Category Archives: Renaissance Artists

Incredible Easter with Fireworks in Florence Italy: Lo Scoppio del Carro

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First...

English: Capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, 1099, from a medieval manuscript Deutsch: Mittelalterliches Gemälde der Belagerung Jerusalems durch die Kreuzfahrer 1099 Suomi: Jerusalemin valtaus 1099. Keskiaikaisen käsikirjoituksen kuvitusta. Polski: Zdobycie Jerozolimy podczas I krucjaty (1099 r.) – rysunek ze średniowiecznego rękopisu Italiano: Conquista di Gerusalemme durante la Prima Crociata, nel 1099, da un manoscritto medievale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock view...

Photo by User:Gilabrand. Dome of the Rock viewed through Bab al-Qattanin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del Carro (Florence)

Image via Wikipedia

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the b...

English: Jerusalem, Dome of the rock, in the background the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Deutsch: Jerusalem, Felsendom, im Hintergrund die Grabeskirche (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter morning, an ornate 500-year- old,  30-foot cart is paraded through the streets of Florence Italy by a team of  white oxen covered with flowers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FmiZNeYbto&feature=fvwrel.

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italian...

English: Scoppio del Carro2 (Florence) Italiano: Scoppio del Carro2 (Firenze) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The oxen cart is escorted by men dressed as Roman soldiers, city officials,  musicians and flag-throwers dressed in medieval costumes from the Porta al Prato to  the magnificent Piazza del Duomo . This annual event is called Lo Scoppio del Carro. This “Explosion of the Cart” celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and a new beginning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIlWMQoTnhs&NR=1

After the 11:00 Easter Mass in the Duomo, the “Explosion of the Cart” will occur in front of the Baptistery at noon. The cart is pre-loaded with fireworks. A wire that stretches from the altar inside the Duomo is rigged with a mechanical dove with an olive branch in her beak called the “Columbina” (little dove) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT5qr1xqbKo&feature=related.

The olive branch and the dove symbolize the Holy Spirit as well as Easter peace. After the parishoners sing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the Highest) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MuHQ2cxPr8&feature=fvst, the Cardinal of Florence will light a fuse that travels from the Church to ignite the cart in the Piazza. The fire is ignited by historic flints from Jerusalem. During this event, the Bells from Giotto’s Bell Tower will be  joyously ringing.

The traditional annual event lasts for about twenty minutes. A successful explosion signifies a good harvest and good business in the coming year which translates into good news for the wine-makers of Tuscany.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8SLFG6h84&feature=related

Lo Scoppio del Carro festivities originated in the First Crusade when Europeans seiged the city of Jerusalem in an attempt to claim Palestine for Christianity. Bishop Ranieri took over Jerusalem during the First Crusade and on July 15, 1099, Pazzino di Ranieri de Pazzi‘s army defeated Jerusalem and hung a Christian banner on the walls of the Holy City.  Pazzino de Pazzi, a wealthy Florentine, was the first man to scale the walls of Jerusalem. As a reward, his commander-in-chief, Godfrey IV de Buillon gave him three chips of stone from the Holy Sepulcher of Christ which he brought back to Florence in 1101.

Scoppio del carro

Scoppio del carro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These flints were held by the Pazzi family for many years and were used to spark the “New Fire” which symbolized new life. The fire was shared with other families to help ignite things around the house like candles and fireplaces. These lights were put out on Good Friday and then lit again on Easter Sunday.

scoppio-del-carro1_17

scoppio-del-carro1_17 (Photo credit: bwohack)

The city of Florence assumed the responsibility and the tradition of passing the fire from Jerusalem. For many years, the stone chips were kept in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Porta, but in 1785, the Holy Sepulcher stones were moved to the Chiesa degli Santi Apostoli. Watch this slide presentation to see the event:

http://firenze.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/04/08/foto/lo_scoppio_del_carro-32965499/1/

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 1...

The capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders on 15 July 1099 1. The Holy Sepulchre 2. The Dome of the Rock 3. Ramparts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Holy Fire has traditionally been struck from these ancient flints at Eastertide to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. In 1494, the Cart Explosion was lit in front of the Baptistery for the first time. They were also lit on the street corner of the Pazzi family. The lighting in front of the Pazzi family was discontinued in 1900. Over 500 years ago, the exciting tradition of lighting fireworks on Easter Sunday assumed its present form in Florence.

 

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel.

Interior of the Pazzi Chapel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32

Scoppio del carro 2013 31-03-2013 11-00-32 (Photo credit: Hari Seldon)

To learn more about Italy read my Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com. Happy Easter!! Buona Pasqua

 

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Amazing Art Exhibitions in Italy’s Finest Vino con Vista Cities

Italiano: La Deposizione di Cristo.

Italiano: La Deposizione di Cristo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. 092

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. 092 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. - Madonna met kind

Lucas Cranach d. Ä. – Madonna met kind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach the Elder

Lucas Cranach the Elder (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Venus with Cupid Stea...
Image by alarcowa via Flickr

Italy has outstanding regional Art Museums that have temporary exhibits that you may want to attend in many of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Cities.

Check the Museum Websites for detailed information about Temporary Exhibitions.

In Rome:

The Borghese Gallery‘s has held temporary shows including a “Lucas Cranach” exhibit that featured the German Renaissance painter. There were actually two famous “Cranach” painters, Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son Lucas Cranach the Younger. Admire 45 works from major international museums including Cardinal Borghese‘s  prized “Venus and Cupid”  which is the only Borghese Gallery possession.

Scuderie del Quirinale‘s temporary shows have included “Painter’s of the Risorgimento’s War Scenes” and Caravaggio’s works from around the world.

In Florence:

Palazzo Strozzi‘s temporary exhibits have included: “Bronzino: Painter, and Poet of the Medici Court”.

Palazzo Pitti‘s exhibits have included “Vinum Nostrum: Art, Science and Wine in Civilization.”

The Bargello‘s “Giovanfrescesco Rustici and Leonardo” exhibit linked the 15th century sculptor with da Vinci, Verrocchio and others.

In Milan:

I loved Palazzo Reale’s “Salvatore Dali” exhibit.

Dali... Salvatore Dali...

Dali… Salvatore Dali… (Photo credit: michal.kolodziejski)

Museo Poldi Pezzoli‘s “Sandro Bottecelli Works from Lombardy” were incredible.

Perusia:

Palazzo Zabarella’s offered from “Canova to Modigliani: The Face of the 19th Century” with 100 portraits and sculptures..

Modigliani at the San Diego Museum of ArtModiliani painting slod for almost $69 million

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. Learn more about Italy at www.vino-con-vista.com.

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Feast of Saint Ambrose and Holiday Events in Milan Italy

Skull of Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, i...
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Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Gothic Duomo made of white marble with 135 spires www.duomomilano.it.

December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan. He was born in 339 and consecrated as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374. He served as the Bishop until his death in 397. This eloquent bishop was instrumental in spreading

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Sain...

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Saints Gervase and Protase. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan. (bodies aren’t totally sharp because they are behind a bad quality sheet glass) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christianity and you can visit his mortal remains in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio.

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He is also the Patron Saint of Bologna. St. Ambrose is one of my favorites because he is the Patron Saint of learning and students., The “Honey-Tongued Doctor” is portrayed with a beehive and bees in his iconography which symbolizes wisdom. He is also the patron saint of  candle-makers and bee keepers.

