Monte di Pietà or “Pawnbroker”

Something not to overlook when visiting any Italian city are the Monte di Pietà buildings. Often they are the most prominent buildings of the city. The “Monte di Pietà” was nothing more than the common “Pawnbroker.” What makes it very different in Italy is the beautiful, richly decorated building that once was the “Pawnbrokers” of […]

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The Mimosa Award: Catherine de Medicis

Catherine de Medicis wasn’t beautiful, and not even charming. Her great-grandfather, now dead for about forty years, was the great Lorenzo, known as The Magnificent, Lord of Florence. She had very little to be happy about. Her mother died a few days after her birth and her father, Lorenzo II, also died two weeks later. […]

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The Whereabouts of St. Mark

I was always fascinated by the story of St. Mark, whose remains are richly guarded under the main altar inside the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. Especially when I look at the beautiful mosaic on the facade of the Basilica where the remains of San Marco are covered with a blue sheet… like he […]

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Rialto

For the Venice habitué when you say “Rialto” it is not just the bridge the first thing that comes to mind, but the fish market just off the famous bridge. Rialto Bridge is the undisputed symbol of the city and one of the most iconic bridges in Venice, the Rialto market also has another architectural […]

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Of Books and Cathedrals

Recently I read Follett’s latest book “The Evening and the Morning” A prequel to the [more] successful “Pillars of the Earth.” It was the Cathedral building adventures that captivated me, although much more so in the “Pillars” than on this last book. But it was the book that pushed me to visit a Cathedral as […]

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Murano: More than Glass Blowing

When there were impossible crowds in Venice, Murano was a great escape. It is still a great place to go to. In Murano, like in Venice the consequences of COVID are severe; very much so. Although walking the streets and visiting the famous sites is more pleasant now, it is painful to see their empty […]

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Dream Castles

Time to Draw those Bridges! Done with the battles, territories defended, done with Guelphs and Ghibellines, done also with feudal lords and dark Middle Ages, courts and cannons all are finished; now Italy finds itself with a landscape full of very beautiful castles too often forgotten. An Italian Treasure to Discover Castles are a unique […]

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Uncomfortable Architecture

Why Are So Many Fascist Monuments Still Standing in Italy? That is the question that Ruth Ben-Ghiat wondered about on an article (in October 5, 2017), for The New Yorker. She asked why in Italy buildings and monuments of the Mussolini era still shown off.  I am not so sure that we can easily say […]

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Villas and “Villains”

Villain = noun a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel. While in Italian the meaning is a little less categorical: Villano / vil·là · no / = adjective and masculine noun 1. masculine noun = Rude and ignorant person: “è un villano fatto e finito (he is […]

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A Mysterious Armenian Island in Venice

So, we’ll go no more a roving    So late into the night, Though the heart be still as loving,    And the moon be still as bright. LORD BYRON San Lazzaro degli Armeni There is a small island just 20 minutes by vaporetto from Piazza San Marco, just in front of that long strip of land […]

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Villages and History

Strassoldo Perhaps one of the best hamlets on the The most beautiful Village list. Strassoldo is one quiet place where I would want to just move there for the summer and nobody should bother me until September 30th.   It is a rare example of an ancient medieval village, extremely well preserved, and of unique charm. […]

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Beyond Venice there is Chioggia & Pellestrina

Venice is the indisputable queen of the Adriatic, no doubts about that. However, if we want to get a little further, and maybe avoid the crowds, then Chioggia (pronounced: ˈkjɔddʒa); is a good destination.  Chioggia Chioggia is a small island at the southern entrance to the Lagoon of Venice about 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of […]

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