One of Italy's most intact and accessible, and also its oldest, dating from 80 BC. It once had room for a crowd of some 12,000. The theatre had stone and wooden seats, VIP lodges, and a canvas sunscreen spanning over the galleries for events and spectacles like Gladiator fights.

See also: The Ruined City of Pompeii

The Sistine Chapel was built, and the decoration of the walls complete, by 1483. But it was Michelangelo's ceiling frescos, painted a quarter century later, that brought true immortality.

Commissioned by the Pope in 1508 to decorate the chapel, Michelangelo used a  network of scaffolding to reach the high vaulted ceilings. He divided the ceiling into nine panels, each showing a scene from Genesis.

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice is not only a great example of Venetian Renaissance architecture; it holds a tour de force series of more than 60 paintings by the master Tintoretto, inspiring some to call the Scuola the “Sistine Chapel of Venice.” 

Saint Lucy of Syracuse, also known as Saint Lucia, Santa Lucia, or Saint Lukia, (traditional dates 283–304) was a rich young Christian martyr who is venerated as a saint by Catholic and Orthodox Christians.      

Santa Lucia is a well-known traditional Neapolitan song. It was transcribed by Teodoro Cottrau at Naples in 1849. The Neapolitan lyrics of Santa Lucia celebrate the picturesque waterfront district, Borgo Santa Lucia, in the Bay of Naples, in the invitation of a boatman to take a turn in his boat, the better to enjoy the cool of the evening.

The 12th-century Basilica di San Zeno, also known as San Zeno Maggiore, is the best known religious building of Verona.

It is known for its fine Romanesque architecture – as well as the story that its crypt was the one mentioned in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  It is the fifth church on the same historic site. The bronze doors feature reliefs of Biblical scenes, and the interior is unusual, with a 14th-century timber roof and 13th- to 15th-century frescoes in the aisles.

The most important of the many fine artworks here is the San Zeno Altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna.

The largest Franciscan church in the world, and considered a masterpiece of Gothic art, the Basilica di Santa Croce contains many notable works and artifacts. There are cloisters designed by Brunescelli, frescoes by Giotto, naves holding religious paintings by the finest Florentine painters of the period, and many excellent examples of Renaissance sculpture.

The oldest continuously active such venue in Europe, and second in excellence only to la Scala Opera House in Milan, Teatro di San Carlo is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It was commissioned by King Charles of Bourbon to replace the deteriorating theater of San Bartolomeo, and is located in Naples’ Palazzo Reale. The decor is a sumptuous blue and gold – the official colors of the Bourbons.

Officially known in Italian as the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano, this 16th century Vatican City cathedral is considered to be the greatest church in Christendom, covering almost 6 acres and with a capacity of over 60,000 people.

Believed to be the burial site of Saint Peter, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, it is also one of Catholicism’s holiest sites. Many popes and saints are buried in the grottos below. Moreover, it is considered architecturally to be the greatest building of its age.

Piazza San Marco, known in English as St. Mark's Square, is the principal, and perhaps most famous, square of Venice.

The Piazza originated in the 9th century and was enlarged to its present size and shape in 1177. The inadvertent forced perspective is a result of a center canal having been filled in, leaving the trapezoidal space that we see today. A remark erroneously attributed to Napoleon refers to St. Mark’s as "The drawing room of Europe" for its comfortable scale and acoustics.

The Roman Forum, along the Via Sacra, the oldest street in Rome, includes remnants of ancient buildings and arches such as the Senate House, the Basilica, and the Arch of Septimus Severus.

Also still standing are the assembly place and Caesar's platform, where senators and commoners could publicly voice their opinions. It is also said that Romulus, one of the founders of Rome, is buried beneath the Black Stone (Lapis Niger).

Pages