The “Fiera di Sant’Ambroglio” is the city’s antique fair and takes place in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio from December 7-22. This event coincides with “The Fiera degli Oh Bej-Oh Bej.”  This is a traditional annual outdoor street market held in Milan to honor Saint Ambrose from December 5th to the 8th. For 400 years it was held in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Ambrose between 379-386 which is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Benefattori dell'Ospedale: i Duchi della Milan...

Benefattori dell’Ospedale: i Duchi della Milano quattrocentesca (Francesco Sforza e Bianca Maria Visconti) nell’atto di donare al Papa (Pio II Piccolomini) il bozzetto dell’erigenda Ca’ Granda (Photo credit: renagrisa)

This year the Festival will be held in The Square in front of Castello Sforzesco on Via Dante. Francesco Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria Visconti, became lord of the city in 1450. He ruled from the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress until 1535. Today, the castle serves as a museum. Francesco Sforza built the present castle where the Visconti castle originally stood. The palace contains several art museums. The Torre del Carmine serves to enclose the fortress of the Visconti family. Michelangelo’s famous “Rondanini Pieta” (1564) can be admired in the Castello Sforzesco.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

Mangia and have a “Vino con Vista” at the festival where you buy interesting gifts from over 400 stalls and can enjoy a porchetta sandwich, cioccolato con panna montala (hot chocolate) and some “Vino Brule” (mulled wine).

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

Stir wine over medium heat. Add sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Salute!!

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 7th is the official opening of the Opera Season in Milan at Teatro alla Scala which opened in 1778. Visit the Museo Teatrale that features vintage opera posters and a remarkable array of opera costumes. For tickets visit:  www.teatroallascala.org

Attend the Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the Church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6th.

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Milan has an interesting wine bar called La Cantina di Manuela on via Cadore with outdoor tables for people-watching or a nightcap. Try a Rosso della Costa Collina del Milanese or Bianco dell Costa Collina dell Milanese with some Castel Magno cheese. The Lombardy region’s specialty wine is fizzy Franciacorta. Most of the wineries in Lombardy are outside the heavily industrialized city limits in towns located between the Alps and the Apennines including Bergamo, Sondrio, Brescia, Pavia and Mantua.

Milan Duomo

Image by underflowR via Flickr

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Holiday Events in Tuscany

Piazza del Campo with Palazzo Pubblico and Tor...
Image via Wikipedia

If you follow my posts, you know that there are many exciting Holiday Events in Italy.  There are some interesting events you may want to attend in Tuscany over the holidays. Tuscany is divided into ten provinces.

Tuscany stretches over the slopes of the Apennines and borders the Tyrrhenian Sea. The landscape is mostly hilly with a flatter area along the sea called Maremma. Visit the wineries across the Chianti hills from Siena to Florence. The two notable wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino are also located in the province of Siena in Tuscany.

Siena

Siena (Photo credit: ho visto nina volare)

On of my favorite Tuscan towns is Siena. The historic center became an inscribed UNESCO site in 1995. Siena’s yellowish brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city.  Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the Black Death of 1348.

Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of Chianti country about 21 miles south of Florence.  Siena is the birthplace of Saint Catherine (1347), the patron saint of Italy. She received the stigmata at Pisa and her head is still housed in the Basilica of San Domenico.

The brick,  shell shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a semi-annual 350 year old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade.”  The Piazza’s surface is divided inato nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing the Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.  The Council met at the Palazzo Pubblicoon the eastern part of the square.

Torre del Mangia towering above of the Palazzo...

Torre del Mangia towering above of the Palazzo Pubblico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The residents of Siena were fierce rivals of the Florentines.  The distinctive 330 foot city watch tower Torre del Mangia bears witness to their intense rivalry.  Climb to the summit of the Gothic Cathedral; the summit of the tower offers a superb panoramic view of Tuscany.

Throughout the centuries, the residents preserved their city’s Gothic appearance, acquired between the 12th and 15th centuries. In this period, the work of many artists including Duccio, the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini influenced the course of European art. Many artists were influenced by Byzantium of the late 15th century. The entire historic city center of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was devised as a work of art that blends into the surrounding landscape. In the southwestern quadrant of the city, the Duomo houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, Bernini and Donatello.  Visit Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s, “Allegory of Good and Bad Government” (1318), in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.

There are many Holiday Events is Siena and other charming provinces of Tuscany:

In the Province of Siena

“Un Natale Speciale” in the town of Chiusi from December 6-25

The Feast of San Lucia on December 13th in the Church of Saint Lucia in Siena

Festa dell’Olio in mid-December

A New Year’s Eve Concert in Piazza del Campo in Siena

“Mostra dei Presepi” is the 16th Annual event in Bottolle (Citta dei Presepi) in Sinalunga Siena from December 12th to January 16th

In Montepulciano attend the Festa e Fiera di Natale

More Events in Tuscany

In Equi Terme witness the “Presepi Viventi”–living Nativity Scenes

Fiera de San Michelle on December 8th in Lucca

The Barga Chocolate Festival on December 4th and 5th in Lucca

In Lucca between December 25 and January 1st there are weekly Puccini concerts at the Basilica of St. John

In Arezzo attend the Honey Festival on December 12-13 in Piazza Risorgimento

Slow Christmas Exhibition in Cutigliano Pistoia from December 4th-12th

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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Filed under Christmas in Italy, ebooks, IPad, Italian art, Italian Food, Italian Wine, Italy, Italy Travel Guides, Renaissance Artists, Siena, Travel and Tourism, UNESCO, UNESCO WOrld Heritage Sites in SIcily, vino con vista, Wine, Wine Festivals in Italy

Silent Night Holy Night: A Vatican Christmas

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome seen from the roo...
Image via Wikipedia

Rome became the fulcrum of Western spiritual life in the 4th century. The grandeur of church rituals is reminiscent of the glory days of Julius Caesar. Roman senators became bishops, scholars became monks and philosophers became theologians. The pope or high priest adopted the title held by the emperor, “Pontifex Maximus”. Look for this word in the Latin inscriptions throughout Rome.

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican...

An image from the necropolis under the Vatican in which Jesus = Mithras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The re-birth of Rome can be traced to April 18, 1506 when Pope Julius II (Giuliano Della Rovere) laid the cornerstone for the new Basilica of Saint Peter to be built over the old Basilica of St. Peter. Bramante was commissioned by Pope Julius II to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica, originally built by Constantine between 324-329.

In the Clementine Chapel in the Vatican Grottos under the Basilica, you can see the precious chest protecting the sepulcher of St. Peter. Behind the altar, protected by a gilded bronze grid, lie the remains of the “Memoria Petri”. This monument was built by C0nstantine to protect the mortal remains of Peter. This is the epi-center of the Apostolic Roots of the Catholic Church.  The grottos contain the tombs of many popes.

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy - Saint Pete...

St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy – Saint Peter statue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the holy site where the Apostle Peter, the “Prince of the Apostles” was crucified upside down, martyred and buried.  A “Scavi Tour” of the Vatican Necropolis is available with advanced reservations (at least 90 days before your departure). All requests must be made in writing to the excavations office: scavi@fsp.va.  The crypt is located under the Papal Altar. For over 1900 years, pilgrims from all over the world have come to this location to venerate the remains of Saint Peter. The Scavi Tour ends at the Clementine Chapel in the grottos near the tomb of Pope John Paul II.

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter ...

