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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, here is a list of Italy’s best-known attractions and sights…

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    National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II

    The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II), commonly known as Vittoriano or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), is a large monument located in Piazza Venezia, on the northern slope of the Campidoglio Hill, in Rome. The monument, which can be seen from almost every point in the city, is dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, the first king of the unified Kingdom of Italy, and to the idea of Risorgimento, the process of national unity and liberation from foreign domination.   SHORT HISTORY After the death of Victor Emmanuel II on 9 January 1878, there have been several initiatives to build a permanent monument to celebrate the king. On September 23, 1880, it was launched an international competition for the project of the monument, in which 311 competitors took part. The competition was won by the French architect Henri-Paul Nénot, but his project was later abandoned. After a second and a third competition, it was chosen in 1884 the project of the young architect Giuseppe Sacconi. After the death of Giuseppe Sacconi, which took place in 1905, the works continued under the direction of Gaetano Koch, Manfredo Manfredi and Pio Piacentini. Read more [...]

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    Trajan’s Column

    The Trajan’s Column is an ancient monument built to celebrate the conquest of Dacia by the emperor Trajan. Nearly 2000 years after its construction, the column is almost intact, and it’s the best preserved element of the Trajan’s Forum, the largest Imperial Forum of Rome.   SHORT HISTORY The column, probably built under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus, was inaugurated on May 12, 113 AD, and describes the wars with Dacia held between 101 and 106. In 1162, a document of the medieval Senate established the column as a public property and forbade its damage. During the 16th century, some private buildings in the vicinity of the column were demolished, to create a space around it, and the monument can be admired from afar. In 1588, under Pope Sixtus V, the column was renovated by Domenico Fontana. On that occasion, the bronze statue of St. Peter was placed at the top of the column and a fence was erected.   ARCHITECTURE The column is 29.78 meters in height, or 39.86 meters if you include the pedestal and the statue on top, has a 3.83 meters in diameter, and is made from 20 Carrara marble blocks, each weighing Read more [...]

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    Forum of Trajan

    The Forum of Trajan, also known as Forum Ulpium, is the largest and most monumental of the Imperial Forums of Rome, and the last in chronological order.   SHORT HISTORY Built by the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, and inaugurated in 112, the forum was arranged parallel to the Forum of Caesar and perpendicular to that of Augustus. The building of the new monumental complex, commissioned by Trajan himself, required extensive excavation work, involving the elimination of the saddle that connected the Capitoline and Quirinale Hills, and closed the valley of the Fori Imperiali towards Campo Marzio. At the same time, the Mercati di Traiano (Trajan’s Markets) were built, a complex of buildings with mainly administrative functions, linked to the activities that took place in the forum. The project of the new complex is attributed to Apollodorus of Damascus, who accompanied Trajan in his military campaigns in Dacia.   ARCHITECTURE The complex, which measures 300 meters in length and 185 meters in width, includes the Trajan’s Markets, the Basilica Ulpia, a porticoed courtyard with the Trajan’s Column and the Ulpian Library. All the buildings of the Forum were covered with marbles and stuccos, Read more [...]

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    Palazzo di Giustizia

    Palazzo di Giustizia is the seat of the Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy, located in Piazza Cavour, in Rome. The palace is commonly called the Palazzaccio (Bad Palace), due to its unusual dimensions, excessive decorations and laborious construction, which led, at the beginning of the 20th century, to the suspicion of corruption.   SHORT HISTORY The palace, one of the major works created after the proclamation of Rome as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, was built between 1889 and 1911 by the Perugian architect Guglielmo Calderini. The official inauguration of the works, with the laying of the first stone, took place on the afternoon of 14 March 1889, in the presence of the sovereigns Umberto I and Margherita. The palace was inaugurated 22 years after the beginning of the works, in the presence of the sovereign Vittorio Emanuele III, on 11 January 1911. At the end of the sixties, the cracks and collapses increased, a commission of specialists was established to decide the fate of the monument, and most of them called for its demolition. However, the demolition cost was enormous, and it was decided that the palace will be saved. In the seventies, the palace underwent Read more [...]

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    Piazza di Spagna

    Piazza di Spagna, known in the past as Piazza di Francia, is one of the most beautiful squares in Rome. The square owes its name to the Palazzo di Spagna, seat of the Embassy of Spain among the Holy See.   ARCHITECTURE To the east of the square, we can find the Spanish Steps, a monumental staircase of 135 steps built between 1723 and 1725, which makes the connection between Piazza di Spagna, at the base, and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Church of Trinità dei Monti, at the top. On the right corner of the staircase is the house of the English poet John Keats, who died there in 1821. Today, the building hosts a museum dedicated to his memory and that of his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley. On the left corner of the staircase is the Babington’s tea room, a traditional English tea shop founded in 1893 by two English women, Isabel Cargill and Anne Marie Babington. To the south of the square stands the Palazzo di Propaganda Fide, a palace owned by the Holy See. Its main facade was designed by the sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and the front side of the Via Read more [...]

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    Piazza della Repubblica

    Piazza della Repubblica is one of the most famous squares in Rome, located on the Viminal Hill, the smallest of the seven hills of the city, a few hundred meters away from the Termini station, in front of the Baths of Diocletian.   SHORT HISTORY The first name of the square, Piazza dell’Esedra, still very common today, originates from the great exedra of the Roman baths, whose perimeter is traced by the semicircular colonnade of the square. The arcades that embellish the square were built between 1887 and 1898 by the architect Gaetano Koch, precisely in memory of the ancient buildings that stood there.   ARCHITECTURE The Fountain of the Naiads in the center of the square is the work of the Palermitan sculptor Mario Rutelli, who carved it in 1901. The naiads represented are the Nymph of the Lakes, the Nymph of the Rivers, the Nymph of the Oceans and the Nymph of the Underground Waters. At the center of the fountain is the Glaucus group, sculpted in 1912, symbolizing man’s domination over natural forces. To the north of the square, we can find the Baths of Diocletian, public baths in ancient Rome, built between 298 and 306 AD. Read more [...]

