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25.02.2013
15:35

Pope Benedict: an unorthodox farewell


It didn’t take long. A mere twenty-fours hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication, portents were being seen in the skies above the Vatican. Jupiter, the great god of the Romans, began rattling his thunderbolts and lightning was recorded striking the cupola of St Peter’s—twice. This is the kind of thing that happened on the eve of Caesar’s murder. “Never till to-night, never till now,” says a trembling Casca, “did I go through a tempest dropping fire. Either there is a civil strife in heaven, or else the world, too saucy with the gods, incenses them to send destruction.” Is that what heaven is doing? Or is it a seal of approval? After an eight-year pontificate, Jospeh Ratzinger is volunatrily vacating the Throne of St Peter. It is not an unprecedented step, but it is a controversial one. It is something that is not “done”. But Benedict XVI has never been afraid of controversy. While he lacks the charisma of his predecessor John Paul II and while he never inspired such fervent devotion in people’s hearts, he has been, in his thoughtful, mild-mannered way, revolutionary.

Pope Benedict is eighty-five. Before him lie who knows how many years of increasing frailty. It takes a vigorous and resilient man to hold the Christian world together. His decision to abdicate was taken, he says, “for the good of the Church”. The same was said in 1406, on the election of Gregory XII, who was raised to the pontificate purely on the understanding that he would resign, “for the good of the Church”, in order to heal the Great Western Schism. He did resign (though not as easily as all that; he was a wily old Venetian) in 1415. And the Schism did eventually heal. But what was this Schism, and how could a papal resignation heal it?

For most of the 14th century, the popes had abandoned Rome for Avignon in the south of France. This so-called “Babylonian captivity”, when the popes were “exiled” from their homeland, began when Pope Clement V (a Frenchman) was persuaded (by the French king) to set up his court in France. Political disturbances in Italy made this seem a good idea to Clement, and in 1309 he decamped to the peaceful banks of the Rhone. Horrified Italians—notably the poet Petrarch and St Catherine of Siena—begged for the papacy’s return, but it was not until 1377 that Gregory XI (also a Frenchman) re-established papal government in the Eternal City. (Since this Gregory, incidentally, there has never been another French pope—but who knows what may happen next month; the Archbishop of Paris is a current contender.) But though the popes came back to Rome, all was not healed. Strife and confusion were to dominate the next four decades, in the form of the Great Schism, which lasted from 1378 to 1417. This represented a complete rupture of ecclesiastical unity. Rival claimants to the papal throne were simultaneously nominated and crowned by competing factions of cardinals. For almost all of this period there were two or even three popes at once, each claiming to be the anointed successor to St Peter. The true popes found themselves locked in combat with rivals known as ‘antipopes’. Gregory XII was elected under the terms of a deal whereby both he and his rival, the antipope Benedict XIII, would simultaneously renounce their claims, allowing for a single successor to be appointed to replace both of them. For the good of the church. The plan worked—admittedly not without plenty of shenanigans—and eventually, in 1417, the Roman-born Oddone Colonna became Pope Martin V.

The Church hopes to have a new pope in place by Easter. But how do papal elections work?

A pope is elected by the cardinals, who form the “parish clergy” of Rome. The complicated rules for the conclave (from the Latin con clave, referring to a chamber that can be locked “with a key”) are designed to ensure that the election is not unnecessarily delayed, nor unduly hurried, and that it should be free from any kind of external pressure. After the death (or resignation) of the pope, all the cardinals are summoned to the conclave, which must be held in whatever city the pope dies, not necessarily Rome. The cardinals are housed in specially prepared apartments and before the conclave begins, a Mass of the Holy Spirit is celebrated, to invoke divine inspiration. Voting takes place twice a day, in the Sistine Chapel. The practice of burning the ballot papers, so as to indicate by the colour of the smoke whether or not a pope has been chosen, is probably a 20th-century innovation. A two-thirds majority is required, and it is usually obtained fairly quickly, though in 1799 the cardinals took three months to make up their minds. The winning candidate must be formally asked by the Cardinal Chamberlain whether he accepts the nomination. Sometimes he is very reluctant to do so: the infirm Leo XII, in 1823, pointed to his ulcerated legs and said, “Do not insist, you are electing a corpse.” Once he has accepted, and has chosen his regnal name (the last pope to use his real name was Marcellus II, in the mid-16th century), the new pontiff is robed and the Cardinal Chamberlain makes the announcement to the waiting crowds: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum, habemus papam: I bring you tidings of great joy, we have a pope.

