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28.12.2013
22:54

The Pike: by Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Reviewed by Charles Freeman, historical consultant to the Blue Guides:

Lucy Hughes-Hallett’s The Pike is a long (644 pages of text) biography of the extraordinary Italian poet, and—well one can hardly begin to say what else—Gabriele d’Annunzio. The only thing that disappointed me about it was its title. Although this was indeed a nickname given to d’Annunzio, ‘Pike’ suggests a cunning fish lurking in the weeds before rushing out to snap up its prey. But d’Annunzio was an extrovert superstar, flourishing through his poetry and plays and flamboyant gestures, not least his lording over the Italian seizure of Fiume at the end of the First World War. He emerged young in the 1890s as a poet of great sensitivity, whose works still resonate among Italian nationalists. Yet his early works also show an obsession with the ‘heroic’ individual, a composite figure that owed as much to his personal frustrations as to Nietzsche. D’Annunzio had a genius for sniffing the emotional currents that swept through an emerging and unfulfilled nation and so was idolized by the young. Condemnation by the Church for the immorality of his ‘heroes’ simply added to his appeal.

The many ambiguities of d’Annunzio arise not only because of his supreme talent in the use of words. He was also a man of courage whose survival from a number of dramatic flights in the rickety planes of the early 20th century can only be seen as miraculous. Again he was totally unscrupulous in his extraordinary extravagance and insatiable sex-life. Women found him impossible to resist. At first he appeared to specialise in entanglements with the separated wives of minor aristocrats, to the fury of their fathers and husbands. The most successful love of his life, almost a permanent relationship, in fact, was with the actress Eleanor Duse, whom he romantically met in Venice on a gondola at dawn. Each had an utter confidence in their own genius that sustained the heights of their passion—and inspired d’Annunzio to become a dramatist. By the time of his literary success, however, there was little room for fidelity: new lovers were passing through beds still warmed by their predecessors. His hyped-up literary style was employed to full effect in describing the intimate details of these encounters, which took place in over-heated houses furnished with an overload of flowers, Persian carpets, Japanese porcelain and a large and well-thumbed library. D’Annunzio was as gargantuan in his ability to devour books as he was to devour women. Bailiffs cleared everything out from time to time until a fresh influx of cash allowed him to restock his villas with new purchases.

By the beginning of the First World War, d’Annunzio had developed an unhealthy obsession with the glory of death in the cause of Italy. In a less troubled age, it would hardly have resonated but once again he caught the mood, and must be partly held responsible for forcing Italy’s disastrous entry into the war. Scouring the battlefront on the Karst, the limestone plateau north of Trieste that was to see the pitiless slaughter of the ill-prepared Italian army, he revelled in the piled corpses. There was not much here to achieve other than swooping about in aircraft. It was the truncated peace that gave him his opportunity to find a role. The refusal to allow Italy to spread into the new Yugoslavia allowed him to seize control as dictator of Fiume. In the short term this was the culmination of his career, but it was a success that was gradually dissipated through his administrative incompetence and the seeping away of any international support for Italy’s expansion. His bluster proved to be just that. But it was here, in the frustrations of failure, that fascism was able to get a hold. Hughes-Hallett brings out an unexpected side of Mussolini, who showed surprising skill in flattering and cajoling d’Annunzio while at the same time sidelining him. There is a good photograph of the two walking together, d’Annunzio stooped (but still sexually insatiable) in the park of the Villa Cargnacco on Lake Garda (whose upkeep and expansion by the state he had persuaded Mussolini to finance). Here eventually, apparently to the vast relief of Mussolini, who knew that d’Annunzio was the only person able to upstage him, the heroic poet died in 1938.

D’Annunzio should, of course, have died many years before during one of his escapades in the air, in the crush of a tumultuous crowd or at the hands of an outraged husband. But he survived and his readiness to write down almost every detail of his daily life as well as the enormous publicity every action of his generated have given Hughes-Hallett vast resources to draw on. She has handled them with aplomb and has achieved the remarkable feat of showing that this was a human being whose life seemed to defy reality. The Pike was a worthy winner of this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

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

20.11.2013
15:09

Smoothly off the buffers

Author Chris Moss with Southern Railway driver Andrew Cook.

Last night was the launch party of Blue Guides' Smoothly from Harrow: A Compendium for the London Commuter. About 70 people squeezed themselves into the book-lined basement at Stanfords to raise a glass to our latest publication—the hot crush seemed oddly appropriate for the subject matter, as was the fact that one of the planned readers missed her moment because of leaves on the line outside Pinner (or some other London Transport meltdown).

