Dominicans arrived in Florence from Bologna, led by Fra’ Giovanni. In 1221, they obtained the small church of Santa Maria delle Vigne, so called for the agricultural land that surrounded it. In 1242, the Dominicans decided to start work on a new and larger church. On October 18, 1279, during the feast of San Luca, the Laying of the First Stone was celebrated, with the blessing of Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini. The construction was finished around the middle of the 14th century, but it was consecrated only in 1420, by Pope Martino V. Leon Battista Alberti designed the large central portal and the upper part of the façade, in white and dark green marble, which was completed in 1470. After the Council of Trento, between 1565 and 1571, the interior of the church was redesigned by Giorgio Vasari, with the removal of the choir enclosure and the reconstruction of the side altars, which led to the shortening of the Gothic windows. Between 1575 and Read more [...]
Palazzo dell’Antella is a building with a beautiful frescoed façade in Piazza di Santa Croce, in Florence, the result of the unification of several houses belonging to the Ricoveri family. SHORT HISTORY The first significant expansion of the palace dates from the second half of the 16th century – the building was raised by a floor, including a mezzanine, and the wooden doors were replaced with stone ones, still visible today. The architect of the palace is thought to be someone from the circle of Baccio d’Agnolo. In the early 17th century, the palace passed to Senator Niccolò dell’Antella, through the dowry of his wife Costanza del Barbigia. In 1619, dell’Antella commissioned the architect Giulio Parigi to give a unified design to the properties the senator bought in Piazza di Santa Croce. To give a unified appearance to the adjacent buildings, he had the entire facade painted with frescoes. The paintings were made in just twenty days of work, between 1619 and 1620, by a team of thirteen young artists supervised by the painter Giovanni da San Giovanni. Dell’Antella died out in 1698 and, later, the palace passed by inheritance to Dal Borgo, then to Lotteringhi della Stufa and Read more [...]
La Bauta Atelier is one of the few workshops in Venice, where papier-mâché masks are produced every day, following the ancient tradition that dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. All their creations are rigorously made and painted entirely by hand, making their masks unique and special, both for wearing on a particular occasion, or to adorn the walls of your homes. In the 15 years of work, the atelier has created more than 500 models, starting from traditional carnival masks, passing through those of the art comedy and even the most modern ones. All their masks come to life from strips of moistened paper, simply processed with flour and water, applied in layers in handmade plaster molds. After drying, the masks are finished with abrasive paper to obtain smooth surfaces, ready for decoration. From here, begins the most beautiful phase, that of decoration, using ancient traditional techniques such as stucco, gold and silver leaf, acrylic colors, decoupage and aged shading with bitumen, finishing with macramé and pearls. HOW TO GET THERE The nearest vaporetto station is San Toma, where the waterbuses of ACTV Line 1 and 2 are stopping. From there, you can walk about 150 Read more [...]
One of the oldest buildings in Venice, Fondaco dei Turchi, is located in Santa Croce, on the southern bank of the Grand Canal. From this strategic point of view, with an impenetrable mimic on its Byzantine style facade, the palace watches the gondolas passing by for almost 800 years. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in 1225 by Giacomo Palmieri, one of the members of the powerful Pesaro family. For certain political favors, the construction was given in 1381 to Nicolo d’Este, Marquise of Ferrara, and two centuries later, in 1621, it is owned by the Turkish merchants in Venice, who turned it into a warehouse and a residential space. The name that it bears today comes from that period, meaning in English The Turkish Warehouse. In 1838, the palace was abandoned by the Turks in a very bad state. It had to be another twenty years before the municipality decided to renovate it, and the mission was entrusted to the architect and engineer Camillo Boito. It seems, however, that after the reconstruction, the palace was adorned with two lateral Gothic towers that did not existed before, but keept the general lines of the initial construction. Since 1890, the Read more [...]
Commonly known as Ca’ d’Oro, Palazzo Santa Sofia, located just across the Rialto Market, overlooking the Grand Canal, undoubtedly remains the most beautiful Venetian palace. Its name, translated into English as The Golden House, does not lie, because at origins, portions of the facade facing the Grand Canal were covered with this noble metal. Today, gold is missing, but the Venetian-style Gothic building still impresses, not so much by stature, but by the delicacy of its decorations. Currently, the palace hosts the Giorgio Franchetti art gallery, and it can be visited at the same time. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built between 1421 and 1440 for the Venetian merchant Marino Contarini. He closely supervised the work of several architects and sculptors, of whom we can mention the Venetians Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon, responsible for the decorations that adorn the palace, the Milan sculptor Matteo Raverti, and Marco d’Amedeo, probably the designer of the project. Marino Contarini died in 1441, leaving his only son, Piero, his entire fortune. Piero inherited, of course, the palace, which he will leave after his death to his daughters. A series of misunderstandings that followed led to the loss of the palace, which came in Read more [...]
In Piazza Matteotti from Perugia, in Via S. Andrea, at number 1, there is a large door that will bring you inside the atrium of an ancient building, and a smaller door afterwards that will lead to an unexpected world… Profumi di Perugia. This is a collection of exclusive and precious scents dedicated to the streets and historic places of Perugia and its suburbs, villas, castles, parks and ancient farmhouses. Here, you can find rare essences, perfumes and precious ancient apothecary recipes, rare tea blends and natural remedies for your wellbeing. Satisfied by the smell, you can switch to the taste of the finest chocolate in Perugia. HOW TO GET THERE Profumi di Perugia is about 100 meters away from Piazza IV Novembre, in the heart of Perugia, and about 80 meters from the nearest bus station, P.G. Matteotti, where you can get with the buses Z20 or Z21. For the right directions, use the map below.