Ravenna: Dante’s tomb

Dante Alighieri (ca. 1265-1321) is perhaps the most famous Italian poet ever. He is best known for his Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), which consists of three parts: Hell (or Inferno), Purgatory and Paradise. Although Dante was born and raised in Florence and can be considered one of the most important…

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Florence: The Duomo

No matter how many times I have seen it, Florence’s cathedral continues to impress me, and for many reasons. The Duomo is simply huge, with a length of some 153 metres and a nave width of 38 metres (90 metres at the crossing). It can accommodate at least 20.000 people.…

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Milan: Pinacoteca di Brera

The name “Brera” apparently derives from a Germanic word, braida, which means “field of grass”. In this part of the city of Milan, traditionally home to many artists, we find the world-famous Pinacoteca di Brera. It can be found in a palazzo that was built for the Jesuit Order in…

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Milan: Castello Sforzesco

The Castello Sforzesco is a huge castle in the centre of Milan, measuring some 190 by 190 metres. Behind it is the Parco Sempione, one of the largest public parks of the city. The Castello houses a handful of a museums that together are called the Musei Civici. You can…

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Milan: Biblioteca and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

The driving force behind establishing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was Federico Borromeo, archbishop of Milan from 1595 until his death in 1631. Borromeo, cousin of Saint Carlo Borromeo, was an important figure in the counter-Reformation movement. In 1609 he founded the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana, one of the first public libraries in Europe.…

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Milan: Museo Poldi Pezzoli

What a wonderful museum! We had not planned to visit the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, but ended up there by chance. Originally we wanted to go and see the famous Chiaravalle Abbey on the outskirts of Milan. However, the abbey was quite far away and since it was our last day…

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Florence: Palazzo Medici Riccardi

In April of this year, I saw the “art movie” Florence and the Uffizi Gallery at the cinema. It featured the actor Simon Merrells as Lorenzo “Il Magnifico” de’ Medici and discussed the highlights of Florentine Renaissance art. The movie dedicated quite a few minutes to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi,…

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Florence: Santa Trinita

The Vallumbrosan Order is a branch of the Benedictines that was founded in the eleventh century by Saint John Gualbert (died 1073). The first church of the Vallumbrosans in Florence was built in either 1077 or 1092 (different dates are mentioned in different sources). At that time it was outside…

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Florence: Ognissanti

The best time to visit the Ognissanti church in Florence is on a Monday, Tuesday or Saturday morning. The church is open to the public on other days of the week as well, but only on the days mentioned are visitors allowed to visit the beautiful cloister next door (Chiostro…

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Pontassieve

The pleasant town of Pontassieve owes its existence to Florence. In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Signoria of Florence (i.e. the city government) decided to build a castle at this strategic location, where the river Sieve joins the river Arno. Construction of the castle commenced after a government…

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Milan: San Simpliciano

One of my travel guides calls the San Simpliciano a “little jewel”. That is a bit of an exaggeration, but the church is worth a visit nonetheless. It is one of the three or four churches in Milan founded by Saint Ambrosius (ca. 340-397). The church was completed in 401…

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Milan: San Nazaro in Brolo

Saint Ambrosius (ca. 340-397)  is credited with founding three or four churches in Milan in the late fourth century. The Basilica Martyrum (now the Sant’Ambrogio) was one of them, the Basilica Virginum (now the San Simpliciano) another. The third church was the Basilica Apostolorum, or the Basilica of the Apostles.…

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Milan: Sant’Ambrogio

The Sant’Ambrogio is one of the oldest and most important churches in Milan. Built between 379 and 386 by Saint Ambrosius (Anglicised as Ambrose) and later named after him, the church is even older than the San Lorenzo Maggiore. According to a brochure provided by the church itself, “during Lent…

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Fiesole: Museo Civico Archeologico

Fiesole’s small but interesting archaeological museum is located right within the city’s archaeological area, where one can find the remains of an Etruscan wall, a Roman temple, Roman public baths and a Roman theatre that is still used for performances during the summer. Fiesole has had an archaeological museum since…

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Fiesole: The Duomo

Fiesole’s Duomo is hardly the most elegant building in Italy. It is simple and robust, made of large blocks of tuff. The Duomo was built in the shape of a classical Roman basilica, with the apse facing southeast. Its official name is the cattedrale di San Romolo, after the first…

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