The author, Chris Moss, had promised us no speeches, but in a few words he still managed to name-check Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Betjeman, Ray Davies and Waterloo Station. The book is rather like that, although special mention should also go to the superb photography and London Transport Museum's wondrous posters.

Brian Daughton and Bob Greig then read their 'Commuter Confessions' (extracted from the book) to a clearly sympathetic audience of fellow-travellers, and we all briefly contemplated following Bob back to Devon where he now lives—or maybe strangling him.

But, no, as Chris writes in the book, the commuter is the 'low-key hero of our times' and 'the key witness of all that passes in the capital and its environs'. And so we left Stanfords with the book well launchedand headed heroically for the Northern Line.

Under Another Sky

Charlotte Higgins, Under Another Sky: Travels in Roman Britain. Jonathan Cape, London, 2013. Reviewed by Charles Freeman.

If I am heading westwards from my home in central Suffolk I go along a stretch of Roman road and eventually reach the village of Stonham Aspal. To the far side there is a ridge overlooking open countryside and it is here that a Roman bathhouse was discovered in 1962, when building work was being done for some bungalows. It was my first dig, with a tolerant Ipswich Museum team interpreting laws against child labour generously enough to allow a fourteen-year-old to shovel out ashes from a Roman hypocaust. The main part of the villa is assumed to have been on the other side of the road and remains unexcavated, but I still tell the story to anyone I am driving that way.

The pottery from the site is of the 3rd and 4th centuries, the greatest period of the British Roman villa. This was the time of prosperity before the collapse of Roman rule in the early 5th century brought a devastating fall in living standards (apparently as a dramatic as anywhere else in the western empire). Looking back, I wonder what the ashes I scraped out could have told of the final fires lit to heat the baths. There was no one on hand to record the last days of the empire in Britain but gradually the cities, already faltering in the 4th century, were abandoned and the great buildings fell in or were buried. One of the most evocative finds has been a luxurious Roman villa on the London waterfront that enjoyed a heyday in the 3rd century but then began to crumble, although 200 coins dated as late as ad 388 talk of a late burst of occupation.

Charlotte Higgins’s delightful book is an account of her searches for Roman Britain in the company of her boyfriend Matthew and a venerable and resilient camper van. Higgins read Classics at Oxford so she knows her sources—predominantly those of the finest Roman historian—Tacitus, and she weaves them gently into her itineraries. She has also absorbed those who have been before her: William Camden, the author of Britannia (1586), the first quasi- scientific study of British antiquities, and the polymath William Stukeley (1687–1765), who recorded what stood of Silchester, Hadrian’s Wall and other sites. Stukeley, a fan of the Druids, was sadly taken in by a fake history of Roman Britain purporting to have been written by one Richard of Westminster in the 14th century. Stukeley’s enthusiastic support for it meant that it was treated as authentic and Roman history distorted until well into the 19th century. The Pennine chain of hills take their name from the pseudo-Richard’s description of them.

Gradually out of these forays into a misty past, archaeologists took over. So here is Mortimer Wheeler and his much put-upon wife Tessa, bringing military precision to excavations of St. Albans and later, and most famously, of the Iron Age fort of Maiden Castle. Wheeler revelled in describing the last stand of the British against Roman onslaughts and the mass grave into which the defeated British were thrown. Unfortunately, more recent work queries whether the cemetery was ever a mass grave at all; but the story gripped me as a teenager. By the 1970s, we arrive at more delicate work, especially with the writing ‘tablets’, actually slivers of wood, from the Roman fort at Vindolanda, miraculously preserved in waterlogged ground. Excavated by Robin Birley and deciphered by Alan Bowman, they provide an astonishingly graphic account of everyday life on the frontiers at the end of the 1st century ad, as invites go out for birthday parties and details of which men are available for outside work are painstakingly extracted from the intricate lettering.

Higgins also ventures further north to discover reminders of the short-lived invasion of Scotland by Agricola in ad 79 or 80 (we know of it because the historian Tacitus was Agricola’s son-in-law and left a vivid account) and the little-known Antonine Wall, held only briefly before the frontier was pulled back again to the better-known barrier built by Hadrian. She takes in Bath and York, the latter achieving an empire-wide status when the emperor Septimius Severus established his court here between 208 and 211 and when, a century later Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was proclaimed emperor by his father’s troops. In Bath the Romans adopted the local Celtic god Sulis, associated her with their own Minerva, and the temple dedicated to both presided over the hot springs that were to set Bath up as a watering place in later centuries. In Colchester and London, dark layers record the burning of the nascent Roman settlements by the furious Boudica, in a devastating but ultimately crushed campaign (ad 60 or 61) that also survives in Tacitus’ account.

