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Visit Italy - Places to See
Bergamo

It is crowned by the hilltop Citta Alta, the old walled town. By funicular one can go from the higher town to the hill of San Vigilo. The Citta Alta has narrow streets, old squares, splendid monuments, and medieval architecture.

Piazza Vecchia: is the heart of Upper Town. On this square is an 18th century fountain and the Palazzo della Ragione, or Town Hall. The Palazzo Nuova Scamozzi is the library.

Santa Maria Maggiore ... built in Romanesque style in the 12th century. The choir is designed by Lotto and dates from the 16th century. The church is located on the Plazza del Duomo.

Carrara Academy ... at 82a Piazza Giacomo contains works by Botticelli, Mantegna, Bellini, Raphael, Rubens, and Brueghel. Hours 9:30-12:30, 2:30-5:30.


Brescia

An ancient medieval town near the Lakes Garda and Iseo.

Piazza della Loggia ... is the historic heart of town and dates from 1492. The top part of the loggia evokes a design by Palladio and the Clock Tower is reminiscent of the tower at Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Piazza del Duomo ... is near the Piazza della Loggia. Here, you'll find a new Cathedral as well as the Broletto, which dates from medieval times and was the old Town Hall.

Tosio Martinengo Vivic Picture Gallery ... off the Piazza Moretto is filled with the most important works of the artists of the Brescian School. It's most important work, however, is Raphael's Redeemer. Hours 9-12,2-5.

Civic Museum of the Roman Period ... at the Piazza del Foro, is a Corinthian Temple built by Vespasian in 73 AD and contains the important Roman bronze... Statue of Victory.


Padua (Padova)

Remains a major art center of Venetia... sometimes called "La Citta de Santo" or "City of the Saint"... referring to St. Anthony who is buried here.

Cappella degli Scrovegni ... in the gardens off Corso Garibaldi. Very important for the Giotto frescoes from 1305-1306, which are beautifully preserved. The frescoes unfold Biblical scenes. Hours 9-12, 2-6.

Basilica di San Antonio ... on Piazza del Santo... from 13th c... Rich frescoes inside... Donatello Crucifix and Equestrian.

Palazzo della Ragione ... at Piazza delle Erbe...13th c... This Palace of Law is among the best in Italy... Loggias and a roof shaped like the hull of a ship.


Vicenza

From the 16th c... noted for the architecture of Andrea Palladio, who peppered the city with palaces and Basilicas.

Piazza dei Signori ... a classical square containing the Basilica Palladiana. The loggias consist of two levels, the lower tier with Doric pillars and the upper tier with Ionic pillars. To the side is the Tower of the Piazza, dating from the 13th c. Across from the basilica is the Loggia del Capitanio.

Olympic Theatre ... the masterpiece of Palladio and one of the world's greatest theatres... still in use. Remarkable! On the Piazza Matteotti. Hours 9-12:30, 3-5:30.

City Museum ... across the street from the Olympic Theatre and housed in the Palace of Chiericati... one of the most outstanding buildings by Paladdio. Visit it chiefly for the excellent collection of Venetian Paintings by Tintoretto, Veronese, and Tiepolo. Hours 9-12, 3-5.

Santa Corona Church ... off Corso Palladio, founded in 13th century. Visit it for Bellini's Baptism of Christ.

Basilica of Monte Berico ... high on a hill overlooking the town. A great view.

La Rotonda ... outside town. Today, it's a private residence, but the grounds may be visited Tue/Thur/Sat from 3-5.

Villa Valmarana ... often called the "Dwarf's Villa". It is visited today by those wishing to see the Tiepolo frescoes. Thur/Sat/Sun 10-12. M-F 3:30-6:30.


Mantua (Mantova)

Originally an Etruscan settlement... later a Roman colony... situated near three lakes... Superior, di Mezzo, and Inferlore.

