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The Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

If you only see one thing in Ravenna, make it the Basilica di San Vitale. On the outside it’s an unassuming brick structure. On the inside it’s a jaw-dropping work of genius. In a country awash in churches, it’s easy to get church-fatigue. The cross-shaped naves, dark paintings, tiny windows and ceiling frescos begin to blur… Read more »

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The Mosaics of Ravenna

We had one long weekend, a bad weather forecast and a demanding toddler, but I planned a trip anyway. A popular holiday weekend in Italy, flights were prohibitive, trains nearly as much so and long-distance car trips with a car-sick prone baby less than attractive. So I knew we had to stay close to home. We’ve… Read more »

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A Guide to Ravenna, Mosaics and More

A small city in Emilia Romagna near the Adriatic coast, Ravenna glitters like a jewel. It’s richness isn’t jewels, however, but the glass and gold-plated stones used to create most of the city’s magnificent 5th-century mosaics. Once the capital of the Western Roman Empire and then of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, today that period is visible in… Read more »

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How to See The Last Supper in Milan

So many people overlook Milan. The city is industrial, big, gray and, of course, not Florence, Rome or Venice. Everyone knows about the Colosseum, the Duomo of Florence, the canals of Venice, but few can name a jewel of Milan. In Milan you can see international models taking pictures in front of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral…. Read more »

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Opera in the Verona Arena

Princess Aida raised her hands in the air, voice sounding out as scores of dancers, soldiers and dancing soldiers framed her, their bright white gowns and hand-held torches blazing in the night. Her voice climbed higher. The music grew louder. The passion was palpable as the sky exploded with flashes of purple light. The ominous heat lightening… Read more »

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Why You Should See a Temporary Art Exhibition in Milan

There are some tourist sites that are so obvious, you barely need to research them.  Obviously you’ll be visiting the Uffizi Gallery or the Accademia’s David in Florence. Obviously the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum in Rome are important, St. Mark’s in Venice and the Archeological Museum in Naples. It doesn’t seem to be so obvious in Milan. Milan is… Read more »

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Visiting the Gates of Heaven in Siena

Third times the charm. At least it was for me, on my third visit to Siena this past September. The first time I went I was studying abroad in Florence. We went by train with no preparation, climbed the Torre del Mangia, Italy’s second tallest tower, and otherwise just ambled around aimlessly with no idea of… Read more »

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Psst, Hey You – Ever Wonder Why We Love Art?

I’ve never been “trained” in art. I went to many a museum with no idea how to look at the pieces, what to do, or where to put my hands.  Raised in Columbus, Ohio, my family eschewed art for sports and museums for sunsets over the lake. My childhood was encased in the nature and… Read more »

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Toward Monet: Landscape from the 17th – 20th Centuries

I took a walk Sunday from the twisted woods of northern Europe in the 17th century to the detailed Venetian canals in the 18th century. I traveled through the romantic French countryside in the 19th century and ended my trip in the 20th century, gazing at wistful waterlilies and noticing the colors either spreading warm… Read more »

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Street Art in Italy: A Glimpse of a City

I live on a not-so-pretty street. It’s near the center of the city but not in the center of the city and filled with pot holes and graffiti.  In American suburbs graffiti is considered juvenile vandalism that must be punished puritanically … or maybe that’s just what private school taught me. But vandalism or not, I… Read more »