Porta San Giacomo (Saint James Gate) is one of the four Venetian gates of the Città Alta, the ancient part of Bergamo. The gate represents the southern entrance to the old city, and due to its elevated position, it can be seen from afar. SHORT HISTORY The construction of the Venetian walls (Mura Venete) surrounding the Città Alta began in 1561, as part of a defensive system meant to protect the western territories of the Venetian Republic from Milan, which, after the peace treaty signed in 1559 at Cateau-Cambrésis, became a Spanish province. The Venetian walls have four gates: Porta San Lorenzo, Porta Sant’Agostino, Porta Sant’Alessandro and Porta San Giacomo. The gates were named, except for the Porta Sant’Agostino, after neighbouring churches. Porta San Giacomo was built in 1593, replacing a wooden structure dating back to the middle of the 16th century. The gate was completed with a fresco depicting the winged lion of Saint Mark by Gian Paolo Cavagna. The masonry bridge leading to the gate was built in 1780, and renovated at the end of the 19th century, to enlarge the access area to the Medolago Alabani palace, located nearby. The two small arches of the gate Read more [...]
The Church of Santa Maria Immacolata delle Grazie is a beautiful church in Bergamo, located on Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, near the Porta Nuova. SHORT HISTORY Saint Bernardino of Siena came to Bergamo in 1419 for the second time to quell the feuds that divided the Guelph and Ghibelline families of the city. Pietro Ondei, influenced by his preaching, gave the saint a piece of land to build a church and a convent for the Franciscan friars. The church was founded on April 27, 1422, by the bishop Francesco Aregazzi. The project of urban reorganization of the city from the 19th century included the construction of a large avenue – Viale Papa Giovanni XXIII, which connected the railway station to Porta Sant’Agostino, one of the entrances to the upper part of the city, Bergamo Alta. For this reason, the monastic order was suppressed in 1810, the church was demolished in 1856 and then rebuilt a little further from the original place. The ancient church was dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie, but with the dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1854, the bishop of Bergamo, Pietro Luigi Speranza, renamed the church to Santa Maria Immacolata delle Read more [...]
Palazzo Nuovo is a beautiful palace in Bergamo, located in the upper part of the city, Città Alta, on the northern side of the Piazza Vecchia, across the square from the Palazzo della Ragione. The palace currently houses the Angelo Mai Civic Library, one of the most important historic preservation institutions in Italy, with over 677,000 volumes, 2,200 incunabula and 16,800 manuscripts. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Nuovo, as it was called in contrast to the Palazzo Vecchio (Palazzo della Ragione), was built by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi to house the city’s town hall. The construction of the palace began in the early 17th century, and was definitively completed only in 1958 with the placing of six statues, works of the sculptor Tobia Vescovi, on the facade overlooking the Piazza Vecchia. The access loggia, which lightens the facade, was designed by the architect Andrea Ceresola, who was also responsible for the reconstruction of the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. The white marble facade was built in 1928 by the architect Ernesto Pirovano, who took into account the initial project of Scamozzi. The Angelo Mai Civic Library, which was initially housed in the Palazzo della Ragione, was transferred in 1928 to the Palazzo Read more [...]
Piazza Vecchia (Old Square) is a beautiful square in Bergamo, located on the upper part of the city, known as the Città Alta. For many centuries, the square was the fulcrum of the political and civil power of Bergamo, and today is a favorite meeting place for locals. SHORT HISTORY Piazza Vecchia was built on the place of the ancient Roman forum of the city. Beginning with the 11th century, numerous dwellings were built on the square. In the 13th century, the reclamation of the area began, and the dwellings were demolished. The square became the city center only in the Middle Ages, more precisely in the 12th century, with the construction of the Palazzo della Ragione, the seat of the Municipality. The buildings surrounding the square were built starting with the 15th century. ARCHITECTURE To the north of the square, we can find the Palazzo Nuovo, which houses the Angelo Mai Library. The palace was built to a design by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi starting with the early 17th century and was completed only in 1958, with the placing of the last ornamental works on the facade. In the western part of the square, there is the Read more [...]
The Church of Saints Bartholomew and Stephen is a beautiful church in Bergamo, located in the modern part of the city, known as Città Bassa, along the famous Sentierone, one of the most important avenues of the town. SHORT HISTORY A former church dedicated to Saint Stephen was demolished on November 11, 1561, for the construction of the Venetian walls which surrounds the Città Alta. From the numerous friars who lived in the convent, only eight remained as guests in the Church of San Bernardino. On August 14, 1572, the friars moved to the small Church of San Bartolomeo, given to them by the Pope Pius V. The Church of Saint Bartholomew was rebuilt in the first half of the 17th century, more precisely between 1603 and 1642, on a project by the architect Anton Maria Caneva of Como. The church was consecrated on January 19, 1782, by the bishop of Bergamo, Giovanni Paolo Dolfin. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The church has a simple structure, but at the same time elegant and grandiose, measuring 60 meters in lenght and 14 meters in width, without the chapels. The facade, completed at the end of the 19th century by the architect Read more [...]
Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) is a small island in Rome, on the river Tiber, conected to the two banks of the river by Ponte Cestio and Ponte Fabricio. SHORT HISTORY According to legend, the island was formed in 510 BC from the wheat and grain harvested in the nearby area of Campo Marzio (Field of Mars), a land owned by the hated tyrant Tarquinius Superbus. In the 3rd century BC, the island housed the temple of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. In the first half of the 1st century BC, Isola Tiberina was paved with travertine and the bridges Fabricio and Cestio were built. By then, the island resembled a ship, and an obelisk was erected in the middle, symbolizing the vessel’s mast. In time, the obelisk was destroyed and replaced with a column. After it was removed in 1867, Pope Pius IX had an aedicula (small shrine) put in its place. In 998, Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, built the Basilica of San Bartolomeo all’Isola, on the ruins of the Asclepius temple. Due to the church, in the early 20th century, the Tiber Island was called the Isola di San Bartolomeo (Saint Bartholomew Island) and the Cestius Read more [...]
Palazzo della Consulta is a palace in Rome, located in Piazza del Quirinale, which houses the Constitutional Court of the Italian Republic since 1955. SHORT HISTORY The palace rises on the remains of the Baths of Constantine, on the southern slope of the Quirinal Hill, replacing a previous building erected under Pope Sixtus V by Cardinal Ferrero da Vercelli to house the Sacred Congregation of the Consulta (Papal State Council) and then expanded by Pope Paul V in the early 17th century. The current palace, which was completed in 1737 under the direction of the architect Ferdinando Fuga, was commissioned by Pope Clement XII to house both the headquarters of the secretariat of the Sacred Congregation of the Consulta and the Signatura dei Brevi, both the corps of Cavalrymen and that of the Corazze (Noble Guard). Between 1798 and 1814, the palace was the seat of the Prefecture of Rome, and starting with 1849, during the Roman Republic, it was the seat of the Government of the triumvirate of Giuseppe Mazzini, Carlo Armellini and Aurelio Saffi. After the annexation of Rome, from 1871 to 1874, the hereditary Prince Umberto I resided in the palace with his wife, Margherita di Read more [...]
Palazzo delle Scuderie del Quirinale (Palace of the Quirinal Stables) is a palace in Rome, located in the southern area of the Piazza del Quirinale, on the opposite side of the Palazzo del Quirinale. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo delle Scuderie del Quirinale was built between 1722 and 1732 on a piece of land owned by the Colonna family, close to another building owned by the same family, the beautiful Palazzo Colonna. The project of the current palace belongs to the architect Alessandro Specchi, who was commissioned by Pope Innocent XIII to design a building intended to replace the previous one built in the early 18th century by Carlo Fontana. When Innocent XIII died, in 1730, the new Pope Clement XII entrusted Ferdinando Fuga with the task of completing the work. The building maintained its original function as a stable until 1938, the year in which it was transformed into a garage. In the 1980s, the palace was transformed into a museum of carriages. Between 1997 and 1999, it was completely restored to a design by the Friulian architect Gae Aulenti, in time for the Jubilee of the year 2000. Designed as an important exhibition space of about 1,500 square meters, Read more [...]
Piazza del Quirinale is one of the many beautiful squares of Rome, located on the Quirinal Hill, near the palace of the same name. ARCHITECTURE The square is located on top of the Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome, so called because once there stood the temple of Quirino. The square is bordered to the north-east by the imposing Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, built between the years 1573 and 1585 by Martino Longhi and Ottaviano Mascherino as the summer residence of the Roman pontiffs. The east side of the square is bordered by the Palazzo della Consulta. The building, which was completed in 1737 under the direction of the architect Ferdinando Fuga, was commissioned by Pope Clement XII to house the Papal State court. Between 1798 and 1814, the palace was the seat of the Prefecture of Rome, and from 1871 to 1874 was the residence of Prince Umberto I. In 1955, the palace became the seat of the Constitutional Court of Italy. Another building flanking the square, near the Palazzo della Consulta, is the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi, commissioned in 1603 by the Borghese family. On the Read more [...]
The Church of Saint Susanna at the Baths of Diocletian (Chiesa di Santa Susanna alle Terme di Diocleziano) is a beautiful church in Rome, located about 250 meters from the Piazza della Repubblica. SHORT HISTORY The Church of Santa Susanna is one of the oldest churches in Rome. The original place of worship was built around the year 280 AD on the remains of three Roman villas, outside the wall of the Baths of Diocletian and the Servian Wall, the first wall built to defend the city. According to tradition, the church was built in Susanna’s House, where the Saint was martyred in 294 AD. Excavations made in the 19th century, actually brought to light the remains of a Roman house from the 3rd century, now visible through the glass paving of the sacristy. Other excavations from 1990 brought to light a Roman sarcophagus with fragments of painted plaster inside. Pope Sergius I restored the church at the end of the 7th century, Pope Leo III rebuilt it from the ground in 796 and later, in 1475, the church was rebuilt again by Pope Sixtus IV. The facade of the church was completed in Baroque style in 1603 by Read more [...]
