Rome’s Pantheon…Did You Know?

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Michelangelo described the famous Pantheon in Rome perfectly after seeing it for the first time in the early 1500’s when he said it was “an angelic and not a human design.” The architecture is mind-blowing and incredibly devised. Built by Emperor Hadrian in 120 AD, it is the best preserved ancient Roman monument as well as a testament to the ingenuity of the early Romans and their fascinating knowledge of mathematics, balance, and measures.

The Pantheon today is better known to most people as the film locations in the famous movies Roman Holiday and Angels and Demons. But the dome of the Pantheon is what the Renaissance masters Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, to name a few, studied and adopted architectural knowledge to build the Duomo of Florence and St. Peters Basilica.

I’ve listed some intriguing details below about the Pantheon that will deepen your appreciation of Roman technology.

  1. The Pantheon was the largest dome for 1300 years but is still the largest unsupported dome today.
  2. It was the first pagan temple transformed into a church named St. Mary of the Angels in the year 609 AD. This was a blessing in itself because as a result it was saved from destruction during the middle ages. Today it exists more as a tribute to history than a religious institution.
  3. The original marble floor still exists.
  4. The Pantheon is 142 ft. in diameter and the U.S. Capitol dome is 96 ft. in diameter. They are both in perfect proportion with the distance from the floor to the top of the dome exactly equal to the diameter.
  5. Sixteen massive Corinthian Columns brought from Egypt, most likely by barge, weigh sixty tons each and used to support the portico.
  6. Tombs including that of the famous Renaissance painter Raphael along with several Italian kings and poets are housed inside.

It wasn’t until I took Art History in college that I understood how the dome of the Pantheon could stand for almost 2,000 years without support. It was quite amazing to learn that the concrete used was thinner at the top than the bottom. Volcanic stone was used as the aggregate in the concrete near the oculus (opening at the top) whereas heavier granite was used as the aggregate nearer to the base. The bottom of the dome was made heavier using brickwork as a counterbalance. If you look up at the dome, you will see small indented rectangular designs called coffers used to decrease the weight. The oculus at the top not only lets in sunlight but also adds no weight.

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photo credit pxhere

Brilliant, wouldn’t you say? Have you been to the Pantheon in Rome? Whether you have or not, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

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Notice the inscription across the front of the Pantheon. It reads “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this.” Agrippa did build the former Pantheon in 27-25 BC., but it burned down. As a result, Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it into what we see today but left the inscription giving Agrippa the credit.

What Does ‘La Dolce Vita’ Mean To You?

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La Dolce Vita, the sweet life, is a term I’ve grown to love because it embraces all that life should be. Ordinary everyday life is meant to be lived only a moment at a time, savored and cherished with a grateful attitude. For me, time spent with my family and friends over good food and conversation is the very best way to feel fully engaged in the moment. But La Dolce Vita means more than that.

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Maybe it’s the plum-hued wine that shimmers in the Mediterranean sunlight and dances delightfully on my tongue, or the warm hugs and kisses my Italian friends are so willing to bestow upon me each time we meet. I sigh whenever I see a passeggiata and find myself entertained as the elderly men of the village gather together on the piazza early each evening to share some guy time.

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My taste buds come alive with pleasure each time I taste authentic Italian food lovingly prepared by a nonna. La Dolce Vita ~ the sweet life is not just the pleasure of the senses, but a mindset of taking each moment of the day and savoring it. Life is a celebration in every way and meant to live slowly with mindfulness. Family and friends are everything and the Italian’s are passionate about each other. They are for the most part gregarious, fun-loving, affectionate and emotional. For me, La Dolce Vita is a summation of all of these things. 

Below is an assembly of random photos that I feel best expresses La Dolce Vita to me. I hope you enjoy them.

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What about you? Do you embrace the sweet life each day? How do you savor the moments? I’d love to hear your ideas so please feel free to share below.

What is My Favorite Place in Italy? Let Me Tell You…

As a travel writer who specializes in Italy, I often get asked the question, “what is your favorite place in Italy?” Honestly, that is a very hard question to answer. Italy has 20 regions of unique and wonderful beauty. Each is so different from the other. It is impossible for me to say that just one place is my dream destination.

So what I decided to do is include some of my favorite photos of the places that I love in Italy. Read more

Buon San Valentino ~ Happy Valentine’s Day

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Ciao, I Miei Amori ~

It’s February already, and thoughts of love are circulating through my mind. Red hearts, candy kisses, chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting, and romantic cards seem to pop out at me everywhere I go. I love Valentine’s Day because, as a typical woman, I love romance. What could be more heart-pounding than to imagine yourself as Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday,’ zipping around Rome on a Vespa behind Gregory Peck? Or embracing over a laugh at the Mouth of Truth? Then again, there’s the movie ‘Three Coins in the Fountain,’ about three young secretaries from America who meet in Rome and toss their coins in the Trevi Fountain, wishing for a return trip to Rome. Romance is in the air as each one is pursued by a handsome suitor.

