Pompeii was probably founded by the Oscans around the 8th century BC. This ancient Italic people settled on the southern slopes of Mount Vesuvius along the banks of the Sarno River, which was navigable at the time. Pompeii became an important commercial center early on, catching the interest of the invading Greeks and Etruscans. The Etruscans were conquered on the waters off Cuma, and the city came under domination by the Samnites in the 5th century BC
Ercolano, known to many as Herculaneum, is just a few miles from Pompeii and 150 miles south of Rome, close to Naples.
In many respects Ercolano is a smaller version of Pompeii, both are buried Roman cities that have been remarkably preserved when excavated.
A lot of people prefer Ercolano to Pompeii as it is a much more compact size and has significantly less visitors. Both sites are managed by the same people and it is easy to visit both in one day using a combined ticket and the local train which connects both.
Both sites are managed by the same people and it is easy to visit both in one day using a combined ticket and the local train which connects both.
The Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest standing fortification in Naples. The castle’s name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in medieval times as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. As early as the twelfth century there were pre-norman fortifications erected on the remains of part of the villa of the Roman general Lucio Vicinio Lucullo, later transformed into a castle by Frederick II and expanded in the Angevin period, when the fortress took the name "Egg Castle"
This noble semicircular piazza (19th Century) is enclosed on one side by the royal palace, on the other by the neoclassical façade of the church of San Francesco di Paola, built on the model of the Pantheon in Rome and prolonged by a curving colonnade. Two equestrian statues stand in front of the church: one, by Canova, depicts Ferdinand I of Bourbon, the other is of Charles III of Bourbon. The royal palace was built at the beginning of the 17th Century by the architect Domenico Fontana and has been remodelled several times. The façade retains more or less its original appearance.
Since the late 19th Century the niches on the façade have contained eight statues of the most famous Kings of Naples. A huge staircase with twin ramps and crowned by a coffered dome leads to the apartments and the sumptuously decorated royal chapel. It was only after 1734 that royalty lived in the apartments. The richly ornamented rooms have retained their numerous work of art, tapestries, paintings, period furniture and fine porcelain.
Near the Gesú Nuovo church, there is the monumental complex of Santa Chiara, one of the most important buildings commissioned by the French Kingdom of Anjou for the Franciscan order. Built in 1340, it is a rare example of Medieval architecture in Napoli. The convent was to accommodate both monks and nuns in two separate buildings but at the same time depending on the same church. The church was then built in a simple Gothic style, with the typical Neapolitan yellow tufa. Unfortunately, the church has been reconstructed changing the original features into the Baroque style with marbles, polychrome stuccos and exorbitant decorative elements by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro between 1742 and 1769. Sadly, in 1943 the church was partially bombed during the second world war. It was decided that it would be rebuilt in its original Gothic style. It was reopened in 1953. Most of the antiques sculptures have returned to their original location, including the splendid tombs of the member of the Anjou family, like the monumental tomb of Robert of Anjou dated 1343, the tomb of Mary Valois, second wife of Robert, and his son's tomb. A small part of a fresco still remains from the medieval decoration attributed to Giotto (who stayed in Napoli between 1328 and 1333) and his workshop.
The fine cloister outside the church is richly decorated with majolica tiles and it is a pure gem of the eighteenth century, designed by Domenico Antionio Vaccaro. He left the original medieval plan of the cloister but redesigning parts of it, adding two wide paths in the middle, the fine majolica decorations on the pillars with motif of vine shoots and wisteria twisting up, flowers, lemons while the seats are decorated with scenes of the city and country life in the eighteenth century.
The Sansevero Chapel Museum in the historic heart of Naples is a jewel of the world’s artistic heritage. Here, baroque creativity, dynastic pride, beauty and mystery blend to create a unique and almost timeless atmosphere.
With its masterpieces such as the famous Veiled Christ, renowned world over for the remarkable tissue-like quality of the marble, feats of virtuosity such as Disillusion, and enigmatic creations such as the Anatomical Machines, the Sansevero Chapel is one of the most impressive monuments that the human mind has ever conceived.
A noble mausoleum, a temple of initiation, which admirably reflects the multi-faceted personality of its ingenious architect, Raimondo di Sangro, seventh Prince of Sansevero.
Originally the museum was an horse riding school, then the location of the University. The Archeological Museum was inaugurated in 1816 and nowadays it’s one of the most important museums of the world because of the quality and quantity of works exposed.