Pope Benedict XVI is to renounce his duties on February 28th. On the day preceding, Wednesday 27th, he will deliver his final audience to the public. Papal audiences are held every Wednesday morning, either in the purpose-built Vatican Audience Hall, or, if the weather is fine, in the open air. If you are going to be in Rome on that day, don’t miss it. It will be an emotional occasion.

(With extracts from Blue Guide Rome and Pilgrim’s Rome: A Blue Guide Travel Monograph, and featured on Stanfords blog.)

14.02.2013
15:39

Obscure St Valentine and his famous Feast Day


‘St Valentine at the Milvian Bridge’ was an early Christian basilica situated outside the walls to the north of Rome. The true identity of Valentine, the saint to whom it is dedicated, is obscure, though one tradition makes him an early bishop martyred on the Via Flaminia, the continuation of the Corso which runs north from the city centre, on 14th February 273. His remains were buried nearby. The spot soon became a Christian burial ground, and the basilica was built in the fourth century. It flourished until St Valentine’s relics were taken to a more central location, to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (site of the famous Bocca della Verità). This so-called ‘translation’ of relics became common practice after the emperor Theodosius I passed a series of acts between 378 and 380 declaring Christianity the official religion of the empire. Although at first loth to convert pagan temples into their own sacred buildings, the early Christians gradually overcame their aversion and began adapting structures in central Rome as churches, consecrating them with the bones of martyrs brought in from the old, outlying burial sites.

St Valentine’s original basilica exists only as a ruin today, attached to catacombs dug into the Parioli hill. Traditionally the site was open to the public on St Valentine’s Day, but the complex is extremely unstable: of the basilica that had been enlarged and embellished by that tireless beautifier of martyrs’ shrines, Pope Honorius I, nothing at all remains to be seen.

A little further north, however, in the Olympic Village built for the Games of 1960, there is the modern church of San Valentino, consecrated in 1986. This is a remote location, and on the feast day of the saint, few seek out his church. Millions are scurrying around with cellophane-wrapped flowers, and blood-red fluffy hearts are dangling in every gift-shop window. But in the church of St Valentine only a subdued Mass is taking place in a side room.

St Valentine with the attribute of his martyrdom, the axe. The book he holds bears a text from John 13: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. The theme of love and faithfulness, with which Valentine is chiefly associated today, is taken up in the pair of mating birds upon the tree stump.

The spirit of the saint lives on in the tradition whereby lovers attach padlocks to the nearby Milvian Bridge as a symbol of their indivisible attachment to each other. Though the padlocks were removed by the municipal authorities in 2012, they are slowly returning. The association of St Valentine with lovers comes from the date of his martyrdom, 14th February, the day when, according to old lore, mating birds choose their nesting partners.

The basilica of St Valentine is one of twenty-three churches visited on pilgrimage by Sigeric, newly-elected Archbishop of Canterbury, in 989. You can follow in his footsteps in Pilgrim’s Rome: A Blue Guide Travel Monograph, from which the above text is extracted.

Burano in February


As work on the new edition of Blue Guide Venice gets underway, and as I start planning my next trip there, my thoughts turn to the island of Burano. On a sunny day in February—and if we’re lucky there will be some sunny days this month—the colours of Burano’s houses are at their absolute best.

Burano is most famous perhaps for three things: its lace, its S-shaped biscuits, and its colourful façades. But there is more. The little church of San Martino, for example, approached down the wide Via Galuppi, contains a wonderful painting by Tiepolo. It is a rare treat to be able to admire a work of Tiepolo without having to crick your neck back to look at a ceiling fresco. This is a Crucifixion, commissioned by a pharmacist in 1722 (his donor’s portrait is included, in an oval frame at the far left, not shown in the detail here). Christ is depicted victorious, his eyes cast upwards. One of the thieves has already being taken down and his body is being untied; the other still writhes upon his cross. In the foreground, the grieving, grey-faced Virgin swoons into the arms of the two Marys.


Via Galuppi and Piazza Galuppi, where the church stands, are named after the island’s most famous son, the composer Baldassare Galuppi, who was born here in 1706. He was immortalised by Browning, in “A Toccata of Galuppi’s”.

Oh Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find!
I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
But although I take your meaning, ’tis with such a heavy mind!

Here you come with your old music, and here’s all the good it brings.
What, they lived once thus at Venice where the merchants were the kings,
Where Saint Mark’s is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings?

