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 [...]
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…
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
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.
The history of the Port of Scilla is closely linked to that of its city, whose ancient origins are a blend of mythology, history, legend and images created by the enchanting surrounding landscape. Fishermen of the past chose the area next to the cliff of Scilla, where the presence of the numerous rocks facilitated the practice of fishing, while allowing the construction of the rudimentary huts. Over the centuries, this port has been a refuge for boats that crossed the Messina Strait, later becoming a fishing port, since fishing was the main activity for the local population. Even today, at the quay, are often anchored special boats for fishing swordfish, a type of fish very common in the area. The Port of Scilla consists of a pier with an “L” shape, equipped in the inner part with quays and bollards for mooring. The Ruffo di Calabria quay is used for pleasure boating, the Scoglio di Ulisse quay is dedicated to fishing boats, while the outer dock is assigned for commercial use and for anchoring police vehicles. The recreational services are managed by the Boat Service, which has positioned near the port 2 ecological camps with 100 berths, active from May Read more [...]
The Mermaid Beach, or Spiaggia delle Sirene, is a 800 meters long beach in Scilla, set between the Ruffo Castle in the East and the rocky Punta Pacì in the West. The Scilla Beach is a wonderful beach of coarse sand, bathed by the beautiful crystalline and clear water of the Tyrrhenian Sea, with an extraordinary transparency thanks to the gravelly bottom. The sea conceals tremendous natural treasures, the water being rich in various fish species, algae and molluscs, ideal for snorkeling. Perfect for families with children, the beach is well equipped, offering kiosks, bars and numerous restaurants overlooking the sea, as well as the possibility to rent several apartments and holiday homes nearby. HOW TO GET THERE The beach is easily reachable from the Scilla Train Station, the station being only 50 meters away.
The Ruffo Castle, known in Italian as Castello Ruffo di Scilla or Castello Ruffo di Calabria, is an ancient fortification built on the promontory of Scilla, on the southern shore of the Messina Strait, being one of the most characteristic elements of the Calabrian landscape. SHORT HISTORY The first fortification built on the rock of Scilla dates back to the beginning of the 5th century B.C.. During the tyranny of Anaxilas, the city of Reggio assumed a considerable importance, and in 493 B.C., to put an end to the raids of the Tyrrhenian pirates who had a secure base in Scilla, defeated them and started the building of the fortress. The fortress will become for Anaxilas an important outpost for controlling the sea routes. The fortification was under the rule of the tyrants of Reggio, often engaged in clashes with the pirates, until 390 B.C., when Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, conquered the fortress after a long siege. Fifty years have passed from that moment, until the regaining of the independence of Scilla, favored by Timoleonte di Corinto, who destroyed the tyrannical power of Syracuse in the year 340 B.C.. In 1060, during the siege of Reggio by the Read more [...]
Maurizio Tower, built in Piazza del Duomo, in Orvieto, between 1347 and 1348, is one of the oldest clock towers in Italy. Maurizio is the bronze automaton on top of the tower, which, at fixed time, swings its body and strikes the bell with its hammer. SHORT HISTORY The history of the Maurizio Tower is closely related to the history of the Orvieto Cathedral. The tower was comissioned by the Opera del Duomo, and built between 1347 and 1348, to support the worksite. The tower was built originally to be a sundial, because at the time of its construction, there was no mechanical clock available. Its role was to indicate the start and the end of the work schedule. The current clockwork mechanism dates back to the 18th century, when a countwheel was added to strike the quarters on the smaller bells. Other adjustments were made between 1860 and 1870. In 1905, the headgear of the Maurizio was replaced. On October 29, 2011, the clock tower was brought back to use, and the building has become an information point for the Duomo and the Museum System of Orvieto’s Opera del Duomo (MODO). HOW TO GET THERE Maurizio Tower Read more [...]
Palazzo del Popolo, or Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, is an imposing palace in Orvieto, located in the homonymous square, Piazza del Popolo. SHORT HISTORY The square was born around 1250 to host the Palazzo del Popolo, the palace which would welcome the Capitano del Popolo (Captain of the People), a political figure of the local administration in medieval Italy, established to balance the power and authority of noble families. It is believed that the palace was built on the initiative of the Neri della Greca family, on a pre-existing papal palace of 1157. Around 1250, the area was cleared and the existing constructions were demolished, so that a proper seat for the Captain of the People could be built, and Piazza del Popolo was born between 1281 and 1284. Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was completed in the early 14th century, but the building saw changes and expansions in the following decades. The strange bell tower was built in 1315, and the bell which is now located on Torre del Moro was placed inside. Among the main rooms, there is the Sala dei Quattrocento, the hall that in 1596 was sold to the Faculty of Law, Theology and Read more [...]