Built in the 11th century with support from the Rufolo family, the Duomo is a combination of Baroque and Romanesque styles. Dedicated to St. Pantaleone, the church has undergone extensive modifications and restorations over the past 900 years. The Duomo’s shining white façade dates back to the last major restoration in 1931. The Duomo’s bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century, shows Moorish and Byzantine influence.
Today, the Duomo is primarily remembered for five attractions:
The first is the bronze door, which was temporarily removed for restoration in 2010. Constructed in 1179 by Barisano da Trani, the door is of special interest because fewer than two dozen bronze church doors are still extant in Italy, three of them by Trani.
The second item of special note is the pulpit, which is supported by six spiraled columns sitting atop marble lions. Across from the pulpit, to the left, is the Ambo of the Epistles that boasts two wonderful mosaics of Jonah and the Whale.
The fourth area of special interest is the Chapel of St. Pantaleone the Healer, a 3rd century physician who was beheaded, on orders of the Emperor Diocletian, after he converted to Christianity. The Chapel has a small ampoule of the saint’s blood, which is said to liquefy every year on July 27th, the anniversary of his martyrdom. The chapel also has a silver bust of the town’s venerated saint.
The final attraction is the cathedral's museum, which is accessible through a side entrance on the Via Richard Wagner.
Built by a wealthy merchant family in the 13th century, the villa has a rich and storied past. Boccaccio, one of the earliest authors of the Italian renaissance, wrote a story about the villa and its owner in his Decameron, which was published in 1353.
In its prime, it was one of the largest and most expensive villas on the Amalfi Coast, and legends grew about hidden treasure on its premises.
In the 14th century, the Rufolo family hosted banquets for King Robert II of Naples and other Norman royalty.
The gardens and grounds of the Villa Rufolo are open year around and attract visitors from all over the world. Juxtaposed against the sea, the sky, umbrella pines, and the Church of the Annunziata below, the gardens, with their profusion of flowers, have a magical quality to them.
Among the first towns where it was discovered in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the existence of the paper, if you want to take for granted the information contained in notarial deeds discussing of the existence of paper products, while not specifying whether these were imported from other places and traded in the above-mentioned places, there were the territories of the Maritime Republics: Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice who had warehouses both in Syria, both on the coast of Palestine, where they were precisely located the major centres for the production of paper.
These republics also had intense trade relations with the East and they could learn from the Eastern art of making paper without too much difficulty, or it is possible that on board the galleys, which in medieval times shuttled between our coasts and the Holy Land to transport crusaders and merchandises, they are embarked "Magisters in art cartarum" which as skilled labour have introduced this type of work.
Amalfi is the oldest of the Maritime Republics, as early as the ninth century had its warehouses in Palermo and Messina and Syracuse, where the Amalfitana is still present in local place names. Age-old remains the question on the primacy of paper in Italy and then in Europe and in contention are mainly Amalfi and Fabriano.
Sitting high atop a promontory that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and the dramatic coastline below, the Villa Cimbrone is the crown laurel of Ravello.
Its origins date back to the 11th century, but the villa and the gardens were extensively renovated by a British nobleman, Lord Grimthorpe, in the early 20th century.
With its expansive gardens and dramatic views, the villa is a popular place for weddings, honeymoons, and receptions. The villa is a private 5-star hotel (Hotel Villa Cimbrone), but the gardens are open to the public and it ranks, perhaps, as the most memorable sight on the Amalfi Coast.
A century ago, shortly after it was renovated by Grimthorpe, the Villa Cimbrone became a popular retreat for London’s famed Bloomsbury Group, a circle of early 20th century intellectuals that featured Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey.
Other noted guests, included Winston Churchill, author E.M Forster, and famed economist Maynard Keynes. D.H. Lawrence, the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, literally left his mark on the villa’s garden, when he and a friend decided to give the Statue of Eve a fresh, and unauthorized, coat of paint.
Amalfi Cathedral is a 9th-century Roman Catholic structure in the Piazza del Duomo, Amalfi, Italy. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew. Predominantly of Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has been remodelled several times, adding Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque elements. The cathedral includes the adjoining 9th-century Basilica of the Crucifix. Leading from the basilica are steps into the Crypt of St. Andrew.
A wooden 13th-century Crucifix hangs in the liturgical area. Another crucifix, made of mother-of-pearl, was brought from the Holy Land and is located to the right of the back door. The High Altar in the central nave is formed from the sarcophagus of the Archbishop Pietro Capuano (died in 1214). Above the altar is a painting by Andrea dell'Asta of The Martyrdom of St. Andrew.
