elizabeth salthouse

Nola’s towering festival of lilies

For a little town just off the A16 autostrada, east of Naples, Nola has some big claims to fame. Spartacus once conquered it, Hadrian tried and the...

Rome’s Pantheon – from paganism to Christianity

As your eyes acclimatize to the soft ambient light, sacred statues begin to peek out from shaded alcoves. A single shaft of dazzling sunlight hits...

Alive and well - The medieval art of flag throwing

The low, deliberate beat of the drums comes first, distantly reverberating off the high stone walls like a pulsating heartbeat. Louder and louder...

Aqua Mirabilis, the Italian scent that changed perfumery

The glossy, celebrity-filled cologne counters of modern shopping malls hide a fascinating, if odd history. Today’s fragrances offer heady punches of...

Venetian wells, lifeblood of the city

Living on an island presents a number of challenges. The first priorities are food, shelter and a reliable source of drinking water. The earliest...

Madonelle, Madonnas of the Street

Crossroads and street corners have long been the haunt of peddlers, pickpockets and prostitutes. And as far back as ancient Roman times images of...

Preserving Papal hearts in Rome

The Catholic Church has a lengthy tradition of collecting relics from saints and clerics dating back almost to its beginnings. Bones, clothes or...

Celebrating New Year on March 1st

Before the unification of Italy, the peninsula was a patchwork of independent states, republics and occupied territories each one with their own...

Sicily’s storytelling traditions

Since the first days of language, humans have been passing on stories. From the sea shanties of Cornwall to the shadow puppetry of China, from the...

Venice’s mouths of truth

Venice at the height of its power conjures images of merchant traders, carnival masks and debauchery. But for all its decadence Venetian life was...