The Bits of Pisa that Most Tourists Miss

The Bits of Pisa that Most Tourists Miss

Pisa is full of tourists, but most of them seem to be clustered in one spot. In front of the Leaning Tower, capturing a selfie or photographing their friends as they pretend to prop up the tower. But, as we discovered during a recent autumn visit, there is much more...

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A Peaceful Interlude at Pisa’s Botanic Gardens

A Peaceful Interlude at Pisa’s Botanic Gardens

Even at the end of October Pisa is hot and packed with tourists. But the Botanic Gardens were cool and shady, and we had the place to ourselves. A Garden of Simples I’d been wanting to visit these gardens for years. Founded in 1543 as a ‘Garden of Simples’, or...

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Walking the Walls of Lucca

Walking the Walls of Lucca

I always enjoy walking around old walled towns, like Avila or Londonderry. But the walls of Lucca, a small Tuscan town just a half hour train ride from Pisa were an unexpected pleasure: a wide and completely intact wall with trees and parkland, providing an amenity...

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The Historic Villas of Tivoli

The Historic Villas of Tivoli

Since classical times Tivoli has been a favoured summer retreat for people wishing to escape the heat of the city. Nestling in the Tiburtine hills, around 30 km from Rome, this was where many prominent Roman citizens, including the Emperor Hadrian and the poet...

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Byzantine Mosaics of Ravenna

Byzantine Mosaics of Ravenna

The Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna, in northern Italy, are a major tourist attraction. Spread across eight buildings from the early Christian period, these magnificent artworks are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Early Christianity in Ravenna Ravenna played a...

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Searching for Romeo in Verona

Searching for Romeo in Verona

As everyone knows, Romeo and Juliet lived in Verona. Or did they? In fact, the evidence is slim, but this does not deter the Veronese, whose city is home to a thriving "Juliet industry".It was common for writers in 16th century England to set their tales in Italy, and...

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Why I was Wrong About Naples

Why I was Wrong About Naples

In all the years I’ve been going to Italy, I’ve always refused to go to Naples. "See Naples and die," they say, and I’d taken it to heart, being sure that it was a hotbed of crime and corruption, with filthy streets, and that there was nothing to see anyway. I...

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