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 [...]
One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy is well known for its rich art and culture, and for its numerous landmarks. With 54 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other country in the world, and an estimated 100,000 monuments of any sort (churches, palaces, museums, fountains, sculptures and archaeological remains), Italy is home to about half of the world’s artistic treasures. And if you are looking for inspiration, find below a list of the most famous tourist attractions …
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 [...]
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 [...]
Palazzo Vescovile is a palace in Piazza IV Novembre, which incorporates a part of the old Palazzo del Podesta (the three arched gothic windows on the right), remains from the 16th century, before the palace was burned. SHORT HISTORY On this place, between 1283 and 1292, Palazzo del Podesta (the Town Hall) was built. After a fire in 1329, it was rebuilt. In 1414, Braccio Fortebracci occupied the palace and he remained there until 1424, as Lord of Perugia. He built the Loggia which is now part of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. The palace was later used by the papal governors of Perugia and, in 1534, when Ridolfo Baglioni conquered Perugia, Palazzo del Podesta was burned again. In the 16th century, Pope Pius IV allowed Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna to build two buildings on the site of the former Palazzo del Podesta – the episcopal seminary and the Palazzo Vescovile (the Bishop’s Palace). Later, between 1586 and 1591, the Cardinal Antonio Maria Gallo has made improvements to the palace. HOW TO GET THERE Palazzo Vescovile is located in Piazza IV Novembre, near Palazzo dei Priori. The closest bus stations are in P.G. Matteotti, 250 meters away, and Read more [...]
Via Maestà delle Volte is, probably, the most beautiful street in Perugia, although it does not have more than 100 meters. Its name comes from a fresco known as Maestà delle Volte, that most likely portrayed Madonna with the Child. The street starts from Piazza IV Novembre and ends in Piazza Cavallotti. At number 1, you can find the facade of the Church of the Maestà delle Volte, now a clothing store. Near the church, is a small arch from pink and white stone, belonging to the Oratory of the Maestà delle Volte, built in 1335 to protect the fresco mentioned above. To the right of the church, is a ceramic panel placed at the end of the Second World War, by G. Belleti, representing the Madonna with the Child and Saints Ercolano and Costanzo presenting the city to the Virgin. About 15 meters further, as you walk along the street, you will find the Fountain of Via Maestà delle Volte, built in 1928 by the architect Pietro Angelini, under an ancient arch of the 15th century. HOW TO GET THERE Via Maestà delle Volte is near the Piazza IV Novembre, in the middle of historic city of Perugia. Read more [...]
Piazza IV Novembre is a beautiful square in the historic center of Perugia, gathering the most important buildings and monuments of the city, from Palazzo dei Priori, to Fontana Maggiore and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. Piazza IV Novembre is also the setting for summer concerts during the Umbria Jazz Festival. In autumn, it becomes the headquarters of the Fiera dei Morti, a traditional event that takes place every year since 1260, coinciding with the All Saints’ Day. In June, there is also Perugia 1416, a historical re-enactment of the conquest of the city by Braccio Fortebracci. Last but not least, in the square is held Eurochocolate, a chocolate fair founded in 1993. SHORT HISTORY Piazza IV Novembre stands on the former site of the ancient Roman Forum. In the Middle Ages, it has become the starting point for five main streets, known as the Royal Streets. In the 9th century, the Cathedral of San Lorenzo was built, and the square has qualified as a representative space for political and religious power, a role confirmed later by the establishment of the municipal government buildings. The current structure is that defined by the restructuring of the Platea Magna Comunis (the Read more [...]
The Church of the Maestà delle Volte was a church in Perugia, from which today only the facade has remained. The church is now a clothing store on via Maestà delle Volte, but it still retains its architecture and some of the original frescoes. SHORT HISTORY In 1297, on the street that passes under the Palazzo del Podesta, was placed a fresco known as Maestà delle Volte, which most likely portrayed Madonna with the Child. An oratory was built in 1335 to house the fresco, that was replaced by a larger church, between 1440 and 1470. Probably, Agostino di Duccio decorated the church in 1475. The church was damaged in 1534, when Ridolfo Baglioni conquered Perugia and set fire to the adjacent palace. Restorations took place in 1538 and between 1557 and 1558. In 1566, when the church became part of the Episcopal Seminary, Bishop Fulvio della Corgna initiated further renovations. The church was a meeting place for the Compagnia della Morte until the end of the 16th century, after which it moved to its own church, Church of Compagnia della Buona Morte. At the end of the 16th century, the facade of the church was built after a Read more [...]