I am sorry that the camper van, with ‘its many and varied complaints’, did not merit an entry in the index. I would have liked to have retraced its valiant hill climbs even if it did collapse in York and thus not quite make it to Hardknott Castle (a 2nd-century fort guarding Hardknott Pass), perhaps the most spectacular of all the Roman sites in Britain. It added character to what is an engaging survey of our Roman past. While Higgins records exhaustive studies of Roman Britain (Roger Wilson’s A Guide to the Roman Remains in Britain and the mammoth four-volume compilation of every known Roman mosaic by David Neal and Stephen Cosh), she provides a more light-hearted account, a valuable reminder of how the Roman past lies not too far beneath our feet. Indeed a metal detector unearthed a worn Roman coin from our own fields just a year ago, and, this being Suffolk, perhaps another Mildenhall treasure, the hoard of astonishing silver plate unearthed in 1942, is just waiting to be discovered close by.

Under Another Sky was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award.

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

'Art under Attack' at Tate Britain

Reviewers of this exhibition (Art under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm, running at Tate Britain until 5th January) have fretted about whether what it presents is or isn’t true ‘iconoclasm’. I don’t think it matters. The curators make it clear from the outset, on the wall caption that greets you before you even enter the first room: they know full well what true iconoclasm is: it was the fuss that began in 8th-century Constantinople when Leo III ordered the destruction of the icon of Christ which hung over the Bronze Gate. That is one thing. But today we use the word much more loosely, to mean simply ‘breaking the mould’. Of course this can be approached with a responsible intellectual purpose, to question and to elicit answers. Or it can be approached frivolously, for the sheer mischievous hell-raising fun of it, to give the poor old bourgeoisie a fit of the vapours. Iconoclasm can equally be used to mean just ‘not doing things the way they’ve always been done’. Refusing to serve Yorkshire pudding with roast beef might be enough to qualify a chef as an ‘iconoclast’. All these things form part of the exhibition's trail through the history of how works of art in Britain have been attacked, mutilated or otherwise tampered with, and the variety of motives behind it.

'The Risen Christ' panel from Binham Priory. Figure of Christ painted c.1500; overlaid text c.1539.

 

The first rooms deal with iconoclasm in the original sense of the word: the destruction of religious images deemed idolatrous. The scope of the exhibition does not reach beyond Britain, so we begin with Henry VIII. Whatever one thinks about it—is it sacrilege? Is it unpardonable destruction of lovely works of human hand?—it is tempting to conclude from this display that the reformers carried out a principled operation. They wanted to make it impossible to adore the painted or graven visage, so they scratched out the faces and chopped off the heads. They wanted to replace the visual pictogram of God-as-icon with the appeal to the intellect of God-as-the-Word, newly available in English translation for all to understand. A panel from the famous rood screen from Binham Priory, Norfolk, illustrates this superbly: an image of the Risen Christ was whitewashed over and replaced with text from Cranmer’s Bible. Now the whitewash is flaking away and we can see the coloured icon underneath. But the reformers didn’t indulge in wanton destruction. By the time Cromwell comes on the scene, though, a thuggish element has emerged. We read stories of stained-glass windows being taken down for zealous prelates to trample to smithereens in public acts of toeing the new line. Politics have surged on stage and personal agendas are coming to the fore: the prelates want preferment; they want to curry favour with the new ruling elite. Not only is there a kind of glee behind the smashing and hacking, but a feeling of calculation.

 

This is one face of political iconoclasm. But in the next room we see another: iconoclasm as a form of mass protest. An equestrian statue of the monarch is daubed in spots to make it ridiculous and impossible to respect; a pillar with Nelson on top of it is blown to smithereens in Ireland. We’ve not seen this before. Up until now, icon-smashing has taken place by official diktat (as the iconoclasm of Communism was later to do); it has been iconoclasm as political repression, the smashing of other people’s totems as a form of intimidation and a symbol of who calls the shots. Now we see icon-smashing as a vehicle for the people’s voice.