English: Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (1481-82) Fresco, 335 x 550 cm Cappella Sistina, Vatican. Ελληνικά: Λεπτομέρεια από την νωπογραφία του Πιέτρο Περουτζίνο, Ο Χριστός Παραδίδει τα Κλειδιά στον Πέτρο, 335 x 600 cm, Καπέλα Σιξτίνα, Πόλη του Βατικανού. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums are located a short distance from the Basilica. Magnificent works of art are housed in the Vatican City that became sovereign in 1929. It is the world’s smallest country. It occupies 109 acres and it is ruled by the pope.

My favorite time to visit the Vatican is during Christmas. The square in front of the Basilica is lavishly decorated for Christmas with a giant tree and a presepe. The square is equpped with large video screens so that during the holiday festivities, everyone gets a bird’s eye view of the holy events. Every year a different part of Italy or a different European country donates a spuce tree to the Vatican. The tree is decorated with 3000 ornaments and 1500 lights. Watch the tree lighting:  http://www.romereports.com/palio/Vatican-lights-up-Christmas-tree-english-3257.html

 

The glorious tree is a symbol of life and hope. It signifies the birth of Christ. Listen to Mahalia Jackson sing “Silent Night” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dsnkuuehmU&feature=fvw. The magnificent tree creates quite a spectacle in St. Peter’s Square. The generous donation of the tree is considered a great honor. This year the majestic 110 foot, 94 year old tree was donated by Luson in Trentino-Alto Adige. In addition, the Vatican erects a huge “Il Presepio” nativity scene in the square. It is generally unveiled on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, the Pope celebrates midnight mass at the Basilica. At noon on Christmas day, the Pope delivers his Christmas message and gives his blessing from the window of his apartment overlooking the square to the crowds gathered at the Vatican.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous Catholic Church in the World with a staircase of over 500 steps that leads to the summit of the dome. The Treasury of Saint Peter’s houses a collection of precious relics.

On New Year’s Day there is a parade in the Vatican City. For the Epiphany, hundreds of people in medieval costumes walk along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican called the “Street of Reconciliation” bearing symbolic gifts for the pope. The Pope says morning mass to commemorate the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the Christ child.

As the hub of the papacy, Rome had tremendous power and wealth. Artists and architects flocked to Rome to work for the popes. In a lunette over the central opening into the portico of the Basilica is Giotto’s mosaic “Navicella della Chiesa” from 1298. This restored mosaic shows Jesus walking on the waters of the Sea of Tiberias with his right hand extended toward Peter. He is inviting Peter to come with him. Peter is overcome by fear and is beginning to sink. Jesus saves him and says” “How little faith you have! Why did you falter?” This symbolic representation is inspired by the words of Christ, comparing the church to a ship that is constantly battered by storms. Saint Peter’s ship will never sink because it can always rely on the help of its founder.

In the middle of the 17th century, the papacy commissioned Gian Lorenzo Berninito work his distinctive artistic magic on Rome. The world’s greatest Baroque scultptor lavished his creative genius on the ancient city. In 1665, Bernini completed the splendid “Throne of Saint Peter in Glory” at the far end of the nave beneath the glistennig “Dove” stained-glass window in the space behind the altar. The throne depicts the power of the pontiff and is surrounded by the statues of the founding fathers of the church.

English: Bernini's "Gloria" surmount...

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Bernini’s flamboyant baroque genius is apparent in other Vatican monuments. Admire his opulent bronze Baldacchino and tabernacle at the papal altar. The bronze for Bernini’s canopy was taken from the Pantheon. His incredible monument to Pope Alexander VIIis one of my favorite sculptures and memorializes the life of the pope with elaborate marble allegorical figures.  Bernini also designed the Piazza outside the church. The colonnade surrounding the square was designed by Bernini between 1656 and 1666. The configuration represents two outstretched arms welcoming faithful pilgrims to the Basilica. There are 140 statues of saints watching over the Basilica above the colonade.

The dome of the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatica...

The dome of the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter’s Basilica (Photo credit: Jungle_Boy)

Michelangelo Buonarotti designed the dome in 1546. It is almost as wide as Hadrian’s dome on the Pantheon. Michelangelo’s magnificent “Pieta” is housed in St. Peter’s Basilica. It was sculpted halfway through the last millennium when he was 25 years old. It has been protected by glass since it suffered glass a devastating attack of vandalism in 1972. A madman struck the face with a hammer and also knocked off the Madonna’s left arm.

English: Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's B...

English: Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Français : La Pietà de Michel-Ange située dans la Basilique Saint-Pierre, au Vatican. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1473, Sixtus IV commissioned Giovannni De Dolci to build a chapel for Papal ceremonies.  This Sistine Chapel is located in the Vatican Museum a few blocks away from St. Peter’s.  It houses Michelangelo’s brilliant masterpieces. His monumental frescoes are a magnificent sight to behold and are considered the greatest masterpiece in the history of art. The barrel vaulted ceiling has a scene that represents Adam and Eve’s Original Sin and Expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  The “Last Judgment” is located on the wall behind the main altar and was completed in 1541. Christ, the supreme judge, welcomes the blessed and banishes the damned. St. Peter holds the key that Christ gave him when he appointed him the head of the Church.

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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Vino con Vista Pisa: A UNESCO Site in Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most fam...
Image via Wikipedia

Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port. Trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406, the city was conquered by Florence.

The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, and its spiral staircase of 294 steps is one of the most famous Italian monuments in the world. The Piazza dei Miracoli or Piazza of Miracles, hosts four gleaming Medieval masterpieces: the Leaning Tower is also the Bell Tower, the Camposanto (the graveyard), the Baptristy and the Cathedral. The Baptistry and Cathedral ; Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta are Pisan Romanesque.” It was constructed with the intention of preserving “holy land” from Palestine.

The UNESCO  World Heritage site stands in a large green expanse, known as the “Field of Miracles” and was inscribed in 1987. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world.

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some UNESCO photos of Pisa, Italy: http://www.ourplaceworldheritage.com/custom.cfm?&action=site&regionid=9&site_country=ITALY&site_name=Piazza del Duomo, Pisa &siteid=49

Pulpit

Pulpit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include:  the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154), the Campanile (1173) which is the famous gravity defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and sudside.  The cemetery houses Roman sarcophagi and frescoes damaged by WWII bombs that have beeen restored.

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, ...

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, showing the Baptistry. The Leaning Tower cannot be seen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pisa’s Duomo is considered the finest Pisan-Romaneque building in Tuscany with its tiered façade, colonnades, arcades and beautiful bronze doors. Giovani Pisano’s magnificent carved pulpit represents the life of Christ (1301-11).  The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains casts of the fountain stones of each of the buildings beginning in 1064.

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pi...

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pisa, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrea del Sarto’s “St Agnes and Lamb”; Tino da Camaino’s “tomb of Emperor Henry VII, as well as Cimabue’s 1302 mosaic “Christ in Majesty” are housed in the Duomo.  In the Duomo Museum, Giovanni’s “Madonna and the Crucifix” was carved in ivory in 1299; the natural shape of the tusk contributes to her stance.

 

 

 

 

The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa.

The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The white marble Romanesque Baptistry was designed by Diotisalvi in 1152 and completed in 14th century. It was structurally renovated between 1990 and 1999. It contains a beautiful pulpit by Nicola Pisano and a central font by Guido Bigarelli of Como. The cylindrical structure has amazing acoustics.  The roof of the Baptistry is double-domed..

Pisan artists had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century, which is reflected in the work of Bonanno and Giovanni Pisano. The National Museum of St. Matthew on the banks of the Arno River, has a wonderful collection of Tuscan painting and sculptures including: Francesco Traini’s “Scenes from the Life of St. Domenic”, Fra Angelo’s “Christ” and Donatello’s bust of San Rossore.

