Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

I have procrastinated the gargantuan task of writing a post about the Santa Maria Maggiore for far too long. I have mentioned this major basilica several times now in other posts, and have visited it at least half a dozen times. The church is one of four major basilicas in…

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Rome: Santa Maria dell’Orto

I used to think that there were only three interesting churches in Trastevere, my favourite neighbourhood in Rome: the Santa Maria in Trastevere of course, and then the Santa Cecilia and the San Crisogono. I now realise I was wrong all the time. The Santa Maria dell’Orto should be on…

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Rome: San Giovanni in Fonte

San Giovanni in Fonte is the name usually given to the octagonal baptistery next to the cathedral of San Giovanni in Laterano, the seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome. The story of this great basilica is well-known. After his victory over his rival Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge…

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Rome: Chiesa Nuova

The name Chiesa Nuova is obviously just a nickname. The official name of this immense Counter-Reformation church is and has always been the Santa Maria in Vallicella. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and has a subsidiary dedication to Pope Saint Gregorius the Great (590-604). This latter dedication…

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Rome: San Lorenzo in Damaso

The San Lorenzo in Damaso is one of several churches in Rome dedicated to the third century deacon and martyr Saint Lawrence. Other churches in the city seem to be connected to episodes in his life. For instance, the San Lorenzo in Fonte was built on the alleged spot where…

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Rome: San Lorenzo in Fonte

The San Lorenzo is Fonte is an attractive little church that can be found in the Via Urbana, at the intersection of that ancient street with the Via de’ Ciancaleoni. The church is hemmed in between a hostel for pilgrims on the left – the famous Ostello Marello – and…

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Florence: Michelangelo at the Uffizi

Although he considered himself first and foremost a sculptor, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was also an accomplished painter. Pope Julius II (1503-1513) commissioned him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, a project Michelangelo worked on between 1508 and 1512. The great artist later returned to this chapel…

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Florence: Giotto at the Uffizi

I will not hide the fact that I consider Giotto di Bondone (ca. 1266-1337) one of the greatest painters of all time. Giotto broke with Byzantine formalism and rigidness and started painting people as people again, with natural forms, intricate details and brilliant colours. His year of birth is uncertain,…

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Vicenza: San Lorenzo

The thirteenth century church of San Lorenzo in Vicenza is of course dedicated to Saint Lawrence the Deacon, martyred in 258 (more information here and here). The church and adjacent monastery have always been administered by members of the Franciscan Order. Now Saint Lawrence is not a typical Franciscan saint…

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Vicenza: Santa Corona

As the name suggests, the church of Santa Corona in Vicenza is named after the sacred crown of thorns that Jezus was forced to wear after his arrest and that was part of his Passion. The church possesses one of the thorns of this crown as a precious relic. It…

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Vicenza: The Duomo

The city of Vicenza was known as Vicetia during the Roman era. It seems to have been of relatively minor importance, but its cathedral goes back a long way. By the third century CE, Vicenza had a Christian community that made use of a Roman building from the first century.…

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