Architecture

Music in Unlikely Places: Macerata's Sferisterio Opera Festival

Italy was once divided between east and west by the long Apennine mountain chain that runs down virtually the entire length of the country like an Alpine spine. For centuries, crossing from one side to the other was a long and arduous day of navigating tortuous mountain roads, so many towns nestled in the scenic valleys or perched on hilltops along the route had remained relatively remote.

Il Monte Vettore e la Valle del Menocchia(Photo by Mariano Pallottini via Flickr)

Today, of course, a number of modern, multi-lane highways cut across this natural barrier and traveling across the Apennines is both picturesque and quick. A road trip to visit these mountain towns charmingly untouched by time has become an easy excursion, one which we recently enjoyed when we headed from Foligno in Umbria to the pretty town of Macerata in Le Marche for their annual opera festival.

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Look Down: Italy's Most Beautiful Floors

Enter a historic villa, palazzo, or cathedral in Italy, and you'll find that your eyes are almost immediately drawn upwards. Intricate Byzantine mosaics, ornate Renaissance frescoes, and sumptuous Baroque plasterwork cover the ceilings of many of Italy's most important buildings, a symbol of the wealth and power of the emperors, dukes, and popes who commissioned them centuries ago.

piazza-armerina-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

The next time you step into one of Italy's landmark buildings, however, don't forget to look down. Many floors can rival the ceilings, and are artistic masterpieces of complex patterns and prestigious materials that have survived the passage of thousands of feet over time. Here are a few of the most interesting floor types, and where to find them.

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