There are many Events in Pisa:

Attend the annual  “Unica Terra di Vino” in December.This wine Festival will be held at the Stazione Leopolda and features 60 producers from the Pisa Province.

The International Pisa Marathon is on December 19th and starts at the Piazza dei Miracoli.

Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto are draped with holiday lights. There are Holiday Markets on Via Paparelli, under the Logge di Bianchi and at Largo Ciro Menotti.

Attend the Pisa Gospel Festival in December.

Christmas concerts are held in many churches: the Church of San Nicola on December 5ht, Santo Stefano on December 10th and the church of San Francesco on December 19th featuring the music of Bach and Vivaldi.

Opera Primaziale will perform on December 18th in the Cathedral of Pisa in Piazza dei Miracoli.

The Church of San Martino will host a presepi exhibit until January 9th.

On December 29th attend the Volterra Mercato & Gusto.

Attend the annual Cigoli Artistic Nativity Scene and Market of Solidarity at the Santuario Maria Madre dei Bambini in Cigoli Miniato. This is one of the largest nativity scenes in Tuscany.

English: Leaning Tower - Pisa.

English: Leaning Tower – Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities at the cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa, have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (www.terriccio.it).  Order a Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.

There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (www.bagnipisa.com).  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  For a real treat, stay at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiol (www.relaisdellorologio.com).

There are two Buon Ricordo restaurants to in Pisa:

Ristorante Enoteca Dante e Ivana in Tirrenia @ Viale Tirreno.  Enjoy the “Tomato Soup with Tyrrhenian batarga” to get the charming collector plate.  It works well with a glass of Bianco Pisano di San Torpe. The seaside veranda is a lovely place to dine and enjoy the view.

Ristorante-Enoteca Del Duca inVolterra @ Via di Castello, 2.  The signature dish is “Ribollita with wood pigeon and volterra truffles.” This soup should be accompanied by a glass of red wine.  The restaurant is located in the prestigious Palazzo Inghirami.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @  www.vino-con-vista.com

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A Video Vino Con Vista Tour of Rome

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Rome

Rome (Photo credit: tejvanphotos)

English: The seven hills of Rome Српски / Srps...

English: The seven hills of Rome Српски / Srpski: Седам брежуљака Рима (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Via Appia, a road connecting the city of Rome ...

Via Appia, a road connecting the city of Rome to the Southern parts of Italy remains usable even today. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ancient Rome

Ancient Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Currently ancient Rome covers the modern munic...

Currently ancient Rome covers the modern municipi 1, 2 and 3. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tour the magnificence of Ancient Rome

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIeZfHLByvQ&feature=related

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

or Modern Rome

http://www.5min.com/Video/Travel-to-Rome-Italy-113368082

To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides to Italy and

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites
 

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The Ten Most Seductive Vino con Vista Places to Drink Wine in Italy

Almalfi Coast (10/10/2007)

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English: Part of Positano, Italy.

English: Part of Positano, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy Series - Italian Coastal Town

Italy Series – Italian Coastal Town (Photo credit: John O Dyer)

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

English: Map of Italy and its districts.

English: Map of Italy and its districts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: warlikeangel)

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon

Ravello-Villa Cimbrone Pavillon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italy is one of the world’s most alluring travel destinations. It is brimming with centuries of masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. Verdi and Puccini created indredible operas.  Venice, Florence and Rome are cloaked with amazing architecture.

It is the historic and cultural epicenter of the Etruscans, the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church and the Renaissance.  Captivating panoramic vistas of the peninsula’s majestic mountains, volcanoes and glistening seas enhance Italy’s timeless charm.  The fascinating array of sights and travel experiences includes glorious cityscapes overflowing with art and architectural masterpieces.  Historic cities are surrounded by dreamy landscapes of rolling hills that are carpeted with vineyards, olive and citrus groves.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC)

[Forum Boario, Rome, Italy] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

There are many differesnt types of wine produced in the world; about 80% is still wine, but you can also drink fortified wine and sparkling wine in Italy.

Wine

The grapes thrive on terraced vineyards with intense sunshine; pronounced  fluctuations between day and night temperatures are essential for some grapes. Italy’s landscape is covered with vineyards. Some regions of Italy have more limited wine production than other regions. These smaller production areas do not export much wine because all of the output is consumed locally. These regional wines can only be enjoyed in Italy. Wine, bread and olive oil make up the Holy Trinity of the Italian Mediterranean diet. I like to drink wine and gaze at a panoramic vista of something beautiful. I have selected these locations because they provide what I consider a “Vino con Vista”–Wine with a View.

The micro climates of regions from Piedmont to Sicily provide the nation’s wine producers with resources and endless opportunities to produce highly regarded local wines.  Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes become estate wines that ultimately stock wine cellars throughout Italy and the world. There are over 300 varieties of vines that are cultivated in many locations: by the sea, on the foothills and in the southernmost islands. The Italian wine industry provides a wide assortment of wines with various aromas, flavors and textures.  The diversity of these wines tends to harmonize with various types of food because of their overall natural acidity.  The extensive latitudinal range of the terroir allows the grapevines to be caressed by the convergence of many natural forces including: climate, sunshine, soil, humidity, sea breeze and rainfall.  These forces produce a kaleidoscope of wines in many distinctive wine regions throughout the peninsula. Pour, observe, swirl, smell and enjoy.

Ravello

Ravello (Photo credit: Davide78)

Looking back to Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy.

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The Amalfi Coast is dotted with the picturesque hill towns that line the cliffs of the Sorrentine peninsula from Positano to Vietri sul Mare. The area includes the towns of Positano and Ravello with sun kissed vineyards, lemon and olive groves. This is arguably one of the most enchanting coastlines in Italy. Amalfi was the first Maritime Republic before Venice, Genoa and Pisa. The strategic location enabled Amalfi’s military to keep invaders away. As a trading powerhouse, it dominated trade in spices, papermaking and silk.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

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1. Villa Cimbrone in Ravello is perched high upon the mountain overlooking the villages of Atrani and Minori. It was once part of the Republic of Amalfi. Amalfi is the coast’s largest town, but Ravello is the undisputed aristocrat of the Amalfi Coast. Ravello is an enchanting stretch of paradise, perched 1500 feet above the Gulf of Salerno on a high cliff above the town of Amalfi.  It commands awe-inspiring views of the coastline, citrus groves and vineyards. Visit the cathedral, the beautiful gardens of Villa Ruffalo and Villa Cimbrone.

English: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy.

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The impressive Duomo ( Chiesa de San Giovanni del Toro) was founded in 1086 and has the relics of St. Barbara (www.chiesaravello.com). The 12th century Santa Maria a Gradillo church is also noteworthy.  When you get to Villa Cimbrone, walk out to the belvedere to gaze at the panoramic vista.  Then walk over to the hotel and order a glass of Costa d’Amalfi Ravello Rosso Riserva wine from the pool bar.

Deutsch: Die Terrazza dell'Infinito der Villa ...

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2. Positano was once part of the powerful Republic of Amalfi. It is an exclusive and romantic destination for jet-setters where former palazzi have been converted into luxurious hotel properties. On the Amalfi Coast, Furore and Tramonte grapes grow on terraced cliffs next to lemon and orange trees.  This gives the wine a distinctively delightful flavor. This Moorish hillside village on the southern tip of the Amalfi Drive opens to the Tyrrhenian Sea and provides gorgeous panoramic vistas of the sea and vineyards.

