Sigillo Resort, Southern Italy package tour
Matera About this sound listen (help·info) is a city and a province in the region of Basilicata, in southern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Matera and the capital of Basilicata from 1663 to 1806. The town lies in a small canyon, which has been eroded in the course of years by a small stream, the Gravina. Known as “la Città Sotterranea” (the Subterranean City), Matera is well known for its historical center called “Sassi”, considered World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993, along with the Park of the Rupestrian Churches.
On October 17, 2014, Matera was declared Italian host of European Capital of Culture for 2019.
The Sassi (Ancient town)
Matera has gained international fame for its ancient town, the “Sassi di Matera” (meaning “stones of Matera”). The Sassi originate from a prehistoric (troglodyte) settlement, and are suspected to be some of the first human settlements in Italy. The Sassi are houses dug into the calcareous rock itself, which is characteristic of Basilicata and Apulia. Many of these “houses” are really only caverns, and the streets in some parts of the Sassi often are located on the rooftops of other houses. The ancient town grew in height on one slope of the ravine created by a river that is now a small stream. The ravine is known locally as “la Gravina”. In the 1950s, the government of Italy forcefully relocated most of the population of the Sassi to areas of the developing modern city.
Until the late 1980s this was considered an area of poverty, since these houses were, and in most areas still are, mostly unlivable. Current local administration, however, has become more tourism-oriented, and has promoted the re-generation of the Sassi with the aid of the Italian government, UNESCO, and Hollywood. Today there are many thriving businesses, pubs, and hotels.
Monasteries and churches
Matera preserves a large and diverse collection of buildings related to the Christian faith, including a large number of rupestrian churches carved from the soft volcanic rock of the region. These churches, which are also found in the neighboring region of Puglia, were listed in the 1998 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.
Matera Cathedral (1268–1270) has been dedicated to Santa Maria della Bruna since 1389. Built in an Apulian Romanesque architectural style, the church has a 52 m tall bell tower, and next to the main gate is a statue of the Maria della Bruna, backed by those of Saints Peter and Paul. The main feature of the façade is the rose window, divided by sixteen small columns. The interior is on the Latin cross plan, with a nave and two aisles. The decoration is mainly from the 18th century Baroque restoration, but recently a Byzantine-style 14th-century fresco portraying the Last Judgment has been discovered.
Two other important churches in Matera, both dedicated to the Apostle Peter, are San Pietro Caveoso (in the Sasso Caveoso) and San Pietro Barisano (in the Sasso Barisano). San Pietro Barisano was recently restored in a project by the World Monuments Fund, funded by American Express. The main altar and the interior frescoes were cleaned, and missing pieces of moldings, reliefs, and other adornments were reconstructed from photographic archives or surrounding fragments.
There are many other churches and monasteries dating back throughout the history of the Christian church. Some are simple caves with a single altar and maybe a fresco, often located on the opposite side of the ravine. Some are complex cave networks with large underground chambers, thought to have been used for meditation by the rupestric and cenobitic monks.
Cisterns and water collection
Matera was built above a deep ravine called Gravina of Matera that divides the territory into two areas. Matera was built such that it is hidden, but made it difficult to provide a water supply to its inhabitants. Early dwellers invested tremendous energy in building cisterns and systems of water channels.
The Castello Tramontano of Matera in a 19th-century drawing.
The Tramontano Castle, begun in the early 16th century by Gian Carlo Tramontano, Count of Matera, is probably the only other structure that is above ground of any great significance outside of the sassi. However, the construction remained unfinished after his assassination in the popular riot of 29 December 1514. It has three large towers, while twelve were probably included in the original design. During some restoration work in the main square of the town, workers came across what was believed to be the main footings of another castle tower. However, on further excavation large Roman cisterns were unearthed. Whole house structures were discovered where one can see how the people of that era lived. Found under the main square of the modern city was a large underground reservoir, complete with columns and a vaulted ceiling.
The National Museum of Metaponto contains the rich heritage of archaeological materials found in the Greek colony of Metaponto. The various stages are reconstructed in the museum: the first prehistoric manifestations, the arrival of the Greeks in the V century B.C., the development of the colony of Metaponto between the rivers Bradano and Basento, the Romanization.