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    Castello di Riomaggiore

    Castello di Riomaggiore is a castle located in the upper part of the historic center of Riomaggiore. The castle, with a quadrangular structure and two stubby circular towers, was used originally for defensive purposes, and later converted into a cemetery. Today, the castle is used by the municipality as a conference hall and cultural center.   SHORT HISTORY According to historical sources, the castle was built by the Turcotti Marquises in 1260, lords of the village of Ripalta, near Borghetto di Vara, on the ruins of a pre-existing fortress. After the domination of the Count Nicolò Fieschi, a new castle, located on the hill that divides the valley of Rio Maggiore from that of Rio Finale, was finally completed by the Republic of Genoa between the 15th and 16th centuries. During the French domination of Napoleon Bonaparte, the internal area of the fort was filled with earth and destined for the burial of the deceased locals. At the end of the 20th century, the whole complex underwent a general recovery, being converted into a cultural center.   HOW TO GET THERE The Castle of Riomaggiore is located about 450 meters away from the Riomaggiore train station, or about 10 minutes on Read more [...]

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    Oratorio dei Santi Rocco e Sebastiano

    Oratorio dei Santi Rocco e Sebastiano (the Oratory of Saints Roch and Sebastian) is a small place of worship located in the beautiful seaside village of Riomaggiore. The oratory is built in a panoramic position next to the Castle of Riomaggiore, on the ridge that separates the Rio Maggiore valley, where the village rises.   SHORT HISTORY The Oratory of San Rocco was built in 1480 as a sign of gratitude for the end of the plague that killed almost half the population of the village. According to some people, the oratory was built almost a century later.   ARCHITECTURE The small building, with very simple architectural forms, is preceded by a portico. The interior, consisting of a single room covered by a lowered barrel vault and decorated with devotional frescoes, takes light from small windows splayed in the thickness of the walls. On the baroque altar there is a triptych with the Virgin and Child between Saints Roch and Sebastian.   HOW TO GET THERE The Oratory of San Rocco is about 450 meters away from the Riomaggiore train station, or about 8-10 minutes on foot. Depending on the route you choose to reach the oratory, you may encounter Read more [...]

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    Castello dei Doria

    Castello dei Doria is a castle located on a rocky ridge about 70 meters high, in Vernazza. The castle was named after the Doria family, originally from Genoa, one of the most important noble families in the history of Italy.   SHORT HISTORY The first informations about a castle in Vernazza dates back to the 13th century, but it is believed that the first nucleus of the building dates back to the 11th century, and that it was built during the domination of the Obertenghi, a family of Italian nobility descended from Count Obert I of Luni. In particular, the cylindrical tower, which currently stands in the middle of the castel’s terrace, and which was restored during the 20th century, is the oldest part of the fortification. In the 12th century, the castle and the village of Vernazza passed to the bishops of Luni, to the Da Passano family and then to the Fieschi in the second half of the century. Occupied in the same century by Pisa, in the attacks related to the Battle of Meloria, in which also sailors and ships from Vernazza participated, the castle soon returned into the hands of the Genoese. During the crucial phases Read more [...]

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    Castello della Dragonara

    Castello della Dragonara, known also as the Castel Dragone, is a castle in Camogli, located in Via Isola, near the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.   SHORT HISTORY According to some historical sources, the castle was probably built in the first half of the 13th century. In the second half of the 14th century, the castle, to ensure the safety of the fishing village of Camogli, was repeatedly reinforced, receiving the necessary weapons from the Republic of Genoa. In the 14th century, the Dragonara Castle was attacked several times. Well documented are the assaults made by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Lord of Milan, and the one made by Nicolò Fieschi in 1366. Between 1428 and 1430, the castle was considerably enlarged and reinforced, especially the adjacent watchtower. In 1438, the Duchy of Milan besieged the castle, destroying its walls. A few years later, the inhabitants of the seaside village built new walls around the castle. In 1448, due to a conflict between Camogli, Recco and Genoa, the Republic demanded the immediate destruction of the castle. The castle was destroyed, but it was rebuilt again only six years later and given to the Doge of Genoa. In the 16th century, the castle Read more [...]

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    Church of San Pietro

    The Church of San Pietro is an ancient church dedicated to Saint Peter, built on a rocky edge in Portovenere, facing the beautiful Gulf of Poets.   SHORT HISTORY The original church was founded on the ancient remains of a pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Venus Erycina, and was consecrated in 1198. The black and white bands on the walls were added by the Genoese in the 13th century, presumably between 1256 and 1277. The church lost its parochial title at the end of the 14th century, in favor of the Church of San Lorenzo, and was officiated by the secular clergy until 1798. In 1494, the church was affected by the attacks of the Aragonese, and later, during the Napoleonic era, was used as a battery to defend the Gulf of La Spezia. The church underwent a significant restoration work between 1929 and 1934.   ARCHITECTURE The original church is a work in the Syriac tradition of the 5th century, with a rectangular plan and a semicircular apse. Two round arches connect this space with the newer church. The latter has a structural wooden roof and the presbytery is divided into three chapels, covered with ogival and cross Read more [...]

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    Church of San Lorenzo

    The Church of San Lorenzo is a religious building dedicated to Saint Lawrence, located in a dominant position on a hill overlooking the village of Portovenere, close to the Castello Doria. The church is also known today as the Sanctuary of the White Madonna (Santuario della Madonna Bianca), the White Madonna being the patron saint of Portovenere.   SHORT HISTORY According to some historical sources, a first church was erected here in Romanesque style starting with 1098, on a place where, in ancient times, there was probably a temple dedicated to Jupiter. The church was consecrated in 1130 by Pope Innocent II. At the end of the 14th century, the Church of San Lorenzo inherited the parochial title from the Church of San Pietro. In 1340, a fire damaged the church and, in 1494, the building was partially destroyed by the incursion of the Aragonese. For these reasons, the church underwent restoration works between 1494 and 1582. These interventions consisted in the replacement of the black Portoro marble columns with white marble columns, the demolition of the presbytery’s nave tower and its replacement with an octagonal dome, the reconstruction of the bell tower next to the apse and the replacement Read more [...]