 

What comes next is what the curators have termed ‘aesthetic iconoclasm’: tampering with works of art (or craftsmanship) in order to make a ‘statement’. Artists traditionally have striven to make coherence out of chaos: the avant garde practitioners whose (often paltry) efforts we are shown here seem to be doing their best to make chaos out of what had once been order: the burst-apart chair; the disembowelled piano. What does this say about the psyche of the 20th century? One thing it says is that these are personal affirmations. This kind of icon-breaking is carried out neither by governments nor by the masses but by individuals, who in some cases are simply mutilating things that they don’t happen to like. The display throws up plenty of questions for our pluralistic age. How are we to tolerate each other with no central control of what we believe in or approve of? Do we even have universally recognised icons any more? Is it OK to throw a can of paint over the result of someone else’s freedom of expression because personally we find it ‘offensive’? Do artists have a responsibility to society? And if so, what is it?

The exhibition doesn’t answer these questions. But they are valid questions to have asked. The best thing in the last part of the show is Douglas Gordon’s burned poster of Warhol’s screen prints of Queen Elizabeth II. For this is destruction of a twofold icon: a Warhol work of art and Her Majesty the Queen, a beautiful young monarch. And here the exhibition comes full circle. We are back to the Virgin Mary, to an image of a reverend figure insulted and abused. Gordon himself described his work as ‘homage to Warhol and an act of desecration’.

 

The exhibition itself, in a way, leads us from order into chaos. It functions as a microcosm of what iconoclasm does when it takes a hammer to a work of art. The clarity of the narrative begins to waver after the first rooms, with their impeccable presentation of historical iconoclasm, through the turmoil of the political rooms to the utter muddle of the aesthetic rooms—but we live in a muddled age, so the progression works. It mirrors humanity’s own progression from a world of centrally-imposed certainties to one of democratically enhanced confusion. In the room that deals with the suffragettes’ attacks on works of art, we learn all about Mary Richardson and her butchery of the Rokeby Venus: she swung her knife at a beautiful painted woman in protest at the way Emmeline Pankhurst, ‘a beautiful living woman’, was being treated in prison. There is a lovely irony in this. Because of course the Rokeby Venus presents us with the ultimate iconodule or worshipper of icons: Venus gazes at herself in a looking glass: this is a goddess adoring her own image. Mary Richardson may not have thought of that. Wyndham Lewis’s response in Blast, which the exhibition is careful to remind us of, was patronising, perhaps, but apt: ‘Leave art alone, brave Comrades! In destruction, as in other things, stick to what you understand.’

The Rokeby Venus: iconodule.

Comments on Smoothly from Harrow

The 21st century commuter is a tragic hero. Long-suffering, long-journeying and subject to lengthy delays, he survives through an iron will and by burying his head in a freesheet.
Chris Moss's Smoothly from Harrow brings the world of the London commuter up to date with facts and fictions, poems and propaganda, statistics and self-help advice.

View the book’s contents, index and some sample pages, and buy securely from blueguides.com here»

 

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Renaissance art from Florence to Paris and back

Self-portrait by Nélie Jacquemart

by Alta Macadam

A small but very choice exhibition has come to Florence from the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris (runs until 31st December). It is housed in the Villa Bardini, one of the city's most recent exhibition spaces, home also to a museum of the huge collection that was put together by the art dealer Stefano Bardini in the 1870s and 1880s.

From the entrance you make your way through the villa garden, designed around a central staircase flanked by beds where the plants are changed according to the season, and box hedges. The grottoes and wall fountains produce a pleasing sound of water which melts into the peaceful tones of birdsong. The garden is in the very heart of Florence and the truly magnificent, unique close-up view of the city is its most spectacular feature.

It is particularly fitting that the exhibition from the Jacquemart-André should be exhibited here since Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart both knew and corresponded with Stefano Bardini and purchased some Renaissance works from him in the 1880s. Edouard died in 1894 and it was Nélie who created the famous Italian Renaissance section of their renowned Parisian museum (she herself was a skilled painter, and her self-portrait from 1880 is also on display here).

All the paintings in the exhibition are of very high quality (and nearly all of them are in very fine frames, mostly original). The portrait of a lute-player by Francesco Salviati could be taken at first glance for a Pontormo: it is a magnficent painting, memorable too for the prettily striped cloth in the foreground. Mantegna’s Ecce Homo (c. 1500) is one of the treasures of the collection. Cima da Conegliano’s Madonna and Child includes a lovely landscape, and the Madonna is dressed in a magnificent red, blue and golden cloak. The loveliest of three works attributed to Botticelli is the smallest, a Madonna and Child which, although damaged, reveals the master’s skill in the delicate rendering of the Madonna’s hair, veil and halo. Another famous work is Paolo Uccello’s St George and the Dragon: the thin beast is full of character, though it is perhaps the walled garden in the background which is the most interesting part of the work.

