Imagine a Renaissance-era nun, a mystic in the throes of dying, uttering her visions and predictions in sporadic, rapid-fire bursts while novices stand guard trying to understand and write down her words. This is believed to be what happened to Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, who died in Florence in 1607. The Italian modernist composer Salvatore S...

At the sumptuous courts of Italy’s most powerful families of the Renaissance, as well as in the Vatican, hosting sumptuous banquets was a major pastime, used especially as a demonstration of wealth and power. Skilled chefs were in high demand. Two of the most famous from the Renaissance, Bartolomeo Scappi and Cristoforo di Messisbugo, worked respec...

From the beach town of New Smyrna, Florida, just a stone’s throw away from Daytona Beach, Rich Varano never imagined his unique talent of sculpting sand would take him to the heart of Christianity. Varano is the artistic director of the “Sand Nativity,” a massive 52-foot-wide sculpture made of sand imported from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort to...

“In 1581, the Gallery of Maps was inaugurated under pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni, born in Bologna. He was a cultured and strict Pope during the Counter-Reformation, and he loved the Church, science, arts and Italy equally. He was the Pope who implemented the calendar reform we still associate with his name today.” Following this introduction, in a...

When Juno, Queen of Olympus, needed to vent her spleen, she visited Aeolus, god of the winds, on his draughty island off Sicily. Juno was outraged that the fugitive Trojan prince Aeneas was destined to found Rome and destroy Carthage, her favorite city, so Aeolus ordered a cyclone to capsize the Trojan fleet. Ever since, Rome has feared southern wi...

In recent decades, Italy has been repeatedly considered the perfect set for a lot of unforgettable international cinematographic productions, due to its fascinating cities and gorgeous natural beauties spread across the country. Despite there are many Italian directors who decided to portrait our countrysuch as Vittorio De Sica or Federico Fellini,...

Gianni Crea is intimately familiar with the contours of history. Almost every morning for the past six years, he’s opened the doors to the Vatican Museums. He’s experienced the stillness of the Sistine Chapel at dawn, studied the shadows of Caravaggio, and admired the textures of ancient Egypt. “Yes, I’m a key keeper, head key keeper, but I’m st...

Giorgio La Pira, the deeply religious Christian Democrat mayor of Florence in the early 50s and 60s, was set on a possible path to sainthood Thursday when Pope Francis recognised his "heroic virtues". The pope authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree regarding the "heroic virtues of Servant of God Giorgio la Pira"...

A 525-year-old copy of a letter by Christopher Columbus that was stolen from the Vatican was returned on Thursday after joint sleuthing by U.S. Homeland Security agents and Holy See antiquity experts. "We are returning it to its rightful owner," said U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Callista Gingrich at a handover ceremony in a frescoed room of the V...

Vatican City has been governed by men since it was established as an independent state in 1929. A year ago, however, a woman joined the upper ranks: Barbara Jatta, the first female director of the Vatican Museums. In the 12 months since her appointment, Ms. Jatta has put her stamp on the role, resisting some of her predecessor’s initiatives and for...