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    Castello Doria

    Castello Doria is a castle located on a rocky hill overlooking the seaside village of Portovenere, one of the great examples of military architecture of the Republic of Genoa.   SHORT HISTORY An ancient fortress already existed in this place when, in 1139, the Republic of Genoa gained control of the village of Portovenere, with the help of the local lords of Vezzano. In 1161, the castle was rebuilt closer to the Church of San Pietro, and the new building was virtually annexed to the old fortified structure, including two identical watch towers. In the 13th century, the castle was the center of the struggles between Genoa and Pisa for the conquest of the surrounding lands. In the second half of the 15th century, Genoa decided to demolish the castle and rebuild it in a modern style, according to the architectural and military canons of the period. The rebuilding works continued in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the fortress took its current appearance only in the 17th century. During the French domination of Napoleon Bonaparte, at the beginning of the 19th century, the castle was used as a prison, without altering its architectural forms. Today, the ancient Genoese fortress Read more [...]

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    Church of the Immaculate Conception

    The Church of the Immaculate Conception (Chiesa dell’Immacolata Concezione) is a beautiful church in Sestri Levante, located on an elevated position to the east of Baia del Silenzio.   SHORT HISTORY The first Capuchin friars arrived in the village in 1609, and settled right in the center of Sestri Levante. In 1640, they built a church with a conventual structure attached, the today’s complex of the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli. The urbanization of the town in the following years, which no longer allowed the friars proper isolation from the population, led them to choose a more isolated location on the hill located east of the Bay of Silence. The construction of the new complex began in 1683 and ended in 1688, the year of the transfer of the order to the new convent. The former complex was sold in 1686 to the Secular Priests of San Pietro in Vincoli. In the agreement signed with the Seculars, it was agreed that any work of art and furnishings should remain the property of the Capuchins. The property of the convent was managed directly by the friars until 1866 when, for unknown reasons, the church and the convent were sold to Read more [...]

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    Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth

    The Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth is a beautiful church in Sestri Levante, located in Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, near the wonderful Baia del Silenzio.   SHORT HISTORY The presence of a small chapel dedicated to Saint Mary of Nazareth is attested on this place as early as 1368. In 1604, the building of a new church began, supervised by the architect Gio Batta Carbone, who will finish the work almost 12 years later, in 1616. The church inherited the title of co-cathedral of the diocese of Brugnato from the pre-existing Church of San Nicolò, and was the residence of the bishops of the diocese from the 16th to the 18th century. In the first half of the 19th century, Giambattista Prato restructured the facade of the church, also adding a neoclassical pronaos.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The interior has a structure with three naves divided by square pillars with pilasters on which rounded arches rest. The decorations are dated between the 18th and 19th centuries. The central nave has a barrel vault with lunettes, a raised presbytery and a semicircular apse. In the side aisles there are several side chapels with small cross vaults. The high altar with polychrome Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Borsa

    Palazzo della Nuova Borsa Valori, better known as Palazzo della Borsa, is a historic palace in Genoa, located in Piazza De Ferrari. Built by the architects Dario Carbone and Amedeo Pieragostini, the palace has an architecture that recalls the neo-cinquecentesco style, while the interiors, by Adolfo Coppedè, are inspired by the Art Nouveau style.   SHORT HISTORY In 1855, a decree officially announced the birth of the Trading Exchange in Genoa, hosted by the Loggia di Banchi and the Palazzo Senarega, and administered by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. On June 27, 1905, a new company, Società Nuova Borsa, was born for the construction of the Palazzo della Borsa. The place where the building stands today was bought in 1906 by the company mentioned above, and the palace was inaugurated on 20 July 1912. In 1912, the Stock Market remained in the Loggia di Banchi, while the Stock Exchange moved to Piazza De Ferrari, in the new building of Palazzo della Borsa. With the computerization of the exchanges and the transition to the electronic system, the Genoese Stock Exchange closed on 28 February 1994. Today, the building is mainly used as an exhibition space.   ARCHITECTURE The monumental facade with Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Ducale

    Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is a historical palace in Genoa, the residence of the Doge since 1339 and, today, the main cultural center of the city, which offers exhibitions, conferences, festivals, shows and all sort of educational activities.   SHORT HISTORY After the Battle of Meloria against the Republic of Pisa and the Battle of Curzola against Venice, both fought at the end of the 13th century, Genoa became the superpower of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the economic leader of the region. Therefore, during those times, the city felt the need for a sumptuous representative palace and, in 1298, the building of the Doge’s Palace begun. Palazzo Ducale was built around the palace of Alberto Fieschi, with its Torre del Popolo (Tower of the People), which forms the original core of the complex. The Tower became one of the symbols of political power of Genoa, and the tolls of its bell announced the most solemn and tragic moments of the city. Starting with the 14th century, the Tower of the People became a dungeon for political prisoners, conspirators and anarchists, and remained a prison until the 20th century. The palace was named Ducale in 1339, when it became the seat Read more [...]

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    Piazza De Ferrari

    Piazza De Ferrari is the main square of Genoa, and the commercial, financial and economic hub of the city. The square is dedicated to Raffaele De Ferrari, Duke of Galliera, politician and banker. With an irregular shape, due to successive urban interventions, which led to the unification of two adjoining areas, the square is part of the ancient sestiere (district) of Portoria, and occupies an area of about 11,000 square meters.   SHORT HISTORY After the annexation of the Ligurian Republic to the Kingdom of Sardinia, in 1814, the local authorities decided to create a large public space in the heart of the Portoria district, destined to become a place of social and cultural meeting. On June 2, 1818, King Vittorio Emanuele I authorized the demolition of the Church of San Domenico, to build the Carlo Felice Theater, designed by the architect Carlo Barabino and completed in 1827. A two-storey building appeared in 1831, destined for the Linguistic Academy (Palazzo dell’Academia Ligustica). In 1877, one year after his death, it was decided to name the square after Raffaele De Ferrari. In 1893, the monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi was inaugurated in front of the colonnade of the Carlo Felice Theater. The Read more [...]