Positano

Positano (Photo credit: bawoodvine)

The town is spread out over the slopes of Mount Commune. Climb the steep, winding “1000 Stairs” pedestrian promenade to the Scalinatella, the highest part of Positano or stay at the beach, rent a chair (stabilimenti) and order your wine from handsome Stefano, as you submerge your feet in the irresistible azure water. Near the beach, dine at La Pergola or Tre Sorelli and order some impepata di cozze (mussels). Navigate the stairs up to the top of the town for more secluded restaurants. Dine at Bruno or El Capitano for panoramic views. After your relaxing day at the gravel beach, visit the lobsters in the tank at LoScoglio on Piazza della Sirene west of Positano.  Request a table overlooking the Bay of Sorrento. Stay at San Pietro on Via Laurito 2 or Le Sirenuse on Via Columbo, 30 for breathtaking views from the 4500 square foot terrace overlooking the Bay. Dine at Al Palazzo in the Hotel Palazzo Murat on Via Dei Mulini and order Paccheri all Napoletana. Most of the hotels cling to the cliffs and have beautiful views of the water. A boat tour will help you truly appreciate the scenery.

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi

Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi (Photo credit: jimmyharris)

Vesuvius overlooking Sorrento and the Bay of N...

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3Sorrento is situated on a terraced plain above the sea with spectacular views of Vesuvius, Ischia and the Bay of Naples. This enchanting location makes it the perfect destination for exploring this region. The rugged landscape, lush vegetation and mild climate of the Sorrento peninsula are enchanting. Sorrento’s terraced vineyards produce Peninsola Sorrentino DOC wines like Lettere and Gragnano. Sorrento is the ideal satellite location for side trips to Naples, Capri, Positano, Ischia or Amalfi via watercraft from the Marina Grande or the Marina Picolo. Choosing a base for your travels depends on your priorities, timetable and budget.

Reserve a table on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria at sunset; situated on a cliff overlooking the bay and Mount Vesuvius. This is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine from the Penisola Sorrentina vineyards made from white Falanghina or red Piedirosso grapes. The local Tiberio winery produces a nice red Antico Convento. Da Gemma on Via Madre Serafina has a lovely panoramic vista. Plan your next day trip as you watch the boats disembark from the marina to Capri, Ischia, and the Amalfi Coast—La Dolce Vita!  Some additional places for sipping some vino with dinner include the famous upscale Don Alphonso next to Santa Maria delle Grazie in Sant’Agata. L’Antica Trattoria on Via Padre R Guiliani  and Il Buco on Il Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 offer pleasant dining. The lush garden setting of O’Parrucchiano on the main street of Corso Italia a few blocks from the Piazza Tasso is interesting. La Tonnarella’s rooftop restaurant on Via del Capo offers a breathtaking view and a fabulous antipasto table. Stay at the Grand Hotel Capodimonte at Via Capo, 14 for another splendid view of the Gulf and Vesuvius. Another interesting hotel option with a sweeping view is the Capri Palace on Via Capidimonte, 2 where you can dine at its L’Olivo restaurant.

Tuscany is Italy’s quintessential wine region and the birthplace of three important red wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. These wines are made from Sangiovese grapes but have distinctively different flavors in Tuscany’s diverse microclimates. Chianti is produced in seven subzones in Tuscany. The Chianti Classico zone has DOCG status. The other six Chianti subzones are: Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane and Chianti Montalbano. The “Chiantigiana” is the road that twists and turns through the Chianti zones between Florence and Siena.

Montalcino, Toscana, Italia

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4. Montalcino’s Brunello is Tuscany’s rarest and most expensive wine. It is produced in the walled medieval village of Montalcino, south of the Chianti Classico zone. The climate is warmer and the hills are steeper. The wine is aged longer and it must be aged in oak barrels. You may consider staying in Mantalcino at Il Borgo (www.castellobanfi.com).  They offer weekend culinary classes taught by Chef Heinz Beck from Rome’s famous La Pergola Restaurant.  Near the charming wine town of Montalcino, visit the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, a beautiful Romanesque church. Enjoy the Brunello di Montalcino made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes. Montepulciano is another charming wine town, home of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wines. Visit the tomb and church of St. Agnes, the town’s patron saint.

Sienna Cathedral

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5. Siena’s yellowish-brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city.  Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the plague called the Black Death of 1348.  Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone about 21 miles south of Florence. Order a bottle of wine at a cafe in the shell-shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a medieval semi-annual 350-year-old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade” (www.paliosiena.com).  The victor of the Palio celebrates with a massive town dinner (cena). Sometimes the horse wins without a jockey. The piazza’s surface is divided into nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing Siena’a original Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.  The council met at the Palazzo Pubblico on the eastern part of the square. In Siena visit Italy’s most famous Enoteca on Piazza Matteotti housed within the Medici fortress, order from among 1000 wines from more than 50 producers.  Then take the Chianti Road (La Chiantigiana) through the magnificent Tuscan countryside revered and replicated in Renaissance paintings.  Sip some Sant’ Antimo Terre du Siena in the Campo with some pappardelle con leper, pappa al pomodoro or Costata alla Fiorentina. The Tuscan hillsides provide the ideal micro-climates for Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes. Visit the Italian Library of Wine in Siena owned by the Italian government to showcase their finest wines. The outdoor terrace is a great “vino con vista” venue.

English: Towers of San Gimignano

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6. San Gimignano  is 32 miles southwest of Florence. It is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany. The majestic skyline of noble towers was built for defensive purposes and as a symbol of status and wealth. Pass through the Arco dei Becci (the arch) and enter the Piazza della Cisterna.  You will feel like you have returned to the Middle Ages.  This charming town produces a prestigious white wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano in the beautiful vineyards that surround the old city.  It is an excellent aperitif.  This was Italy’s first white DOCG wine. Harvest time is generally between September and October 15th.

San gimignano

Image via Wikipedia

Visit a café in the Piazza del Duomo or Piazza della Cisterna and order a local specialty made with saffron to accompany your wine.  The saffron is made from crocus flowers and is produced in this area.  Have a gelato at Gelateria di Piazza. Stay or dine at La Collegiata on Localita Strada, 27 (www.relaischateaux.com) for an extensive wine list and great views.

 

Pisa, Italy

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7. Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port, trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries.  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406 the city was conquered by Florence. A defensive wall surrounds the Field of Miracles.  Pisa was historically an important port since the time of the Romans.  It was a great sea Republic throughout the Middle Ages. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world. These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154) and the Campanile (1173), which is the famous gravity-defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The eight-story bell tower (180 feet tall) was begun under the supervision of Bonanno.  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and subside. Galileo conducted some of his experiments on gravity from the top of the tower. There are many cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro and sit on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (www.terriccio.it).  Visit Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.  There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (www.bagnipisa.com).  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  In Pisa make a reservation at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiola 12 (www.relaisdellorologio.com) for outstanding accommodations.

 

Français : La coupole de Brunelleschi vue du c...