Gonzaga Palace ... at Piazza Sordello. More than 500 rooms and 15 courtyards... considered by many to be the most remarkable palace in Italy. The earliest part dates from 13th century. The highlight of the tour is a remarkable and very famous Mantegna on the ceiling, which shows fantastic foreshortening. Other works by Tintoretto, E1Greco, and Rubens. A guide takes you on a tour. The hours are 9-2. Closed Monday.

Basilica of St. Andrew ... on Piazza delle Erbe. The first chapel on the left is the tomb of Mantegna. In the crypt are relics, such as "Blood of Christ". The Bell Tower dates from 1414.

The Palazzo ... is a renovated palace reached on Viale Te Federigo II. The hours are 9-12, 3-6. Closed Monday.

Market Square ... small, but very colorful, and the friendliest people you'll ever hope to meet. It's located beside the Basilica.


San Gimignano

A golden lily of the middle ages... called the Manhattan of Tuscany because of the 13 towers which give it a skyscraper skyline as you approache from a distance. The towers are mostly non-functional, being built by noblemen trying to out-do each other in height. The town today, is one of the most delightful you'll ever visit. All autos must park outside the gates, and visitors must walk into the town. San Gimignano comes alive at night when all tourists' leave and the natives get together.

Piazza della Cisterna ... named after the 13th century cistern in the middle.

Piazza del Duomo ... the most beautiful spot in town... medieval architecture... towers and palaces. The chief attraction is the Chapel of Santa Fina, which was designed by Giuliano da Maiano and frescoed in 1475 by Ghirlandaio.

Museum of Sacred Art ... on the Piazza Luigi Pecori... interesting for its medieval tombstones and wooden sculpture.

Palazzo del Popolo ... a palace designed by de Cambio in 13th century... has the tallest tower at 178 feet. Climb the stairs for a bird's eye view.

Civic Museum ... on the second floor of the Palazzo del Popolo. Works by F. Lippi and Pinturicchio. Hours 9:30-12:30, 2:30-5:30. Closed Monday.

Church of Sant'agostino ... Piazza S. Agostino. Gothic Church built in the 13th c.


Pisa

Pisa is 1 hour by train from Florence. An easy 3/4 day trip. Bus #1 (also 3, 11) outside station takes you to Piazza de Miracoli (Tower) or a 30 minute walk.

The Duomo: Designed by Buscetto and dates from 1060. The South Door is considered the most notable. Mosaics in the apse are designed by Cimabue.

The Baptistery: Begun in 1153, this structure is like a Romanesque capped by Gothic. The building is supported by pillars resting on the backs of a trio of marble lions. The pulpit contains bas-reliefs of the Crucifixion.

The Leaning Tower: Daily 8-7:30. This famous monument was designed by Bonanno and construction began in 1174. Make no mistake about it, it is very interesting. The climb to the top (if allowed), in an interior spiral staircase, is difficult (293 steps), and is crowded with people. The views from the top are spectacular. Nowhere else can you really feel just how much the tower leans. The tower has been closed for major studies concerning the tilt and now the engineers feel they have corrected the leaning "problem" and have saved the tower from an ultimate demise. Climbing is now allowed in small groups of 10 with advanced reservations.


Lucca

At the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire, Lucca was virtually the capital of Tuscany. It is a thriving, cosmopolitan, and perfectly preserved town today... a sort of Switzerland of the south... buildings with latticed Gothic windows, and shops that are delightful. City walls from the Renaissance enclose the old town.

Piazza S. Martino ... The Duomo dates from 1060... Pisan-Romanesque style.

Piazza S. Michele ... from the 12th century... the most remarkable example of the style and flair of the Pisan-Romanesque.


Pistoia

...of Roman origin. During the middle ages, it was torn by bitter internal feuds with Lucca and Florence, falling to Florence in 1530. It is now a pleasant market town, with a wealth of Romanesque architecture... more finely patterned and colorful than Pisa.

Duomo ... founded in 15th c... facade is Pisan-Romanesque, decorated with terra cottas by della Robbia. Located in the center of town on a square enclosed by a beautiful array of ancient buildings.