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    Arco della Pace

    Arco della Pace is a triumphal arch in Milan, a neoclassical monument located between the beginning of Corso Sempione and the northern edge of the Sempione Park. The arch, inaugurated on 10 September 1838 during a ceremony attended by the newly crowned emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, is dedicated to the peace established between the European nations at the Vienna Congress of 1815.   SHORT HISTORY The first arch was built in January 1806, on the design of Luigi Cagnola, to celebrate the arrival in Milan of the newlyweds Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, and Princess Augusta of Bavaria. The arch was raised on Corso di Porta Orientale, now Corso Venezia, and was built from canvas, plastic and timber. Given the success of the arch among foreign visitors, the council of Milan, the municipality of the time, decreed on 8 February that a new marble arch will be erected in a more appropriate place. The new work, designed also by Cagnola to celebrate the French victory in the Battle of Jena, was built starting with the autumn of 1807. The works were directed by Cagnola himself and supervised by Domenico Moglia, Nicola Pirovano, Francesco Peverelli and Bai Gio Battista, Read more [...]

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    Church of San Giovanni Battista

    The Church of San Giovanni Battista (Church of St. John the Baptist) is one of the most important churches in Matera, located outside the walls of the historical center of the city, in Piazza San Giovanni.   SHORT HISTORY A church was documented on this place since 1204, under the title of Santa Maria Nuova. The church belonged to the Benedictine monks, who abandoned it in 1212. Between 1230 and 1233, the Archbishop Andrea built a new church for the Augustinian nuns arrived in Matera from Palestine in 1198, and hosted for a while in the rupestrian Monastery of Madonna delle Virtù. After 1412, the nuns left the rule of St. Augustine to take that of St. Dominic, and the convent changed its title to Santa Maria dell’Annunziata. The church was abandoned in 1480, during the War of Otranto, because its position outside the city walls was too risky for the nuns. In 1610, the main facade of the church was incorporated into the adjacent hospital building, and the current facade is, actually, its right side. The church was reopened as a place of worship in 1695 by the Spanish Archbishop Antonio De Los Ryos y Colminarez, and dedicated to Read more [...]

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    Church of Saints Peter and Paul

    The Church of Saints Peter and Paul (Chiesa dei Santi Pietro e Paolo), commonly known as the Church of San Pietro Caveoso, is a church in Matera, located in the southern ancient district of the city, Sasso Caveoso.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built in 1218, but undergone numerous changes and renovations over the centuries, and many of its original features were lost in time. In the 17th century, the church was completely renovated and the current facade was built. At the same time, the bell tower was raised and the interior of the church was enlarged, with the addition of the side chapels. In 1706, the church was re-consecrated, as indicated on a plaque, and new improvements were made. The cusp was added on the bell tower, the interior was covered with stucco and decorations, and a wooden false ceiling was placed under the tufa roof.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The Baroque facade presents, in the lower part, three portals with a simple frame. Above each of them, there are semi-circular niches containing statues. Above the central portal, there is the Madonna of Mercy, St. Paul the Apostle above the portal on the right and St. Peter the Read more [...]

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    Church of San Giuseppe

    The Church of San Giuseppe is a beautiful church in Taormina, dedicated to Saint Joseph. The church, built in Baroque style in the second half of the 17th century, stands near the famous Torre dell’Orologio, dominating the main square of the town, Piazza IX Aprile.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built after 1650 as the seat of the Confraternity of the Souls in Purgatory. On the facade of the church and also inside, there are numerous references to the confraternity: inscriptions, coats of arms, details of sculptures, bas-reliefs, mottos and allegorical figures. In 1919, the church was given to the Fathers of the Salesian Order, present in Taormina since 1911. The order enriched the church with new sculptures and thematic frescoes. In Autumn 2015, water infiltrations and humidity caused by heavy rain determined the collapse of the ceiling, and the church was closed for consolidation and restoration works.   ARCHITECTURE A majestic double staircase leads to the church, and both the stairs and the porch in front of the building are fenced with a magnificent stone balustrade. The facade has a large central portal that leads into the church, and two small side portals, of which the right one Read more [...]

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    Piazza IX Aprile

    Piazza IX Aprile is the main square of Taormina and, by far, the most beautiful one, located about halfway down the main street of the town, Corso Umberto. The square is populated with many interesting monuments and, from its terrace, you can admire a magnificent panorama of the Mount Etna, the Bay of Naxos and the Teatro Greco, the ancient theater of the city. Characteristic are the outdoor cafés and the artists who draw caricatures.   SHORT HISTORY The square is called Piazza IX Aprile because on April 9, 1860, during a Mass held in the Cathedral of Taormina, rumors came about the arrival of Giuseppe Garibaldi in Marsala, a town in western Sicily, to start the liberation of the island from the Bourbon domination. The rumors turned out to be false, and Garibaldi arrived in Marsala a month later, on May 9. Before 1860, the square was called Piazza Sant’Agostino, after the Church of Sant’Agostino built in 1448 on the eastern side of the square, now deconsecrated and serving as the public library.   ARCHITECTURE Another religious building located on Piazza IX Aprile is the Church of San Giuseppe, built in the 17th century. The church represents a beautiful Read more [...]

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    Castello Ursino

    Castello Ursino is an interesting castle in Catania, former seat of the Sicilian parliament starting with the 13th century and residence of the Aragonese sovereigns until the 15th century. Since 20 October 1934, the castle is home to the Civic Museum.   SHORT HISTORY The Ursino Castle was built in the 13th century by Frederick II of Swabia, King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor, as part of the defensive system of the eastern Sicily, which also included the Maniace Castle of Syracuse and the Swabian Castle of Augusta. The project was entrusted to the military architect Riccardo da Lentini. In 1296, the castle was taken by Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, and subsequently was conquered again by the Aragonese. The King Frederick III of Sicily inhabited the castle from the end of the 13th century until his death, in 1337. In the early 15th century, the castle was surrounded by various buildings, and Martin I, King of Sicily, cleared the space around it, to obtain a square named today Piazza Federico di Svevia. In the 16th century, a bastion called San Giorgio was built to defend the castle and some changes were made in the Renaissance style. Starting Read more [...]

