Rome: Santa Costanza

The Santa Costanza is a little gem. Located on the Via Nomentana, just a stone’s throw away from the Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura, it is not frequented much by tourists and I was in fact the only visitor when I visited the church in January 2017. The edifice used to…

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Rome: Santa Maria in Aracoeli

It is not difficult to rattle off pages about the Santa Maria in Aracoeli. The church has a long history and it is chock-full of beautiful art. Although there are a lot of Baroque ornaments, the Santa Maria in Aracoeli is an interesting mix of medieval and more modern elements.…

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Rome: San Lorenzo in Lucina

The San Lorenzo in Lucina is one of many churches in Rome dedicated to Saint Lawrence. Lawrence was a church deacon who was martyred in 258 during the persecutions of the Roman emperors Valerianus and Gallienus. He can very well be considered historical, much unlike the many legends that surround…

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Rome: Santa Maria della Pace

I stumbled upon this lovely little church by chance. It is located directly behind the Santa Maria dell’Anima, not far from the Piazza Navona. The most intriguing exterior feature of the church is its facade, and especially the round portico designed by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) in the seventeenth century.…

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Rome: Santa Maria Antiqua

The Santa Maria Antiqua is a little jewel on the edge of the Forum Romanum. It is a ruined sixth century church that is no longer used for religious services. The church can be visited on the ticket that gives access to the Forum, and at the moment it should…

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Rome: Santa Francesca Romana

The Santa Francesca Romana is located on the north-eastern edge of the Forum Romanum, close to the Colosseum. Confusingly, the official name of this church is actually Santa Maria Nova. The name means “New Saint Mary’s” and suggests that there is or was an “Old Saint Mary’s” as well. That…

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Rome: San Crisogono

There are two churches in Trastevere that anyone should visit: the Santa Maria in Trastevere and the Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. The San Crisogono, also in Trastevere, cannot hope to match those two in terms of art of history, but it is interesting in its own right. The church is…

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Rome: San Teodoro

This is a lovely little temple-like church nested against the slope of the Palatine Hill. It is not far from the San Giorgio in Velabro. Like the San Giorgio, it is dedicated to a specifically eastern saint, Saint Theodorus (Theodore in English). As I have discussed previously, there were more…

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Rome: Santa Sabina

The Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill is best admired from the Giardino degli Aranci (Orange Garden), a lovely park located just north of the church. The park has a terrace near the edge of the hill, which offers a panoramic view of the city, and especially of Trastevere on…

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Rome: San Saba

It is easy to confuse the church of San Saba with the Santa Sabina. The names are almost identical, and both are located on the Aventine Hill, at a distance of some 800 metres of one another. I myself mixed up the two when I wrote about the Sienese cardinal…

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Rome: San Vitale

Yes, Rome has her own church of San Vitale. It is nowhere near as famous nor as fascinating as its namesake in Ravenna, but if you happen to be in the vicinity, make sure you check it out. The church is located on the busy Via Nazionale and can hardly…

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Siena: The Crypt

“A descent into the world of colour takes you into the heart of the Cathedral to the place popularly known as the “Crypt”, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the past twenty years.” The website of the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena uses roaring language to open a…

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Siena: The Duomo

My first visit to Siena was in 2010. It was a rainy day and we got lost on the way to the city centre (which is quite an achievement: Siena is not that big). We had lunch at a mediocre restaurant that served factory-made tiramisu, which really should be a…

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Siena: Libreria Piccolomini

The Piccolominis were a prominent and influential family from Siena. Their influence was not confined to the city itself: two of the family’s most famous members became popes. Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464) was elected Pope Pius II in 1458 and held that position until his death in 1464. His nephew…

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