Local handicraft and refined decorated rounded Italian-Mycenaean vases are shown in the rooms. A lot of this materials were manufactured directly on the spot by craftsmen emigrated to the west. An area is devoted to weapons, personal ornaments, a lot of which made of bronze, both for men and women; the latter are particularly precious.
Tavole Palatine: Evidence of the prosperity of the ancient polis of ‘Metapontum’ can still be found in the archaeological areas. On a hill, it is possible to admire the ‘Tavole Palatine’, name that usually refers to the ruins of the extra urban temple dedicated to Hera. Built in Doric style in 530 B.C., it is the only worship monumental building whose external colonnade has been partly preserved.
The original construction used to have 6 columns on the short side and 12 columns on the long side, but there are only 15 left, arranged in two wings, respectively of 10 and 5 columns each, which support two pieces of an architrave. The columns were restored in 1961.
The town is situated in the River Basento Valley, in an area characterised by deep clayey ravines.
The town was called ‘Pesticium’ in the Roman time and became a feud in the Norman time.
The church of SS. Pietro e Paolo (1542), in the ‘rione Torrevecchia’, is worth visiting. Inside there are engraved wooden altars and XVIII century paintings and some interesting canvases by the Neapolitan school.
The XII century church of Santa Maria del Casale, with a XIV century portal and a XVI century rose window, is very beautiful and so is the church of Sant’Antonio, containing XVII century and XVIII century frescoes and several canvases, among which those by Giovanni Tommaso Guarini and Andrea Vaccaro.
In San Basilio, there is a fortified farm; built as a castle by Ruggero the Norman and subsequently turned into an abbey by the Basil monks, it was made into a farm by the Berlingieri family.
The origins of Craco date from the VIII century B.C. It is mentioned by the name of ‘Graculum’ in official documents of 1188. In the XV century, it was a feud belonging to Attendolo Sforza di Cotignola.
Interesting is the ‘Borgo antico’, the old centre, which at present time is uninhabited, due to a landslide which forced the inhabitants to move to the towns of Craco-Peschiera and Craco-Sant’Angelo in the 1970s.
Spectacular ravines (‘calanchi’) can be admired near the town. There are also a lot of springs of mineral water.
The area is mostly agricultural and cereals and olives are the most widespread crops.
Taranto (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtaːranto] ( listen); Latin: Tarentum; Ancient Greek: Τάρᾱς Tarās; Modern Greek: Τάραντας, Τάραντα Tarantas, Taranta; Tarantino “Tarde”) is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base.
It is the third-largest continental city of Southern Italy: according to 2011 population census, it has a population of 200,154.
Taranto is an important commercial and military port. It has well-developed steel and iron foundries, oil refineries, chemical works, some shipyards for building warships, and food-processing factories. Taranto is known as “The Spartan City” because it was founded by the Spartans in 706 BC.
In ancient times around 500 BC the city was one of the largest in Italy with population estimates up to 300,000 people. Other estimates are lower; the built-up area was 530 hectares (1300 acres).
Taranto’s pre-history dates back to 706 BC when it was founded as a Greek colony, established by the Spartans. The ancient city was situated on a peninsula; the modern city has been built over the ancient Greek city of which only a few ruins remain, including part of the city wall, two temple columns dating to the 6th century BC, and tombs.
The islets of S. Pietro and S. Paolo (St. Peter and St. Paul), collectively known as Cheradi Islands, protect the bay, called Mar Grande (Big Sea), where the commercial port is located. Another bay, called Mar Piccolo (Little Sea), is formed by the peninsula of the old city, and has flourishingfishing. Mar Piccolo is a military port with strategic importance.
At the end of the 19th century, a channel was excavated to allow military ships to enter the Mar Piccolo harbour, and the ancient Greek city become an island connected to the mainland by bridges. In addition, the islets and the coast are strongly fortified. Because of the presence of these two bays, Taranto is also called “the city of the two seas”.
