Make Italy Yours

A blog of Italian Culture and Nature

Category: Italian Architecture

In the Heart of Ferrara – Majestic Castle

Travelling with Lyn

Situated in the centre of the city of Ferrara, you cannot miss this great medieval castle which is surrounded by a large moat. TheCastello Estense is a large block with four corner towers.

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During my 2 day stay in Ferrara we visited this fairy tale castle. We thought we might have a short visit, but were soon rapt by the history and magnificence of the place itself and were inside for an entire morning. There is almost too much to take in on one visit: there is so much to see and read. I’d like to give a special mention to the quality of the information boards in English. The writing, the explanations, the translation were all superb – and the information boards were at the perfect height.
Highlights for us included the dungeons, the ‘archaeology room’, the kitchens (and the explanations about the role of the Scalco), the…

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A Church with a View

Prayers and Piazzas

Image result for san miniato al monte

Outside, the day was steamy and still, a typical late afternoon July day in Florence. But inside, ahhhh, inside the walls of San Miniato al Monte, which have stood watch over the Florentines since 1018 from one of the city’s highest points, inside was cool and subdued.

We happened to wander in at 17:30, which, on summer weekdays, is the mass featuring Gregorian chants. It was haunting and magical, even for 10-year-old Daughter, who, after three weeks in Italy with her obsessive mamma, had well had her fill of churches.

Here’s Firenze, from San Miniato al Monte’s perspective:

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San Miniato al Monte is an easy walk from Piazzale Michelangelo, and I highly recommend you sneak in a visit, even if it’s just a quick one, should you find yourself in Florence.

San Miniato al Monte will be featured in my upcoming post, Churches of Florence: A Love Story.

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How to fall in love with Verona in one easy step

Prayers and Piazzas

If the universe had commissioned Walt Disney to create Italy, what he would have crafted, in my opinion, would have looked like today’s Verona. Verona is that exquisite, and magical.

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Verona Image Credit

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. The entire city of Verona has been named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Often, a UNESCO site is something more specific, such as the church in Milan which houses Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, or the ancient dwellings known as trulli in Puglia’s Alberobello. Many Italian cities, such as Florence, Siena and Naples, do find themselves on the heritage list, but it is specifically for their historic city centers (i centri storici). In Verona, the UNESCO powers that be found the city’s urban structure and architecture so captivating, that they honored the entire city with World Heritage status.

Falling in…

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Cute church on Ischia

Bagni di Lucca and Beyond

In spring this year we spent a couple of days on gorgeous Ischia, one of the islands in the spectacular Bay of Naples. Our lovely friends Stephanie and Paul took us on a tour of the island on a rickety bus which hurtled around the narrow road at breakneck speed.

One of the highlights along the way was the pretty little church, Santa Maria del Soccorso, which sits on a promontory jutting into the sea, Punta del Soccorso.

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The facade is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The church has had many transformations since it was rescued from an old Augustinian monastery founded in the 14th century.

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The entrance is via a semicircular staircase decorated with polychrome majolica tiles.

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The tiles are repeated in the wall around the church and on the cross at the side.

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The interior is a cool respite from the heat of the day.

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Rome’s Fascinating Basilica of San Clemente Reveals 2,000 Years of History

Timeless Italy Travels

I descended 60 feet below Rome’s surface into a mysterious past I knew little about…

Standing outside of the ancient Basilica of San Clemente, named after Rome’s third pope, hardly drew my attention. I had approached it from the side by mistake and missed the grander entrance fronted by a small courtyard with palm trees.

basilica_san_clemente_in_rome photo credit Wikimedia Commons

Located just a short distance from the Colosseum, I knew it embodied three levels of ancient church history.  Harboring this thought, I stepped inside the 12th century Basilica.

High above me was a vaulted ceiling with a dazzling mosaic in the apse depicting Christ on the Cross surrounded by doves. I walked across the uneven tile floor as it dipped and swayed through the centuries of visiting pilgrims and worshipers. A faint smell of incense, mingled with the cool and earthy surroundings, grew stronger as I began my journey into the depths of San Clemente

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I soon found…

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A Tiny Tuscan Church

Prayers and Piazzas

Nestled in the perfectly preserved walled town of Monteriggioni in Tuscany is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.

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Despite my love affair with Brunelleschi’s famous dome in Florence, it’s this little unassuming church which is my favorite chiesa of all which I’ve seen in Italy thus far.

Built over an ancient church, Santa Maria Assunta was consecrated in the early 1200s following a peace treaty between the notoriously warring Siena and Florence.

Small and peaceful, this tiny stone church doesn’t boast murals from any of Italy’s rock stars from art history. But it’s exactly that simplicity to which I’m drawn.  europe2010-288

Monteriggioni is not far from Florence and is a fantastic stop to include if you are visiting the more popular Tuscan towns of Siena and San Gimignano. If you’re traveling with kids, Monteriggioni is highly recommended!

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