Ay, because the sea’s the street there; and ’tis arched by—what you call
—Shylock’s bridge with houses on it, where they kept the carnival…

The skipping rhythm of the verses is intended to imitate the notes of a toccata played on a clavichord. The themes of gaiety and masked revelry and death are particularly relevant in a Venetian February, the season of Carnival and Lent. Though if the sun shines, there is no need to dwell on them for long.

There are plenty of places to eat on Burano. Al Gatto Nero offers local fish dishes, including a risotto di gù alla buranella (Burano-style goby risotto).

22.01.2013
16:21

The St Agnes lambs


St Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold…

I have always loved Keats, and he is, of course, a poet with better claims than many others to a Roman association. But as a schoolchild, studying him, I disliked that poem. I sniggered at the line “Into her dream he melted.” I was irritated by the way, for the sake of a perfect jog-trot iambic pentameter, Keats writes “a-cold”, instead of just plain Anglo Saxon “cold”.

It was much later in life that I became acquainted with St Agnes herself, her legend and her beautiful basilica, on the Via Nomentana in Rome’s northeastern outskirts. On the eve of the saint’s feast day, January 21st, the Pope solemnly blesses two white lambs. But why?

The lambs of St Agnes and the pallium
Sigeric of Glastonbury, recently named Archbishop of Canterbury, journeyed to Rome in the year 989 to receive his stole of office, the pallium, from Pope John XV. During his time here, Sigeric visited three churches intimately connected with the manufacture of this vestment, a connection which is still maintained to this day.

Every year, two winter lambs are purchased from the Cistercian monks ofSanti Vincenzo e Anastasio at Tre Fontane, south of the city centre (on the site of the martyrdom of St Paul). It is their wool that will be used to make the pallia. On the feast of St Agnes (21st January), the two lambs are taken to the basilica of Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura and solemnly blessed. The association of St Agnes with lambs comes from a play on the virgin martyr’s name (Agnes) and the Latin word for a lamb (agnus). If the pope is not personally present at the service, then the lambs are afterwards taken to the Vatican, decked in white roses, to receive his benediction. After this they are entrusted to the care of the Benedictine sisters of the convent of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, where they are raised with the utmost care until Holy Week, when they are shorn. The nuns weave their wool into the pallia which will be conferred on new metropolitan archbishops on the Feast of St Peter and St Paul (29th June). In the apse mosaic of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Pope Paschal I is shown wearing the pallium. His is pure white, adorned with two red crosses.

Each of these churches, SS Vincenzo e Anastasio, S. Agnese fuori le Mura with its attached catacomb, and S. Cecilia, is hugly rewarding to visit. You can read more about them in Pilgrim’s Rome: A Blue Guide Travel Monograph.

Slightly pixelated, but still recognisable: Pope Paschal I (left) wearing his pallium woven from the wool of St Agnes lambs (and with a square nimbus indicating that he was alive when this portrait was created), in the company of St Cecilia and St Paul. Detail of the apse mosaic in the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.

Leonardo’s “Adoration of the Magi” in restoration


Alta Macadam (author of
Blue Guide Florence
) paid a fascinating visit to the state restoration laboratory to see it:

Leonardo’s painting of the Adoration of the Magi, owned by the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and which the artist left in its preparatory state, has been removed to the state restoration laboratory in Florence’s Fortezza da Basso for restoration expected to take at least three years. Leonardo was commissioned to paint the work as the high altarpiece for San Donato a Scopeto, a church outside the city walls (no longer extant). The funds had been provided by a saddler in 1479, and it may be that Leonardo was chosen for the job since his father worked as a notary at the monastery to which the church was attached. The contract was drawn up in 1481 but just four months later Leonardo seems to have withdrawn from the agreement as he was called to Milan by Ludovico Sforza. (The monks of San Donato had Filippino Lippi paint their altarpiece 15 years later).

Leonardo left his work at the preparatory stage. In the extraordinary sketched details we can study the development of his ideas as he seemed to play with various designs and solutions which include over sixty figure studies, both human and animal. The iconography that he uses, turning the arrival of Christ into an extraordinarily crowded, almost exotic scene, is derived not from the biblical account but from that of a 14th-century theologian who suggested that the event provoked fright and incredulity as well as devotion. Although Leonardo made preparatory drawings for the work (which are now preserved in the Louvre, the Uffizi, and the Royal Library in Windsor), it seems that he spent much time working out his ideas on the work itself.