Basilica of San Domenico, one of the most important churches in Perugia, overlooks a small square, Piazza Giordano Bruno, and can be seen from all over the city, thanks to the 126 meters high tower. SHORT HISTORY The Dominicans arrived in Perugia around 1230 and, between 1231 and 1260, they built a primitive church where the Basilica of San Domenico stands today. In the years to come, the Dominican order will become important and, in 1304, the construction of a new, larger church will begin. The church will be consecrated by Pope Pio II Piccolomini in 1459. At the start of the 17th century, the nave collapsed and the church was entirely rebuilt following Carlo Maderno’s design, between 1629 and 1632. ARCHITECTURE The church has an impressive facade, which opens at the top to a stairway with a double ramp. Inside, it has the layout of a Latin cross and is characterised by simplicity. The austerity of the nave contrasts the Gothic style of the glass windows, dated from 1411 and signed by Bartolomeo di Pietro and by Mariotto di Nardo. The top window, 23 meters high, is the largest of the era after the Duomo of Milan. Read more [...]
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, dedicated to Saint Lawrence, deacon in the service of Pope Sixtus II, martyred in Rome in the year 258, is part of an architectural complex that, taken as a whole, is called the island of San Lorenzo or the castle of San Lorenzo. SHORT HISTORY A church was initially built in the 9th century on the ancient forum of the Etruscan city. It was then rebuilt between the 11th and the 12th century, to house the remains of the bishop Ercolano, martyred at the time of the Ostrogoths invasion, in the 6th century. In 1300, the church was expanded, under the supervision of the benedictine monk Bevignate. A considerable time has passed between the planning and the completion of the work, two centuries later, in 1507. In the second half of the nineteenth century, by the will of Cardinal Gioacchino Pecci, then bishop of Perugia and future pontiff, the cathedral received a neo-gothic appearance – the structure preserved to this day. ARCHITECTURE The Cathedral, with its southern façade, serves as a background to Piazza Maggiore, today Piazza IV Novembre, which gathers in a single space, at the same time functional and symbolic, the Read more [...]
The Fountain of Via Maestà delle Volte (Fontana di via Maestà delle Volte) is a beautiful fountain in Perugia, built in 1928 by the architect Pietro Angelini, under an ancient arch of the 15th century that frames it. The fountain, realized in medieval style, fits harmoniously in the context of the via Maestà delle Volte, seemingly from the same time period, but the inscription in Roman characters refers to the 20th century. The griffin, symbol of the Municipality of Perugia, is carved in the central tile of the pool, as on other public buildings. The fountain was restored in 2016, thanks to the Art Bonus 2015 donations. HOW TO GET THERE The fountain is near the Piazza IV November, very close to a more famous fountain, Fontana Maggiore, only 70 meters away. To get there, use the map below.
Palazzo dei Priori is one of the best examples of public buildings in the Middle Ages. Located in the central Piazza IV Novembre, it still hosts today the Town Hall and, on the top floors, the National Gallery of Umbria. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo dei Priori was built in Gothic style between 1293 and 1443, in several construction phases. The irregularity of the façades is explained in the long course of construction, aimed at continuous additions and renovations. First, between 1293 and 1297, was built the palace for the Capitano del Popolo by Giacomo di Servadio and Giovanello di Benevento. Each of the two main floors comprised a single room. The room on the lower floor was originally the Sala del Consiglio, the room used for meetings of the Council that advised the Capitano del Popolo, that it later became the Sala dei Notari (Hall of Notaries). The room above is today the Sala Podiani of the Galleria Nazionale. Between 1333 and 1337, there was the first enlargement, when it was built the right side, with two windows and the portico of three arches, replaceing the church of San Severo. With the additions from 1353, the palace reached Via dei Read more [...]
In the central square of Assisi, there is an old roman temple from the first century of our era, Temple of Minerva, that was dedicated to the goddess of wisdom and peace from the pagan age. Today, the temple houses the church called Santa Maria sopra Minerva. SHORT HISTORY Around the years 28-25 BC, in the time of Emperor Augustus, the Roman Forum in Assisi is structured, various temples rise and the city wall is completed. Abouth then, the Temple of Minerva is built. When the pagan cult ceased, the Temple of Minerva remained abandoned and silent for over a century, until the second half of the 5th century, when the Benedictine monks restored the building and used it. With an act of May 24, 1212, the Benedictines granted for rent, for a hundred years, all the rooms of the Temple to the city of Assisi. In 1539, Pope Paul III, visiting Assisi, ordered that the Temple of Minerva to be restored and dedicated to Saint Mary. The Temple takes the name of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. In 1613, the Bishop of Assisi, Marcello Crescenzi, also having the consent of the city council, donates the Temple to the Friars Read more [...]