Pozzo della Cava (The Quarry Well) is one of the two ancient wells in Orvieto, the other being Pozzo di San Patrizio. SHORT HISTORY The well was excavated, initially, by Etruscans searching for water springs in Orvieto. After many centuries, in 1527, Pope Clement VII took refuge in Orvieto after the Sack of Rome, and ordered the rehabilitation of the well, before comissioning the Pozzo di San Patrizio. The work was paid by the Municipality and was completed in 1530. Pozzo della Cava remained open until 1646, when the town authorities ordered its closing, after five French officers who attempted to molest women were thrown into the well. After more than 3 centuries, the well was uncovered by Tersilio Sciarra in December 1984. The restoration works lasted until 1996 and, in 2004, the ancient access from Via della Cava was restored. ARCHITECTURE The well is 36 meters deep, including the height of the spring water at the bottom. Pozzo della Cava consists of two parts that have been unified – a larger one, circular, with an average diameter of 3.40 meters, and a smaller rectangular shaft, measuring 60 x 80 centimeters. A tunnel about 1.7 meters high and Read more [...]
Pozzo di San Patrizio (Saint Patrick’s Well) is one of the two ancient wells in Orvieto, the other being Pozzo della Cava. SHORT HISTORY In 1527, Pope Clement VII, returned to Orvieto after the Sack of Rome and, eager to protect himself in case of a siege, comissioned the structure of the well to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. The well, originally named Pozzo della Rocca (The Fortress Well), as it was close to the fortress Rocca Albornoziana, was designed to provide water in the event of a disaster or siege. The well was built between 1527 and 1537. The works were concluded during the papacy of Paul III Farnese (1534-1549). Pozzo di San Patrizio took the name of St. Patrick, probably because it was used as a Purgatory of Saint Patrick, similar to the cave in Ireland where the unbelievers who descended to its bottom would gain access to heaven. ARCHITECTURE The well was built by digging in the tuff of the plateau on which Orvieto stands, being an amazing masterpiece of hydraulic engineering. Pozzo di San Patrizio is a cylindrical structure, 54 meters deep, with a diameter of 13 meters. The access to the well is Read more [...]
Torre del Moro, originally known as Torre del Papa, is a tower 47 meters high adjacent to the Palazzo dei Sette, in Orvieto. From the top of the tower, a bird eye’s view of the entire city below is unfolding in all its splendor. SHORT HISTORY The tower was built towards the end of the 13th century, at the same time with the restoration of the existing buildings and the construction of new buildings. In the 16th century, the tower was renamed Torre del Moro, after Raffaele Gualterio, known as Il Moro, who also gave his name to Palazzo Gualterio and to the entire district. In 1865, a water tank was placed in the Torre del Moro, at the height of 18 meters. One year later, in 1866, the mechanical clock and the two bells were added to the tower. One of the bells came from Torre di Sant’Andrea and the other from Palazzo del Popolo. HOW TO GET THERE The closest bus station is Piazza Duomo, right in front of the Cathedral of Orvieto, about 300 meters away from the tower or about 4 minutes on foot. To get to the tower, you must walk on Via Read more [...]
La Rocca, locally called u castieddu (the castle), is a fortified cliff 268 meters high overlooking the beautiful town of Cefalù, rising on the Tyrrhenian coast, one of the most important reference points for navigation between Palermo and Messina. The relief of La Rocca has at its base a triangle with the ridges facing east, west and south. On all sides, the Rocca is characterized by very high cliffs that are practically inaccessible. The complex of fortifications (lower walls, upper walls and the castle on the top) is therefore adapted to the extraordinary topography of the site, constituting a real acropolis. The lower western part of La Rocca is characterized by the ruins of a series of mills and pipelines that collected and exploited the water that descended on the slope. On this side, the path fortified in the Middle Ages climbs to the top of the hill. The perimeter halfway to the top is surrounded by crenellated walls dating back to the Middle Ages and completed, in the recent part, in the 15th century. On the western side of the walls, opens the access gate to which the path leads. Still halfway up the hill, about 150 meters above Read more [...]
Temple of Diana (Tempio di Diana) is a megalithic structure found about 150 meters above the sea leavel, on the imposing La Rocca, the rocky hill dominating the town of Cefalù. SHORT HISTORY Some historians have claimed that the Temple of Diana is the oldest structure in Sicily, built in the 5th or 4th century B.C., over an existing cistern associated with the worship of the water. The incorporated dolmenic cistern is considered of proto-historic period by many scholars. In the 12th century, the structure was used as a chapel, remains of an apse and arched windows being visible in the rear and interior of the temple. The first official archaeological excavations were made by Pirro Marconi in the first half of the 20th century. The excavations allowed to acquire more informations about the age of the building and its role, the conclusion being that the structure was a temple dedicated to the sun. ARCHITECTURE The temple has a main entrance oriented to the west, from which starts a corridor leading to the rocky cistern characterized by a dolmenic coverage. The front door is not at the center of the building, but near the north-west corner, measuring 2.68 Read more [...]
Lungomare is a beautiful long sandy beach in Cefalù, a fantastic place both for tourists and locals to enjoy the warm sunshine of Sicily. The beach is about 5 kilometers long, starts from the edge of the old center of Cefalù and runs alongside a promenade lined with hotels, restaurants and shops. In the summer time, you can find plenty of private lidos, with sunbeds and umbrellas, but there are also public areas that you can enjoy for free. Due to the shallow waters, the Lungomare beach is popular with families. In July and August, the beach can be very crowded, but the atmosphere is nice. HOW TO GET THERE From the Cefalù Train Station, to the Lungomare Beach, are about 600 meters, or about 6 minutes on foot.