The front facade was rebuilt in 1891 after the original one collapsed. It is of striped marble and stone with open arches that have lace detailing not commonly found in Italian sacred architecture while the tiled cupola is quite common amongst churches of the area. The tympanum's mosaics portray “The triumph of Christ” in a work created by Domenico Morelli and whose original designs are retained in the Town Hall.
This castle, located on the Bonadies Mountain, was built in the VII century on behalf of the Lombard Prince Arechi II who moved the capital of the Dukedom from Benevento to Salerno. To this day, the castle still dominates and guards over the city.
Cattedrale di San Matteo—the cathedral of Salerno—houses ancient Greek columns, Roman sarcophagi, medieval pulpits, and the body of St. Matthew the Evangelist
Although World War II bombs devastated most of medieval Salerno, the Duomo's lovely 11th-century atrium courtyard was spared. It contains 28 antique columns pilfered from the ancient Greek ruins of Paestum. Behind them are Roman sarcophagi recycled in the Middle Ages as the tombs for local grandees.
The cathedral was founded in 1081 by Hauteville Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard who by then had conquered his way to becoming Duke of Apulia and Calabria (which, at the time, covered pretty much all of southern Italy; the neighbouring Dutchy of Naples was confined just the sliver of land around the Bay of Naples itself). Robert was, for good measure, also Duke of Sicily.
An earthquake in 1688 caused most of the cathedral to be rebuilt along baroque lines, though from the older church remain a fabulous pair of inlaid ambones (pulpits) similar to those at Ravello.
Proof that the city of Salerno was once a much bigger deal than it is today: The cathedral crypt, lavishly decorated with precious marbles in the 17th century (and restructured in the 1960s), houses the bones of St. Matthew the Evangelist.
Much like La Fenice in Venice, the Teatro Petruzzelli has a story of destruction and rebirth. Originally constructed in 1903, the theater was destroyed by arson in 1991. It took years to get construction re-started, but finally, in 2009, ownership of the theater passed from private hands to the city of Bari and the theater re-opened with a performance of the Ninth Symphony by Beethoven.
Strolling along the seaside promenade Goffredo di Crollalanza, you’ll come across one of the most beautiful late-Liberty buildings ever made in Bari, overlooking the gardens of Adua square and the sea.
The Catacombs of Rome are former underground burial grounds that date from the second to the fifth century and were principally used by Christians and Jews.
The catacombs possess a huge number of subterranean passageways that form real labyrinths that are several kilometres long, along which rows of rectangular niches were dug out. Roman law at the time prohibited the burial of the deceased in the interior of the city, for which reason all of the catacombs were located outside of the walls. These separated and hidden places below ground constituted the perfect refuge in which the Christians could bury their own, freely using Christian symbols.
The catacombs of Rome offer a very special visit in which the funeral remains of those buried many centuries ago can be seen. It is fascinating to travel through the dark and damp passageways, where you can see, in addition to the niches, some inscriptions with the names of the people that once occupied them.
Due to the high infant mortality at that time, you can see a large quantity of spaces prepared for these children, alongside some larger graves in which the whole family was buried.
During the visit, a guide who is specialized in the topic gives the visitors several interesting facts relating to the catacombs and the period in which they were operating.
Known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the Roman Colosseum is one of the capital's most remarkable monuments. Every year over 6 million people visit it.
The Colosseum is the main symbol of Rome. It is an imposing construction that, with almost 2,000 years of history, will bring you back in time to discover the way of life in the Roman Empire. The construction of the Colosseum began in the year 72 under the empire of Vespasian and was finished in the year 80 during the rule of the emperor Titus. After completion, the Colosseum became the greatest Roman amphitheatre, measuring 188 meters in length, 156 meters in width and 57 meters in height.
During the Roman Empire and under the motto of "Bread and Circuses" the Roman Colosseum (known then as Flavian Amphitheatre) allowed more than 50,000 people to enjoy its finest spectacles. The exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles and gladiator fights kept the Roman people entertained for years.
The Colosseum remained active for over 500 years. The last recorded games in history were celebrated in the 6th century. Since the 6th century the Colosseum has suffered lootings, earthquakes and even bombings during World War Two. Demonstrating a great survival instinct, the Colosseum was used for decades as a storehouse, church, cemetery and even a castle for nobility.
