History in General

Sights in General

Excavations of the Roman Baths

The top ancient sites and ruins in Italy

 

Topics in General

Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris

From prehistory to "Greater Greece"

 
Cave paintings in Lascaux, dating back about 17,000 years

The first great Italian empire was not based in Rome, but in Tuscany

 
Celtic gold-plated bronze disc from Auvers-sur-Oise, Val-d'Oise, dated to early 4th century BC; on display at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris

The beginnings of the Republic of Rome

 
Forum Romanum, Roman Architecture, from History of Architecture (Fletcher) pg 127

Julius Caesar and the rise of the Roman Empire

 

From ancient Romans, Greeks, and Etruscans to the Renaissance to World War II, a brief primer on Italian history

 
Milan Cathedral, Italian Gothic, from History of Architecture (Fletcher), pg 602

Medieval Italy languished and diminished after the fall of Rome

 

Italy becomes the center of Western Culture again

 

Foreign empires take over much of Italy in the 17C and 18C

 
The Neoclassical Altare della Patria, a monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, in Rome

The Risorgimento and forging of a new, united Italy

 

The new nation of Italy and World War I

 

Sights in Italy

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Making paper the old-fashioned way (Photo by Andy Rusch)
Museo della Carta
Downtown Amalfi

The paper museum

 
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The Arsenale di Amalfi installed with the Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi (Photo by Centro di Cultura e Storia Amalfitana)
Museo Arsenale
Downtown Amalfi

The little civic and naval museum of Amalfi showcases the city's impressive marittime history

 

Topics in Italy

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A ceramic mural depicting scenes from Amalfi history (located near the tourist office) (Photo Public Domain)

The glorious, powerful, rich medieval city-state of Amalfi—and what happened to it

 

Topics in Italy

History
Assisi

A brief summary of the history of Assisi

 

Sights in Italy

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Castello di Brolio
Sienese Chianti

The castle that invented Chianti Classico

 

Topics in Italy

History
Chianti

A brief summary of the history of Chianti

 

Sights in Italy

★☆☆
Belvedere rose garden (Photo by Damian Entwistle)

The Giardini di Boboli offer a rare park in busy Florence—and the birthplace of opera—in terraces of greenery behind the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

 
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 (Photo by Arnaud 25)
Free
Arringheria
Florence: Centro Storico

The statue-lined terrace in front of the Palazzo Vecchio tells Florence's story in sculpture

 
★☆☆
 (Photo by Pufui PcPifpef)
Free
Bellosguardo Hill
Florence: Oltrarno

Bellosguardo is the forgotten hill of Florence, rising above the Oltrarno and offering more intimate views across the city than the famous ones from Fiesole

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo by Txllxt TxllxT)
Free
Piazza della Repubblica
Florence: Centro Storico

Elegant 19th century cafes and modern bookshops on an expansive square

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆
Learn about the Medici and more on a history tour of Florence (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Florence

 

Topics in Italy

Tuscan Roots
Florence

From Prehistory to the Etruscans

 

The Founding of Florence

 

Goths, Lombards & Franks

 

An Imperfect Democracy

 

A Medieval Mess

 

Cue the Medici

 

The Long Snore

 
Fascism
Florence

Getting roped into World War II

 

After World War II

 
★☆☆
"Hanging and burning of Girolamo Savonarola in Piazza della Signoria in Florence in 1498" (1650) by an Anonymous artist (Photo Public Domain)
Free
Bonfire of the Vanities
Florence: Centro Storico

Fra' Girolamo Savonarola was a firebrand preacher, the "Mad Monk" who briefly turned Florence into a theocracy and church-run police state and who started the original "bonfire of the vanities"

 

Founded the dynasty's fortunes by expanding his father Giovanni di Bicci's financial empire to become personal banker to various European kings and, crucially, the papal curia in Rome while also making himself an indispensable advisor to the city council. Nicknamed "Father of his Country."

