Centrale Montemartini: a power plant full of classical gems

If you are on holiday in Rome, you might be a bit disappointed if it starts to rain. But there is no need to be, because there are plenty of interesting museums to escape to during the downpours. One of my favourites, and one of the most unusual, is the Centrale Montemartini on Via Ostiense. … More Centrale Montemartini: a power plant full of classical gems

Spotting surprise jewels in the gardens of Villa Lante

The main reason I travelled to Viterbo was to visit the Villa Lante in nearby Bagnaia. I first read about it in Monty Don’s Great Gardens of Italy book, and it sounded enticing. It was commissioned by Cardinal Gambara in the mid- sixteenth century while he was Bishop of Viterbo, and Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, … More Spotting surprise jewels in the gardens of Villa Lante

Palazzo Farnese di Caprarola and its grotesque gems

While the word “grotesque” has become associated with something ugly or disgusting, it originally referred to a decorative form of Ancient Roman art. It comes from the same Latin root as “grotto” or “cave” and was first seen in the Domus Aurea, an unfinished palace started by the Emperor Nero in Rome. At the end … More Palazzo Farnese di Caprarola and its grotesque gems

Rome’s little Madonnas part 1: gems watching over the city

By ItalianGems All photos and text copyright ItalianGems When you’re touring around top sights, or rushing to your office, you’ll likely have seen the many pretty little shrines on the corners or sides of buildings in Rome, most of them dedicated to Mary. Many of these sacred images were put in place to protect the houses … More Rome’s little Madonnas part 1: gems watching over the city

Otranto and diamonds on the heel of Italy

Region: Puglia Population: About 5,500 Claims to fame: The setting for Horace Walpole’s 1764 book “The Castle of Otranto”, which is widely regarded as the first Gothic novel, Otranto was also the site of an Ottoman invasion around 1480, when more than 800 people were allegedly beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam. Pope Francis made these victims … More Otranto and diamonds on the heel of Italy