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    Porta Garibaldi

    Porta Garibaldi (Garibaldi Gate), called also Porta Ferdinandea, in honor of Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, is a triumphal arch located at the western end of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, between Piazza Palestro and Piazza Crocifisso, in Catania. Through the gate, it can be seen in the distance, at the other end of Via Garibaldi, the wonderful Cathedral of Sant’Agata.   SHORT HISTORY In ancient times, the gates to a city were very important, from the defense point of view. The gates were, in fact, the last barrier against a possible siege. The walls that surrounded Catania were built starting with 1541, on the initiative of the Viceroy Giovanni Vega. In 1621, there were seven gates, and three more were added later. The first seven gates were built for defensive purposes, while the other three had only an ornamental function. One of the last three gates was Porta Ferdinandea, built in 1768 to celebrate the marriage between Ferdinand I of The Two Sicilies and Maria Carolina of Austria. The gate was designed by the architects Stefano Ittar and Francesco Battaglia. Another name of the gate is Porta del Fortino, which comes from a fort built by the Viceroy Claudio Read more [...]

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    Church of the Holy Spirit

    The Church of the Holy Spirit (Chiesa dello Spirito Santo) is a beautiful church located on the seafront of the Ortygia island, in Syracuse.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built in 1727, during the Spanish domination of Sicily, by the architect Pompeo Picherali. The church stands on the site of the ancient First Church of Syracuse, built in the 4th century by the Bishop Germano and affected by the earthquakes of 1542 and 1693.   ARCHITECTURE The facade of the church, built in Baroque style, has three orders separated by scrolls and marked by pilasters, surmounted by a three-mullioned window. The whole facade from white limestone is a continuous play of shapes, rich in decorations, with Corinthian elements. The church is the only one in Syracuse with an external dome. The dome has a diameter of 8 meters and is also in Baroque style The interior of the church has a Latin cross plan with three aisles. The vaults are decorated with frescoes and stucco. Unfortunately, today, the church is in poor condition, due to the numerous water infiltrations from the roof. The majestic pipe organ is in complete abandon and the stuccos and frescoes on the roof are Read more [...]

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    Castello Maniace

    Castello Maniace is one of the most important monuments of the Swabian period, a magnificent example of the military architecture of the Roman Emperor Frederick II, located on the tip of the island of Ortygia, in Syracuse. The name of the castle derives from Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who, in 1038, regained the city of Syracuse from the hands of the Arabs. The castle has a massive quadrilateral structure of 51 meters per side and about 12 meters high. At the four corners of the building are four cylindrical towers. The average thickness of the walls is about 3.5 meters.   SHORT HISTORY On the place where the castle stands today, strategically important for the defense of the harbour, there were fortifications since the time of the Greeks. The building of the castle is attributed to Emperor Frederick II, who entrusted its construction to the architect Riccardo da Lentini, shortly after returning from the Crusade in the Holy Land. The construction took place between 1232 and 1239. In 1266, the castle passed to the Angevins and, in 1282, it was conquered by the Syracusans in the revolt of April 11. In 1325, Peter II of Sicily, the son of Read more [...]

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    Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia

    The Church of Santa Lucia alla Badia is a church dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse, Saint Lucia, located in Piazza Duomo, on the beautiful island of Ortygia, in Syracuse. The church is the place where is held, every year in May, the Feast of Santa Lucia delle Quaglie, to celebrate the miracle of 1646 which occurred right here.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built between 1695 and 1703 after a project by the architect Luciano Caracciolo, on the site of a monastery from the 15th century, which was completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. Originally, the facade overlooked the street Via Picherali, but now it’s facing the main square of the city, Piazza Duomo. The structure of the church was heavily damaged during the Second World War, and a restoration took place in the 20th century. The flooring of the nave was replaced in 1970, as it was severely damaged due to humidity.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade is entirely built of light limestone and is divided in two orders by a wrought iron balcony. The balcony is not the original one, which was dismantled during the Second World War. The sumptuous portal of the Read more [...]

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    Church of San Giovanni Battista

    The Church of San Giovanni Battista is a church located in the upper part of the historical center of Riomaggiore.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built in 1340, as stated by a plaque on the facade, at the behest of the bishop of the diocese of Luni, Antonio Fieschi. Due to a collapse of the church, an important restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1871. The extension of the complex and the reconstruction of the facade in the neo-gothic style preserved, however, the 14th-century rose window in white Carrara marble.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE On the left side of the church, are still visible today the single-lancet windows and the two entrances in Gothic style decorated with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic elements. The interior has a basilica plan and is divided into three naves, with ogival arches. Among the preserved works of art inside the church are a triptych in the right aisle, attributed to the master Benedetto Antelami, a painting depicting the Preaching of John the Baptist, work of the painter Domenico Fiasella, a wooden crucifix by Anton Maria Maragliano and a marble pulpit of 1663.   HOW TO GET THERE The Church of San Giovanni Battista is Read more [...]

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    Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia

    The Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia is located in the seaside village of Vernazza, near the main square of the town, Piazza Guglielmo Marconi.   SHORT HISTORY It seems that a first church in Romanesque style was built on this place in the 11th century. Two centuries later, the current church was raised on the foundations of the previous one, of which only the apse remained. The new building is mentioned for the first time in a document from 1318. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, the structure was considerably enlarged, however, destroying the medieval facade. In the 18th century, the church underwent a new renovation, with the interior being redecorated in Baroque style. From the 19th century, the access to the church is made from the square, through a door built in the apse area. Between 1964 and 1970, new restorations were made: the wooden roof was replaced, the bell tower was elevated and the interior was again redecorated in Romanesque style.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The church has a 40-meter-high octagonal bell-tower, crowned with arches and with an ogival dome on top. Inside, there are two paintings from the 17th century, a processional crate and a wooden crucifix, Read more [...]