 

How Renaissance artists used science and math to more accurately mimic reality

 

The medieval poet and writer whose "Divine Comedy" helped codify the modern Italian language

 

A brief history of Florence and Tuscany, from prehistoric times to the 21C

 

Topics in Italy

How Herculaneum died

 

Sights in Italy

★★★
An aerial view (Photo by Jeroen Komen)

The terraced gardens of this 1784 lakeside villa are so picturesque it has been cast in several films

 
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A small lakeside museum celebrating the accomplishments of famed Como-born scientist Alessandro Volta

 
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The nondescript driveway where Mussolini was killed

 

Topics in Italy

History
Lake Como

A brief summary of the history of Lake Como

 

Sights in Italy

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Torbole
Northern Lake Garda

The windsurfing capital of Italy

 
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Salò
Garda's western shore

A genteely faded resort with a Gothic Duomo and uncomfortable memories of Mussolini's final days

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Milan

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆
 (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Naples

 

Sights in Italy

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An historic monastic pharmacy

 

Sights in Italy

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Via della Gabbia
Around Corso Vannucci

Where medieval criminals had their heads displayed on spikes

 

Topics in Italy

History
Perugia

A brief summary of the history of Perugia

 

Topics in Italy

A brief summary of the history of Pisa

 

Topics in Italy

Brief bios of Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger, ancient Roman scientists and chroniclers of the death of Pompeii

 

Sights in Italy

★★★
The Arch of Septimus Severus flanked by the three columns of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus on the left, and the eight columns of the Temple of Saturn on the right. Just to the right of the arch are the Umbilicus Urbus and the broken, curving bits of stone marking the Rostra. (Behind the arch: the brick cube of the Curia; that dome and facade are the Santi Lucia e Martina church designed by Pietro da Cortona, just outside the Forum) (Photo by Bert Kaufmann)
Roman Forum
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Downtown Ancient Rome: The Roman Forum (Foro Romano), Palatine Hill, temple of the Vestal Virgins, Roman Senate, and Triumphal Arches of Titus and Septimius Severus

 
★☆☆
Sala dei Santi (1492–94) frescoed by Pinturicchio (Photo by Photo Scala, Florence)

The Vatican's Appartamento Borgia (Borgia Apartments) were the private chambers of Borgia Pope Alexander VI, frescoed by early Renaissance master Pinturicchio

 
★☆☆
Arco di Constantino (Photo by Mike)
Free
Arch of Constantine
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

This triumphal arch celebrates the battle that made Christianity the religion of Rome

 
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The Mausoleum of Augustus as it was in 2016 (ongoing works are transforming it so it can open to the public) (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
Mausoleo di Augusto
Rome: Tridente

The tomb of the emperor Augustus

 
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The stern end of the Isola Tiberina (Photo by Bgabel)
Free
Tiber Island
Rome: Tiber Bend

The Isola Tiberina, the only island in the Rome's Tevere River—and a brief history of the ancient medical profession

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆
Learn about Rome's history with a professional guide (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Rome

 

Topics in Italy

★☆☆

Italy has a number of the world's smallest countries actually contained within its borders, from the hilltown Republic of San Marino to the world's most famous theocracy: Vatican City

 
Befane at the Piazza Navona Christmas Market (Photo by Daniele Ciabattoni)
Entirely the Wrong Witch
Rome: Tiber Bend

La Befana, Babbo Natale, and the shifting focus of Christmas traditions in Italy

 

The talking statues of Rome

 

What was it really like being a gladiator?

 

Sights in Italy

☆☆☆
Torture Museum
San Gimignano

A grisly collection of torture devices across the ages in an appropriately medieval setting

 

Topics in Italy

History
San Gimignano

A brief summary of the history of San Gimignano

 

Sights in Italy

★☆☆
Casa di Santa Caterina
Terza di Camollia

St. Catherine's house is where Siena's famous home-grown saint and medieval diplomat lived

 
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Palazzo Tolomei
Terza di Camollia

The oldest Gothic palazzo in Siena

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆
A scene from the Notre Dame and Gothic Paris seminar from Context Travel (Photo )

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Sorrento

 

Sights in Italy

★★★
The Palazzo Ducale facade (Photo by Michael aus Halle)
Doge's Palace
Venice: San Marco

The gothic Palazzo Ducale with its Renaissance art and hidden rooms

 
★☆☆
A menorah in the window of a venue catering to Jewish tourists in the former Ghetto in Venice (Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto)
The Jewish Ghetto
Venice: Cannaregio