Villa Durrueli is a 4-Star hotel on the island of Ischia, located about 1.1 kilometers from the Aragonese Castle. The rooms, divided into three categories (Comfort, Superior and Superior with Sea View), are fitted with telephone, air conditioning, mini bar, WiFi, LCD satellite TV, bath or shower and a digital safe. Some rooms offer a balcony or furnished terrace. The property features a swimming pool, a wellness centre and a garden full of exotic plants and flowers. At the hotel, you can relax on the sun terrace, or take a dip in the large pool or in one of the smaller pools with hydromassage and aromatherapy. Meals at Villa Durrueli are often accompanied by live piano music. The à la carte menu includes fresh fish dishes, local specialities and a generous buffet of starters and vegetables. HOW TO GET THERE Villa Durrueli is located about 1.6 kilometers from the Port of Ischia. The closest bus stop is in Via Antonio Sogliuzzo, about 210 meters away, on the bus Line 7.
Pagoda is a 3-Star hotel on the island of Ischia, located about 200 meters from the Port of Ischia. The hotel offers rooms and suites with air conditioning, satellite TV and a private bathroom with hairdryer. Pagoda Hotel offers panoramic sea views and direct access to a rocky beach. It also features an outdoor swimming pool and 2 spa baths. The property offers free sunbeds and 4 sun terraces. A continental breakfast with homemade cakes and tarts is served each morning. The hotel’s restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine. HOW TO GET THERE The hotel is located very close to the Port of Ischia. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Villa Lentisco is a beautiful bed and breakfast on the island of Ischia, located very close to the Port of Ischia. The B&B offers accommodation with free WiFi, air conditioning and access to a garden with a terrace. All rooms come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a private bathroom with hairdryer, bidet and shower. The rooms also feature a microwave, a fridge and a toaster, as well as a kettle and a coffee machine. The bed and breakfast offers a continental breakfast. HOW TO GET THERE Villa Lentisco is located about 200 meters from the Port of Ischia. To find the B&B on foot, use the map below.
The Port of Ischia is a completely natural harbor on Ischia, located in the northern part of the island. SHORT HISTORY In ancient times, the port was actually a lake known as the Lago del Borgo. The lake was formed probably in the 4th or 3rd century BC in the crater of a volcano, which later collapsed due to an earthquake. The lake was over two meters deep, measured about 100,000 square meters and contained an inhabited small island called Tondo. In 1670, a small opening was created to fill the lake with water every time its level dropped. On the southern hill, near the lake, a casino was built in 1735 by Francesco Buonocore, which was at the same time a holiday home for himself and a luxury clinic for famous people. The place exerted an irresistible attraction for Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies, who dedicated himself to frequent fishing parties on the lake. The enthusiasm for the place led him to rent the casino, some neighboring lands and the lake, owned at that time by the University of Ischia. Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies between 1830 and 1859, expressed his opinion in favor Read more [...]
The Beach of San Pietro is a beautiful beach on the island of Ischia, located about 450 meters away from the Port of Ischia. The fine sand of the beach and the shallow waters are ideal for families with children and for older people. The beach is almost 600 meters long and about 70 meters in its widest part. Concession beaches alternate with sections of free beaches, and there are also many bars and restaurants in the area. Due to its location near the historical center of Ischia, where numerous hotels await their guests during the summer months, the Beach of San Pietro can be overcrowded in July and August. HOW TO GET THERE The Beach of San Pietro is located about 270 meters from the Piazzale Antica Reggia and about 150 meters from the central Via Roma. Although it is easy to find, if you need directions, use the map below.
La Suite is a boutique hotel on the island of Procida, located about 450 meters from the beach. Rooms have contemporary furnishings and a balcony, patio or private garden. Suites feature a private furnished terrace, some with sea views. The luxurious rooms and suites offer a flat-screen TV and free WiFi. The property features a spa, and a large garden with a free swimming pool. The spa includes sauna, Turkish bath, relaxation area and a hot tub. HOW TO GET THERE La Suite Boutique Hotel is located about 1.7 kilometers from the main port of the island, Marina Grande. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Gioia 13 Apartments is an aparthotel on the island of Procida, located about 1.3 kilometers from the Marina Corricella. The aparthotel offers modern apartments and studios with free Wi-Fi. The apartments are air-conditioned and have a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchenette and free toiletries in the private bathroom. Each unit comes with either a terrace or a patio. The property also features a sun terrace. Guests can rent bikes and motor bikes on site, and staff can organise boat trips around the island. HOW TO GET THERE Gioia 13 Apartments is located about 1.7 kilometers from the Marina Grande, the main port of Procida. To find the property on foot, use the map below.
Hotel Crescenzo is a 3-Star hotel on the island of Procida, located only a few meters from the Marina Chiaiolella. The hotel offers ten rooms with bathrooms and showers, air conditioning, TV and direct dial phones. Some of the rooms offer a view on the Port of Chiaiolella, while others have small balconies. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. An Italian breakfast is served each morning. The hotel’s restaurant is open every day at lunch and dinner. HOW TO GET THERE Hotel Crescenzo is located about 3.2 kilometers away from the Marina Grande, the main port of the island. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Villino Gallodoro is a hotel in Taormina, located about 100 meters from the cable car to the historical center of the town and about 600 meters from Isola Bella. The hotel is housed in a recently restored Mediterranean building, surrounded by greenery and with an enchanting view over the Mazzarò Bay and the surrounding coast. The hotel has 15 rooms featuring private bathrooms, TV and air conditioning. Some of the rooms offer a balcony with sea view. HOW TO GET THERE Villino Gallodoro is located about 2.8 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station.