William Shakespeare put the city of Verona on the map with his tragic love tale Read more

Discover the Beating Heart of Tuscany with KM Zero Tours

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I had the sneaking suspicion we were in the wrong parking lot. We had just arrived in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a small town in Tuscany, to meet with Arianna and Alessio from KM Zero Tours. We were a few minutes late so I was alarmed when I didn’t see them. I texted Arianna and, sure enough, it was the wrong parking lot. She sweetly assured me that she and Alessio would be right over as they were very close. Before long, a van pulled up beside us and out hoped Arianna, all smiles and hugs. After a warm greeting, she instructed us to follow them to a nearby restaurant by the name of A Casa Mia.

We entered the small country trattoria with a table waiting for us. Read more

Explore the Sunsplashed Island of Ortigia in Sicily

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The sun-splashed lungomare d’Ortigia was a sensual delight on a gentle afternoon this last October. I had made the drive from Hotel Bosco Ciancio on the slopes of Mt. Etna, which had been my lodging for the past few nights, to meet with Marco Sanzaro, a local tour guide. My goal was to discover the wonders of the island of Ortigia, the historical heart of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse on Sicily’s eastern shore.

As I walked the footpath that followed the waterfront, I couldn’t help but notice the brilliant green waters of the Ionian sea Read more

Seeking Adventure on Sicily’s Mt. Etna? Make Country Hotel Bosco Ciancio Your Perfect Stay

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We arrived at Country Hotel Bosco Ciancio down a long and wooded driveway, the kind that makes you hold your breath because you know something special is waiting on the other end. What we saw gave us that ‘fairytale cottage in the forest’ feel as the driveway opened up into Read more

What Are Your Travel Plans for 2018?

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A New Year is like a much-needed breath of fresh air. I get to feeling almost giddy with the possibilities that play through my mind. I think about areas where I want to improve myself, expand my horizons, learn to think outside the box of my everyday existence and firm up my travel plans. I feel empowered to steer my life course fueled by those important decisions that I make on a daily basis.

My travel plans get easily out of control as I write down everything I want to see and do. However, when I’m done, I scale it back one piece at a time until I’m looking at what is most significant and important. Then I begin to put my plans into motion.

What are your travel plans for 2018? Are you like me and have an endless list of places to explore? It’s time to hone in on your list and make a plan to expand your world with meaningful travel this year. If you are unable to get out, don’t let that stop you. Plan your travels and find ways to explore via your armchair.  Read more

Genoa’s Elegant Doria Tursi Palazzo

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I love the old innovative and aesthetically pleasing architecture that I so often find in Italy. The colors, balance and breathtaking arches and frescos are a world away from my own and tend to leave me spellbound.

While walking down Via Garibaldi in Genoa recently, a stately street of ancient palatial palaces in the historical center, I came upon the Doria Tursi Palace Read more

Presepe, the Italian Christmas Nativity

 

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A host of angels spiraled downward from the heavens to land on the little hilltop grove that contained Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Below, mirroring the angels, rose a long line of villagers and nobles waiting to pay homage to the holy family. I was inside the Museo Nazionale di San Martino, Naples, observing the extensive Cuciniello Presepe… Read more

Buon Natale, Have a Very Merry Christmas!

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There is an old saying in Italy, ‘Natale con la tua famiglia, Pasqua con chi vuoi,’ which means ‘Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you want.’ Christmas is considered such a special and sacred event that it is traditional to enjoy meals and spend time with your family.

In the hill towns of Tuscany, the streets are decorated with Christmas lights and Nativity Scenes. The window displays are sparkling and dazzling, bursting with color that Read more

Residence Le Santucce, From Rubble to Elegance

 

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Fires and bombs nearly destroyed the medieval Convent of the Santucce nuns…

As I gazed up in awe, I couldn’t help but wonder how many intriguing lives and captivating legends were contained within these massive walls. The carefully restored 13th-century convent rose high above us toward the cloudless blue sky. Residence Le Santucce was a stately presence among the surrounding Tuscan hills in the town of Castiglion Fiorentino Read more

Hear the Church Bells of Rapallo in Liguria

A month ago my husband and I were in the seaside town of Rapallo. We enjoyed a late afternoon stroll through the cool October streets when the bells of the church began to ring. The melody was charming. We stopped on the sidewalk to listen as the townspeople continue on their way. They knew the serenade of the bells. But for us, it was enchanting.

Enjoy this short ringing of the bells video taken with my iPhone.

 

Il Poderaccio, a Tuscan Agriturismo with a View

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The panoramic views of the Tuscan hills drenched in golden sunlight greeted us as we passed through the iron gate and down the long driveway of La Fattoria Il Poderaccio. Horses, long-legged and sleek, grazed in the pasture as two young foals frolicked nearby. One of the farm dogs greeted us with friendly eyes and wagging tail. We parked our car and inhaled the views once more before we met Lisa Ravà, our host.