The Abbey of Saint Peter (Chiesa di San Pietro) is a church inhabited today by a community of monks from the Benedictine Cassinese Congregation, near the entrance in Assisi. SHORT HISTORY The Abbey of Saint Peter was built at the end of the 10th century, outside the city walls of Assisi, near an ancient Roman necropolis. The presence of the monastery has been documented since 1029, through a manuscript preserved in the Archives of San Rufino. In the first half of the thirteenth century, the history of the community of St. Peter is intertwined with that of St. Francis. The blessed Peter, abbot of Assisi, whose name is mentioned in a document from 1209, gave to Saint Francis the silver chalice which is still preserved in the Chapel of the Relics of the Sacred Convent. Around 1252, after they lived in the monastery for over two centuries, the Benedictines abandoned the place, and in their place came the Cistercians, who completed the construction of the abbey and the church, which was consecrated in 1254 by Innocenzo IV. On the same occasion, the pontiff consecrated the Cathedral of San Rufino and the Basilica of San Francesco. In 1316, following the Read more [...]
Teatro Caio Melisso is an old opera house in Spoleto, and one of the most elegant theatres in Italy, being known as one of the main venues of the Festival dei Due Mondi. SHORT HISTORY The oldest theatre in Spoleto, Teatro Caio Melisso was built in the second half of the 17th century, using part of the structures of the unfinished Palazzo della Signoria. The first mention of the theatre was made in 1664, as the „room for comedies”, which led to changing its name in Noble Theatre in 1668. The original wooden structure was enriched in 1751 with decorations, curtains and scenes, which gave it a very precious appearance. After 1819, due to the theft of the 18th century decorations, the theatre was looking bad and the Spoletans showed the desire to have a larger one, so, in 1853, some of them tried to set it on fire. Teatro Nuovo was built in 1864, surpassing the decadent Noble Theatre, which however, after only ten years, was renewed by the will of the Municipality. The project was entrusted to the Spoleto architect Giovanni Montiroli and, in 1880, the theatre was reopened under the name Caio Melisso. Caio Melisso was Read more [...]
Near the Spoleto train station, there is a monument that you can easily overlook. Its name is Teodelapio, which comes from one of the first Lombard dukes of Spoleto, who reigned in the 7th century, Theudelapius. SHORT HISTORY The story began in 1962, at the fifth edition of the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds), curated by Giovanni Carandente. In March 1962, Giovanni Carandente invited Alexander Calder to participate in the event. He asked him to create a piece of art that could serve as a triumphal arch at the entrance to the city and become its symbol. Alexander Calder was an American sculptor known for his Mobile sculptures, which are moving due to air currents, but also for the monumental stationary sculptures that are called Stabiles. The American sculptor designed a metal monument, kept today in the Carandente Museum, inside Palazzo Collicola. The sculpture was enlarged 27 times, being the first of many Stabiles of Calder and the only one on the Italian soil. 18 meters in height, the work is considered the first stationary monumental sculpture in the world. HOW TO GET THERE It’s simple! The Teodelapio is right in front of the Read more [...]
In the historical center of Spoleto, in Piazza del Mercato (Market Square), there is a fantastic fountain, whose water has been running for over 700 years. With a clock above and a monument dedicated to the Barberini family on top, this fountain is known as Fontana di Piazza del Mercato or, simpler, Fonte di Piazza, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Spoleto, and should not be missed. SHORT HISTORY There has been a fountain in Piazza del Mercato since the 13th century or even earlier. In 1433, another one was built in front of the old fountain by the local architect Giovanni Buono and it was inaugurated on the occasion of the visit of Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg. Achille Sansi, a historian from the 19th century, tells us that the water flow of the fountain had been increased in 1512, thanks to the improvements made to the pipelines. In the 16th century, the place where today’s fountain stands was occupied by the church of San Donato. In the second half of the 16th century, the church was abandoned and its façade facing the square was used first for a clock, and then for a monument Read more [...]