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is a 5-Star hotel in Taormina, located about 350 meters away from Isola Bella, right in front of the cable car to the historical center of the town. The elegant rooms and suites are decorated with refined fabrics and antique furniture. Most rooms come with a sea-view balcony. The restaurant Oliviero serves Sicilian cuisine and fresh seafood on its beautiful terrace with panoramic views of the Bay of Mazzarò. The hotel also features a private beach, an outdoor pool, kids club and wellness facilities. HOW TO GET THERE The Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea is located about 2.5 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station. A private shuttle service can be arranged to and from the airport or the station. The hotel also organizes a free shuttle service to and from Taormina and free boat cruises along the coast during the summer months.
Grand Hotel San Pietro is a 5-Star hotel in Taormina, located about 15 minutes on foot from the historical center of the town. All the rooms are spacious and have a flat screen TV with satellite channels. The hotel offers free WiFi access and free parking, a 24 hours reception and a well-equipped gym. Grand Hotel San Pietro features an outdoor pool and a sun terrace overlooking the Ionian Sea. A buffet breakfast is offered daily and includes croissants, cold cuts, eggs and hot drinks. The Grand Hotel San Pietro offers both a traditional Sicilian restaurant, and a poolside snack bar. HOW TO GET THERE Grand Hotel San Pietro is located about 3.3 kilometers from the Taormina-Giardini railway station. A free shuttle service is provided to/from Taormina center.
Palazzo Speciale is a bed and breakfast in Catania, located about 300 meters from the beautiful Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata and about 250 meters from the Ursino Castle. The B&B offers accommodations with a patio or a balcony, free WiFi and flat-screen TV, as well as a shared lounge. Some units are air-conditioned and include a seating and/or dining area. Palazzo Speciale offers a continental or buffet breakfast. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Speciale is located about 1.5 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is right in front of the B&B, in Via Plebiscito 6, on the bus Lines 431N and 503.
Palazzo Marletta is a boutique hotel in Catania, overlooking the beautiful Piazza del Duomo, a few steps from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. All the rooms are air conditioned and include a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. The hotel offers a plentiful breakfast buffet. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Marletta is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 192, about 100 meters away, on the bus Lines 830, 902 and 932.
Habitat is a modern boutique hotel in Catania, located in the historical center of the city, just a few steps from the Bellini Theater. Each room of the hotel features a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. The private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer, free toiletries and towels. The hotel has a garden, and free WiFi is available throughout the property. Other facilities include parking, 24 hours reception, relax lounge and concierge service to book cultural visits and excursions on Mount Etna and around Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Habitat Boutique Hotel is located about 1 kilometer from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Vittorio Emanuele 102, about 230 meters away, on the bus Lines 429, 431N, 439, 449, 530, 534, 536, 556, 628D, 925, 927 and 932.
The Church of San Nicolò l’Arena is a church in Catania, located in Piazza Dante Alighieri. The church, measuring 105 meters in length, about 71 meters in width in the transept area, with a maximum height of 66 meters at the dome, is the largest in Sicily. The first church erected by the Benedictines in Catania was entitled Sancti Nicolai de Arenis, after the Saint Nicholas of Bari and the red sandstone (rena rossa) of Nicolosi, a town in the province of Catania from which the monks arrived. SHORT HISTORY The grandiose Monastery of San Nicolò l’Arena was founded on November 28, 1558. The church was inaugurated in 1578, in the presence of the viceroy of Sicily Juan de la Cerda. In 1669, the structure was destroyed by the Etna eruption that struck the western side of the city. Starting with 1687, the church was rebuilt further south than the original site, on a project by the Roman architect Giovanni Battista Contini. In 1693, the works were interrupted by the violent earthquake of the Val di Noto, and for the next thirty years the monastery remained without a main church. In 1730, the construction of the church was resumed, Read more [...]
Teatro Massimo Vincenzo Bellini is an opera house in Catania, named after the local-born composer Vincenzo Bellini. The theater is located in the square with the same name, about 350 meters from the Piazza del Duomo and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The construction of a public theater in Catania was proposed right after the earthquake of the Val di Noto of 1693, which destroyed most of the cities in the area, but a foundation stone was laid only in 1812, over 100 years after the terrible event. In 1870, the architect Andrea Scala was given the task of finding a suitable site to build a new theater, and after examining the various options it was decided for the Piazza Cutelli area. Despite the financial uncertainties, the project was approved, and Scala, with the assistance of the Milanese architect Carlo Sada, carried out the works. In 1880, the company financing the project ended up in liquidation, and was replaced by the Municipality, which decided to make some modifications to the structure of the theater. In 1887, the building was completed, but the inauguration took place only on May 31, 1890, with Norma, an opera by Vincenzo Bellini. Read more [...]