The preparation of the support is particularly interesting. The canvas was made from hemp stretched over ten planks of poplar wood (attached behind with metal bars, still in place) and then the ground was prepared with no less than five hands of gesso mixed with glue. Through the use of highly sophisticated apparatus, it has been established that the preliminary drawings on this ground were made by Leonardo first using charcoal, then a brush, and then indigo blue watercolour, so that there are three distinct layers of drawings. Leonardo then began to add a very little pigment, mostly ochre. As in some of his chiaroscuro paintings, it appears that he worked on the darker tones first, so that the two trees in the centre of the painting (one a palm, the symbol of Victory and the other probably an ilex, recalling the Tree of Jesse) stand out as the most finished part of the work. The sky is still white with only a few very faint touches of lapis lazuli.

Because of its unfinished state, Leonardo obviously never varnished the painting but many varnishes were added during subsequent centuries, in an attempt to unify its appearance. These later interventions have tended to reduce the overall effect to that of a monochrome painting. The work has also been subjected to several past restorations, the last of which was in 1924. Since the aim of the present restoration is to remove the varnishes added after Leonardo’s time, the end result will probably show stronger contrasts of tones but will not be spectacularly different from its present state. But we will be able to study even more closely the evolution of Leonardo’s ideas as he resolves problems as they arise and investigates the various possibilities of  composition and form. The atmosphere in some parts of the work is almost chaotic, with Classical ruins, equestrian scenes, and human and animal figures closely entangled, while around the isolated majestic figure of the Madonna and the blessing Child, the Magi are shown in deeply reverent worship. The painting has many similarities in technique with Leonardo’s wonderful painting of St Jerome and the lion in the Vatican Pinacoteca, which he also left unfinished at around the same time. The format of the Adoration is unusual: it may have been slightly truncated at the bottom, so that it was probably originally exactly square.

This project is just one of many in progress at the state restoration laboratory in Florence, which is world-renowned for the excellence of its work—but sadly very much in need of funding so that more young restorers can be trained, to ensure the conservation of Italy’s art treasures in the future.

16.01.2013
16:47

Cathedral picks: Exeter


At the far east end of Exeter cathedral lies the tomb-chest of Hugh Oldham (d. 1519), with his painted effigy reposing upon it.

Oldham rose rapidly in the church, and may have owed his preferment at least in part to the good opinion of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, in whose household he once served as chancellor. His nomination as Bishop of Exeter in 1505 may have come about with her help. Margaret was a member of the House of Lancaster, and Oldham himself was a Lancastrian by birth. His home village was near Manchester, and his educational foundations included Manchester Grammar School (and Corpus Christi College, Oxford). His chantry chapel is at the end of the south aisle. It is dedicated to St Boniface and St Saviour and bears the scars of the Reformation: not a single carved saint of the many that decorate the exterior still possesses its head. The altarpiece inside has been similarly disfigured. According to the cathedral guide, this iconoclasm was the work of the Dean of Exeter himself, in a bid to demonstrate his allegiance to the reformers.

The leitmotif of the chapel’s decorative scheme is the owl, which Bishop Hugh used as his personal device, constructing a rebus from it: HughOwldham. Once you start looking, you see owls everywhere: along the walls, on the ceiling, even embroidered on the kneelers.

The real Patrick Leigh Fermor?

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper. John Murray, 2012


Walking seems to be back in fashion. Pilgrim routes, secret pathways, ancient trackways: it is as if we are rediscovering the traditional pace of life. One catalyst for the interest has been Patrick Leigh Fermor’s celebrated walk across Europe, from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul, in 1934, when he was only eighteen. It was immortalized in his two books A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. Although they are among my favourite travel books, I had not realised quite how long after the walk they were written. A Time of Gifts appeared 44 years later and Between the Woods and the Waterseveral years after that. So they are as much reflections on the walk, with added colour and insight, as they are of the reactions of an eighteen-year old.

Virtually abandoned as a child in England by his family—his father had a distinguished career as a geologist in India—Paddy (the name by which his biographer and his many friends knew him) grew up essentially feral. School did not work for him and he seemed unemployable. Yet he had a passion for the Classics, an acute memory for texts and a fascination with languages and how they shaped cultures. All this was incipient when he began his walk, but as he uncovered the ancient landed families of eastern Europe, explored their libraries and became a lover, notably of Princess Balasha Cantacuzene on her remote estate in Romania, he discovered new roles for himself. He was always to be a wanderer, attracted to the aristocracy as much for their heritage as for their status, ever willing to be financially supported, and happy to drink and sing his way through the night in a variety of languages and cultures.