At present the Colosseum is, along with the Vatican City, Rome's greatest tourist attraction. Each year 6 million tourists visit it. On 7 July 2007 the Colosseum became one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
The Arch of Constantine was erected in the year 315 in commemoration of the victory of Constantine I the Great in the Battle of Milvian Bridge. It is located between the Colosseum and the Palatine Hill.
Constructed from pieces of previous buildings, the Arch of Constantine is the most modern of the triumphal arches that were built in ancient Rome. It is 21 meters high, 25 meters wide and is made up of three arches.
The Arch of Constantine is one of the best preserved monuments from ancient Rome. Thanks to its excellent location it is one of the most representative and photographed points of the city.
Located 40 meters above the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is the most central of the seven hills of Rome and forms one of the oldest parts of the city.
The Palatine Hill is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian capital and is believed to have been inhabited since the year 1000 B.C. During the Republican Period Roman citizens belonging to the upper class settled in the Palatine Hill and built sumptuous palaces, of which important traces are still preserved. n the Palatine Hill you can see hundreds of ruins of the imposing buildings that were created for high Roman society in ancient times. Although the whole scene is impressive, these are some of the points that deserve special attention: Domus Flavia, House of Livia, House of Augustus, Farnese Gardens, Hippodrome of Domitian and Palatine museum.
The Palatine Hill is a very pleasant place for a quiet stroll under the shadow of the trees while passing many of the preserved corners of ancient Rome.
The Roman Forum was where religious and public life in ancient Rome took place. The Forum is, along with the Colosseum, the greatest sign of the splendour of the Roman Empire that can be seen today.
After the fall of the Empire, the Roman Forum was forgotten and little by little it was buried under the earth. Although in the 16th century the existence and location of the Forum was already known, it was not until the 20th century that excavations were carried out.
Interestingly, the place where the Forum was built was originally a marshy area. In the 6th century B.C. the area was drained by means of the Cloaca Maxima, one of the first sewer systems in the world.
Situated on Via dei Fori Imperiali, Trajan's Market is an archaeological complex that currently holds the Museum of Imperial Forums (Museo dei Fori Imperiali). It is considered to be Rome’s first “shopping center”. The complex, made of red brick and concrete, had six levels in which there was once up to 150 different shops and apartments.
When you visit the Imperial Forum Museum, you can stroll through Mercati di Traiano's various levels, as well as admiring several exhibitions that show the Imperial Forums' different aspects. The exhibitions are comprised of models and videos that accompany the various remains that are left from the Imperial Forums to try to transport visitors to classical Roman times.
Although it does not enjoy as much fame as the Colosseum, Trajan's Market maintains an important part of its original appearance and offers a really interesting visit.
Trastevere is one of the most pleasant neighbourhoods in the city. Its peaceful and bohemian atmosphere is capable of dazzling tourists without failing to attract assiduous Roman citizens.
The life of the neighbourhood is especially concentrated around the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, where you can see the ancient Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere. The great fountain in front of the temple serves as a meeting place, a resting spot, or simply somewhere to have an ice cream on a hot day.
A walk through the narrow cobbled streets of the Trastevere shows hidden treasures such as modest medieval churches, small shops with the most unusual objects, or even some scenes of everyday life seemingly taken from a forgotten age.
The Trevi fountain, inspired by Roman triumphal arches, is the largest and most famous Baroque fountain in Rome (standing 25.9 meters high and 19.8 meters wide).
In 1629, Pope Urban VIII, asked Bernini to sketch possible renovations of the fountain, finding it insufficiently theatrical. After the Pope's death the project was abandoned. Bernini's lasting contribution was to situate the fountain from the other side of the square to face the Quirinal Palace (so that the Pope could see and enjoy it).
The Trevi Fountain as we know it today, was designed by Nicola Salvi in 1732 and competed in 1762.
The central figures of the fountain are Neptun (God of the sea), flanked by two Tritons. One struggles to master a very unruly "seahorse", the other lead a far more docile animal. These symbolize the two contrasting moods of the sea.
Appropriately for a fountain resembling a stage set, the theatrical Trevi Fountain has been the star of many films shot in Rome, including romantic films such as "Three coins in a fountain" and "Roman holiday", but also "La dolce vita", Federico Fellini's satirical portrait of Rome in the 1950s.
The Pantheon, completed in 126 AD, was a Roman temple with a surprising oculus that is the building's main source of natural light.
