Located about half a mile outside Pompeii, this villa survived the eruption of Vesuvius quite well. While it, too, was buried under feet of ash, its walls, ceilings, and notably, its frescoes, were largely undamaged.

The Villa dei Misteri is best known for one room – covered with vivid and strange frescoes. The subject of the frescoes is open to interpretation. Some say the images depict initiation scenes of cult of Dionysus; others believe they show a young woman undergoing the rites of marriage.

The Vatican Museums, Musei Vaticani in Italian, are a series of art museums in the Vatican City, housing over 9 miles of the most extensive collection of art in the world, and are open to the public.

The museums originated with Pope Julius II in the 16th century, with a small number of sculptures. The Popes were among the first to open their art collections to the public to encourage cultural interest, and the number of museums and collections has grown over the centuries.

This famed Florence museum is as much a work of art as the many masterpieces it contains.

The elegant proportions of its architecture and its painted ceilings are just the treasures inside. The Uffizi Gallery is enormous and houses one of the most important collections of art of all time. It was originally built to provide more office space – uffizi –  for government administrators, since the Palazzo Vecchio could not hold them all.

The historic center of Naples is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the historic Piazza Municipio – City Hall Square – dates back to the Angevins, the Town Hall, Palazzo San Giacomo, was built in the early 19th century.

It was an example of advanced architectural technology at the time, with a glass passageway connecting the square in front with via Toledo in the rear. In the center of the Piazza del Municipio gardens stands a 19th century equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II.

Vatican City, “headquarters” for more than a billion Catholics worldwide.

Vatican Museum, a treasure trove of sculptures, paintings and tapestries.

The Vatican Museums, Musei Vaticani in Italian, are a series of art museums in the Vatican City, housing over 9 miles of the most extensive collection of art in the world, and are open to the public.

A vast parade and training ground used by Pompeii's youth for sport and exercise, the  swimming pool must have been in use when the eruption struck; its southeast corner was found littered with the skeletons of young men trying to flee the disaster.

See also: The Ruined City of Pompei

An 1839 neoclassical reconstruction of an earlier mansion with an octagonal tower surmounts the facade. Within its park is a miniature zoo and an aviary. The art collection consists of paintings by such artists as Manet, Cézanne and Matisse. The park offers a superb setting for summertime concerts.

This museum and its collection have been moved three times in its 135 years history. It’s now located in the Palazzo Zuckerman, commissioned by industrialist Enrico Zuckermann, and built in the early 20th century.

The original museum was founded around 1870 with the donation by Nicola Bottacin, a wealthy merchant, of his entire collection to the city of Padua.

Rome is home to Europe's oldest continuous Jewish community, dating back as early the 3rd century BC.

In the 16th century, hostility towards the Jewish community was on the rise, and  Pope Paul IV confined the Jews of Rome to the 21/2-acre area now known as the Jewish Ghetto. Built on a frequently flooded bend of the Tiber River, a wall was built around it, a curfew was imposed and living conditions were crowded and unhygienic.

Also located within Piazza dei Miracoli and dating back to 1648, it is one of the oldest Hebrew cemeteries in Europe, with inscriptions in Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Czech.

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