The world's first ghetto was the walled quarter Venice created for its Jews in the 16th century

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo )
Museo Civico Correr
Venice: San Marco

The history of Venice, in paintings

 

Experiences in Italy

★★★
The inquisition room (Photo courtesy of ItalyGuides)
Free

A tour that gets you—quite literally—behind the scenes, into the rooms and chambers hidden behind those lavishly decorated walls where the actual governing of the Venetian Republic happened

 
★☆☆
Do a deep dive on the long history of La Serenissima with an expert guide (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Venice

 

Topics in Italy

Portrait of Doge Leonardo Loredan (1501) by Giovanni Bellini (Photo Public Domain)

The Dukes of Venice

 

Surviving the acque alte ("high waters") periods when even the streets of Venice become canals

 

Who's crazy idea was it to build a city in a lagoon anyway? (A brief history of Venice)

 

A shore primer on the history of Venice

 

Experiences in Italy

★☆☆

Tours offering insight to the history and culture of Verona

 

Topics in Italy

★★★

How much of Romeo and Juliet is real, and how much did Shakespeare just make up?

 
History tours
 
More tours
 
 
Useful links
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for rail travel

English (inglese) Italian (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...train station la ferroviaria [or] la stazione lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah [or] lah stat-zee-YO-nay
ticket un biglietto oon beel-YET-toh
first class prima classe PREE-mah CLAH-say
second class seconda classe say-CONE-dah CLAH-say
one way solo andata SO-low ahn-DAHT-tah
round trip (return) andata e ritorno ahn-DAH-tah ay ree-TOUR-noh
Just the supplement Soltanto il supplemento soul-TAHN-toh eel sou-play-MEN-toh
Just a seat reservation Soltanto una prenotazione soal-TAHN-toh oo-nah pray-no-tah-tsee-YOH-nay
I have a Eurailpass Ho il Eurailpass oh eel YOO-rail-pahs
sleeping couchette una cucetta oo-nah koo-CHET-tah
berth in a sleeping car un posto nel vagone letto oon POH-sto nell vah-GOAN-nay LET-toh
track binario been-AR-ree-yoh
train treno TRE-no
car (carriage) carozza ka-RO-tza
seat posto PO-sto
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay
left luggage deposito bagagli day-PO-zee-toh ba-GAHL-yee
     
punch your ticket timbrare il biglietto teem-BRA-ray eel beel-YET-toh
Is this the right platform for the Rome train? E questo il binario per il treno à Roma? ay KWAY-sto eel been-AR-ree-yo pair eel TRE-no ah RO-ma? 
delayed in retardo een ree-TAR-do
strike sciopero SHO-pair-oh
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
City / Train station names
English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Main station
Rome Roma Termini
Florence Firenze Santa Maria Novella
Venice Venezia Santa Lucia
Milan Milano Centrale
Genoa Genova Porta Principe
Naples Napoli Centrale
Leghorn Livorno Centrale
Turin Torino Porta Nuova

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Useful Italian for car travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)  Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
car automobile ow-toh-MO-bee-lay
scooter/motorboke un motorino oon mo-tair-EE-no
gas station stazione di servizio stah-zee-YO-nay dee sair-VEE-tzee-yo
gas benzina ben-ZEE-nah
diesel gasolio [or] diesel gah-ZOH-lee-oh [or] DEE-zell
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the highway l'autostrada lout-oh-STRA-dah
...the state highway la statale [written "SS"] lah sta-TAHL-eh
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
to cross attraversare ah-tra-vair-SAR-ay
toll pedaggio peh-DA-jo
parking parcheggio par-KEH-jo
road map carta stradale kar-ta stra-DA-lay
where can I pay the fine? dove posso pagare la multa DOH-veh Po-so pag-GAR-ray la MOOL-tah


Typical road signs / terms » more

English (anglais) French (français) 
Stop Stop
Exit  Uscita
Staffic light Semaforo
One-way Senso unico
Dead-end Strada senza uscita
Parking prohibited No parcheggio or parcheggio proibito
Pedestrian zone Area pedonale
Limited Traffic Zone (you pay to drive in) ZTL or Zona Traffico Limitato

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).