Other paintings by less well-known artists, but all of extreme interest, include a tiny Narcissus (by an early 15th-century Umbrian artist); a portrait of a man in profile, one of the best works by the Dalmatian artist Giorgio Culinovic known as Schiavone, dated 1504; a crowded processional scene attributed to Verrocchio and his workshop; and a tiny painting of Christ of the Apocalypse by Zanobi Strozzi (unfortunately damaged). A charming scene of a birth by Scheggia is set in a pink and grey house and shows a group of six men approaching the bedside bearing gifts (mostly welcome food!). This was clearly a desco da parto, a circular ‘tray’ presented to a mother after childbirth (and traditionally used for her first meal). Many such deschi have survived, some of them painted by the best artists of the day.

Interspersed amongst the paintings are some exquisite small sculptures, including a small bronze Hercules and the Centaur by Giambologna, a tiny bronze plaque of Judith and the Head of Holofernes by Riccio, and a rectangular relief in bronze of the Martyrdom of St Sebastian by Donatello (especially interesting for its unusual iconography).

This exhibition is well worth visiting, both for its superb works as well as for the setting of the villa itself on its garden hillside in the very centre of Florence. And you can leave by the door on Costa San Giorgio and walk a few metres up that lovely old walled lane to the Forte di Belvedere, which has recently been reopened to the public after many years of closure. It provides another celebrated viewpoint of the city.

Alta Macadam is the author of many Italian Blue Guides, including Blue Guide Florence

Comments on Blue Guide Venice

 

Venice has been one of the world’s leading destinations for the cultural traveller since the 18th-century Grand Tour.

View the book’s contents, index and some sample pages, and buy securely from blueguides.com here»

 

25.09.2013
11:51

Hepworth's "Winged Figure": 50th anniversary

“Sculpture to me is primitive, religious, passionate and magical—always affirmative.”

So wrote Barbara Hepworth (1903–75), perhaps the finest female sculptor the world has ever seen. There are certain areas in the arts where women feel naturally at home. Some where they take over and feminize. In fiction and on the radio, for example, it is getting difficult to hear the male voice. But not in sculpture. Hepworth is a lone wolf.

Her life was in some ways typical of a person of her era, temperament and milieu: birth into a respectable family, the unelashing of an uncontrollable artistic spirit, revelatory trips to Italy and Paris, meeting with Picasso, Braque, Brancusi and Moholy-Nagy, the heady politics of 1930s left-wing Hampstead, strong views on the Spanish Civil War, marriages made and marriages broken. And children. Four of them, including a set of triplets. It is no surprise that such a driven, work-obsessed, cerebral woman should have struggled. She was not a militant feminist: the maternal interested her. But still, it must have been abominably tough. Husbands in those days were not much help on the domestic front. Indomitable, ambitious and never mellowing, she ended her life alone and ill, and died in an accidental fire at her home, very probably ignited by her own cigarette.

Hepworth seems to have felt herself to be permanently mantled in the shadow of Henry Moore, her contemporary, friend and for many years a fellow apostle of Abstraction. Moore, however, found his ultimate inspiration in the human figure, which may well explain his wide appeal. Hepworth, once she had abandoned figurative forms in the 1930s, never went back—except once, in her Madonna and Child in St Ives church, a mourning piece for her eldest son, killed in a plane crash at the age of twenty-three.

This month, and until November, the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street, West London, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of Hepworth’s Winged Figure, which is attached to the building’s exterior wall and is passed by hundreds of people every day. “I think one of our universal dreams,” Hepworth said, “is to move in air and water without the resistance of our human legs. I wanted to evoke this sense of freedom. If the Winged Figure in Oxford Street gives people a sense of being airborne I will be very happy.” I am not sure that it really does. It reminds me more of a scoliosis brace or a corset, something redolent of restriction and struggle, filled with the tension between the desired and the achievable. Perhaps that is entirely appropriate.

For more information about the pop-up exhibits at John Lewis, organized in conjunction with the Hepworth Wakefield, see here.

For more about Barbara Hepworth and her art, the visit the Artsy.net Hepworth page.

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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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Comments on Sites of Antiquity: from Ancient Egypt to the...
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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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