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    Vernazza Beach

    Vernazza Beach is a rocky beach in Vernazza, somewhat hidden from the eyes of the tourists coming down from the train station, on Via Roma, heading towards the small port of the town. The beach is relatively new. It was formed by the debris during the flood of 2011, when the town was almost put to the ground. The beach is not spectacular, but its location near the cliff of Vernazza, with the colorful houses overlooking from above, makes it an interesting stop on your trip along the Ligurian coast.   HOW TO GET THERE To access the beach, walk down on Via Roma, the main street of the town, until you see on your left an opening in the rock. Through this passage, you will reach the beach.

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    Church of Santa Maria Assunta

    Along with the sea, the beach and the colorful buildings, the back of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta completes the superb painting of this beautiful seaside town named Camogli.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built, according to historical sources, in the 12th century, on a rock in the immediate vicinity of the marina. Over the years, the structure has undergone various interventions and extensions, especially in the 16th century and in the 19th century. In 1970, in the three niches of the facade facing the small Isola square, the statues of the saints Prospero, Fortunato and the Madonna del Boschetto were placed. The building was consecrated in 1826 by the Archbishop of Genoa, Monsignor Luigi Lambruschini, and again, in 1847, by Monsignor Placido Maria Tadini.   ART AND ARCHITECTURE The interior, decorated in Baroque style, consists of three naves and is entirely covered with fine stuccos in gold and polychrome marble. In the vault, frescoes of the late 19th century are preserved, made by the painters Nicolò Barabino and Francesco Semino. The high altar was made by the sculptor Andrea Casareggio, while in the sacristy we can find a painting by Luca Cambiaso. The chapels of the right Read more [...]

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    Camogli Beach

    Camogli Beach is a 400-meter-long rocky beach in Camogli, overlooked by the colorful buildings of the town, bounded to the west by the Church of Santa Maria Assunta and to the east by the slopes of Monte di Portofino. If you don’t mind the pebbles, the beach might be perfect for you. The water is clear and the view is fantastic. On the beach, you can find plenty of lidos, with sunbeds and umbrellas. The beach is separated by the town by Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, an enchanting promenade on which you can find hotels, bars, restaurants and various shops.   HOW TO GET THERE The beach is 150 meters or about 2 minutes on foot from the Camogli train station. The closest bus station is Piazza Schiaffino, on the route of the bus 73.

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    Church of San Giorgio

    The Church of San Giorgio is a small Catholic church in Portofino, located on an elevated position, enjoying a panoramic view of the Marina di Portofino.   SHORT HISTORY The church was built in Romanesque style in 1154. The structure was revised and modified in 1691 and, at the same time, the road of Salita San Giorgio was widened, allowing to reach the church from the main square of the village. A further restoration took place in 1760. During the second war, the church was completely destroyed by a bomb. The reconstruction work started in 1950, and the church was rebuilt following the plans from 1760. Inside the church, there are the relics of St. George, the patron saint of Portofino, brought by the sailors returning from the Crusades.   HOW TO GET THERE You can get to the Church of San Giorgio after a short climb of about 200 meters. Passing by the Church, you can reach Castello Brown after another 200 meters.

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    Castello Brown

    Castello Brown, formerly known as the Castle of San Giorgio, is an ancient military fortress placed in an elevated position, that dominates the small town of Portofino. The castle is surrounded by a Mediterranean garden full of cypress trees, flowers and pergolas.   SHORT HISTORY During some excavations in the area, in the place of today’s castle were found traces of an ancient Roman watchtower dating back to the 3rd century AD. The first official information on the current structure dates back to 1425, when Tomaso Fregoso, Doge of the Republic of Genoa, occupied the village of Portofino. In the 16th century, several restoration and expansion works were made. Between 1554 and 1557, the castle was extended by a new platform towards the port, after a design by the engineer Giovanni Maria Olgiati. In 1624, new works strengthened the castle, and in 1728, other works were carried out, enriching the armament and arranging the interior of the fortress. The fortress passed under French rule in 1797, when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Liguria. After Napoleon fled and the town was included in the Kindom of Sardinia and subsequently in the Kingdom of Italy, the military fortress was completely disarmed starting with 1867. Read more [...]

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    Marina di Portofino

    Marina di Portofino is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, located in one of the most famous Italian destinations, Portofino. Marina di Portofino stands in the middle of a natural promontory and extends to the main square of the town, Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. There are many restaurants and terraces around the harbour, where you can relax and admire the beautiful port, but in order to enjoy the view of the entire Marina di Portofino, you should climb the stairs to the Church of San Giorgio or to the Brown Castle, two structures that dominate the surroundings. From there, the view is breathtaking.   HOW TO GET THERE Portofino is very small. From any point of the town to the harbour is probably just a few minutes’ walk. Of course, if you need precise directions, you can use the map below.

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    Ponente Beach

    Ponente Beach is one of the two wonderful sandy beaches of Sperlonga, located north of the historical center of the city, the other being the Levante Beach, to the south. The beach starts from the Piazza Fontana and stretches to the north as far as the eye can see. It has several hotels and bathing establishments, many shops, restaurants and bars. In the evening, it’s a delight to walk along the beach, on Via Cristoforo Colombo, enjoying a gelato from one of the dozens ice cream booths placed on the sidewalk.   HOW TO GET THERE The main bus station of the city is located right at the southern end of the beach. When you get off the bus, the beach will be right in front of you.

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    Piazza Fontana

    Piazza Fontana is a small square in Sperlonga, located on the beautiful and sunny promenade of the town, just a few meters away from the enchanting Ponente Beach. From here, you can easily reach the delightful white historical center of Sperlonga, and attractions like Torre Truglia, Villa of Tiberius with its beautiful Grotto, and the Museum and Church of Santa Maria di Sperlonga. The square is characterized by two large white arches through which the beach is visible. In the western corner of the square, there is a marble fountain in the shape of an ancient ship. The area is used in the summer to host cultural, music and food and wine events.   HOW TO GET THERE If you arrive in Sperlonga by bus, then you will stop right in front of the square. From there, you can easily reach the Torre Truglia, located about 350 meters away, on the road to the small Port of Sperlonga.