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8.  Florence is the world’s celebrated jewel of Renaissance art and architecture is famous for voluptuous domes and intimate restaurants. She rose to economic and cultural pre-eminence under the mighty Medici dynasty in the 15th and 16th centuries. The churches, galleries and palaces are brimming with masterpieces. The city was built on the site of an Etruscan settlement and has 600 years of extraordinary artistic activity. It is an incredibly compact city for walking.  Walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for a glimmering moonlit cityscape.  Marvel at her panoramic glory as the cloak of darkness descends over her dimly lit splendor. Natural and man-made disasters have threatened the city’s wealth of art history.  In 1966, the Arno River’s devastating flood destroyed or severely damaged Florentine treasures.  In 1993, a mafia bomb exploded near the Uffizi and severely damaged the gallery. The Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge to escape Nazi bombs during World War II. Her glorious past is evident in the monumental grandeur of her structures. The 13th century cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Church of Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Santa Maria Novella, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Bargello and the Pitti Palace are incredible repositories of Renaissance art. Florence has the largest concentration of Renaissance art and sculpture in the world. Landmark cloisters, chapels and refectories are all galleries of Renaissance art.

Reserve a table (“vorrei reservare una tavola”) at a café in the bustling Piazza della Signoria.  Gaze at the fashionable residents wearing Florence’s designer icons like Pucci, Gucci, Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli. As you sip your Chianti Classico, Brunello de Montalcino Riserva or Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and admire 600 years of artistic activity.  This strategic location will give you a magnificent view of the Loggia dei Lanzi by Orcagna. The Loggia dei Lanzi was designed by the architect Orcagna.  It is named after Cosimo I’s bodyguards; the Lancers were German mercenaries that were on his payroll. It was built between 1376 and 1383 by Benci di Cione and Simone Talenti. Three classical arches rest on columns of different styles. Above the arches statues of the Virtues occupy the alcoves. Two lions flank the entrance to the center archway.  A copy of Cellini’s bronze statue of the “Perseus beheading Medusa” in 1554 is prominently displayed in the left arch. Cosimo I wanted to warn his enemies of their probable fate. Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women” (1583) was carved  from a single block of marble.

Consider an afternoon Enoteca (wine bar) crawl.  The local bars offer “Aperito” (Happy Hour); visit Negroni, Zoe and Il Rifrullo.  Interesting wine bars in Florence include Antico Noe on San Pietro, Cantinetta da Verrazzano on Via dei Tavolini, Fuori Porta on Via dei Monte all Croci and Le Vope e l’Uva on Piazza de Rossi. If you prefer, head over to the Frescobaldi Winebar (www.frescobaldiwinebar.it) and try some Toscana Giorgio Primo or Rosso di Montalcino.

English: Italy Duomo di Orvieto Cathedral

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9.  Orvieto in Umbria is perched halfway between heaven and earth on a plateau over 900 feetabove sea level. Take a funicular to the top of the cliff to visit the medieval historic center of this charming town. The town’s crowning jewel is the splendid Romanesque-Gothic Duomo designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. The Cathedral has famous frescoes by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli. The Cathedral was started in 1290 when Pope Nicholas IV blessed the first stone. The inside and the outside of the Duomo are covered with basalt and travertine stripes. The façade has glistening mosaics including “The Coronation of the Virgin” in the central gable. There are plenty of cafes, wine bars and restaurants. Visit the Enoteca in Piazza del Popolo to sip Orvieto’s famous wine.

English: The Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti in Ven...

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10. Venice  is one of the most magical and romantic destinations in Italy. The majestic “Mistress of the Sea” was founded in the 5th century. This seafaring republic, between the river, lagoon and hypnotic Adriatic Sea is spread over 118 small islands with 150 canals and 400 bridges. Venice embodies the victorious struggle of man against nature. Lavishly adorned palazzi like Ca d’Oro and Ca’ Rezzonicone line the Grand Canal. These palaces are embellished with Baroque magnificence and Rococo elegance. Gondolas and Vaporetti (water buses) transport residents and exuberant tourists through paradise via waterways.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, mainland refugees settled the sparse islands to escape waves of invasions. These residents harvested seafood from the canals of the Adriatic Sea for sustenance. Eventually, they became sailors and then wealthy sea merchants. This gateway to the Asia became a major maritime power in the 10th century. Exotic spices like saffron, cinnamon and curry fueled the Venetian Empire. Salt was a crucially important profit center for the Venetians. The term salary is derived from the Venetian practice of being paid in salt. The extraordinary profits earned through trade, filled the coffers of the patrons of the flourishing artists. Marco Polo (1254-1324) was a prominent Venetian explorer who traveled to Asia. This enchanting city is an architectural masterpiece with domes, spires and campaniles. St. Mark’s basilica and the Doge’s Palace constitute the fulcrum of Venetian religious and civic life. The work of Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese adorn her magnificent buildings. Saint Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) is the location of some of the major attractions including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansovino Library. Saint Mark is represented by the winged lion surmounting one of the tall 12th century granite columns. The gorgeous church of Santa Maria della Salute has a prime location on the mouth of the Grand Canal. Purchase a museum card or Museum Pass to avoid long lines in Venice.

View from the Rialto Bridge in Venice

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Meander through the labyrinthine ancient passages of Venice and delight your palate with a “Chicchetti” bar crawl with Venetian bar snacks. Sit at a charming café in the middle of St. Mark’s Square like the Caffe Florian that was built in 1720. Listen to the tuxedo-clad orchestra as you sip some Pinot Grigio delle Venezie. Café Quadri was built in 1628 is also located in the square. Caffe Chioggia has a view of the lagoon. Venetians love to dine at the Osteria al Bacareto located at 3447 San Marco. Have some risotto di mare or sarde with pine nuts (sardines). Another scenic option is the Gran Caffe Lavena where you can enjoy your glass of Rosso Roggio or Laudato Malbech del Venato in the shadow of the Torre dell’Orologia. Effervescent Prosecco is great with a splash of pomegranate juice and a sugar cube. In September, get tickets for the annual International Film Festival. Enroll in cooking school at the 16th Century Hotel Cipriani with Michelin Chefs www.sheraton.com/villacipriani.

To learn more about interesting and seductive places to drink wine read Vino Con Vista Travel Guides available @ www.vino-con-vista.com

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Saint Paul Outside the Walls: a UNESCO Basilica in Rome

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura 12

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura 12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wa...

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tomb of St. Paul Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – la tomba di san Paolo Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła Apostoła (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: Roma, basilica di san Paolo fuori le...

Italiano: Roma, basilica di san Paolo fuori le mura: candelabro pasquale (Pietro Vassalletto e Nicola d’Angelo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Paolo Fuori le Mura was erected in the 4th century.  It  is one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome built at the request of Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of  Paul the Apostle.The big mosaic of the facade of Saint Paul out...

Front of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside th...

Front of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls – Roma – Italy. Italiano: Facciata della Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apse mosaic of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outs...

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is sometimes called the “Basilica Ostiense” because it is located on the Ostian Way. Paul the Apostle was brought to Rome as a prisioner. He was martyred between the years 64 and 67, during the persecution of Emperor Nero. His body was claimed by a Roman woman who buried it in her family tomb near a vineyard on the road to Ostia. Emperor Constantine placed the Apostle’s body in a bronze sarcophagus with a marble slab over  it. At the request of Emperor Constantine in 324,  a basilica was built over St. Paul’s tomb.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – interior Polski: Wnętrze bazyliki św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – interno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I in about 370. Since many pilgrims came to visit the site, Emperor Valentine II made plans for a larger building. Emperor Theodosius began the new building and Emperor Honorius completed it.

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wa...

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuor...

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuori le mura Italiano: Statua di San Paolo di fronte alla facciata della Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope Leo III, further embellished the building and it became the largest and most beautiful church in Rome under his papacy.  Of all the churches of Rome, this one preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. In 1823 it was almost completely destroyed by a fire.