The Greek colonists from Sparta called the city Taras (Τάρας), after the mythical hero Taras, while the Romans, who connected the city to Rome with an extension of the Appian way, called it Tarentum.
Taranto was founded in 706 BC by Dorian Greek immigrants as the only Spartan colony, and its origin is peculiar: the founders were Partheniae (“sons of virgins”), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta); these out-of-wedlock unions were permitted extraordinarily by the Spartans to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens of Sparta could become soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars, but later they were retroactively nullified, and the sons were then obliged to leave Greece forever.
Phalanthus, the Parthenian leader, went to Delphi to consult the oracle: the puzzling answer designated the harbour of Taranto as the new home of the exiles. The Partheniae arrived in Apulia, and founded the city, naming it Taras after the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. According to other sources, Heracles founded the city. Another tradition indicates Taras as the founder of the city; the symbol of the Greek city (as well as of the modern city) depicts the legend of Taras being saved from a shipwreck by riding a dolphin that was sent to him by Poseidon.
Taranto increased its power, becoming a commercial power and a sovereign city of Magna Graecia, ruling over the Greek colonies in southern Italy. Its independence and power came to an end as the Romans expanded throughout Italy. Taranto won the first of two wars against Rome for the control of Southern Italy: it was helped by Pyrrhus, king of Greek Epirus, who surprised Rome with the use of elephants in battle, a thing never seen before by the Romans. Rome won the second war in 272 B.C. This subsequently cut off Taranto from the centre of Mediterranean trade, by connecting the Via Appia directly to the port of Brundisium (Brindisi).
Lecce (Italian: [ˈlettʃe], Griko: Luppìu, Latin: Lupiae, Ancient Greek: Ἀλήσιον) is a historic city of 95,200 inhabitants in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Apulia. It is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula, a sub-peninsula at the heel of the Italian Peninsula and is over 2,000 years old.
Because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city, Lecce is commonly nicknamed “The Florence of the South”. The city also has a long traditional affinity with Greek culture going back to its foundation; the Messapii who founded the city are said to have been Cretans in Greek records. To this day, in the Grecìa Salentina, a group of towns not far from Lecce, the griko language is still spoken.
In terms of industry the “Lecce stone” is the city’s main export, because it is very soft and malleable, thus suitable for sculptures. Lecce stone is a kind of limestone. Lecce is also an important agricultural centre, chiefly for its olive oil and wine production, as well as an industrial centre specialising in ceramic production.
According to legend, a city called Sybar existed at the time of the Trojan War, founded by the Messapii. It was conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC, receiving the new name of Lupiae.
Under the emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) the city was moved 3 kilometres (2 miles) to the northeast, taking the name of Licea or Litium. Lecce had a theater and an amphitheater and was connected to the Hadrian Port (the current San Cataldo). Orontius of Lecce, locally called Sant’Oronzo, is considered to have served as the city’s first Christian bishop and is Lecce’s patron saint.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Lecce was sacked by the Ostrogoth king Totila in the Gothic Wars. It was conquered by the Byzantines in 549, and remained part of theEastern Empire for five centuries, with brief conquests by Saracens, Lombards, Hungarians and Slavs.
After the Norman conquest in the 11th century, Lecce regained commercial importance, flourishing in the subsequent Hohenstaufen and Angevine rule. The County of Lecce was one of the largest and most importants fiefs in the Kingdom of Sicily from 1053 to 1463, when it was annexed directly to the crown. From the 15th century, Lecce was one of the most important cities of southern Italy, and, starting in 1630, it was enriched with precious Baroque monuments. To avert invasion by the Ottomans, a new line of walls and a castle were built by Charles V, (who was also Holy Roman Emperor), in the first part of the 16th century.
In 1656, a plague broke out in the city, killing a thousand inhabitants.
In 1943, fighter aircraft based in Lecce helped support isolated Italian garrisons in the Aegean Sea, fighting Germans during World War 2. Because they were delayed by the Allies, they couldn’t prevent a defeat. In 1944 and 1945, B-24 long-range bombers of the 98th Heavy Bomb Group attached to the 15th U.S. Army Air Force were based in Lecce, from where the crews flew missions over Italy, the Balkans, Austria, Germany and France.
