Top Ten Most Popular Italian Gems in 2015

Here’s a list of the Top Ten Most Popular posts on Italian Gems in 2015, based on online views of this blog. Titles and photos link to articles for more detail.

1 A Glimpse of Christmas Nativity Gems in Rome, Naples and Salerno

This tour around some of the best crib scenes in Rome, Naples and Salerno took the top spot for most-read post in 2015. Many of the nativities listed here can be seen year-round, including the one below in Rome’s St. Mary Major, which consists of the oldest existing nativity sculptures.

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2.  Salerno’s Christmas Lights, Brightening up the Dark Nights

This piece showcasing the stunning Christmas light displays in Salerno, Campania, came in a firm second place. It’s the best winter lights display I’ve ever seen!

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 3. Tarquinia’s Etruscan Gems in the Necropolis of Monterozzi.

Last year people were very interested in reading about these painted Etruscan tombs in Tarquinia in northern Lazio, dating as far back as the sixth century BC. To get there you catch a train from Rome to Tarquinia then there is a bus that heads up into the town. Once you arrive in town you can either walk to the tombs (which takes about 15-20 minutes), or you can get a shuttle bus that circulates regularly.

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 4.  Revealing the gems under Rome’s church of Saints John and Paul.

The Roman houses under the Church of Saints John and Paul in Rome often came up in search terms leading to the blog, and was the fourth most-read post last year. There are some charming third century AD frescoes to see at this site. It is traditionally believed to have been inhabited by John and Paul, two officers at the court of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, who both died Christian martyrs and were buried at their home.

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 5. The Spellbinding Tails of Benevento’s Witches and the Walnut Tree.

There is a witch in every woman, the manager of my B&B in Benevento told me. Clearly there are a lot of people drawn to the fascinating stories of the Benevento witches and the walnut tree they gathered around, as this post came in a strong fifth place last year. What a great way to attract visitors to this spooky southern Italian city!

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 6. Salerno’s Minerva Garden: A Hidden Trove of Therapeutic Treasures.

This fascinating medicinal garden in Salerno, home of Europe’s oldest medical school, can trace its roots back to the 14th century. Boasting wonderful views of the sea, it is also a great place to learn more about the humors theory of therapeutic treatment, related to the four elements, fire, earth, air and water.

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 7. Pause to Ponder: Three Fountains in Caserta’s Royal Palace.

This post tells the intriguing stories behind the top three fountains in the grounds of the Royal Palace of Caserta. These include hidden jets of water that used to surprise unsuspecting guests, the origin behind the word cereal, and one of the classical gods most commonly worshiped by women.

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 8. Palazzo Farnese di Caprarola and its Grotesque Gems.

This account of my journey into this massive pentagonal villa also proved popular with readers. Its beautiful paintings and gardens make it well-worth the trip from Viterbo.

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9. Finding gems along the Aurelian walls, Rome’s Ancient Ramparts.

This is a suggested itinerary for a morning or afternoon walk along a section of the ancient Aurelian walls surrounding Rome. This area between Porta Metronia and Porta San Sebastiano is one of my favourite places for spotting hidden jewels.

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 10. Stumbling on the Fairy Cottages in Rome’s Quartiere Coppedè.

People searching for this unusual architectural corner of Rome often stumbled upon my blog. The project started by Gino Coppedè in 1915 is a surreal collection of mansions and cottages decorated with mythical motifs in a partly Art Nouveau style. Take a detour off Viale Regina Margherita in northern Rome if you have time!

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 For a list of ten Italian Gems that I recommend visiting in 2016, see here

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