Italy Gratitude List: History

To say I am grateful for the layers of history found across Italy would be quite an understatement. More accurately, I am overwhelmed with the history Italy offers in any given area.

From ancient history to the Renaissance, the history that you can see and touch in Italy is at the top of my Italy Gratitude List.

Ancient History


IMG_20180606_113535Herculaneum, a once seaside resort for the ancient elites destroyed in the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD which also leveled Pompeii. The ruins here are numerous well preserved, and a visit here if you are in the Naples area is highly recommended.


img_20180617_193714Ancient remains of Trajan’s Market (Mercati di Traiano) in Rome, constructed around 100 A.D.


IMG_20180621_113949.jpgThis old street is off the main piazza in the southern town of Carbonara, birthplace of my grandfather. I have been fortunate to visit several times and form a bond with my cousins still there. Walking the same little streets that he did as a child feels very full-circle. (For more heritage stories click here and here.)


IMG_20180604_140513-1.jpgPaestum, an easy two hour drive from Sorrento, is home to three incredible temples from the ancient Greeks dating to 600 B.C., along with an impressive archaeological museum. If your travels take you to Naples, Sorrento/Amalfi or Salerno and you have an interest in ancient history, a day in Paestum is highly recommended.

Middle Ages

Montalcino, Tuscany

img_20180506_113323Sant’Antimo Abbey, near Montalcino in Tuscany, dates back to the time of Charlemagne (742-815). Perhaps the cypress has been there just as long?

Scarperia, Tuscany

img_20180512_124219The Mugello Valley is famous for its handmade knives, and one of the highlights of was discovering this bottega (Coltellerie Giglio) and chatting with the young proprietor, who was running this business which had been in the family for 500 years!

The Renaissance


IMG_20180524_142141 (1)Galileo’s Telescope, found in (not surprisingly) Florence’s Galileo Museum.IMG_20180521_203422The Salone dei Cinquecento, the main hall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Artists commissioned for these walls include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Giorgio Vasari. Also known as the Palazzo della Signoria, this structure dates from 1299 and was the seat of Florence’s government for roughly 200 years. IMG_20180503_194409 (1)Florence’s Ponte Santa Trinita (Holy Trinity Bridge), a Renaissance-era bridge just to the west of Ponte Vecchio, has been called the most beautiful bridge in the world, and is the world’s oldest elliptical arch bridge.

For the coming months, while crafting new content, Prayers and Piazzas will be featuring our most popular posts from the archives. We hope you enjoy these favorites while we are creating new material. This post first appeared on Prayers and Piazzas in November 2018.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. jgroeber says:

    Just lovely. We made it to Italy with the kids last year but saw none of these sights. Which means we must return pronto!

    1. Beth Cafagna says:

      The photos are great; I visited almost all these sites in my childhood and teenage years with my parents and brother Tom. Some say that Herculaneum is more interesting and easier to see than Pompeii. I love the reflection in the Arno River made by the bridge of the trinity. Thank you for including Grandpa Mike’s street in Carbonara di Bari. I wonder when that street & houses were built. Beth

  2. Annmarie says:

    Thank you, Stacy. I too remain constantly overwhelmed.

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