The Presepi of Italy: Traditional Christmas Cribs

The Presepi of Italy: Traditional Christmas Cribs

If you are in Italy at this time of year you will find presepi (nativity scenes) everywhere. Every church or public space will have its own intricately decorated Christmas crib. And in private homes families will be busy building their own cribs, as common in Italy as...
The Church of the Dead: Purgatorio Ad Arco in Naples

The Church of the Dead: Purgatorio Ad Arco in Naples

You might not expect a grinning bronze skull to be the first thing that greets you as you approach a church. But look more closely at the façade of Purgatorio ad Arco, in the historic centre of Naples, and you will see dozens of stone skulls, and a few crossbones as...
The Roman Ruins of Herculaneum, Pompeii’s Ancient Rival

The Roman Ruins of Herculaneum, Pompeii’s Ancient Rival

Herculaneum and Pompeii have a lot in common. They are both Roman cities that were destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, their ruins have been excavated and are open to visitors, and they are both on the same train line from Naples. So why do tourists flock...
Villa Valmanara ai Nani and the Legend of the Dwarves

Villa Valmanara ai Nani and the Legend of the Dwarves

High on the slopes of Monte Berico, just outside Vicenza, stands the 17th century Villa Valmanara ai Nani. The first thing you will notice when you approach the villa is the stone dwarves (nani) lined up on the walls outside. And of course there is a legend associated...
Photo Gallery: La Rotonda, Vicenza

Photo Gallery: La Rotonda, Vicenza

Standing on a hill just outside Vicenza, La Rotonda (sometimes also known as “Villa Capra”) is one of the architect Andrea Palladio’s best known designs. Built in the 16th century as a villa for a retired priest, the house blends perfectly with the...
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