Museo Civico ... Palazzo del Comune... Tue-Sun 9-12:30, 3-7. Closed Monday. A new museum... beautifully displayed collection of Pistoian art from 13-19th c.

Sant'Andrea ... 12th c... a lovely arcaded facade... reliefs above the central portal. Inside is Pisano's Pulpit, the most celebrated work in Pistoia.

San Bartolommeo in Pantano ... 12th c. Church with sculptured portal.

Centro Marino Marini ... Palazzo del Commune... Tue-Sat: 9-1,3-7. Closed Monday. This museum houses contemporary paintings, etchings, drawings, by Marini.


Gubbio

An ancient town with Roman remains... flourished as a powerful commune in the middle ages. During the Renaissance, it was governed by the Montefeltro family. It stands in the hills north of Perugia, an almost perfectly preserved 14th century town. Impressive medieval buildings rise, tier upon tier, against the steep slopes of Monte Ingino.

Palazzo del Consoli and Palazzo Pretorio Two austere 14th c. palaces which tower above the roofs half way up the hill.

Palazzo Ducale ... a Renaissance palace higher up the hill.

Duomo and Bell Tower ... which dominate the town of Gubbio.


Arezzo

...about 50 miles from Florence, Arezzo flourished in the middle ages.

Church of St. Francis ... on the Piazza di S. Francesco, this Gothic Church was finished in the 14th c. In the church is a fresco cycle Legend of the True Cross, which is the masterpiece of Piero della Francesca.

Church of Santa Maria della Pieve ... on Via dei Pileati... a Romanesque structure with a front of 3 open loggias. Near by is a 14th c. bell tower known as "the hundred holes" because it's riddled with windows. Inside, the church is bleak, but contains a notable piece by Lorenzetti VIrgin With Saints.

Petrarch's House ... Petrarch, born in 1304 was a great Italian lyrical poet.

Duomo ... built in the pure Gothic style (rare for Tuscany), this church was begun in the 13th c. Treasures include works by Francesca and windows by Marcillat.


Spoleto

... filled with palaces of aristocracy, medieval streets and towers.

Piazza del Duomo ... dominated by the 12-13th c. Church... a hodgepodge of Romanesque and Medieval architecture, but the facade is of exceptional beauty. Visit the interior to see frescoes by Filippo Lippi.

Roman Theatre ... lying off the Piazza dell Liberta.

Monteluco ... 2500 feet above sea level... an ancient spot peppered with summer villas and palaces.


Perugia

...a setting of remarkable beauty... retains its Gothic/Renaissance charm.

Piazza IV Novembre ... in the heart of Perugia, and considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world. In the center is Fontana Maggiore, or Grand Fountain, built in 1270. Its artistic triumph stems from the sculptural work by Pisano - the work symbolizing the arts and the sciences.

Cathedral of S. Lorenzo ... rather raw exterior. Inside, see Barocci's Deposition. In the museum of the cathedral, see Signorelli's Virgin Enthroned.

Palazzo del Priori ... the Town Hall, considered one of the finest secular buildings in Italy, dating from the 13th c. Its facade is characterized by a striking row of millioned windows. Over the main door are a lion and a griffin of Perugia, holding chains.

National Gallery of Umbria ... Houses the most comprehensive collection Umbrian art from the 13th to 18th c... Buoninsegna, Fra Angelico, della Francesca, Perugino, and Pinturicchio. Hours 9-1. Closed Sun and Mon.

Collegio del Cambio ... off Piazza IV Novembre, this is a medieval Exchange Bldg. See the Hall of the Audience with frescoes by Perugino and his assistant... a teenage Raphael. Hours 9-12:30, 2:30-5.


Cortona

An ancient city... the old town ringed by medieval walls... long stretches incorporating massive blocks of Etruscan masonry spreads up to olive-clad slopes. There are spectacular views of the valley and distant plain. The atmosphere is harshly medieval, with narrow streets and, at the center, the irregular Piazza della Repubblica, which is surrounded by Medieval Palaces.

Duomo ... the Cathedral of Cortona.

