Category: Arts and Culture

From Foreign Language to Lingua Franca: Italian Immersion Programs in Italy

Torre di Babele (Italian Immersion Language School for Foreigners) in Rome

I have a confession. Despite having lived in Italy for nearly three years and having studied Italian off and on for a number of years, I have a long way to go before I can consider myself fully fluent in the language. There has been one time, however, when I felt really confident about my Italian …

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A Little Greek / Yogurt in Paestum

Paestum Temple

If you tell a Roman that you are going Paestum for the weekend, invariably he or she will tell you: “Make sure you pick up some mozzarella di bufala.” Paestum is a sight to see without the culinary pit stop. A city known as “Poseidonia” when it was part of Magna Grecia, Paestum is home to …

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A Special Harvest: Anatomical Theaters in Italy

Illustration from De Humani Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius

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 …

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The Milano Duomo, Inside and Out

Taking a break near the Milano Duomo

Over the weekend, I finally got the chance to check out Milan’s famed Duomo, that jagged, Gothic behemoth that defines the city’s traditional skyline. Also known as Santa Maria Nascente (Saint Mary of the Nativity), the Duomo is the second largest church in Italy (second only to Saint Peter’s in size) and it took more than …

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

Orvieto Cathedral

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 …

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Natale di Roma: Rome Celebrates Its Birthday

She Wolf in the Capitoline Museums

This post is about the birth of Rome, not about the birth of Christ. Both occasions use the word “Natale” in Italian. For posts about Christmas in Rome and Italy, click here. Most city foundation stories are pretty straightforward. But the origin story of the city of Rome is more akin to something you would read …

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A Show of Hands

It all started with David. Michelangelo’s statue of David was one of the first pieces of sculpture that I knew I had to see in person. Recognized worldwide as a symbol of Florence, David is marble come to life especially when you look at his hands. My European Art History professor many years ago urged us …

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A Tour of Rome’s Jewish Quarter

  “It’s impossible to do this tour or any other tour chronologically.” This was one of the first things Lauren, a guide for the walking tour company Context Travel, told us as we stood in Largo Arenula, our starting point for a historic walk of Rome’s Jewish Quarter and Trastevere. In addition to Lauren, a …

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