Fontana di Mascherone is an interesting fountain in Spoleto, simply known by the locals as Il Mascherone, due to the mask from whose mouth the water flows. The fountain was probably built in the 17th century, and according to a nearby inscription, a restoration was comissioned in the year 1736 by the Pope Clement VII. HOW TO GET THERE The fountain is located in Piazza Campello, only 230 meters from the Spoleto Cathedral and about 1.9 kilometers from the Spoleto train station. If you want to find the fountain easily, use the map below.
The Basilica of Sant’Eufemia rises inside the Archbishop’s Palace, near the Piazza del Duomo, on a place that was once occupied by the palace of the Lombard Dukes of Spoleto. SHORT HISTORY The first information about the monastery and the church of S. Eufemia dates back to the 10th century, when the Benedictine monk Giovanni Cassinese wrote about the life of S. Giovanni, Archbishop of Spoleto. In the 12th century, the church was encompassed by the Palazzo Vescovile (the Archbishop’s Palace). At the end of the 14th century, a painter was commissioned to paint the complex of the palace. At the middle of the 15th century, the Spoleto diocese was run by the Patriarch of Alexandria, the venetian Marco Condulmer, and the church seems to have changed its title from S. Eufemia to S. Lucia. HOW TO GET THERE After you visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of Saint Mary, in Piazza del Duomo, you can easily get to the Church of Sant’Eufemia, only 100 meters away. If you need precise directions from anywhere in the city, use the map below.
Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels (Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli) is a papal church in Assisi, outside city walls, about 4 kilometers from the historic centre. The Basilica shelters the Porziuncola, a small church where the Franciscan movement started and, at the same time, the most sacred place for the Franciscan order. SHORT HISTORY Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels was built between 1565 and 1685, after a project by Galeazzo Alessi, an italian architect from Perugia. The construction has taken a long time due to constant lack of money, because the church was financed only from donations. After an earthquake on 15 March 1832, the church suffered major damage. The reconstruction of the basilica started in 1836 and was finished 4 years later, in 1840. The architect in charge for the reconstruction was Luigi Poletti. During reconstruction, the façade of the church was remodeled in a neoclassical style, but the architect Cesare Bazzani gave back, between 1924 and 1930, its original form. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The basilica was built in a Mannerist style and has a latin cross structure, 126 meters in lenght and 65 meters wide. The interior has three naves and Read more [...]
Rocca Maggiore is a majestic, imposing fortress from the 14th century which dominates the town of Assisi from above, offering magnificent views and charming panoramas of the surrounding valley below, from Perugia, in the north, to Spoleto, in the south. SHORT HISTORY The initial fortress was built, perhaps, before the year 1000, in the time of the barbaric invasions, but the first information about Rocca Maggiore dates back to 1174, when Assisi was conquered by the imperial troops led by Christian of Mainz. In 1198, Rocca Maggiore was destroyed by a riot, to prevent it from falling into the hands of a papal governor, but it was rebuilt later, in 1365, by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, as a lookout. In the next centuries, the fortress was enlarged and modified by various occupants – by Biordo Michelotti between 1395 and 1398, by Piccinino in 1458, by Pope Pius II in 1460, by Sixtus IV in 1478 and by Paul III in 1535, reaching a massive structure. From the 17th century, Rocca Maggiore was abandoned, but it remained intact until the present day. HOW TO GET THERE If you are in Assisi, you are probably seeing, somewhere above, the fortress. It’s Read more [...]
A beautiful monument in Rome, Castel Sant’Angelo has been guarding the banks of the Tiber for nearly 2000 years. Throughout the centuries, Sant’Angelo was, in turn, a mausoleum, a fortress, a castle, a prison and, today, a museum. SHORT HISTORY In the year 135 AD, the roman emperor Hadrian commissioned a mausoleum for himself and his family, a monument worthy of the Antonine dynasty. To link it to the Campus Martius area, he built also a bridge, Pons Aelius, the current Sant’Angelo bridge. In 401, the mausoleum has been partially destroyed, after its conversion to a military fortress and due to the inclusion in the Aurelian Walls. Beginning in the 14th century, the papacy converted the mausoleum into a castle and connected it to St. Peter’s Basilica by a fortified corridor. Later, the Papal state will use Castel Sant’Angelo as a prison, Giordano Bruno or Benvenuto Cellini being among its guests. Today, the castle is a museum, the “Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo”. HOW TO GET THERE The nearest Metro station is Lepanto, on Line A, 1.2 kilometers from Castel Sant’Angelo or 16 minutes of walking. If you want to reach the castle on foot, use the map Read more [...]