Museo Diocesano ... on Piazza Trento Trieste... an outstanding small collection with highlights by Fra Angelico. Daily 9-1, 3-6:30.

Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca ... Palazzo Pretoria on Piazza Signorelli. This museum houses Etruscan and Egyptian art, paintings, costumes, etc. The highlight is a 15th century BC Etruscan Bronze Candelabrum. Tue-Sun 10-1, 4-7. Closed Mon.


Ferrara

About 30 miles from Bologna... relatively undiscovered by Americans, this city has a great Cathedral and the Este Castle, plus many ducal palaces with frescoes.

Este Castle ... A moated, four-towered castle (lit at night). Here the Dukes went about their murderous business. See the Salon of Dawn and the frescoes.

The Cathedral ... a short stroll from the castle... weds Gothic with Romanesque with an exciting marble facade. Behind the cathedral is a Renaissance Bell rower. The entrance to the Duomo Museum lies to the left of the entrance. Hours 10-12, 3-5.

The Schifanoia Palace ... a Renaissance palace at 25 Via Scandiana noted for its Salon of the Months, painted by del Cossa. The frescoes are stylized and are reminiscent of settings for ballets. Hours 9-7.

The Este Tomb ... at the Monastery of Corpus Domini (#4 Via Pergolato). Lucrezia Borgia is buried here. The woman whose name has become synonymous with evil lies under a flat slab... a very simple tomb. Hours 9:30-11:45, 3:30-5:30.

The Palace of Ludovic the Moor ... a Renaissance palace at #126 Via XX Settembre, containing a priceless collection of Etruscan works. The National Archeological Museum, in this building, houses the major works. Hours 9-2. Clo Mon.

Diamond Palace ... at 21 Via Corso Ercolei d'Este, is so named because of the diamond-shaped stones on its facade. See The National Picture Gallery. Hours 9-1, 3-6.

Romei House ... at 30 Via Savonarola... a 15th c. palace near the Este Tomb. Many of the rooms have terra cotta fireplaces and are filled with frescoes and sculpture. Noted especially for its graceful courtyards. Hours 9-12, 2-6.

La Palazzina Marfisa d'Este ... at l/1Corso Giovecca... built in the 16th c. The bizarre art on the ceiling is the major calling card. Hours 9-12:30, 3-6.


Urbino

The town where Raphael was born. Medieval, and built on a hill about 1500 feet above sea level. Streets are narrow and crooked... similar to San Gimignano.

Palazzo Ducale Housing the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche the palace is beautifully designed, with a grand staircase leading to the gallery. Contains Renaissance paintings and the Ducal Apartments. Hours 9-7. Sun 9-1.

Casa Natale di Raffaello... at 57 Via Raffaello Sanzio... This is Raphael's birthplace. Hours 9-1, 3-7. Closed Monday.


Rimini

A resort along the Adriatic... does have the Arch of Augustus from 27 BC, and the 13th century Gradara Castle and the Malatesta Temple.


Parma

It was the home of the artist Correggio, and a power in the 16th century as the seat of the Farnese Duchy, and under Bourbon rule in the 18th century. Parma is a favorite of art lovers.

The Cathedral ... Romanesque 11th c... with Lombard Lions guarding main portal. Building is covered with dusty-pink marble. The bell tower is Gothic-Romanesque. The facade is highlighted by 3 open-air loggias. The Cupola is a fresco by Correggio. Hours 7:15-12, 3-7:15.

Baptistery ... listed among the greatest Romanesque buildings in northern Italy... begun in 1196 and covered with salmon-colored marble. Richly frescoed with Biblical scenes. The sculpture by Antelami is the main interest. 9-12, 2-7.

Abbey of St. John ... behind the Cathedral. The front is Baroque and the cupola is by Correggio. Hours 9-12, 4-6.

Pallazzo della Pilotta Once housed the Farnese family in Parma's heyday... now a palace of museums... the major one being the National Gallery with many notable paintings by Correggio. With the same ticket you can visit St. Paul's Chamber for more frescoes by Correggio... and the Farnese Theater and Antiquities Museum, which contains an interesting collection of Egyptian Art. Also in this complex is the Bodoni Museum of Graphic Art. Hours 9-2.