St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

In 1823,  it was rebuilt and enlarged by the architect Poletti and modified by Guglielmo Calderini. It was completed in 1854.

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura - resti

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura – resti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portrait of Pope Honorius I in the Basilica of...

Portrait of Pope Honorius I in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome Italiano: Ritratto di Papa Onorio I nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori la Mura, Roma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Necropolis of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome

The interior of the current basilica has 80 monolithic columns of Montorfano granite divided into five naves. On the upper part of the walls, frescoes illustrate scenes from the life of St Paul.  Against the internal wall of the facade there are six large alabaster columns presented by the Viceroy of Egypt to Gregory XVI.

St. Paul Outside the Walls Frescoes in Rome

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is located at the site where Paul was executed and buried.

Tomb of Saint Paul in Rome

It is located outside the Aurelian Walls. The the basilica was damaged during the Saracen invasions in the 9th century. Pope John VIII (872–882) fortified the basilica and the monastery forming the town of Joannispolis (Giovannipoli) which existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed the town.

Fortified Walls in Rome

Map of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

The Basilica was founded where his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. In the chapel of the relics, lie the chains that bound Paul the Apostle when he was improsioned in Rome In the 5th century, this church was larger than the Old St. Peter’s Basilica.

The front of the basilica has ten monolithic columns of red Baveno granite. A huge statue of St. Paul dominates the entrance to the new building. The inscription on the base of the statue says “To the preacher of truth, the teacher of nations”.

Facade of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

The facade mosaic is the work of Filippo Agricola and Nicola Consoni. In the typanum, Christ is seated in the center giving his blessing. On his right side is Saint Peter and on his left side is St. Paul. Below the Lamb of God, the four rivers of Paradise flow. Twelve sheep represent the Apostles who approach the Lamb from the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Here’s a Virtual Tour of the entrance and central courtyard: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Courtyard/index.html

Facade Mosaic

It was rebuilt by the architect Poletti and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. Many countries made contributions to the reconstruction efforts: the Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia sent precious malachite and lapis lazuli for the tabernacle.

Saint Paul

In the right corner there is a statue of St. Luke the Evangelist. Saint Paul is in the front of the basilica.

Saint Luke

Under the portico, the wall niches have statues of St. Peter and St. Paul by Gregorio Zappala.

Popes Leo XII, Pius VIII and Gregory XVI, personally oversaw the reconstruction of the church. In 1854 Pope Pius IX was able to celebrate the completion of the reconstruction.

Under Pope Gregory the Great (590–604), the basilica was extensively modified. He had the pavement was raised to place the altar directly over Paul’s tomb. The tomb is covered by a Gothic baldachino by Adolfo di Cambio completed in 1285.

Tomb of St. Paul

Here’s a virtual tour of St. Paul’s Tomb http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Tomb/index.html. To make a portion of the tomb visible to religious pilgrims, the floor was lowered forming a confessio where people can pray. Directly below the altar, a grill-covered window reveals the stone sarcophagus. Carbon dating of the contents of the tomb indicated that the remains in the sarcophagus are from someone who lived in the first or second century indicating that they are the remains of the apostle.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over Saint Paul’s tomb, Arnolfo di Cambio‘s Gothic  tabernacle is resting on four porphyry columns.  The four cornices above the niches of the baldachin have statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Timothy and Saint Bartholomew.  Excavations located a first century tomb with a marble slab covering it with the Latin inscription “Paulo Apostolo Mart”. You can see a plaster copy of the slab in the Church Museum located off of the cloister.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Paul’s Tabernacle

Arnolfo di cambio

Arnolfo di cambio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Peter statue by Arnolfo di Cambio inside t...

St. Peter statue by Arnolfo di Cambio inside the Vatican Basilica, dressed with a vestment on St. Peter and Paul feast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arnolfo di Cambio also created the bronze Saint Peter statue in St. Peter’s Basillica and the ptesepe in the lower level of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Italiano: Presepe di Arnolfo di Cambio. Basili...

Italiano: Presepe di Arnolfo di Cambio. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Roma, Italia . English: Manger by Arnolfo di Cambio, Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore, Italy . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Paolo Fuori le Mura’s interior has 80 monolithic columns of Montorfano granite from the isolated mountain on Lake Maggiore. It is divided into five naves. Above the arches over the granite columns, all the way around the interior of the Basilica, there are circular mosaic portraits of all the Popes, from the first to the present.  Only the current pope’s portrait is illuminated.  According to legend, when this Basilica runs out of space for these portraits of the popes, the world will end.

Statue of St. Paul Apostle in the Basilica San...

Statue of St. Paul Apostle in the Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura (Rome) Polski: Figura św. Pawła Apostoła w bazylice Świętego Pawła za Murami w Rzymie Italiano: Statua di San Paolo Apostolo nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the upper part of the walls, between the large windows,  there are 36 frescoes with the scenes from the life of St Paul. Against the internal wall of the facade there are six large alabaster columns presented by the Viceroy of Egypt to Gregory XVI.

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura - 9

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura – 9 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of the central nave of the  basilica http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Nave/index.html

In the Apse, there is a mosaic from 1220 showing a majestic Christ wearing imperial colors with St. Paul and St. Luke on his right and St. Peter and St. Andrew on his left. Chirst is holding a book that says “Come blessed of my Father and receive the kingdom prepared for you.”

Apse Mosaic

The palm trees represent paradise. The papal chair has a relief of Christ instucting Peter to feed the sheep.

Jesus

Saint Peter and Saint Andrew

St. Paul and St. Luke in Rome

Here’s a virtual tour of the Apse http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Apse/index.html

Portrait of Honorius III - Detail of the apse ...

Portrait of Honorius III – Detail of the apse mosaic of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (1220) – Roma – Italy Pope Honorius III ordered the mosaic and, following the Roman Catholic tradition, is represented near Christ’s feet. Pope Honorius III (1148 – 1227), born Cencio Savelli, was Pope from 1216 to 1227. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Honorius_III (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 You can see Hononius III at the foot of Jesus is the apse mosaic.
The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. The spiral columns of the cloister were built by the Vassalletto family in 1214 and survived the fire.
Cloister of the monastery of San Paolo fuori l...

Cloister of the monastery of San Paolo fuori le mura (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of the lovely rose garden in the Cloister: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Cloister/index.html
The death of St. Paul - relief on the doors of...

The death of St. Paul – relief on the doors of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) Italiano: La morte do san Paolo – rilievo sulla porta della Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura a Roma Polski: Śmierć św. Pawła – płaskorzeźba znajdująca się na drzwiach Bazyliki św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From 1215 until 1964 this was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria. The Holy Door was last opened in 2000 and there is a large plaque above the door commemorating the event.

The Holy Door

The Holy Door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The door pictured below on the right, is the work of Antonia Maraini and was cast in Florence in 1931. The cross on the bronze door is highlighted in silver and the horizontal bar bears the names of the evangelists. The verticle potion of the cross, has portraits of the Apolstles. The panels on the door depict scenes from the life of Saint Peter on the left and Saint Paul on the right. The figure of Christ shows him giving the keys to Saint Peter.

Holy Door

Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Silver

Visit the Pinocoteca with “Flagellation” by Bramante and other interesting works of art and tour the interesting Museum http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Museum/index.html.

See some of the fragments of the original basilica. Then stop at the where you can enjoy a Vino con Vista.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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The Amazing Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is a UNESCO Site in Rome Italy

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran - apse I...