When war came, it was again apparent that Paddy was not employable in any conventional role; but with his fluent Greek he could be found a job as a general dogsbody in Intelligence. This is how he ended up supporting the resistance in Crete against the occupying Germans. His most famous exploit, kidnapping the German commanding officer, General Heinrich Kreipe, forms the narrative highlight of this book. The moment when Paddy was able to complete a Horatian ode begun by the General is an unforgettable homage to the common roots of both cultures. Of course, with reprisals against villagers and Paddy’s own careless shooting of a partisan with a gun he thought unloaded, the kidnapping remains controversial, but for many Cretans Paddy was a hero. Hard-drinking reunions followed in the years to come.

Artemis Cooper knew ‘Paddy’ well, but her subject still presents a challenge. Cooper is wise enough not to try to match Paddy’s style when describing the famous walk and is content to tidy up discrepancies and fill in gaps. The kidnapping of Kreipe is well told. The problem comes with the years that followed. There is certainly good material for charting Paddy’s sophisticated survival skills, his charm and success in persuading others to finance him (notably his long-term lover and eventual wife, Joan). It is moving to read of the shattered lives of his friends and lovers, Balasha among them. Full tribute is paid to his publisher, Jock Murray, whose guile and persistence ensured that the books actually appeared. Most publishers would have abandoned Paddy in sheer exasperation at his penchant for parties over disciplined writing.

Cooper also hints at the darker side: the depressions, the sexual dalliances—some of them actually encouraged by Joan—and at Paddy’s ability as much to bore his listeners as to amuse them. And yet somehow she does not capture the full personality. The chronology is there, the house in the Mani is built (at Joan’s expense), the wanderings are well charted, but the subject remains strangely elusive. Doubtless there are more perceptive and probing memoirs to come, but this biography provides a solid background and serves well to send one back to Paddy’s writing, not only the famous walk but also the vivid studies of Greece, Mani and Roumeli. And we are promised that the fragments of the third volume of the walk, awaited by his readers for so long, are due to appear next year.

(One correction. Paddy’s friend was Ian Whigham, not Wigham. He was a man of fastidious good taste and generous hospitality: I count the two occasions when I had lunch with him, as a friend of a friend in the 1970s, as among the more civilizing experiences of my life.)

Reviewed by Charles Freeman, historical consultant to the Blue Guides and author of Sites of Antiquity: 50 Sites that Explain the Classical World.

To see more details about this book, check the Amazon links below.

The joy of Giambattista Tiepolo

by Charles Freeman

At the end of a recent tour of Friuli in October, I asked members of my group what they had enjoyed most, High on the list were the Tiepolos in the Patriarchal Palace in Udine. Commissioned in the 1720s by the Patriarch of Aquileia, Dionisio Dolfin, member of an aristocratic Venetian family, they were designed to highlight the link between the Patriarch and the patriarchs of old, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Perhaps the two finest works are Rachel hiding the idols from her father, Laban, and The Judgement of Solomon. Their state of preservation is remarkable.

The Judgement of Solomon (1726), fresco in the Patriarchal Palace of Udine. The subject was a popular choice of decoration for public buildings which also served as law courts.

Tiepolo was still young, just thirty, when he began his commission, but already his work is assured. The colours are rich, the soaring perspectives painted with the confidence that was to stay with him throughout his Europe-wide career. He always comes across to me as someone who loved painting for its own sake, not as a means of sorting out some internal angst.

So it was frustrating to arrive at our next destination, the vast Villa Manin, and to find that we were a few weeks too early to see the majestic Tiepolo exhibition that opened there on 15 December (and lasts until 7 April). It is open every day, even on the afternoon of Christmas day (further information and booking on the Villa Manin website).

The exhibition boasts a wide scope. There are works from Venice and the villas of the Venetian countryside, where Tiepolo spent much of his life, many of which have been brought back from the galleries as far flung as new York, Montreal, Helsinki and Stockholm. Several of the canvases are enormous—luckily the central rooms of the Villa Manin can take them—together with the preparatory drawings for them. So the vast canvas (7m by 4m) of St Thecla freeing the city of Este from the plague, from Este cathedral (completed in 1759 in commemoration of a plague of 1638) is there together with the preparatory study now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The opportunity has been taken to restore the canvas: in fact there is a sense of opulent generosity about this exhibition that is far removed from the austerity that is afflicting so many Italian archaeological sites at the moment.

