One of the great pleasures when you visit a country such as Italy is to drink in the wonders of its architectural heritage. From Roman times through the Renaissance, and into the modern age, Italy’s architecture has a splendor that may be matched by other countries, but rarely equaled.
Rome – the eternal city
As Italy’s capital, Rome is full of architectural treasures, perhaps the greatest of which is the Colosseum. Built primarily during the 70s CE by Jewish slaves, this incredible monument is a testament to how inventive the ancient Romans were. Though the architect is unknown, this vast amphitheater was the largest built throughout the Roman Empire. Capable of seating at least 50,000 spectators for gladiatorial combat and various types of games, its style includes Ionian and Corinthian columns and Corinthian pilasters, the later used as ornamentation, rather than supporting the structure. When you visit, you can imagine huge crowds as they cheered and screamed for the entertainment.
The Basilica of St. Peter is in Vatican City, which is surrounded by Rome, was constructed in the mid-16th century, and designed by Giacomo della Porta and famed painter/sculptor Michelangelo. Thought to be the largest Christian church in the world, it’s a stunning example of Renaissance architecture.
Cities and villages
There is so much to see in Italy that it can almost seem like an overload of architectural wonders. You can visit vibrant, modern Milan, the southern city of Naples and see the Leaning Tower of Pisa – another architectural gem – or experience the famous towers of San Gimignano.
Take a tour of some of the little hilltop villages, old and beautiful houses in narrow streets, all with their trademark wooden window shutters to keep out the fierce Italian heat as well as insulate rooms in colder months. When you get back home, you can incorporate some of that Italian architecture style into your own spaces adding shutters.
Under the control of the historic Medici family throughout the Renaissance, Florence became a major center for trade, and many beautiful buildings were constructed. To see Renaissance architecture at its peak, you can visit the Duomo, Florence’s cathedral. Here you’ll find an architectural style that puts emphasis on symmetry and proportion, geometry and a harking back to the classical style of ancient Rome.
The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge across the River Arno, and was rebuilt in 1345 following a flood that destroyed the original bridge. In the style of Italian mediaeval vernacular, it has three segmental arches.
You probably know about its famed canals, but Venice also boasts many historic buildings. Foremost among them is the Doge’s Palace, built in the Italian Gothic style during the 14th and 15th centuries. It’s a gothic palace made of colored marble. It is named after the city’s leaders.
A visit to Italy will give you new inspiration into the architecture of your own home as well as take your breath away with the magnificent architecture of the country.