Torre Caldura (Caldura Tower) is one of the coastal watch towers in Cefalù, and the most important of them, part of the immense historical and architectural heritage of Sicily. Dating back to the 16th century, Torre Caldura is, today, in a profound state of deterioration, with portions of masonry frequently collapsing. Its profile overlooking the cliff has always characterized the image of Cefalù for those coming from the east, and is now an integral part of this landscape, depicted in many paintings and photographs. HOW TO GET THERE Torre Caldura is about 3.1 kilometers away from the Cefalù Train Station, located near the Presidiana Harbour, the main port of Cefalù.
Cefalù Cathedral, or Duomo di Cefalù, is a beautiful church built in Norman architectural style in Cefalù, dominating the skyline of the medieval town with its fortress-like appearance. SHORT HISTORY The Cathedral of Cefalù was built by Roger II of Altavilla, King of Sicily, Puglia and Calabria, in the year 1131. According to the legend, the king, traveling by ship from Salerno to Palermo, came across a storm, and vowed to build a church there, after he landed safe on the city’s beach. The work began with the laying of the foundation stone on Sunday, June 7, the day of Pentecost, in the year 1131. The king was present at the ceremony, along with the Archbishop of Messina Ugone and the Sicilian nobility. In 1145, the church was established as the mausoleum of the royal family of Altavilla, but the will of Roger II was never fulfilled, because he died suddenly on February 28, 1154, in Palermo, and was buried in the crypt of the Cathedral of Palermo, where he is still resting. At the death of Roger II, only the presbytery area of the church had been completed, and in the following years, the interest moved to the Read more [...]
There is not much to say about the Old Port of Cefalù and, in this case, the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is completely true. The old fishing port, known also as the Molo, certainly offers one of the most bewitching views of the city. The small beach, the rocks that enclose it, the 70-meter pier, the balconies of the buildings overlooking the sea, the shape of the cathedral and the green hill of Rocca in the background makes the picture perfect. Near the port, there is also the only one of the four gates of the medieval city still standing, Porta Pescara, consisting of a Gothic arch that overlooks the small beach where the small and colorful fishermen’s boats are resting. HOW TO GET THERE The Old Port is about 1 kilometer away from the Cefalù Train Station, no more than 15 minutes on foot. From the edge of the historical center of the city to Piazza Marina, near the old port, there are about 250 meters. The historical centre of Cefalù is small and you can easily cross it on foot in about 15 minutes. But if you will allow yourself time to look Read more [...]
Zisa is a castle in Palermo, part of the ancient Norman hunting resort known as Genoardo, included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. SHORT HISTORY The construction of the castle started around 1165, during the reign of William I of Sicily, and was completed by his son, William II, in 1175. The castle was not substantially modified until the 17th century. Significant restoration work took place between 1635 and 1636, when Juan de Sandoval, knight of Alcantara, bought the castle. Another floor was added, closing the terrace, and a large staircase was built. Subsequently, in 1806, Zisa came into the possesion of the Notarbartolo princes, representatives of the old Sicilian nobility and heirs of the Ducal House of Sandoval de Leon, who made it their residence, carrying out various consolidation works. In 1955, the building was expropriated by the Italian State, and the restoration work, which began immediately, was suspended shortly after. After fifteen years of neglect, in 1971, the right wing collapsed. The project for the reconstruction was entrusted to Professor Giuseppe Caronia, who, after about twenty years of passionate work, in June 1991, gave back to the world one of the most beautiful buildings of Read more [...]
Teatro Massimo is the largest theater building in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe, after the Opéra National in Paris and the Vienna State Opera. Representation rooms, halls and galleries surround the theater, forming an architectural complex of grandiose proportions. SHORT HISTORY In the second half of the 19th century, in the light of the new united Italy, Palermo was engaged in getting itself a new identity. The competition for the project of a new opera house had been announced by the Palermo Council in 1864, but the first stone was laid on January 12, 1875, after ten years of vicissitudes. The project was entrusted to the architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile, known for the restoration of the Cathedral in Acireale. After his death, in 1891, the construction was supervised by his son, the architect Ernesto Basile. For the effective building of the theater, was contracted the architect Giovanni Rutelli, responsible also for the external decorations of the building. Teatro Massimo opened its doors to the public on the evening of May 16, 1897, with Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff as the inaugural opera. In 1935, the theatre was officially recognized as a public theatre. In 1974, the theatre Read more [...]
Rocca Albornoziana is an imposing fortress standing on Colle Sant’Elia, the highest point in Spoleto, strategically towering over the valley. SHORT HISTORY The construction of Rocca Albornoziana started in 1359, of the order of Pope Innocent VI. The project was entrusted to the Spanish Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, who commissioned the works to Matteo di Giovannello da Gubbio, also known as Il Gattapone. The fortress was finished around 1370. Rocca Albornoziana became the main point of the defensive system of this valley, and later the residence of dukes, city governors and papal legates. In 1816, Rocca Albornoziana was turned into a prison, and was used like this until 1982. ARCHITECTURE Rocca Albornoziana has a rectangular shape with six imposing towers. Inside, it has two courtyards, the Cortile delle Armi (Courtyard of Arms), the headquarters of the troops, and the Cortile d’Onore (Courtyard of Honour), reserved to the administrators and the governors. The two courtyards are connected by a vault, decorated at the end of the 16th century with frescoes representing the six cities of the States of the Church. Salone d’Onore (Hall of Honour), the widest space of the fortress, was destined for ceremonies. Camera Pinta (Painted Room) hosts Read more [...]
