Category: Featured Articles

Rome's Piazza San Silvestro on a hot summer day.

Things I Love (and Hate) About Rome in August

The calendar shows that Ferragosto takes place on August 15. The mid-August break coincides with the Assumption of Mary, in the way that Christmas conveniently takes place around the Winter Solstice. The further south from Rome that you go, the more you’ll find towns that celebrate the Assumption. Romans typically use the old pagan name as well as adopt a libertine…

Fortress of San Leo

The Fortress of San Leo and Its Torture Chamber

As you approach the town of San Leo in Emilia-Romagna, its role as an impenetrable, menacing fortress town comes into view. San Leo’s massive stone fortress, which also served as a palace and prison, was designed by Sienese architect and military engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini, whose early Renaissance fortifications dot the landscape of this area of central-eastern Italy known as Montefeltro.…

Illustration from De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius

A Special Harvest: Anatomical Theaters in Italy

Since ancient times, man has been interested in anatomy — how muscles and bones function and fit together and how the body works. But it wasn’t until the Renaissance that the study of anatomy really took off, thanks in large part to the printing press, which helped anatomists, illustrators, scientists, and physicians get on the same page (pun intended). In…

Orvieto Cathedral

Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

In 1499, Tuscan artist Luca Signorelli signed a contract to paint two remaining sections of the Cappella Nuova (new chapel) of the Duomo in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. By 1502 (or 1504, depending on which documentation you read), he had completed his “End of the World” fresco cycle in what is now known as the San Brizio Chapel. The apocalyptic…