Fontana dell’Amenano is a beautiful fountain in Catania, located in the southern part of Piazza del Duomo, next to the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici and near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The fountain was built in 1867 by the Neapolitan sculptor Tito Angelini. ARCHITECTURE The fountain consists of a large shell in white Carrara marble, in which stands the statue of the river Amenano, represented as a young man. The statue holds a cornucopia from which water flows into a convex basin. On each side of the statue, there is the sculpture of a triton. The shell rests on a base on which is placed the coat of arms of the city. On the opposite side of the fountain, we can find an emblem that contains the year in which the monument was inaugurated. From the basin of the fountain, the water pours into the underground river Amenano, located about two meters below the square level. Behind the fountain, a lava stone staircase leads to the Pescheria, the ancient city market of Catania. HOW TO GET THERE Fontana dell’Amenano is located about 1.4 kilometers from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Read more [...]
Piazza del Duomo is the main square of Catania, located at the intersection of three important boulevards – Via Etnea, the historical axis of the city, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and Via Vittorio Emanuele II. ARCHITECTURE On the eastern side of the square, stands the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, Duomo di Catania, from which the square takes its name. The Cathedral was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693, and was rebuilt in the 18th century by the architect Girolamo Palazzotto, with the facade designed by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. In 1857, the bell tower of the Cathedral was completed, and the current layout of the churchyard appeared in the 19th century. To the south of the square, there is the Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici, a Baroque palace rebuilt after the earthquake of the Val di Noto, in the first decades of the 18th century by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. Between the Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, there is the Porta Uzeda, which connects the two buildings mentioned above, beeing also the southern entrance to the square. The Uzeda Gate was named after the Spanish viceroy Read more [...]
Palazzo del Seminario dei Chierici (Palace of the Seminary of the Clerics) is a Baroque palace in Catania, located across the Piazza Duomo from the Palazzo degli Elefanti, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, on the site of the present palace, there was the ancient structure of the Bishop’s Palace. In 1572, the archbishop Antonio Faraone founded the seminary of the clerics, and some rooms of the palace were reserved for this institution. Beginning with 1614, Bonaventura Secusio, Bishop of Catania between 1609 and 1618, established the seminary headquarters in the building. On May 29, 1647, during the anti-Spanish revolt of Catania, the palace was severely damaged. In 1693, the building was completely destroyed by the earthquake of the Val di Noto. In the first decades of the 18th century, the palace was rebuilt by the architect Alonzo di Benedetto, and subsequently enlarged in 1757 by Francesco Battaglia. In 1866, the architect Mario Di Stefano further expanded the structure, by building the second floor. Beginning with 1943, due to the Second World War, the seminarians left the building, which was later damaged by bombing. In 1944, the palace was acquired by the Municipality of Read more [...]
Palazzo degli Elefanti (Palace of the Elephants), formerly known as Palazzo del Senato, is a Baroque palace in Catania, located in the Piazza Duomo, close to the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. The name of the palace derives from the numerous elephants carved on its facade. SHORT HISTORY During the Aragonese period, the palace, called Palazzo Senatorio, served as a municipal archive. The city representatives gathered in the palace and, sometimes, also the parliament assembled within its walls. Lope Ximénez de Urrea y de Bardaixi, Viceroy of Sicily between 1443 and 1475, ordered that all the official documents of the Kingdom and the various writings related to the Aragonese sovereigns to be collected and kept in the archives of the palace. After the earthquake of 1693, which destroyed almost completely the city of Catania, numerous architects participated in the reconstruction of the palace. The original project was carried out by Giovan Battista Longobardo, with the collaboration of Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, who built the east, south and west facades, and of Carmelo Battaglia, who designed the north facade. The grand staircase that can be found in the inner courtyard of the palace was built in the 19th century by Stefano Ittar. On Read more [...]
Basilica della Collegiata, also known as Basilica Maria Santissima dell’Elemosina, is a Baroque church in Catania, located along the Via Etnea, a short distance from the Palace of the University. SHORT HISTORY In the early Christian centuries, a small church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Proserpina. In the Byzantine era, the church was called Madonna dell’Elemosina. The church was rebuilt in the early 18th century, like most of the city of Catania, destroyed by the terrible earthquake of 1693. In 1896, Giuseppe Sciuti frescoed the vault and the dome of the church with various paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The project of the church is attributed to Angelo Italia, an Italian architect who lived in the 17th century, who changed the orientation of the building, in order to have it facing the Via Etnea. The facade, designed by Stefano Ittar, is a beautiful example of the Sicilian Baroque. The facade has two orders, with six stone columns on the first order, surmounted by a balustrade. On the second order, there is a central window and four large statues of Read more [...]