Piazza del Duomo is a beautiful square in Spoleto, filled with interesting buildings, palaces, churches and places of culture. Descending the stairs to reach the square, flanked on the right by buildings of the 16th century, with the Cathedral of Spoleto in front, is like entering a grandiose scene. The highlight of the square is, without doubt, the wonderful Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, or Duomo di Spoleto, built at the end of the 12th century. In the square, we can also find the Church of Santa Maria della Manna d’Oro and the Parish of Santa Maria Nella Cattedrale. Another interesting building is Palazzo Racani Arroni, built in the early 16th century, lining the right side of the stairs that descend to the cathedral, displaying a grey facade embellished by extraordinary but ruined graffiti. Another 16th century palace is Casa Menotti, the home of Giancarlo Menotti, composer, screenwriter and creator of the Festival dei Due Mondi. Today, the palace is hosting a small museum of about 160 square meters, managed by the Monini Foundation in collaboration with the municipality of Spoleto and the Festival dei Due Mondi Foundation. In the square, we can find the beautiful Teatro Caio Melisso, an Read more [...]
Fontana di San Giuseppe (Fountain of Saint Joseph) is an interesting fountain in Spoleto, set against a terracing wall in Via Saccoccio Cecili, in the section commonly known as Curva dei Picchi. SHORT HISTORY Before the construction of Via Cecili, the place was occupied by a palace already equipped with a fountain, called already the Fountain of San Giuseppe. The palace was demolished in 1850, to make way for the new road, which at that point formed an important curve. In 1856, a new fountain was built, keeping the old name of San Giuseppe. In 1977, the fountain was restored by the Amici di Spoleto Association. ARCHITECTURE The water comes out of three nozzles, each provided with a collection tank. The central nozzle is decorated with a small mask. At the top, there is a crowned coat of arms in which a knight in battle is sculpted. HOW TO GET THERE From Piazza Garibaldi, as you enter the historic center of Spoleto, there are about 350 meters to the fountain, or about 5 minutes on foot. The closest bus station is Torre Dell’Olio, about 200 meters away, on the bus route MSP0D.
The charming Marina Chiaiolella is one of the three ports of Procida, located in an ancient volcanic crater, on the southern part of the island, facing Ischia. The little port is surrounded, to the east by Solchiaro, once a favorite Bourbon hunting area, and to the west by the promontory of Santa Margherita. To the west, is also the nature reserve of the Vivara island, connected with Procida by a long bridge. A port by excellence, Marina Chiaiolella is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Procida, mainly due to the near Chiaiolella Beach, but also thanks to its many hotels, restaurants, bars and holiday homes. Characteristic are the colored terraced houses, once inhabited by fishermen, and the little boats used once for fishing and now for recreational purposes. HOW TO GET THERE From the main port of the island, Marina Grande, located at the northern end of Procida, you can get to Marina Chiaiolella, at the southern end, with the bus L1 in about 15 minutes. On foot, the road that separates the two ends of the island, measuring about 3.3 kilometers, can be made in almost 1 hour.
Palazzo d’Avalos is an imposing fortress on Procida, overlooking the sea, part of Terra Murata, the fortified village on the highest point of the island. SHORT HISTORY The palace was designed by the architects Cavagna and Tortelli at the end of the 16th century, for the Cardinal Innico d’Avalos. At the same time, the entrance to the village of Terra Murata was built, from an order of the same Cardinal d’Avalos. Since 1734, after the domination of the d’Avalos family ended, the palace was confiscated by the Bourbons, and became the royal hunting retreat for both King Charles III and King Ferdinand IV, before the construction of the Royal Palace of Capodimonte. In 1815, the building changed its destination into a military academy. Later, in 1830, it was converted into a prison with two parts, an old one (Palazzo d’Avalos) and a new one, and the penitentiary functioned until the Italian unification. Following the downfall of the Italian Social Republic, between 1945 and 1950, the prison held the fascism nomenclature. In 1978, the old prison was closed, and ten years later, in 1988, the new prison was also disbanded, the place remaining abandoned. Today, Palazzo d’Avalos can be visited Read more [...]
Basilica of San Francesco di Paola is an impressive church in Piazza del Plebiscito, in Naples, one of the most important examples of neoclassical architecture in Italy. SHORT HISTORY Joachim Murat, Napoleon’s brother-in-law through marriage to his younger sister, Caroline Bonaparte, and King of Naples from 1808 to 1815, started a project of urban renewal of the city during his reign. This affected the suburban area, which later became Piazza del Plebiscito, home to numerous convents and gardens, as well as a place frequented by criminals. The French general ordered the demolition of the buildings and the construction of a square that was supposed to take the name of Foro Gioacchino. The works began in 1809, but were never completed due to the ousting of Joachim Murat from Naples and the restoration of the Bourbon crown. Back to the throne, Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies decided to build a church in the square, and the competition was won by the architect Pietro Bianchi, who had partly rediscovered the old project of Murat. Domenico Barbaia became responsible for building the church and the first stone was laid on 17 June 1816. The facade was finished in 1824, the interior Read more [...]