The Pantheon of Agrippa, also known as the Roman Pantheon, is one of the architectural masterpieces of the Italian capital. It is the best preserved building from ancient Rome.
The construction of the current Pantheon was carried out during the reign of Hadrian, in the year 126 A.D. The name of Agrippa comes from the place in which the current building is built, which was previously occupied by the Pantheon of Agrippa, built in the year 27 B.C and that was destroyed in a fire in the year 80 A.D.
At the beginning of the 7th century the building was donated to the Pope Boniface IV, who transformed it into a church, in which function it currently finds itself in a perfect state of preservation.
In the interior of the Pantheon the tombs of numerous Italian kings and a multitude of art works are found. The best-known person who can be found buried in the Pantheon is without doubt the painter and Renaissance architect Raphael. The outskirts of the Pantheon are usually full of people at all hours, either photographing the imposing building or having a traditional supper in some of the terraces of the Piazza della Rotonda while they enjoy the shows put on by different street artists.
Villa Borghese of Rome is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. The State acquired the gardens from the Borghese family in 1901 and opened them to the public on 12 July 1903.
What differentiates Villa Borghese from other large parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park is the perfect combination between nature and Roman art. Villa Borghese is home to interesting architectural elements, sculptures, monuments and fountains created at different times by famous artists.
If you have enough time in Rome, travel with children or are looking for a little relaxation, the Villa Borghese is a mandatory stop in your itinerary. If you want to tour the Villa Borghese and take advantage of the time to do some exercise, it is possible to rent rollerblades, bicycles and other forms of transportation at the main gates.
Known as Hadrian's Tomb, the Castel Sant'Angelo is a fortress located on the right bank of the Tiber, a short distance from the Vatican City.
Construction of the building began in the year 135 under the direction of the Emperor Hadrian, who intended to use it as mausoleum for himself and his family. It was finished in the year 139 and a short time later, it became a military building, which in the year 403 would be integrated to the Aurelian Walls.
The Castel Sant'Angelo is split into five floors which can be reached by a spiral ramp that first reaches the chamber of ashes and subsequently the cells in which a number of historical figures were incarcerated.
Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons.
In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above. Advancing toward the upper part of the castle you will find different rooms that functioned as a Papal residence, decorated with perfectly preserved frescoes from the Renaissance period, besides the extensive collection of weapons. In the upper floor there is a large terrace where you can take amazing photographs of the city from above.
St. Peter's Square is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in the world. It is located in Vatican City, at the feet of St. Peter's Basilica.The dimensions of the square are spectacular: 320 meters long and 240 meters wide. In the liturgies and more noticeable events St. Peter's Square has held more than 300,000 people.The most impressive part of the square, besides its size, are its 284 columns and 88 pilasters that flank the square in a colonnade of four rows. Above the columns there are 140 statues of saints created in 1670 by the disciples of Bernini.In the centre of the square the obelisk and the two fountains, one of Berni ni (1675) and another of Maderno (1614) stand out. The obelisk, which is 25 meters in height, was carried to Rome from Egypt in 1586.
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the holiest temples for Christendom and one of the largest churches in the world. Besides, it is where the Pope presides many liturgies all year round.
The construction of the new basilica began in 1506, when the old basilica had been torn down, and was finished in 1626. It was consecrated on 18 November, 1626. Several renowned architects designed the temple, highlighting the works of Bramante, Michelangelo and Carlo Maderno.
The basilica was called St Peter’s after one of Jesus’s twelve disciples known as Saint Peter, who became one of the founders of the Catholic Church and was executed in Rome and buried where the Basilica now stands.
Visiting St Peter’s Basilica is an unforgettable experience when staying in Rome. Visitors mustn’t miss out on climbing to the top of the dome, where a stunning view of St Peter’s Square, and if the day is clear of most of the city, awaits them.
The largest church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica is more than just the most important building in Christendom. It is a jewel within Vatican City from where Popes have spread the word of God throughout the world. The Basilica is a focal point of millions of pilgrims each year, but it is also a true cultural, historical and architectural landmark. The classic Renaissance structure holds within itself treasures from millennia including paintings, sculptures, artefacts and the art decorated on the walls. A visit to St. Peter’s Basilica is a treat to the senses and the soul!
Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican Palace is famous for its Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo, painted between 1508 and 1512. The frescoes are the cornerstone work of High Renaissance art and a must see while visiting Vatican City.