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran – apse Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – l’abside Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – apsyda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) is Rome’s cathedral. It serves as the the official ecclesiastical seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome. Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi here and then lead a Corpus Christi procession along Rome’s Via Merulana, which links the basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore).

English: Doctors of the Church. Attic of the B...

English: Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the roofline, note the statues of  the Doctors of the Church: Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Pope Gregory I who were the original Doctors of the Church in 1298. Doctors of the church are individuals who are recognized as having special importance, usually regarding their contributions to theology or church doctrine.

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica o...

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the...

Basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, Italy. Español: Basílica de San Juan de Letrán, catedral del Obispo de Roma, Italia. Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie (znana jako Bazylika Laterańska), katedra biskupa Rzymu, Włochy. Português: Basílica de São João de Latrão, catedral do Bispo de Roma, Itália. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica o...

Doctors of the Church. Attic of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Docteurs de l’Église. Attique de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). Italiano: Dottori della Chiesa. Attico della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Matthew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Ba...

St. Matthew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint Matthieu, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope's chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Late...

Pope’s chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, Roma, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of St. John Lateran http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/index-en.html

Lateran papal altar

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran - detail...

English: Basilica of St. John Lateran – detail Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – un particolare Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – herb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The archbasilica contains the papal throne (Cathedra Romana) that is located in the Aspe behind the papal altar http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Nave1/index.html.  The altar contains the skulls of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Lateran ceiling

There are interesting sites in the complex. I love the ornate ceiling and the beautiful statues.

St. Andrew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Bas...

St. Andrew by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint André, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decorated ceiling of the Basilica of St. J...

The decorated ceiling of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take time to visit the charming cloister

San Giovanni in Laterano (cloister)

San Giovanni in Laterano (cloister) (Photo credit: MarcelGermain)

Here’s a virtual tour ot the cloister http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Cloister/index.html.

Basilica of St. John Lateran - statue of St. J...

Basilica of St. John Lateran – statue of St. John Italiano: Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano – la statua di san Giovanni Polski: Bazylika św. Jana na Lateranie – figura św. Jana Apostoła (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ancient baptistery was also built by Constantine and was converted from a Roman temple. The Lateran Baptistery is one of the oldest in Christendom. The present name is a result of the importance of the baptistry of the church, and of the presence of a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Here’s a Virtual tour of the Baptistery: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Baptistery/index.html

English: St. James the Great by Camillo Ruscon...

English: St. James the Great by Camillo Rusconi. Nave of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome). Français : Saint Jacques le Majeur, par Camillo Rusconi. Nef de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lateran baptistery building

San Giovanni in Laterano was the first cathedral of Rome. This was the first Constantinian Basilica and is the oldest basilica in the world, founded in 311 and consecrated in 324. Emperor Constantine gave Pope Melchiades a parcel of imperial property for a church and a papal residence. It was known as “Lateran” because the property previously belonged to the family of Plautius Lateranus of the former Roman Empire. The Laterani lost their properties to Emperor Constantine who in turn gave it to the Christian Church in 311.  The basilica suffered extensive damage during the earthquake of 896 and was restored by Sergius III who dedicated it to St. John the Baptist. Later, Saint John the Evangelist was added as a patron of this church by another pope.

English: Main façade of the Basilica of St. Jo...

English: Main façade of the Basilica of St. John Lateran (Rome) by Alessandro Galilei, 1735. Italiano: Facciata principale della Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (Roma), progettata da Alessandro Galilei (1735). Français : Façade principale de la basilique Saint-Jean-de-Latran (Rome) par Alessandro Galilei, 1735. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The popes lived in the Lateran Palace adjacent to the church until Clement V (1305-14) transferred the papal seat to Avignon in France. The popes lived at Palazzo Laterano from the time of Constantine until 1304 when the Papacy moved to Avignon. When the popes returned to Rome in 1377, the papacy moved to the Vatican. Excavations beneath the basilica have uncovered pagan buildings and foundations of the 4th century Constantinian basilica.

San Giovanni in Laterano

San Giovanni in Laterano (Photo credit: sgatto)

Lateran Palace on the left of the obelisk

The central bronze doors came from the Curia of the Roman Senate in the Forum. The Holy Door is on the far right. The main travertine facade is on Piazza di Porta Giovanni with five entrances that lead to the portico with five more doorways.

Lateran door

On the top front entrance of the basilica, Jesus Christ is carrying a cross. He is surrounded by St. John the Evangelist, St. John the Baptist and the Doctors of the Church.

Lateran roofline with Jesus and saints

In 1646, the basilica was in danger of collapsing so Pope Innocent X gave the task of restoring it to Francesco Borromini.  Pope Innocent X had the interior completely remodeled by Borromini in preparation for the Jubilee (Holy Year) of 1650. It was during Borromini’s restoration that the church was given its Baroque appearance. The eastern façade was created in 1736 by Alessandro Galilei with statues of saints welcoming visitors.

In front of the north facade ( adjacent to the Lateran Palace) you can find the Lateranense obelisk. It is the tallest obelisk  in Rome that dates back to 1500 B.C.  and weighs over 230 tons. The red granite obelisk in the square in front of the Lateran Palace was originally commissioned by Pharaoh Thuthmose III and completed by his grandson Thutmose IV and stood in the temple of Amun in Karnak. It was placed in the Circus Maximus until Pope Sixtus V had Fontana re-erect it in this square in 1588 in place of the equstrian statue of Marcus Aurelius that was moved to the Capitoline Hill.

Lateran obelisk inscription

Lateran obelisk

Lateran rear entrance

The Renaissance coffered ceiling is attributed to Pirro Ligorio and was started in 1562 during the pontificate of Pius IV.

The apsidal mosaic was restored by friars who were commissioned by Nicholas IV (1288-1292). The apse mosaic depicts the miraculous appearance of Christ in the basilica’s apse at the time of its consecration by Pope Sylvester.

There are beautiful statues in the nave in grey marble aedicules. The statues are flanked by verde antico columns.

Lateran coffered ceiling and apse mosaic

Lateran Saint Peter

The monumental tomb of Leo XIII by Giulio Tadolini is over a door leading to the Sacristy.

The archbasilica has a lavishly decorated interior. The Lancelloti Chapel was designed by Francesco da Volterra and rebuilt by Giovanni Antonio de Rossi. The  “Saint Francis of Assisi recieves the stigmata” painting was done by Giovanni Battista Puccetti in the altarpiece.

Lateran fresco

Lateran fresco Mary Immaculate by Placido Costanzi

There are additional parts of the Lateran complex worth visiting in close proximity to the church.  Walk over to the  Scala Sancta to see the Sancta Sanctorum and the Triclinium of Pope Leo III  These Holy Stairs are particularly attractive for Christian pilgrims who wish to honor the Passion of Jesus. These are the marble stairs that were brought to Rome from Jerusalem in 326 AD by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine. These are the stairs that Jesus climbed on his way to his trial with Pontius Pilate; the staircase leading once to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate at Jerusalem .

The Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs) consists of twenty-eight wooden steps that encase white marble steps and are sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus Christ during his Passion. The marble stairs are visible through openings in the wooden risers. The stairs are located  in a building which incorporates part of the old Lateran Palace, located opposite the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. They are located next to a church which was built on ground brought from Mount Calvary. The stairs lead to the Sancta Sanctorum ( Holy of Holies) which is the personal chapel of the early Popes in the Lateran palace, known as the chapel of St. Lawrence.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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