One of the oldest churches in Lucca, Basilica of San Frediano is built in Romanesque style in the square with the same name, Piazza San Frediano. Every year, on the evening of September 13, the candlelit procession of Luminara di Santa Croce, part of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, starts here. SHORT HISTORY An ancient church was built in this place in the 6th century, dedicated to the three holy Levites Vincenzo, Stefano and Lorenzo. The construction of this church is owed to San Frediano, an Irish pilgrim who was bishop of Lucca between 560 and 588. During the Longobard domination, the church was enlarged. At the end of the 8th century, a crypt was built for the body of San Frediano. In 1112, it began the rebuilding of the church, that will be consecrated in 1147 by Pope Eugene III. The project included a church with three naves and an apse, with the facade facing east, unlike the Augustinian rule that oriented it to the west. In the 12th century, the church was lower than we see today. The raising of the central nave and the construction of the wooden ceiling dates back to Read more [...]
Basilica of San Michele in Foro is a beautiful church in Lucca, located in the square with the same name, Piazza San Michele. SHORT HISTORY In the 8th century, at the center of the ancient Roman forum, a church dedicated to San Michele (Archangel Michael) was built, together with a monastery and a hospital. Around 1070, by the will of Pope Alessandro II, the reconstruction of the church began, and ended much later, in the 14th century. The new church will have three naves, Corinthian columns with capitals and an apse. The bell-tower was built around the same period, but was later cut off by Giovanni dell’Agnello, Doge of Pisa from 1364 to 1368, because the sound of its bells could be heard from Pisa. During the medieval period, access to the church was made by crossing a wooden bridge, called Ponte al Foro, which passed over the canal Fossa Natali. At the beginning of the 13th century, the works were carried out by the architect Guidetto. ART AND ARCHITECTURE San Michele in Foro is a church with a Latin cross plan, built in Romanesque style. The facade is adorned with four levels of loggias and surmounted by Read more [...]
Fontebranda is an interesting medieval fountain in Siena, near the Porta di Fontebranda, one of the remaining gates in the ancient city walls. SHORT HISTORY Fontebranda was first mentioned in the year 1081, expanded in 1193 and rebuilt of bricks and travertine in 1246 by Giovanni di Stefano, for the Wool Guild, who needed a permanent source of water. Fontebranda is, probably, the most famous fountain in Tuscany, because it was mentioned by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. St. Catherine of Siena was born and lived near the fountain, and that is why she is also known as the Saint of Fontebranda. ARCHITECTURE The source is characterized by three large ogival gothic arches surmounted by merlons and a row of blind arches with triangular motifs. The front is adorned with four lion-shaped gushes, with the emblem of Siena in the center. Beyond the water tank, there are more than 25 kilometers of conduits, partly excavated and partly inside the wall, whose medium height is about 1.75 meters, with a width of about 0.90 meters. Today, you can walk through this tunnels, where rainwater, collected in a small channel carved in the walkway, flows with an inclination of Read more [...]
Palazzo della Carovana, also known as Palazzo dei Cavalieri, is a palace with a beautiful facade located in Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights’ Square), in Pisa, between the Palazzo dell’Orologio and the Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri. The palace was once the headquarter of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, but since 1846 it houses the Scuola Normale Superiore. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo della Carovana was built between 1562 and 1564 by the architect Giorgio Vasari, drastically restructuring the medieval Palace of the Elders (Palazzo degli Anziani). Some remains of the old building are still visible along the sides of the palace. In 1810, Napoleon suppressed the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen and gave the building to the Scuola Normale Superiore, the university he founded. The double-flight marble staircase was built in 1821 by Giuseppe Marchelli and the rear part of the building was added between 1928 and 1930, after a design by Giovanni Girometti, on the occasion of the revival of the Scuola Normale. ART AND ARCHITECTURE Vasari regularized the uneven medieval facade, fusing three arts he mastered – architecture, sculpture and painting. The sgraffiti with allegorical figures and zodiacal signs, designed by Vasari Read more [...]
The Old Citadel (Cittadella Vecchia) is an ancient fortress built on the Arno river, in Pisa, where, a few hundreds years ago, it was the outer wall of the city. Near the Citadel, it was the Republican Arsenal, where the ships of the Marine Republic of Pisa were built, ships that contributed to the city’s rise as a Mediterranean power in the Medieval times. SHORT HISTORY At the beginning of the 15th century, the shipyard was enlarged and transformed to what will be later known as the Old Citadel, in opposition to the New Citadel (Cittadella Nuova), built in 1440 on the other side of the city. About the same time, the Guelph Tower (Torre Guelfa) was built. At the beginning of the 1900s, the area was called Piazza d’Armi and housed the 7th Artillery Regiment divisions, the 22nd Infantry Regiment and a small theater. In 1944, during the Second World War, the whole area was badly damaged by bombing, and the citadel along with the Guelph Tower were completely destroyed, with the exception of the Republican Arsenal. In 1956, the tower was rebuilt and the area of the citadel was recovered, after a project of Giovanni Michelucci. Today, Read more [...]