The Church of San Placido is a church in Catania, located in the square of the same name, about 120 meters from the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. SHORT HISTORY The original structure of the church dates back to 1409, and was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple dedicated to Bacchus. The church was razed to the ground by the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, which almost completely destroyed the city of Catania. On the initiative of three nuns who escaped the ruins of the church, the reconstruction, entrusted to the architect Stefano Ittar, began shortly after the earthquake. The new church was consecrated in 1723 and completed in 1769. In 1976, the church was closed due to structural problems and, after about three years of consolidation, it was reopened for worship in 1979. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church, in Sicilian Baroque style, is made of white Taormina stone. On each side of the portal, there are the statues of saints Placido and Benedetto, and above, on the second order, smaller, those of the saints Scolastica and Geltrude, work of the sculptor Carmelo Distefano. The facade, concave in the center, is enclosed by a convex Read more [...]
Palazzo San Giuliano is a beautiful palace in Catania, located across the University Square from the Palace of the University. The palace houses the administrative offices of the University of Catania. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in 1738 by the architect Giovan Battista Vaccarini for the Paternò family, Marquise of San Giuliano. The seismic events that took place over time have not affected the 18th-century structure, but the transformations made during the 19th and 20th centuries changed more or less its internal and external appearance. The building was remodeled several times, but the facade remained almost intact from the moment of its construction. Only the balustrade that crowns the roof was added in 1930s, when the palace was the seat of Credito Italiano, one of the first Italian banks. In the early 20th century, the palace hosted the Machiavelli Theater, founded by Angelo Grasso. Around the same time, a part of the building was occupied by the Hotel Bristol. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the palace has a large portal that overlooks the University Square, flanked by two marble columns recovered, probably, from a Roman building. Above the portal, there is a double coat of arms – to Read more [...]
Palazzo dell’Università (Palace of the University) is a beautiful palace in Catania, located in the square with the same name, along the Via Etnea. The palace is the seat of the Rectorate of the University of Catania, the oldest university in Sicily. SHORT HISTORY The University of Catania was founded on October 19, 1434, by Alfonso the Magnanimous, King of Naples and Sicily. On April 18, 1444, the constitution of the University was authorized by a papal bull of Pope Eugene IV. The courses began on October 19, 1445, with six professors, and were initially held in a building from Piazza Duomo, near the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. In 1684, the University was transferred to the San Marco Hospital until 1693, when the terrible earthquake of the Val di Noto destroyed most of the buildings in Catania, including the building in question. In 1696, work began on the construction of a new building, which will become the definitive location of the University. After the earthquake of 1785, the architect Francesco Battaglia rebuilt the facade of the palace. Subsequently, following the earthquake of 1818, a further restoration was necessary, which was entrusted to the architect Antonino Battaglia, the son of Francesco. Read more [...]
Piazza Archimede is a beautiful square in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia, about 250 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse and 280 meters from the Temple of Apollo. SHORT HISTORY In Greek times, although it was not a square, it was one of the main crossroads formed by the road of Decumano Maggiore, the current Via Dione and Via Roma, and the road of Decumano Minore, now Via della Maestranza and Via della Amalfitania. During the 16th century, prestigious buildings belonging to noble families of the time were built around the square. ARCHITECTURE At the center of the square, stands the beautiful Fountain of Diana, built in 1907 by the sculptor Giulio Moschetti. The nymph Arethusa is depicted in the act of escaping from Alpheus who, with outstretched arms, tries to grab her. Diana, at the center of the group, protects the young girl. To the north of the square, we have the Banco di Sicilia palace, built in 1928 after a design by Salvatore Caronia, which is characterized by a portal framed by rusticated semi-columns and a second order marked by pilasters with Ionic capitals. Next, to the Read more [...]
Henry’s House is a 4-Star hotel in Syracuse, located on the island of Ortygia, about 150 meters from the Maniace Castle and about 450 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse. Hotel Henry’s House offers a sun terrace, a snack bar and free WiFi throughout the property. Most of the rooms feature a small balcony or sea views, and come with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a minibar. The private bathroom includes a hairdryer and free toiletries. Eggs, ham and cheese are served daily at the international breakfast, along with locally produced cannoli pastries and cakes, orange juice and coffee. HOW TO GET THERE The Henry’s House is located about 2.2 kilometers from the Syracuse railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Re Federico is a boutique hotel in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the Ortygia island, about 450 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse and about 700 meters from the Maniace Castle. The hotel is housed in a historical palace from 1770. The palace is comprised of three floors, with a terrace and a comfortable and modern elevator. Every unit features a private bathroom and bidet, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a fridge. Guests can enjoy a continental breakfast. Both a bicycle rental service and a car rental service are available at the accommodation. HOW TO GET THERE Re Federico Boutique Hotel is located about 2.1 kilometers from the Syracuse railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
CinqueSuites is a bed and breakfast in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the Ortygia island, about 350 meters from the Cathedral of Syracuse. The building was completely renovated in 2017, and it comprises of 3 floors with a magnificent panoramic terrace, dedicated to sunbathing, and a spacious bar for breakfast and cocktails at sunset. The B&B features five sophisticated and welcoming apartments, where contemporary art and design create a beautiful atmosphere. Each apartment comes with a seating or living area, flat-screen TV and balcony. The en suite bathroom includes a shower and free toiletries. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. HOW TO GET THERE CinqueSuites B&B is located about 1.8 kilometers away from the Syracuse train station. To find the bed and breakfast on foot, use the map below.
