Insider’s Rome: The Pantheon

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Proposals to charge entry to the Pantheon remain controversial, after plans were announced to start charging visitors from May this year… Words by Jon Palmer. Image by iStock Up until now, entry to the Pantheon was free, and had been throughout its 2,000 years of continuous use. This January, however, Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, confirmed […]

Nora Archaeological Park

Nora and tower Sardinia

Mary Novakovich shares her experience of this important and beautiful archaeological site in southwest Sardinia… Photos by Adam Batterbee   Founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC and then ruled from Carthage, Nora became Sardinia’s principal city when the Romans took over in 238BC. Nora’s precarious position on a spit of land made […]

Past Italia: Arezzo Cathedral

Arezzo Cathedral, Tuscany, Italy

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donatus in Arezzo, Tuscany, boasts a long history and some eye-catching architecture La Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato is the city cathedral of Arezzo, Tuscany. The façade is a 20th-century reconstruction, and the clock tower was added then too, but the rest of the church was built between the […]

Insider’s Rome: The Capitoline Museums

Constantine Capitoline Museums Rome Italy

If it’s ancient statues you want, this is the place to be, but don’t ignore the works on the piazza outside the museum either… Words & image by Jon Palmer Recognised as the world’s first public museum (though that really depends on what you mean by ‘museum’, what you mean by ‘public’, and what you […]

Past Italia: Pasta in Italy

antique picture Italy: Naples, Pasta Factory

This image of a 19th-century factory in Naples illustrates just how fundamental pasta is to Italian cuisine Where or when pasta originated is something we will never know. A lot of the problem lies in what we mean by “pasta”, but the modern Italian pasta we know and love today (ie, that which is made […]

Michelangelo’s nephew

On the trail of Lionardo Buonarroti, and the family palace he renovated in Florence. Lionardo, I have received thy letter and with it the three shirts. I am very much surprised that ye should have sent them … they are so coarse that there is not a farm labourer here who would not be ashamed […]

Giotto: the Arena Chapel

Giotto shows the representation of human emotion, injects individuality once again in the people depicted and is interested in conveying a sense of realism. Back in the very early 1300s Padua was a very wealthy merchant city and the Scrovegni family was one of the most wealthy families in the city. Reginaldo Scrovegni had made […]

Ara Pacis Augustas – the altar of absolute peace

The marble sculptures on Rome’s altar of absolute peace attract visitors because of their beauty, but their origins lie in celebrating the victories of Emperor Augustus… The Ara Pacis Augustae, or altar to the absolute peace, was commissioned by the Roman Senate in 13BC, and in 9BC was dedicated to the peace established by Emperor […]

Square Coliseum

Called the “Square Coliseum”, the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana was intended by Benito Mussolini as the centrepiece of the 1942 Esposizione Universale Roma When I first saw it, in the distance at the far end of a wide avenue, it seemed like a mirage: a bright white cube, made of rows and columns of arches. […]

Top 5 – Italian Castles

Hundreds of fascinating, historic castles decorate the Italian landscape from the tip to the top of the peninsula. We’ve chosen five of our favourites… Castel del Monte Bari, Puglia Emperor Frederick II built this immaculately planned castle near Bari in the 13th century. A masterpiece of architectural achievement, the castle’s octagonal theme is intrinsic to […]