Italy is rich in history, archeological wonders, fine arts, and music. Its culture has influenced artists worldwide for generations, and has left its mark throughout the country. Cityscapes are littered with great monuments, elegant fountains and stunning works of architecture. Beautifully crafted stained glass, impressive paintings and perfectly crafted marble statues are everywhere, and names of great masters like Michelangelo, Donatello and Da Vinci are all but commonplace. Great art is literally all over the map.
Italy also allows us a unique glimpse into our past, with remnants of its residents going back seemingly forever. Every Perillo Tour allows you to experience Italy’s art and history personally, and with the unique perspective that comes from our excellent guides. They offer an unparalleled knowledge of Italy and have an unrivaled ability to answer the questions of even the most curious American tourist.
These Perillo Tours are particularly suited to the art and history lover, allowing a little extra time to savor the wonders of Italian Art & History:
Archeology and History
Archeologists have determined that the first people settled on the Italian peninsula as early as 1,000,000 BC, in the Paleolithic era. The famous preserved ruins of Pompeii, buried in the 1st century by an eruption from Mt. Vesuvius, enable us to see in extraordinary detail how ancient people lived, and fascinating ruins of Ancient Rome are situated throughout the center and outskirts of an otherwise modern Rome. Extant sights of Ancient Rome include:
- Roman Forum
- Palatine Hill
- Circus Maximus
- Baths of Caracalla and Diocletian
- Excavated churches, temples and obelisks
While today’s visitors to Italy can still taste that distant past, it is the later epochs of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance that have enriched this land with its greatest treasures.
Architecture, Art & Culture
Italy, essentially, is art. From the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods to some of the best of modern and contemporary design, Italy has produced some of the world’s most stunning, beautiful and innovative works. The Renaissance blossomed here, leaving its beautiful evidence behind, countrywide. Venice, an intricate city of waterways, canals and narrow alleys, is just one example of how Italian architecture captures the imagination. Every city holds great masterpieces, on display for our appreciation – Da Vinci’s Last Supper, in Milan; Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and Pietá in Rome, and David in Florence; the great cathedral in Pisa, with its famous Leaning Tower....
Italy is home to literary genius as well – Ovid and his mythological accounts, Cicero, Virgil, Dante and Machiavelli, to name a few. Milan's La Scala Opera House is a magnificent reminder that some of the greatest musicians and composers came from Italy – composers Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti and Vivaldi, as well as more recent talents like Luciano Pavarotti, considered one of the greatest opera singers to date.
Religious Art and Architecture
Religion has played a major role in shaping Italy's past, present and future. In 315 AD, during Constantine's rule, Christianity became the state religion. The church was the source of much of the inspiration – not to mention the funding – for early artists. Galleries and museums in Florence, Venice, Milan, and Rome all exhibit a wealth of religious inspired artwork, dating back to the early days of the first millennium.
Italy is, of course, filled with Catholic churches and cathedrals. Each is a testament to the influence of the church on Italian history. There are also houses of worship of other religions, each contributing to the wonderful array of architectural eras and styles that is Italia. The most well known of them are:
- The towering Duomo in Florence
- The Basilica in St. Mark's Square in Venice
- St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the largest church in the world
- Milan's Duomo, the third largest church in the world
The History of the World and the History of Rome
Rome, the Eternal City, has undergone centuries of political change, fueling many periods in Italian – and world – history: Ancient Rome
The Monarchy – 753 - 510 BC&
The Republic – 510 - 27 BC
The Empire – 27 BC - AD 476
The Dark Ages
The Middle Ages
Unification & Modern Italy.
Rome might have followed Greece as the dynamic engine of western civilization, but it overshadowed Greece in its reach, spreading its culture and influence as far north and west as the British Isles and as far to the east as the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
The Roman church was firm in its resolve to shepherd a wounded western civilization through the difficult era of the Middle Ages. Then, with the blossoming of the Renaissance, Italy was positioned to reassert its cultural leadership. Competing "nation states" provided a sustained and diverse cultural energy on the italian peninsula until the relatively recent 19th century, when Garibaldi pulled Italy into its current form.
Rulers and historical figures over the centuries have included Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Brutus, Marcus Aurelius, various Popes, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Vittorio Emanuele II, Garibaldi and Mussolini. Today’s Italy has a Prime Minister, a Parliamentary government and is one of the key members of the European Community.
One of the most wonderful aspects of European travel, especially Italian travel, is that so much of history is still there to see and experience. With a much greater sense of historical perspective than exists in America, there is a greater appreciation for preserving the treasures of the past. Walk the alleys of Florence, float the canals of Venice, or travel the surviving Roman roads, and you will truly experience the entire sweep of history, culture and civilization first hand.