Fonte Aretusa is a beautiful fountain in Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia. According to a legend from Greek mythology, Arethusa was a nymph, daughter of Nereus, who fled from her home beneath the sea, in Arcadia, and became a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortygia. Inside the pool of the fountain, grows papyrus, Ortygia being one of the two places in Europe where this plant grows, with the other being the Fiumefreddo River, also in Sicily, near Catania. SHORT HISTORY Over the centuries, the fountain undergone several transformations. At first, it was located outside the fortification walls of the city, and could be accessed from the sea through a steep staircase. In the 16th century, the water source was divided into several streams used for tanning leather, which formed a lake of about 200 meters in diameter. In 1540, the fountain was incorporated into the fortifications of the city, when the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V strengthened the military structures of Ortigia, to be freed in 1847, when the reservoir took its present form. The viewpoint next to the fountain is what remains of the ancient bastion, demolished Read more [...]
The Temple of Apollo (Tempio di Apollo) is one of the most important ancient monuments of Syracuse, located in Largo XXV Luglio, on the island of Ortygia. SHORT HISTORY The temple can be dated to the beginning of the 6th century BC, being considered the oldest Doric temple in Sicily. Over time, the temple underwent several transformations. In the first half of the first millennium of our era, it was a Byzantine church, of which the frontal staircase and parts of a central door are still preserved, and then it became an Islamic mosque. Subsequently, the Norman Church of the Savior was built on its place, which was later incorporated into a 16th-century Spanish barracks, while some architectural elements remained visible. These successive transformations seriously damaged the building, which was rediscovered around 1860 inside the Spanish barracks, and was brought to light thanks to the excavations carried out by Paolo Orsi between 1938 and 1942. ARCHITECTURE The temple has a lenght of 55.36 meters and a width of 21.47 meters. It is one of the first Greek temples made of stone, marking the transition from the ancient wooden structures. The building has a hexastyle front and a continuous Read more [...]
Piazza Duomo is the main square of Syracuse, located in the historical center of the city, on the island of Ortygia. The semielliptical square gathers many beautiful Baroque buildings, but also houses ancient treasures, as we will see below. ARCHITECTURE The most important building in the square is, without doubt, the Baroque Cathedral of Syracuse, dedicated to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Cathedral, located to the east of the square, if one of the first Christian churches in Europe, and incorporates parts of a Greek doric temple dedicated to Athena, the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and war. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Archbishop’s Palace, a beautiful palazzo built in Baroque style in 1618. The palace is, today, the seat of the Archdiocese of Syracuse, and houses the Archiepiscopal Seminary and the ancient Alagonian Library. Next, we have the entrance to the Hypogeum of Piazza Duomo, a vast network of passages and tunnels dug in the soft limestone of the Ortygia island. To the south of the square, there is the beautiful Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse, Saint Lucia. The church was built between 1695 and 1703, Read more [...]
The Palace of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Syracuse (Palazzo della Sovrintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Siracusa) is a palace in Syracuse, located in Piazza del Duomo, on the island of Ortigia, across the square from the Archbishop’s Palace and the Cathedral of Syracuse. The palace is also known as the Numismatic Cabinet, due to the fact that it houses a permanent exhibition of ancient coins. SHORT HISTORY The palace was built in the second half of the 19th century, on the site of a deconsecrated convent, known as the Convent of San Giovanni di Dio, which housed the seat of the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse, now transferred in Viale Teocrito, in the modern part of Syracuse. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the palace, with two orders, was built in Neoclassical style. On the ground floor, there is the large portal and four rectangular windows. On the upper order, we can find five arched windows, separated by pilasters with Ionic capitals. Inside, there is the numismatic collection of Greek, Roman and medieval coins, many of which were found in Syracuse. HOW TO GET THERE The Palace of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Syracuse is located about Read more [...]
The Archbishop’s Palace (Palazzo Arcivescovile) is a palace in Syracuse, located on the island of Ortygia, in Piazza Duomo, adjacent to the Cathedral of Syracuse. The palace is the seat of the Archdiocese Of Syracuse, and houses the Archiepiscopal Seminary and, also, the ancient Alagonian Library. SHORT HISTORY The original building was a palace of the Swabian era, built during the times of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, around the year 1200. Today, the only trace of this palace is an ancient chapel, well preserved, located inside the courtyard of the present 19th century building. This Swabian construction presents some cross vaults very reminiscent of the Maniace Castle. The palace underwent important changes in the Aragonese era. After the demolition of the first building, the current structure was commissioned by the Spanish bishop Juan de Torres Osorio of Syracuse, and the work began in 1618, under the supervision of the architect Andrea Vermexio. The structure of the Archbishop’s Palace, as we know it today, is the result of systematic restorations made during the 18th and the 19th centuries, which transformed the building into a late Baroque style palace tending towards Neoclassicism. The building was inaugurated in 1854, by the Read more [...]