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    Torre Truglia

    Torre Truglia is a watchtower standing on a rock on the promontory of Sperlonga, built in the 16th century as part of the defense mechanism of the Tyrrhenian coast, which was designed to detect and defend against attacks from the sea.   SHORT HISTORY Torre Truglia was built in 1532 on the foundation of a pre-existing Roman watchtower. Two years later, it was devastated by the Ottoman pirates of Hayreddin Barbarossa. Rebuilt in 1611, it was attacked again in 1623 by the same Turkish pirates. Between 1870 and 1969, it was used by the Guardia di Finanza. Currently, Torre Truglia belongs to the Marine Education Center of the Regional Natural Park Riviera d’Ulisse.   HOW TO GET THERE Torre Truglia is about 350 meters away from the Piazza Fontana and the main bus station of the city. If you walk along the seashore, you will see it from afar.

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    Piazza Maggiore

    Piazza Maggiore is the main square of Bologna and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful in Italy. The square is surrounded by the most important buildings of the medieval city, of which we can mention the Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo dei Notai, Basilica of San Petronio and Palazzo dei Banchi.   SHORT HISTORY Piazza Maggiore is one of the very first squares built in Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. The square was built starting with the year 1200, when the Bolognese felt the need to have a central market and a public place for meeting. Only in the 15th century, the square received its present form, while in the 16th century the entire area was rearranged by papal will. Also, in the same century, the adjacent Piazza del Nettuno with the splendid Fountain of Neptune was built. In 1860, Piazza Maggiore was named after Vittorio Emanuele II, until 1943, when the king’s equestrian monument was transferred to the Margherita Gardens, where it is still located. From 1943 to 1945, the square was called Piazza della Repubblica, and from June 1945 took its current name.   ARCHITECTURE The square measures 115 meters in Read more [...]

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    St. Peter’s Square

    Although St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) is officially a part of Vatican City, an independent state, informally it can be included among the attractions of Rome, as one of the most beautiful square in the Eternal City. Piazza San Pietro is located in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica dedicated to the homonymous saint, an apostle of Jesus and the first Catholic Pope, being the main meeting point for the Catholic faithful from all over the world.   SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 16th century, the rectangular square was unpaved, with a difference in height of about 10 meters between the foot of the staircase leading to the basilica and the front of the esplanade that reached the Tiber. Pope Alexander VI opened the first new straight road of Rome, the current Via della Conciliazione, between the Sant’Angelo bridge and the gate of the Vatican Palace. Around this axis, the Borgo, the 14th historic district (rione) of Rome, is reorganized into a mix of public housing and cardinal palaces designed by the most important architects of the time. During the pontificate of Julius II, it was decided to completely rebuild the basilica. Throughout the 16th century, the Read more [...]

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    Piazza del Popolo

    Piazza del Popolo (People’s Square) is a large square in Rome, located at the foot of the Pincian Hill, near the Villa Borghese gardens.   SHORT HISTORY Until the end of the 19th century, when it assumed its current shape, Piazza del Popolo was a modest square with a trapezoidal shape. At the time of the Napoleonic occupation, the architectural and urban aspect of the square was revised by the architect Giuseppe Valadier. Thanks to his intervention, the square assumed the current elliptical shape, completed by a double exedra, decorated with numerous fountains and statues. In 1818, Valadier removed the old fountain of Giacomo Della Porta, which, under the pontificate of Pope Leo XII was replaced by a new architecture. Valadier continued its work of renewal of the square by arranging also the slopes of the Pincian Hill, connecting Piazza del Popolo and the hill with wide ramps, adorned by trees.   ARCHITECTURE In the square, three churches are built. Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo is the oldest one, located next to the gate with the same name, Porta del Popolo. The church was built in the 11th century by Pope Pasquale II, but was later rebuilt under Pope Read more [...]

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    Assisi Cathedral of San Rufino

    The Cathedral of San Rufino, known also as the Duomo of Assisi, is the main Catholic church in Assisi, located in the homonymous square. The Cathedral was built on a terrace that probably was the place of the ancient Roman forum of the city.   SHORT HISTORY The body of San Rufino was probably brought to Assisi in the 8th century and a first church was built on this place around the same time. Ugone, Bishop of Assisi from 1028, moved the episcopal seat from the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore to the Church of San Rufino, and made the latter a Cathedral in 1036. In 1134, it was decided to demolish the Ugonian Basilica and to build a new and more imposing cathedral. The work for the new church, on a project by Giovanni da Gubbio, was started in 1140, but the construction lasted for several decades. In 1228, Pope Gregory IX consecrated the high altar and, in 1253, the whole church was consecrated by Innocent IV. In 1571, the interior of the cathedral was renovated according to a project by Galeazzo Alessi.   ARCHITECTURE The facade of the Cathedral is one of the most significant works of the Read more [...]

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    Fontana Garibaldi

    Fontana Garibaldi is an old fountain in Pizzo, known before 1866 as Fontanavecchia (Old Fountain), about which the locals say it has medicinal water which can cure certain diseases.   SHORT HISTORY In 1735, Ilario Tranquillo, the author of a book on the ancient Napizia (today’s Pizzo), was talking about the presence of about 80 water springs scattered throughout the territory of the town, fifty to the east and another thirty to the west, from the mountain to the sea, but also, above all, about the existence of two springs with medicinal waters. One of these two fountains is the so-called Fontanavecchia, which since 1866, when it was restored and embellished with a gray granite facade, changed its name to Fontana Garibaldi. It is certain that the Fontanavecchia existed before 1571, the year in which the historian Gabriele Barrio published the first edition of his monumental work Antiquities and places of Calabria, in which he wrote about the fountain. The water that flows from the Fontana Garibaldi is the color of iron, something that can easily be noticed in a glass or other transparent container. Even its taste is ferrous, so probably unpleasant for some people, it is drinkable and Read more [...]