Arturo Toscanini's Birthplace ... 13 Via Rodolfo Tanzi. Hrs. 10-1, 4:30-6:30.


Marino

About 14 miles from Rome, out the Via Appia. This historic town is the birthplace of the poetess Victoria Colonna, whose platonic relationship with Michelangelo greatly influenced his life. The town should be visited at grape harvest time in October. The fountains spout wine... all you can drink... FREE.


Ravenna

One of Italy's greatest art cities... but very different.

Neone Baptistery ... at Piazza del Duomo... built in 5th c... Rich mosaics.

Archepiscopal Museum and Church of St. Andrea ... on the Piazza Arcivescovado... the Archbishop's palace dating from 6th c. In the museum, the major exhibit is a throne carved from ivory. Hours 9-12, 2:30-6.

Church of St. Vitale ... on Via S. Vitale... an octagonal-shaped dome-surmounted church from the 6th c. Inside are glorious mosaics... brilliant greens/golds, lit by light from translucent panels. These mosaics are among the most famous in the western world, Hrs. 8:30-8.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia ... standing beside the Church of St. Vitale... from the 5th c... mosaics of exceptional merit. Hours 8:30 - 8.

National Museum ... archeological objects from the early Christian and Byzantine periods...icons, tapestries, armory, sarcophagi, ivories and ceramics. Hours are 8:30-1:30. Sunday 8:30-12. Closed Monday.

Arian Baptistery ... off Piazza Ariani... 5th c... noted for mosaics. 8:30-sunset.

Basilica of St. Apollinare Nuovo ... on Via de Roma, from 6th c. In the nave are some of Ravenna's finest mosaics illustrating procession of Virgins. 8-12, 2-7.

Dante's Tomb ... off Piazza Garibaldi... his final monument.


San Marino

...the world's oldest and smallest Republic... 14 miles from Rimimi... noted especially for issuing stamps.

Palazzo del Governo ... a handsome Gothic-Florentine building... 19th century.

The Fortress ... dominates San Marino like a ship in the sky. From one of its towers you can see Rimini, the Adriatic and the Coast of Yugoslavia.

Arms Museum ... at the top of another hill... offering a splendid view.

San Marino Basilica ... looks like the First National Bank... but a great Bell Tower.


Rocca di Papa

Near Frascati, this medieval village lies near what were supposedly the camp grounds of Hannibal's legions. The narrow lanes swirl up and down, and snug little houses hug the slopes life cliff dwellings. A greater pearl... 3130 feet... is Monte Cavo, which is considered the most scenic spot in hill towns.


Frascati

13 miles from Rome out Via Tuscolans... one of the most beautiful hill towns. If you stand in the heart of Piazza Marconi, you'll see the most important of the estates Villa Aldobrandini from the 16th century, with gardens, grottos, statuary and fountains. Continue on to Tuscolo about 3 miles. This is an ancient spot with the ruins of an amphitheatre: from the 1st c. BC... Great view.


Palestrina

24 miles from Rome out Via Prenestina. Medieval town overlooking a valley. During WW2 US aircraft bombed parts of the town and unintentionally uncovered a pagan temple, Fortuna Primigenia, which was once the world's greatest... and dating from centuries before The Empire. Also visit Barberini Palace, high on a hill overlooking the valley. Hours 9-1, Sun 9-12:30. Closed Mon.


Viterbo

Dates back to Etruscans... architecture from Middle ages. The Old Town is surrounded by stone walls. Piazza del Plebiscito with 15th c. Town Hall. Palazzo San Lorenzo with the Viterbo Cathedral, sits atop the former Etruscan Acropolis. 13th C. Palazzo Papale. The finest architecture is the San Pellegrino Quarter... a maze of narrow streets, towers, stairways, and fountains. See also Bomarzo, a park of carved grotesque figures dating from 1560.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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