Piazza dei Signori or Piazza della Signoria is a beautiful square in the historic center of Padua, with the famous Clock Tower and the Palazzo del Capitanio on one side and the Church of San Clemente on the other. Its name comes from Palazzo della Signoria, residence of the Lords of Padua between 1318 and 1405, a building that does not exist anymore. SHORT HISTORY Piazza dei Signori appeared in the 14th century on the place of an ancient district, as the result of an urban reorganization promoted by Ubertino da Carrara, Lord of Padua. The war between the Carraresi and the Visconti at the end of the 14th century damaged the square and left it in ruins until the ‘20s of the 15th century, when the Venetians started a work of recovery. At first, the square was paved with terracotta tiles, arranged in a herringbone pattern, gradually replaced starting from the 18th century by tiles of Euganean trachyte. Following a speech by Father Alessandro Gavazzi, on May 9, 1848, the square became Piazza Pio IX, the heart of the anti-Austrian popular movement. Then, it became Piazza Unità d’Italia, to return to its original name during the Fascist era. Read more [...]
After you pass Peggy Guggenheim Museum, on Grand Canal, coming from the Ponte dell’Accademia, you have on your right a relatively small but very elegant building, built in a Gothic style with Renaissance elements, called Palazzo Dario or, closer to the Venetian language, Ca’ Dario. SHORT HISTORY It is not known exactly when Palazzo Dario was built, but some say that it underwent a major reconstruction in 1487 and the architect Pietro Lombardo was the one who dealt with the project. The architect restored the palace for the Venetian Senator Giovanni Dario, an important man of those times, diplomat and trader alike. After the death of Giovanni Dario, in 1494, the palace was inherited by his illegitimate daughter, Marietta. Married to Vincenzo Barbaro, she has practically brought the palace to the Barbaro family, which already owned two palaces – one in the immediate vicinity (Palazzo Barbaro Wolkoff) and one on the other side of Canal Grande, closer to Ponte dell’Accademia, Palazzo Barbaro. Ca’ Dario will be in the possession of the Barbaro family until the middle of the 19th century. After that, it will change its owners several times until 2006, when it will be bought by some Americans Read more [...]
The palace with one of the most characteristic facades overlooking the Grand Canal, Palazzo Barbarigo, is located in the sestiere Dorsoduro, not far from the Ponte dell’Accademia, between Palazzo Da Mula Morosini and Campo San Vio. SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Barbarigo was built in the 16th century, in the middle of the Renaissance. At the end of the 19th century, the palace became the headquarters of the Compagnia Venezia Murano, producer of glass and mosaics. The company renovated the building and had the facade covered with mosaics designed by the painter Giulio Carlini and applied in 1886 by Fratelli Testolini (Testolini Brothers), owners of the Fratelli Testolini company, specialized in the production of sculpted artistic furniture, glassware, mosaics, textiles and furnishing accessories. ARCHITECTURE Palazzo Barbarigo is a typical sixteenth-century building, of beautiful proportions, with simple arched windows, juxtaposed at the center of the upper floors and linked horizontally by marble bands. The frieze between the upper floors shows thirty-five cherubs pursuing various arts, including painting, drawing, sculpture and architecture. The two murals commemorate the 16th century royal visits in Venice of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, speaking to Tiziano on the scaffolding of St. Mark’s Basilica, and of Read more [...]
Only a few meters away from the Rialto Bridge and the Rialto Market, there is a church considered to be the oldest in Venice, the Church of San Giacomo di Rialto, or San Giacometto. SHORT HISTORY It is believed that the church was consacrated on March 25, 421, but the studies have shown that it was built much later. In a document from 1097, the place is mentioned, but without the church, and the first certain information dates back to 1152. It seems that the church was consecrated in 1177 by the Doge Sebastiano Ziani. In 1513, the church escaped the serious fire that devastated the nearby market. In 1531, it underwent a restoration, and again in 1601, after an order of the Doge Marino Grimani, with the floor being raised to face the high water. Currently, the Church of San Giacomo is a rectorial church, dependent on the parish of San Silvestro. ARCHITECTURE Interesting are the exterior with the bell tower, the large clock and the Gothic porch, one of the last examples of this kind left in the city. The clock, added to the church in 1410, was restored in 1749, and the entire facade was Read more [...]
The Church of San Barnaba is a beautiful church in Dorsoduro, in Venice, with a facade inspired by a Greek temple, known by many for being featured in a few scenes of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. SHORT HISTORY The church was founded in 936, on the place of a previous church, San Lorenzo, which would probably have been built at beginning of the 9th century. Because of the numerous fires, the Church of San Barnaba underwent several reconstructions, until it was consecrated on December 6, 1350. The current appearance dates back to 1779, when it was completed the renovation work begun in 1749, on a project by the architect Lorenzo Boschetti. In 1810, in full Napoleonic rule, the parish was suppressed and the church was deconsecrated. ARCHITECTURE The façade of the church, designed by Lorenzo Boschetti, was built in 1749 in a classical style, with Corinthian style columns. The interior has a single-nave structure, with six side altars, three on the right and three on the left, all decorated with paintings, except one, and a presbytery with a square plan. The bell-tower, built in Romanesque style, stands detached from the church. The bell-tower, with Read more [...]