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The classic country architecture of the old stone buildings, some covered with flowering Bougainville, dates back to the 13th century. Read more

A Magical Autumn Supper at a Working Farm in Tuscany…Il Poderaccio

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Everything served that evening was delicious, but the authenticity that happened in a small Tuscan kitchen was what I will remember the most. The conversation went on for hours, each one sharing their own story. I cherished every moment….we could be in a fancy downtown restaurant but I far preferred this experience. I left that evening feeling richer and more enlightened than I could have imagined I would be. I find it’s the small touches… the simple yet delicious home-made dinner prepared with love, the smiles and laughter over good wine, and the embraces as we head for home. It’s an experience with down-home Italians, doing what they normally do. It was an honor to be a part of their lives, if only for a few hours…

Feeding the Horses at Il Poderaccio Agriturismo in Siena…video

I just got back from an amazing 2-week trip to Italy. Part of that time I had the pleasure of staying at Lisa Ravà’s panoramic agriturismo, Il Poderaccio. She invited me to meet with her early in the morning to feed the horses (all 15 of them). I came, but she did all the work while I chatted and observed.

You will not believe the beauty of this early Tuscan morning…..take a look!

 

Meet Sandra Giusti, Arezzo’s Gracious Ambassador

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Arezzo greeted us with blue sky and sunshine on a recent October afternoon as we pulled into the parking lot next to the medieval wall that still encircled the town. Across the street, I saw a tall, elegant young woman with long dark hair who I guessed was Sandra Giusti, our tour guide. Her company, Arezzo Guide, was born from her great passion and love for her hometown and surrounding villages. We had corresponded previously only by email up until now so this was our first meeting. I was excited to meet her and discover what made Arezzo one of the most popular places in Tuscany to experience. Read more

‘Italy Once More’ Brings New Friendships, Hotels, and Adventures

 

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Photo was taken from Taormina, Sicily

Once more, I am filled to capacity with the most amazing experiences gathered in these last two weeks during my trip to Italy. Is it still bella Italia after all this time? Oh yes, in more ways than I could ever have imagined. This trip introduced me to a deeper understanding of the different amenities of both the north and south. Each is quite different from the other. But all together, they blend into a country that is richly diverse, resulting in a culture thousands of years in the making. People who, for the most part, are warm and hospitable, who care deeply for their land, and who live out their daily lives with dignity.

I’ve had the good fortune to stay at three different accommodations, each one quite distinct from the other. In comparison, they proved to be equally delightful. The proprietors who operate/own them are as wonderful as the amenities they have to offer. I am excited to share each one with you and plan to introduce them over the next few months. I feel strongly that each one deserves its own spotlight.

I hope that you will check back and discover what I have… that there are beauty, warmth, and possibilities beyond your expectations. Come and meet the people who offer an authentic Italian experience. Find out what makes their hotels, agriturismos, and accommodations so unique. I am inspired to share each one with you.

A Visit to the Villa of San Michele on the Island of Capri

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The island of Capri is alluring and capable of enchanting anyone who comes for a visit. One look at the rugged cliff walls and rock formations will convince you that Homer’s sirens do exist and still sing their seductive songsWe learn from Homer’s mythical book, “The Odyssey,” that it was brave Odysseus himself who ordered his crew to stop their ears with wax as they passed. He had himself tied to a mast with strict orders that no one release him regardless of how much he begged. As a result, they were able to escape the siren’s wail and shipwreck on the calamitous rocks.

High above the sea stands the Villa of San Michele in Anacapri. A long and winding road leads upward into the clouds where you will find the white villa, magical and unique in its ancient setting. Read more

Bringing Italy Home in a Sketchbook

 

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Trullo house sketch from Kerry’s trip in 2010

One of the biggest joys of writing for my blog is meeting others who love to share their stories and experiences in Italy. It provides me with a unique perspective that is truly a joy to read and enlarges my world of knowledge. I am always delighted to hear from my readers and continue to learn so much from them.

Recently, I received a comment from an English gentleman named Kerry Harris. He mentioned how much he enjoyed his visit to Alberobello, Puglia, to see and sketch the Trulli houses. He offered to email me some of his sketches, and as you probably guessed, I jumped at the chance to see them. Read more

What to Do on a Rainy Day in Italy

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We’ve mostly all been there….we wake up in a cozy hotel room with thoughts of getting dressed and meeting the day in an Italian city or village when we are met at the door with a gray drizzle. People outside rush about under umbrellas or towards the nearest overhang to stay dry. Passing cars splash through puddles already beginning to form.  You begin to feel a dampness creep up on you. This was not the kind of day you had envisioned, and your heart begins to sink. Read more