Fontana di Diana is a monumental fountain in Syracuse, located on the Ortygia island, in Piazza Archimede. SHORT HISTORY After the creation of the Archimedes Square in 1878, the Municipality of Syracuse commissioned the sculptor Giulio Moschetti to build a fountain. The sculptor was choosen after his creation in Catania, the beautiful Fountain of Prosepina, has received many praise. After the presentation of the preparatory sketch of the fountain, the City Council commissioned the work through a resolution dated February 1, 1906. Giulio Moschetti built the fountain in about ten months, between 1906 and 1907, with the help of his son, the sculptor Mario Moschetti. ARCHITECTURE The fountain faces south and highlights the figure of Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, protector of Ortygia in ancient times. The sculpture of Diana holds a bow and is accompanied by a dog, the attributes of the goddess of hunting. At her feet, there is Arethusa, the Nereid who fled from her home in Arcadia, beneath the sea, and according to legend was transformed into a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortygia. Near Arethusa, her lover, Alpheus, is amazed by what is happening to her. Inside the tank Read more [...]
B&B Vicere Speciale is a bed and breakfast in Noto, located near the Palazzo Ducezio and about 150 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. All the rooms are decorated in a rustic style and fitted with wooden furnishings. Each room is air conditioned, has a flat-screen TV and an en suite bathroom. The B&B offers free WiFi and a variety of choice for breakfast, which includes both savoury and sweet options you can choose from. HOW TO GET THERE Vicere Speciale is located about 1.1 kilometers from the Noto train station. If you need to find the B&B on foot, use the map below.
Hotel Porta Reale is a 4-Star hotel in Noto, located about 80 meters away from the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata and 240 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. The hotel is spread over 3 floors, and all the rooms offer an iPod docking station, air conditioning, free WiFi access, Sky TV and a phone with free national and international calls. The en suite bathrooms in natural stone are completed with free toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Some rooms face the main street. A sweet Italian breakfast, including Sicilian specialities, is provided daily at the property. HOW TO GET THERE Hotel Porta Reale is located 1 kilometer away from the Noto railway station. To easily find it on foot, use the map below.
Gagliardi Boutique Hotel is a beautiful hotel in Noto, located about 40 meters from the Ducezio Palace and about 100 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò. Gagliardi Hotel provides concierge services, and features a garden and a terrace with a wonderful view of the city. Every room is fitted with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Guests at Gagliardi Boutique Hotel can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and luggage storage for guests. HOW TO GET THERE Gagliardi Boutique Hotel is located about 1.1 kilometers away from the Noto railway station. To find the hotel on foot, use the map below.
Teatro Tina di Lorenzo is a theater in Noto, located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, about 300 meters away from the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Palazzo Ducezio. The theater was named after the famous Italian actress Tina di Lorenzo, who was raised in Noto and became a star on stage and in silent films during the first decades of the 20th century. The theater is also known as the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele III, and is defined by some people as the Scala di Milano in miniature due to its sumptuous interiors. SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 19th century, the people of Noto, feeling the need for a theater, began to use a wing of the Ducezio Palace for such representations. However, the solution did not satisfied the ever increasing demands of the citizens, especially after Noto was named capital of the province of Syracuse in 1837, and in 1851 the decision to build a new municipal theater was taken. In 1855, a committee of citizens was formed to raise the funds necessary for the construction. Later, the architect Francesco Sortino was commissioned to design the new building. At his death, in 1863, the direction of the Read more [...]
The Church of Santissimo Salvatore (Most Holy Saviour) is a church in Noto, located between the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata. The church is part of a larger complex, along with the Monastery of the SS. Salvatore and the Episcopal Seminary. SHORT HISTORY The construction of the church began in 1767 under the supervision of the architect priest Andrea Gigante, to replace an old church dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. At his death, with the church unfinished, the initial project was partially modified by D. Antonio Mazza, and the church was completed and consecrated in 1802. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The decorative cycle of the interior is one of the most significant examples of the Sicilian cultural transition phase between the late Baroque and Neoclassicism. Begun in 1794 and completed two years later, the interior is the result of the pictorial interventions of Ermenegildo Martorana from Palermo and those in stucco of Giovanni Gianforma. Among the frescoes, we can find the Pentecost, Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus and the Appearance of Three Mysterious Men to Abraham. The paintings found on the side altars are also of Read more [...]
The Church of San Francesco d’Assisi all’Immacolata is a beautiful church in Noto, located about 180 meters from the Cathedral of San Nicolò and the Ducezio Palace. Along with the adjacent Convent of the Friars Minor Capuchin, the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi to the Immaculate is considered one of the most important religious buildings in Noto. SHORT HISTORY The church was built between 1704 and 1745, after a design by the architects Vincenzo Sinatra and Rosario Gagliardi. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The harmonious facade of the church, with two orders, stands at the end of an imposing staircase with three ramps. The magnificent portal of the church is flanked by two Baroque columns, with two niches on each side and a smaller one above. On the second order, we can find a beautiful stained glass window. The interior, with a single nave, is rich in paintings and funerary monuments dedicated to members of noble families of Noto. As you enter the church, you can see on your left, inside the vault of the SS. Innocenti (Blessed Inocents), a painting entitled the Massacre of the Innocents, made by Antonino Vizzini in 1706. The vault of B. Andrea Conti Read more [...]