The Church of San Rocco is one of the four plague churches in Venice, along with San Giobbe, San Sebastiano and the Salute. The church was built for the Confraternity of San Rocco, founded in the plague year 1478, with the mission to help the poor and the sick, particularly the people suffering from the disease. San Rocco is the only Venetian church designed as a sacrarium for the remains of its titular saint, St. Roch, whose body is preserved within the high altar. SHORT HISTORY A church was standing on this place before 1485. The new church was built after a design by the architect Pietro Bon, starting with 1489. In March, 1490, the left side-chapel of the presbytery was finished and ready to receive the remains of St. Roch, which were to be brought from San Silvestro. A competition for the construction of the high altar was won in 1517 by Venturino Fantoni, who designed a reliquary-altar, developed in Venice by the sculptor-architects Pietro and Tullio Lombardo. After 1680, the church was almost entirely demolished and rebuilt between 1726 and 1733 by the architect Giovanni Scalfarotto, who kept only the fifteenth century chancel and the ground-plan of Read more [...]
Approximately 250 meters to the Rialto Bridge, overlooking the Canal Grande, there is a palace known for the architectural structure of its ground floor, with a portico along the whole facade divided by very tall columns, Palazzo Michiel dalle Colonne. SHORT HISTORY The palace may have been built in the 13th century by the Grimani family, whose coat of arms is carved in an old well in the courtyard. Originally, it probably followed the Venetian-Byzantine style typical of the period. From 1661, the palace is attested as the property of the Zen family, and is named dalle Colonne (of the Columns). To them, we owe the partial rebuilding to a design by Antonio Gaspari, completed in 1697. In 1702, the palace was given to Ferdinando Carlo di Gonzaga-Nevers, the last duke of Mantua and Monferrato. He lived there from 1706, when he was exiled by the Austrians who emerged victorious from the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1712, the palace was bought by the Conigli family, nobles of Verona. It seems they have never used it and, two years later, in 1714, they sold it to the Michiel, already owners of various other properties. Like the Zen before, Read more [...]
The Church of San Stae stands on the right bank of the Grand Canal, as you come from Piazzale Roma, heading to Piazza San Marco, between Palazzo Vendramin Calergi and Ca d’Oro, at an equal distance. Its external facade, characterized by rich decorations, faces the Canal Grande, and you can not pass beside it on a vaporetto without at least one admirative look. SHORT STORY The church is said to have been built in 966 and dedicated to Sant’Eustacchio (San Stae, in the Venetian dialect). St. Eustacchio was the commander of Trajan’s army, who would have seen a crucifix between the antlers of a deer, while hunting. The first reference is in a document from 1127, where the church is remembered as a filial parish of San Pietro. This original church, rebuilt in the 12th century following a fire, was demolished in 1678. The current church was built by Giovanni Grassi, who realigned it to face the Grand Canal. ART AND ARCHITECTURE The facade, which has the form of a temple, with an imposing triangular pediment, supported by columns resting on high pedestals, was built by Domenico Rossi in 1709, whose design was the winner of a competition. Read more [...]
Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is an imposing palace on the Grand Canal, in Venice, where the composer Richard Wagner died in 1883. Also, from 1950, Palazzo Vendramin Calergi hosts the oldest casino in the world, Casino di Venezia, established in 1638. SHORT HISTORY The palace was commissioned in the late 15th century by the Loredan family to the famous architect Mauro Codussi. The building was his last work, brought to completion in 1509, five years after his death. In 1581, the palace was sold to the Duke of Brunswick and, after some legal troubles, in 1589, it was bought by a rich nobleman, Vettor Calergi, for his wedding with Isabetta Gritti. Vettor Calergi had only one daughter, Marina, who was married, in 1608, to Vincenzo Grimani. The palace passed, by inheritance, to the sons of Marina with the obligation to take also the surname Calergi. The three sons of Marina remained famous for their ferocity – after the cruel murder of Francesco Querini Stampalia, they were banned from the Republic and deprived of the property, but after a donation to the Senate for war expenses, they were reinstated in assets and titles. In 1739, for dynastic reasons, the palace passed to Read more [...]
The Church of San Geremia e Santa Lucia is a church in Venice, located on the left bank of the Grand Canal, as you are heading to Piazza San Marco, right before its confluence with Canale di Cannaregio. SHORT HISTORY The Church of San Geremia was founded in the 11th century by Mauro Tosello, who used it to house the arm of St. Bartholomew brought from Apulia in 1043. The church was dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah, an old testament figure. The church was rebuilt in 1174 by the Doge Sebastiano Ziani and reconsecrated in 1292. Later, the church was demolished and rebuilt again in 1753, by Carlo Corbellini, a Brescian priest and architect. The first mass was celebrated on April 27th, 1760, during the final works of reconstruction. Following the damage made by the Austrian bombardment from 1849, two facades were built in the second half of the 18th century, one facing Campo San Geremia (St. Jeremiah Square), and the other one oriented towards Cannaregio Canal. A chapel built in 1863 contains the relics of the Sicilian Santa Lucia, stolen by Enrico Dandolo during the Sack of Constantinople, which, in 1204, marked the end of the Fourth Crusade. Read more [...]
