Italy

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Sicilian splendours

Sicily, one of the world’s great crossroads of culture, is the subject of the British Museum’s latest must-see exhibition, Sicily: Culture and Conquest. Curators Dirk Booms and Peter Higgs take us behind the scenes, telling the story using five of their favourite objects from the displays. Sicily sits in the centre of the Mediterranean, its […]

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Abruzzo & Molise: Oliver Gilkes goes in search of the Samnites

Late in the year the streets of modern Rome are visited by groups of strangely dressed men with soft felt hats and the impressive, not to say alarming, bagpipes (zampogna) traditionally associated with the shepherds of the Abruzzo and Molise. Made of the inflated skins of sheep, their thin, reedy sound accompanies the disparate groups […]

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Richard Hodges travels to … The Island of Lampedusa, Italy

Flying south of Agrigento, the blue begins, even on All Saints’ Day. An Ionian light, it is the ravishing glory of the Middle Sea. I went to Lampedusa in the footsteps of Pope Francis and political grandees, conscious that this minuscule Italian outpost had borne a heavy burden as it grappled with the lives and accursed deaths of […]

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French wine: 2,500-year-old vintage

Wine was introduced to France from Italy, with the first Gaulish vintages produced in c.500 BC, according to newly-published chemical analysis.  Archaeological work at Lattara, a port in southern France dated to c.525-475 BC, uncovered a number of imported Etruscan amphorae stylistically linked to Cisra in central Italy. Chemical analysis of residues found within these […]

Richard Hodges travels to: Venice

Modern Italy has its problems, but it also has truly exceptional assets. Its new high-speed trains rate pretty highly on any list of new resources, while of those from the past, Venice – it goes without saying – is truly fuori dal mondo: out of this world. From Rome to Venice on the frecciarossa – […]

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Road to success: Roman globalisation

In 312 BC, Appius Claudius set out to build a road from Rome to the south of Italy. So began the extensive road network that, argues Ray Laurence, paved the way for commercial domination of the Roman world.

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Richard Hodges travels to: Amelia, Italy

Rome is empty of tourists in late January; Umbria is even emptier, yet on most days there is sunshine for nine hours. Middle Italy’s landscapes are brought into a blissful clarity by the low angle of the sun, which makes a trip outside the Eternal City utterly bewitching. Little over an hour north of Rome […]

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Doing up Pompeii

The EU have launched a £36.1m project to help conserve the spectacular Roman ruins at Pompeii. Approved by the European Commission in 2012, the funding aims to consolidate ancient structures, improve drainage, and assist the training of staff. Special measures will also be taken to protect the initiative from the influence of organised crime – […]

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A Colourful Colosseum?

Conservation work on the Colosseum’s only remaining covered passageway has revealed fragments of colourful frescoes and graffiti from the Roman period. Previously hidden beneath layers of calcified rock and dirt, the red, black, and blue scribbles suggest that the white and grey marble surfaces of the 1st-century AD amphitheatre might once have been much more […]

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