Tag Archives: Italy

How to get your coffee fix while travelling on a budget

My routine is the same every morning: I get out of bed, trip on my cat, and make a single espresso in my stove-top moka pot.  It’s a safe bet that you, my reader, have a similar caffeine routine (though maybe not a 19 pound cat circling your feet).  So how do you satisfy your coffee […]

Giotto’s Scrovengni chapel: betrayal, revenge and dorky camels

It’s a devastating moment in the life of Joachim, a pious and generous man.  He wants most of all to give to the poor and sacrifice to the Lord, but the rabbi rudely rejects him.  As Joachim and his wife Anna are growing old but still childless, the rabbi declares they are cursed by God and unwelcome […]

Built to oppress: fascist architecture in Italy

While wandering about Naples, we took a detour from munching street food and dodging vespas to oggle fascist architecture.  HOB and I groaned and giggled at the aggressively symmetrical fascist post office and then decided to go in–why not?  We really did need stamps.  On entry a machine instructed us to take a number.  We […]

Lecce, Italy: all the putti

Putti wrapped around columns, garlands of putti, putti with pigeons on their heads, gilded putti holding up ceilings, putti coyly offering bunches of grapes, flying heads-with-no-bodies-putti, actual children that strongly resemble putti…. Arrive in Italy and keep going South, all the way down, right there to the tip of the boot.  Did you find a […]

I hope that you, my friends, might also one day find yourselves at the door to Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza while a security guard sings you the theme to Married… with Children.

“Where are you from?” asked the gregarious guard at the entry to Palladio’s Villa La Rotonda.  After replying, “Chicago, USA” we braced ourselves for the usual “Al Capone, bang bang bang!” only to be surprised by the guard’s delighted smile and cheery rendition of the theme song to Married… with Children. While Chicago may be […]

In which we are ripped off and stood up in Bari, but still enjoy the magnificent Basilica di San Nicola

We arrived in Bari with a long list of sights to check out, beginning with Basilica of San Nicola.  Bari has a reputation for high crime, and the unsavory scene around the train station certainly put us on edge. Since were travelling without a cell phone, I had arranged by email to arrive at a b&b during a certain […]

Urbino: Ideal Renaissance city drowned in a sea of drunken students

How could I help it?  I idealized Urbino. Even though I’ve long maintained a vigilant stance against romanticizing people and places alike, this was Urbino: Renaissance mecca for humanists, scholars, art and architecture.   The location, in the isolated and mountainous region of Italy’s Marche, combined with being a university town filled me with visions of […]

Palladio’s Teatro Olimpico: classic geeks, architecture nerds and trompe-l’œil freaks hold hands and say GAH!

I’ve been meaning to write about visiting Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy  in an academic way, letting you all know that it was constructed in 1580 from Andrea Palladio’s plans based on  a reconstruction of an ancient Roman theater ,etc, etc, because you, my readers, need the facts.  But I’ve got to be straight with you: as soon […]

Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection in Sansepolcro

It’s the perfect fresco for Easter: Christ steps proudly from his tomb super hero-style in his bubblegum pink robe.  Those poor dupes, the guards, are sleeping and miss the drama.  The composition is symmetrical, and a perfect triangle from the top of Christ’s head to the bodies of the guards below.  It was only once […]

The cloister of Monreale Cathedral

There’s a certain reaction I have, when looking though an art history book, an “Aha, there you are!” recognition that’s–let’s face it– a sense of entitlement.  I study the reproduction of a building or artwork and say to myself with certainty,  “I am going to go see that.”  Without fail, I have always felt just that […]