Palazzo Flangini is, practically, the first truly monumental building that you meet on the Grand Canal, in Venice, when you are traveling with the vaporetto from the railway station, heading to the Rialto Bridge. Near the Scuola dei Morti, the Flangini Palace consists of two-thirds of an unfinished building, probably designed by Giuseppe Sardi in the second half of the 17th century. SHORT HISTORY It is said that the palace remained unfinished because one of the two brothers who inherited it, in spite of the other, had one of the wings destroyed, cutting the palace in half. The reality, much simpler and more prosaic, is that the old owner lacked the funds and was unable to buy the nearby area necessary for the completion of the building. The building have been built between the years 1664 and 1682 and is attributed to the architect Giuseppe Sardi by the art historian of the 18th century Tommaso Temanza, but some think it could be the project of Baldassarre Longhena. Currently, the building is divided into several private properties. Following an important restoration, the entrance hall and the portego of the building have been taken over by the Valorizzazioni Culturali society, with Read more [...]
Scuola dei Morti (School of the Dead) is a small and charming building from the 17th century, overlooking the Grand Canal, in Venice, placed between Palazzo Flangini and the apse of the Church of San Geremia. SHORT HISTORY The building belonged to the Congregazione della Santissima Madonna del Suffragio dei Morti, known also as the School of the Dead, a religious congregation that, in 1624, has joined the homonymous Confraternity of Rome. A few years earlier, in 1615, the congregation held meetings in the Church of San Geremia, until the parish priest gave them a piece of land in the ancient cemetery, to erect a chapel for the meetings, permission approved by the Venetian Senate in 1659. At the expense of the Savorgnan family, the school was built, but was then destroyed during an Austrian bombing in 1849. Today, after an integral reconstruction, the building is used by the parish of San Geremia. ARCHITECTURE The facade of the one-storey building is simple and has a skull in the center, between two large windows, with an inscription below reminding about the congregation of Scuola dei Morti. HOW TO GET THERE The best place to admire the Scuola dei Read more [...]
Palazzo Malipiero is a palace located on the eastern bank of the Canal Grande, just 100 meters away from Ponte dell’Accademia. The palace is very close to Palazzo Grassi, separated only by the small San Samuele Square. The palace is famous, first of all, as the residence of Giacomo Casanova for a few years, when he was still a teenager. In the chambers of this palace, it seems, the Venetian lover learned the art of love that he will practice so tenaciously later. SHORT HISTORY The palace, also known as Ca’ Grande di San Samuele, was built in the 11th century by the Soranzo family. At the beginning of the 15th century, the palace was in the possession of a powerful Venetian family – the Cappello family, following a marriage. By the mid-sixteenth century, the Cappello family comisioned the widening of the palace and the construction of the facade facing the Canal Grande, which still exists today. Also in the 16th century, through another union, the palace passes from the possession of the Cappello family to that of the Malipiero family. Like the other owners, the Malipiero family took care of the palace, being responsible for a series of Read more [...]
Found across the Canal Grande from Ca’ Pesaro, between Palazzo Ruoda and Rio di Noale, Palazzo Gussoni Grimani Dalla Vida is one of those historic buildings that support the architectural image of a city. Venice, to be a true open-air museum, needs each of these buildings, which, side by side, build a charming ensemble. SHORT HISTORY The palace was designed by the architect Michele Sanmicheli and built between 1548-1556 for the Gussoni family. In the following century, the edifice served as the headquarters for the Accademia Delfica, founded in 1647 by Francesco Gussoni. After the death of the last Gussoni, in 1736, the palace, on the line of kinship, was given to the Minio family. In 1978, the building was sold to the Grimani family, and later, in 1814, it came into possession of the Dalla Vida family, recognized as the last owners, before the palace became the property of the Italian state. Between 1614 and 1618, the Gussoni Grimani Palace was the residence of the English diplomat Sir Henry Wotton, the Doge’s counselor at that time, and also the author of a limited number of poems and translations. ARCHITECTURE The façade of the palace was initially adorned Read more [...]
Also known as the Duomo di Murano, the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato is one of the oldest buildings in the Venetian lagoon. Of byzantine conception, the church preserves the relics of Saint Donatus of Arezzo, martyred in the 4th century after Christ, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Flavius Claudius Iulianus. SHORT HISTORY A document from the year 999 shows that the church had been built in the 7th century, when many refugees from the continent arrived on the Murano Island. Initially, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and later, in 1125, when the relics of St. Donatus were brought from Cephalonia, it received a second patronage. The church, apparently, has been rebuilt at that time, in a Byzantine style, in the form that resisted, to a large extent, until today. The mosaic inside is marked with the year 1141, when these reconstruction works were completed. In the 18th century, the church was redecorated in Baroque style and later, between 1858 and 1873, a return to its original style was attempted. This development of the building was condemned by several voices, because the result was a hybrid between the 12th century style and the Read more [...]