The exhibition is linked to the Patriarchal Palace in Udine and the Sartorio Museum in Trieste, which contains a fine cache of Tiepolo drawings. So the show promises a true feast for those who find themselves drawn to an artist who is perhaps the finest Italian painter of the 18th century.

Udine and Friuli are covered in Blue Guide Northern Italy and Blue Guide Concise Italy. Charles Freeman is historical consultant to the Blue Guides and author of Sites of Antiquity: 50 Sites that Explain the Classical World.

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Renaissance art from Florence to Paris and back
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Hepworth's "Winged Figure": 50th anniversary
Tying the Knot in Urfa
Venice and the Politcs of Washing
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Turin restored and rejuvenated
A palatial art museum in Trieste
The cloisters of Santa Maria Novella
The wonderful Palazzo Grimani, Venice
Pope Benedict: an unorthodox farewell
Obscure St Valentine and his famous Feast Day
Burano in February
The St Agnes lambs
Leonardo’s “Adoration of the Magi” in restoration
Cathedral picks: Exeter
The real Patrick Leigh Fermor?
The joy of Giambattista Tiepolo
Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari”
In praise of Venice’s water transport system
The Red Rooms at the Uffizi
The Blue Rooms at the Uffizi
A trip to the Port of Trajan, outside Rome
Pour l’honneur de la France
An early-morning visit to Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, Rome
Church of SS Luca e Martina reopens above Roman Forum
How the tide turned at the Milvian Bridge
A compelling reason to visit Trapani province
St Augustine and his mother at Ostia
Visiting St Paul’s in London
Hadrian, Antinoüs and the Christian Fathers
Earliest-known image of a martyrdom
Can’t face the Vatican crowds? Try San Lorenzo
Turin, Pisa and mathematics
Ideal cities are all around us. It’s simply a matter of...
On Canaletto and Guardi and Venetian Light
Mithraism: a Roman Mystery Religion
Random Musings on Pontormo and Vermeer
The Amphitheatre of Londinium
Edward Lear and Crete
A handful of favourite things to see in Sicily
The mystery of the veiled virgins
Venice without the crowds
Cividale del Friuli and the Lombards
The Trouble with Snake Goddesses
The tragedy of Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico
Oranges, lemons and relic cults: an escape from the queues...
City Picks: Verona
Hitherto unknown language discovered in east Anatolia
Painting of the Day
Museo Barracco: a little-visited gem
Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome
Staten Island: Upcoming Exhibition …
International Gothic at the Uffizi
Celebrating Santa Rosalia, patron of Palermo
Delhi Ghost Trail
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The Roman Villa at Balácapuszta (Baláca, Nemesvámos,...
The Bard of….Messina? Was Shakespeare Sicilian?
Rereading Ruskin
Sicily’s emblem: the Trinacria
Luca Signorelli on exhibition in Umbria
The Tribuna of the Uffizi reopens
The Venice equivalent of the anonymous Tweet?
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Sicilian Holiday Reading
Attila the Hun and the Foundation of Venice
Death in Venice cocktail a hit
The Gentry: Stories of the English
381 years ago this June
Brooklyn Bridge: a New York landmark
A Venetian Update
Sixth-century church to reopen
Roman Aquileia
Springtime in Friuli
Northern Italy dining and accommodation recommendations
Al Dente: Madness, Beauty & the Food of Rome
A celebration of Lucca
Romantic music in a Baroque setting
Blue Guide India Delhi Launch
Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life
The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution
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The Roman Forum
Whispering City: Rome and its Histories
The 15th-century Health Museum at Edirne
City of Fortune, How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
Books about Istanbul
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Constantine: Unconquered Emperor, Christian Victor
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The 54th Venice Biennale stars Tintoretto
Holy Bones, Holy Dust
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO STAY AND EAT ON CRETE
Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity
Full Circle: How the Classical World Came Back to Us
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Familiar face
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Blue Guide Northern Italy
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A day trip to Ostia Antica from Rome - highly recommended
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A day trip from Venice up the Brenta Canal
A day trip to Murano from Venice
Pietrasanta, Pisa: in search of Stagi
Reading list for Venice
Reading list for Florence and Tuscany
The Best Credit / Debit Card for Travel
Ruskin on Venice
Reading list for Rome
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