Past Italia: La Villa Donn’Anna

Palazzo Donn'Anna, Italy

This historic but dilapidated residence sits on the Posillipo coast in Naples, west of the Mergellina harbour, some way beyond the Castel dell’Ovo… Photo by Getty Images The Villa Donn’Anna takes its name from Anna Carafa, the wife of a Spanish viceroy of Naples who inherited the property in 1630 and had it rebuilt to […]

Temples, goats and almond blossom

The Temple of Concordia, sicily

On a hilltop in Sicily stand the ruins of what was once part of a great city – Joe Gartman explores the Valley of the Temples… Photos by Patricia Gartman   It’s called the Valley of the Temples, though it isn’t really a valley at all. It’s a flat ridge on the outskirts of Agrigento, […]

Past Italia: Marcus Aurelius on horseback

Piazza del Campidoglio with statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, Italy.

The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius stands centre stage in Rome’s Piazza del Campidoglio… Photo by Getty Images One of the few stipulations that the Pope made when he commissioned Michelangelo to redesign the piazza on the Capitoline Hill was that the famous ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius should be its focal point. The statue […]

A poet at the world’s edge

Statue of Ovid in Sulmona

Ovid was born in Sulmona, in the province of L’Aquila, but was destined to die far from home. Joe Gartman tells his story… Photos by Patricia Gartman unless otherwise stated   In December of the year 8 AD, a Roman citizen named Publius Ovidius Naso left Rome on a long journey. After enduring ferocious storms […]

Past Italia: The Railways of Italy

Italian steam train

The development of a national rail network in Italy coincided with the unification of the country The first railway line in Italy ran (and indeed still does) between Naples and Portici in what was then the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. That opened in 1839 and the development of a pan-Italian rail network, which was […]

Past Italia! Catacombs of San Gennaro

Catacombs of San Gennaro, Naples

In Naples, where history is told through layers of earth, an ancient tomb offers a window to the distant past… Deep beneath the streets of northern Naples, on the slopes leading up to Capodimonte, in the area officially known as Rione Sanità, but also sometimes called the ‘Valley of the Dead’, lie le Catacombe di […]

Past Italia: Santa Maria del Monte

Santa Maria del Monte, Italy

La Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte climbs to the church of St Mary of the Mount in Caltagirone, Sicily   The Church of Saint Mary of the Mount in Caltagirone dates back to the 12th-century; its staircase is early 17th-century; but the majolica tiles that have made the staircase famous today were only placed […]

Insider’s Rome: The Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

You can go and see the Trevi Fountain for free, it’s just there, but it will cost you money if you ever want to see it again… Words and image by Jon Palmer There are actually lots of things you can do for free in Rome – especially if you happen to be around on […]

Past Italia: La Chiesa di San Pietro

The church of Saint Peter on the promontory if Porto Venere in Liguria, Italy

St Peter‘s (La Chiesa di San Pietro)  in Portovenere stands on a promontory overlooking the Gulf of Poets Saint Peter’s at Portovenere is built on the site of a 5th-century church, and before that an earlier, pagan temple dedicated to Venus. It was consecrated in 1198 but its bands of black and white Carrara marble (the […]

Past Italia: Il Castello di Santa Severa

Castello di Santa Severa, Lazio italy

The medieval castle of Santa Severa faces out to sea on the Lazio coast, just 40 minutes north of Rome The Castle of Saint Severa is named after a young girl whose entire family was martyred. Her father was a Roman military commander who converted to Christianity and was put to death for refusing to renounce […]