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    Piazza della Repubblica

    The central Piazza della Repubblica in Pizzo overlooks the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea that bathes the town, flanked by the imposing and beautiful structure of the 15th century Castello Murat. From the middle of the square, turned towards the sea, we can see on the right the statue of Umberto I, the King of Italy from 9 January 1878 until his assassination on 29 July 1900, to whom the square was previously dedicated. The sculpture was made at the beginning of the 20th century by the sculptor Francesco Gerace, while the granitic pedestal was made by Pietro Marmorato. On the left of the square, we find the Fontana del Commercio, built in 1864, made from the granite of a statue which was destroyed in 1860. Piazza della Repubblica is the main meeting point for residents and tourists. Here, you can find numerous places that allow you to taste some of the delicious local gastronomic products accompanied by the view of the splendid panorama. In particular, Pizzo is famous for its ice cream called tartufo, a ball of ice cream with a heart of dark chocolate, covered with bitter cocoa powder.   HOW TO GET THERE Piazza della Repubblica is located in Read more [...]

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    Castello Murat

    Castello Murat (Murat Castle) is an ancient fort built in the 15th century in Pizzo. The castle is named after Joachim Murat, King of Naples and brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was imprisoned here and sentenced to death by shooting in 1815.   SHORT HISTORY The castle was built in two different historical periods. The Mastia Tower (Torre Mastia), the largest tower of the castle, part of the defensive system implemented by the Angevins, dates back to the end of the 14th century. The tower was built for defense against the Saracen raids. About 100 years later, the castle was completed by Ferdinand I of Aragon, for the same purpose – to reject the Saracen attacks. The castle in Pizzo is one of many fortifications built under the Aragonese rule, in towns like Crotone, Cariati, Corigliano, Belvedere and Reggio Calabria. To the already existing Angevin tower, it was added a massive rectangular body, equipped with a tapered tower and a watchtower overlooking the Marina. The works lasted from 1481 to 1485. In 1505, it was ceded by Ferdinand the Catholic to the De Mendoza and later, by succession, to the De Silva, Dukes of the Infantado, who kept it until Read more [...]

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    Lungomare Falcomatà

    Lungomare Falcomatà, built along the seafront of Reggio Calabria, is the most famous street of the city and one of the most famous in Italy. Lungomare is dedicated to the mayor Italo Falcomatà, protagonist and inspirer of the Primavera di Reggio (Spring of Reggio), the rebirth of the city from the 1990s. The waterfront of Reggio is about 1.7 kilometers long, from Piazza Indipendenza to Piazza Garibaldi, consisting of four segments: Falcomatà, Matteotti, Corso Vittorio Emanuele III and Viale Genoese Zerbi. The entire area is generally identified as Via Marina. The seafront of the city is rich in palm trees and varied plant species. The avenue is adorned with buildings dating back to the last reconstruction of the city, after the 1908 earthquake. The street is also enriched by elements that indirectly trace the history of the city, such as numerous commemorative monuments, a monumental fountain and some archaeological sites testifying about the Greek-Roman era. Between the sea and the promenade stands the Arena dello Stretto (Arena of the Strait), a typically Greek-style theater that hosts cultural events especially during the summer months. On the pier of Porto Salvo, in front of the arena, stands the monument of Vittorio Emanuele Read more [...]

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    Aragonese Castle

    The Aragonese Castle is an ancient fortification located in the homonymous Piazza Castello, in Reggio Calabria. Together with the Riace Bronzes, it is considered one of the main historical symbols of the city.   SHORT HISTORY Under Emperor Justinian I, during the war between the Goths and the Byzantines, Belisarius entered Reggio to free it from the barbarians and found the city devoid of fortifications, so the general immediately ordered the restoration of the city walls. As a consequence, a castle was built around the 6th century. In 1059, the fortress passed from the Byzantines to the Normans, and in 1266 to Charles I of Anjou. Since the Normans, who established the court there, the castle was modified and enlarged several times. A substantial part of the work took place during the reign of Frederick II of Swabia, when the imperial authority built a state defense system for the Kingdom of Sicily. The Swabian part of the castle, a building with a square plan, with four corner towers, also of square shape, remained standing until after the earthquake of 1908. The castle was restored in 1327, after the repeated wars between the Angevins and the Aragonese, then fortified in 1381 Read more [...]

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    Port of Tropea

    The Port of Tropea is probably the most searched spot for yachts sailing along the Coast of the Gods. The port has an outer breakwater 500 meters long and an inner breakwater of 210 meters. On the inner breakwater, there are 3 piers, while the outer breakwater has 6 floating docks. The port features about 450 boat moorings, capable of accommodating boats of up to 45 meters, with sea beds from 3 to 5 meters. Of the many facilities the port offers, we can mention electricity, water and fuel, free WI-FI coverage, toilets, showers, a laundry room and some car parking spaces. A shop selling nautical supplies is also located within the port. The area is equipped with surveillance cameras.   HOW TO GET THERE You can find the Port of Tropea to the east of the town, separated from the Rotonda Beach by the rock of San Leonardo. You can reach the harbor either coming from the west, on Via Lungomare, or from the south, on Contrada Marina Vescovado.

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    Rotonda Beach

    Tropea is well known for its beautiful beaches and one of the best beaches in the city is, without a doubt, the Rotonda Beach, or Spiaggia della Rotonda, located near the Port of Tropea. With a great view on the rock of Santa Maria dell’Isola, the Rotonda Beach is bounded on the East by the rock of San Leonardo, and on the West by another small beach, Spiaggia Mare Piccolo (Little Sea). Above, in the back, is the old town of Tropea, watching from its height over the people on the sand.   HOW TO GET THERE The Rotonda Beach is about 500 meters from the historical center of the city and about 250 meters from the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola. To find it easily, you can use the map below.