Thursday, April 17, 2014

A modern way of visiting ancient Cerveteri

A hill-top city along the sea, halfway between the city of Rome and it's commercial port Civitavecchia, stands the ancient city of Cerveteri, a city formed as early as the 8th Century B.C.  Nearby rest the city's inhabitants in what we now consider a city of the dead. The site is one of the most unique burial sites in the world. Built as large mounds made of volcanic rock, the Etruscan tombs resemble Egyptian pyramids. These spaces can be better understood as burial homes that were once full of domestic and personal items.

The unique architecture of these hundreds of burial homes was discovered and un-earthed only a couple hundred years ago. The site as a necropolis is more than 2,500 years old.  It has come to life again with a new technology program installed at the site allowing you to see digital reconstructions inside some of the tombs, as if present at their funeral, bearing witness to the rituals taking place and the placement of precious objects.

Writing on this topic, I am happy to be featured on authors (and fellow Buffalonians) William Graebner and Dianne Bennett's blog Rome the Second Time. Like myself, they are interested in exposing visitors in Rome to the hundreds of curiosities that lie below, between, and beyond the city's main highlights and have written several books with itineraries on the topic.

You can check out their website, with my post about Fu-touring at Cerveteri:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The best local farmer's markets in Rome

In a country that is world-renowned for its landscape, topography and agriculture, local farmers markets and places to find organic products are surprisingly few and far between.

Check out my article in Wanted in Rome magazine to find the best quality and best priced local produce and products, and help the environment and local economy by doing so! -article link

Olive oil and Montepulciano wine of Abruzzo farmer Enrico Gallinaro at a farmer's market organized by Terra Terra Farmer's Association.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Rome survived WWII

For 70 years it as though nobody spoke about the Monuments Men. As if World War II, the deadliest war in history, didn't actually take place in Europe among architectural ancient wonders and artistic masterpieces.  How did a city like Rome survive when over 13 million people didn't? 

A branch in the Allied Army that came to be known as the Monuments Men were tasked with recovering, protecting, and restoring art that was along the battlefields all over Europe and in downtown Rome.  They are receiving much deserved attention lately due to Robert Edel's two books entitled The Monuments Men and Saving Italy, not to mention a newly released film on the topic with a glamorous cast including George Clooney and Matt Damon. And a current exhibition at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery features works of art saved during this operation displayed in the museum and the efforts of the museum's own curatorial and directorial staff that were part of this historic campaign and in addition to being Ivy-League art professors were actual Monuments Men. 

For more information about the efforts of the Monuments Men in Rome and how the eternal city yet endured, check out my recent article in Wanted in Rome magazine - link

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rome below the surface

It is without say that it takes a lifetime to discover Rome. Imagine that the beauty and mystery of the eternal city's layered history that you see before your eyes is found in equal abundance below your feet.  The ancient architecture of the city of Rome has been buried under soot from flooding by its Tiber river.  But it has not been forgotten.  Many new sites that are now buried up to 70 feet below the surface have been opened to the public in order to continue to reveal the city's physical and historic depth.

Check out my article for Wanted in Rome magazine about subterranean Rome here- article

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The glory of Rome beyond the city

For information on where to find ancient ruins and tombs, Medieval towers and Renaissance palaces, set along the seaside and among the mountains but away from the crowds, check out my recent interview with

Our interview highlights the places to visit close the port at Civitavecchia and between the leading cities of Florence and Rome. These are alternative destinations that will provide all the splendor the cities have to offer, such as ruins of ancient theaters and palaces full of Renaissance frescoes, but at a more reasonable cost and with a more genuine feel.

A pre-Roman Etruscan theater built into the caves in northern Lazio, 15 miles from Rome

Check out Freshcruiser's blog here:

Renaissance garden at Villa Lante 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rome's's safe!

If there is anything that didn't die in Rome with the Empire, it is water.  Thousands of fountains like the one pictured above offer endless supplies of fresh and clean water to its citizens still today.  Grandiose ancient bath complexes and extravagant Baroque fountains offer testimonies throughout the city to its water legacy. But nothing testifies more today to Rome's relationship with water and advanced hydraulic engineering than the fresh water systems all over the city fed by local springs.

Check out the article I wrote for Wanted in Rome magazine on the topic here:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The eternal life of mosaic art in the Vatican

Director of the mosaic studio in the Fabbrica di San Pietro demonstrating the enduring art technique of mosaic to a family from Buffalo. The family hopes to purchase a masterpiece from the studio to donate to their local parish. The studio is currently working on a tile masterpiece for a church in Fresno, California.

Deeply intertwined with the history of the Vatican and the construction of St. Peter's Basilica is the history of an enigmatic mosaic workshop inside Vatican City.  The foundation of this small laboratory, where artists in white tunics chisel and smolder tiles to make long lasting art pieces began with the construction of the new Basilica and the decision to decorate the church interior with art pieces that had an unalterable quality and eternal life. In the 1600's these artists worked to cover the church in more than 100,000 square feet of tile work meant to duplicate famous painting masterpieces.  Now the mosaic studio sells precious "paintings in mosaic" to the public created with the same technique established in the studio hundreds of years ago.  More importantly they make mosaics for the Pope to present as diplomatic gifts.

On a rare visit with clients to explore the workshop and select doubtlessly a precious heirloom for my clients we saw the studio artists at work and their gallery space.  We even saw the Pope Francis pass by in the backseat of a 2001 Ford Focus.

I recently contributed a guest blog entry about visiting the behind-the-scenes Vatican mosaic studio on author Mary Jane Cryan's website that you can reference here: