Underground in Orvieto

Orvieto has its little secrets. In their mad dash across Europe, many visitors make the mistake of making a beeline from the funicular to the famous cathedral, snapping a few shots, and rushing back out again. Big mistake. This little tourist town offers a lot to those who take the time to go underground.

The baffling lead picture, which looks like a strange piece of abstract art, is actually a photograph from the Continue…

The Cathedral of Orvieto

As Thomas returns to Germany, I’ve diverted south into northern Umbria to take in the magnificent Duomo of Orvieto. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m on a quest, an “architectural adventure,” to take in central Italy’s best Gothic cathedrals. (That should give architecture fans a clue as to where I’m headed next.)

The small town of Orvieto itself is a sight to behold. Situated on a volcanic plug, the entire town is a natural fortress. Curiously, the location bears an odd resemblance to the Acoma¬†Pueblo in New Mexico, one of my favorite places in the U.S. Most visitors arriving by train travel up the steep walls of the table mountain by a classic three-rail funicular quite similar to Hong Kong’s Peak Tram. A short walk through the atmospheric town and you come face to face with Orvieto’s pride and joy.

The cathedral’s interior alone would be enough to attract visitors. Extreme Continue…

The Towers of San Gimignano

After several days of Renaissance splendor in Florence, we decided to venture beyond the city and explore a bit of rural Tuscany. Yay! Setting out by local bus, we made our way from village to village through a patchwork landscape of colorful vineyards and ancient olive groves. We had timed our trip perfectly to witness locals out in the fields harvesting olives.

As we approached our destination, we caught a glimpse of the impressive skyline through the fall foliage. Like a medieval Manhattan, San Gimignano with its ancient towers and fortifications is the clear superstar of central Tuscany Continue…

Florence

Florence. What can a blogger say that hasn’t been said countless times in the last millennium? Cultural mecca, epicenter of the Renaissance, food extravaganza, fashion center, art and architecture overload – if you can’t find something to love about Florence, there’s something wrong with you.

The city is simply overwhelming. Before you even step out of the train, you spot Florence’s insanely monumental Gothic Duomo towering above the surrounding buildings. The phenomenal black and white banded walls dwarf crowds of visitors. Every tourist eye is fixed on its remarkably intricate polychrome marble facade. It’s hard to comprehend what someone Continue…

Keith Haring’s Pisa Mural ‘Tuttomondo’

Keith Haring's Pisa mural "Tuttomondo"

When you come to Italy, you expect to see tons of murals – but you don’t really expect them to be by American artists. So we were quite surprised to discover the multi-story Keith Haring Tuttomondo mural on the side of the Church of Sant’Antonio just north of the Pisa train station. It’s somewhat ironic that the last public mural of the openly gay artist and prominent AIDS activist was painted on the side of a Catholic church. The work titled Tuttomondo, which means “All-world”, was completed just eight months before Haring died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990.