Sicily, the largest of the Mediterranean islands, has been a crossroads of history since ancient times. From the Greek and Phoenicians to the Carthaginians and the Romans, all have left their indelible mark on the land.
For two days in 79 AD, death rained down on the Roman towns surrounding Mount Vesuvius. Buried for 1700 years under 50 feet of lava, Herculaneum became a unique time capsule of daily life in Ancient Rome.
Matera, one of the oldest living cities in the world, is also one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.
Created by Giotto in the early 14th century, the Scrovegni Chapel cycle of 37 frescoes it is widely recognized as one of the milestones in the evolution of European art.
A short boat ride away from its legendary center lay a Venice few tourists ever see: small islands scattered throughout the lagoon, each with its own history and personality.
Separated by the Grand Canal from the shuffling crowds of San Marco, the Dorsoduro District is home to the most inviting House Museums in the city: the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation and the Ca’ Rezzonico Museum of 18th century Venice.
Beyond the grand tourist clichés of the central St. Mark district, in the labyrinth of ancient side canals and back alleys of the Castello, Venice lives on as it has for centuries.
Venice requires no introduction. The fabled destination is on everyone’s European wishlist, a distinction that from Easter through October can turn it into a chaotic citywide museum. But come winter the tourists fade away, the Venetians reclaim their city and the Serenissima becomes once again serene.
Recognized as one of the crown jewels of Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast, the family-run luxury Hotel Santa Caterina is a cliff-side Art Nouveau mansion that has been delighting guests for over a century with flawless service and breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Hard to imagine that any corner of Tuscany could ever escape attention of tourists. But the Casentino Valley, a rural area wedged into the foothills of the Appenine Mountains a mere 50 kilometers east of Florence has managed to remain mainly ignored by visitors.
Today I take to the back roads of Tuscany toward the Val d’Orcia. The region abounds with medieval hill towns with their own important cultural heritage. Among them Siena and her Piazza del Campo, one of the greatest medieval squares in Europe.
No visit to Florence feels complete without a foray into the narrow alleys of the Oltrarno. Located outside the city’s walls, on the oltr’Arno the other side of the Arno), was from the start home to the traditional Florentine craftspeople carried on their trade. Today’s picture framers, gilders, engravers, enamelers and restorers of fine antiques still do.
To wander around Florence is to walk back in time to the birthplace of modern western culture. The Renaissance began here, in the maze of narrow streets lined with the palazzos and monasteries of the old town. Their façades look like stark fortresses. But step through their foreboding, metal studded gates and a world of serene gardens, elegant cloisters and inexhaustible treasures await.
Florence, the widely acknowledged cradle of the Renaissance, owes its splendor and unique influence on the development of the western world in great part to the dominant ruling family of the period, the Medici.
I was barely in my teens when travel became a driving force in my life. Now as a travel writer and photographer, I have visited over 45 countries in some of the most photogenic corners of the planet, taking tens of thousands of pictures along the way. With my work, I thrive to capture the natural and cultural uniqueness of each area I visit. Get to know me better…