Otranto (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɔːtranto]; Latin: Hydruntum) is a town and comune in the province of Lecce (Apulia, Italy), in a fertile region once famous for its breed of horses.
It is located on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto, to which the city gives its name, connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and separates Italy fromAlbania. The harbour is small and has little trade.
The lighthouse Faro della Palascìa, at approximately 5 kilometres (3 miles) southeast of Otranto, marks the most easterly point of the Italian mainland.
About 50 kilometres (31 mi) south lies the promontory of Santa Maria di Leuca (so called since ancient times from its white cliffs, leukos being Greek for white), the southeastern extremity of Italy, the ancient Promontorium lapygium or Sallentinum. The district between this promontory and Otranto is thickly populated and very fertile.
Otranto occupies the site of the ancient Hydrus (in Greek: Ὑδροῦς) or Hydruntum (in Latin), also known as Hydrunton, Hydronton, orHydruntu. Otranto was a town of Greek origin, which, in the wars of Pyrrhus and of Hannibal sided against Rome.
In Roman times it was a city. As it is the nearest port to the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, it was perhaps more important than Brundisium(present Brindisi), under the Roman emperors as a point of embarkation for the East, as the distance to Apollonia was less than from Brundisium.
In the 8th century, it was for some time in the possession of duke Arechis II of Benevento. It remained in the hands of the Byzantine emperorsuntil it was among the last cities of Apulia to surrender to the Norman Robert Guiscard in 1068, and then became part of the Principality of Taranto. In the Middle Ages the Jews had a school there.
In 1480, Mehmet the Conqueror sent an Ottoman Turkish fleet to invade Rome under the command of Gedik Ahmet Paşa. The army reached the shore on 28 July 1480 and the city was captured in two weeks on 11 August 1480. 800 Catholics were beheaded after refusing to convert to Islam. [These victims were canonized by Pope Francis on 12 May 2013.]
The Pope, in panic, called for a crusade to be built up by Ferdinand I of Naples, which notably included troops of Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus. Turks controlled the city for 13 months. Mehmet II died en route to capture the rest of Italy. His successor Bayezid II ordered Gedik Ahmet Paşa to be hanged and the Turks retreated at the end on 11 September 1481.
In 1537, the famous Turkish corsair and Ottoman admiral Barbarossa captured Otranto and the Fortress of Castro, but the Turks were eventually repulsed from the city and the rest of Puglia.
In 1804, the city was obliged to harbour a French garrison that was established there to watch the movements of the English fleet. Under the French name of Otrante it was created a duché grand-fief de l’Empire in the Napoleonic kingdom of Naples for Joseph Fouché, Napoleon’s minister of Police (1809), the grandfather of Margareta Fouché. The family used the title of duc d’Otrante after Joseph Fouché’s death.
It is located by the Ionian Sea, on the west coast of the Salentina Peninsula. The town of Gallipoli is divided in two parts, the modern and the old city. The new town includes all the newest buildings including a skyscraper. The old town is located on a limestone island, linked to the mainland by a bridge built in the 16th century.
According to a legend, the city was founded in ancient times by Idomeneus of Crete. Pliny the Elder attributes the foundation to the Senones Gauls, while more likely it was a Messapicsettlement. Historically, what is known is that Gallipoli was a city of the Greater Greece, ruling over a large territory including today’s Porto Cesareo. In 265 it sided with Pyrrhus andTaranto against ancient Rome, suffering a defeat which relegated it as a Roman colony (later a municipium).
In the early Middle Ages, it was most likely sacked by the Vandals and the Goths. Rebuilt by the Byzantines, Gallipoli lived an economically and socially flourishing period due to its geographical position. Later it was owned by the Roman Popes, and was a centre of fighting against the Greek monastic orders.
In the 11th century Gallipoli was conquered by the Normans and, in 1268, it was besieged by Charles I of Anjou, causing numerous inhabitants to flee to the nearby Alezio. The city was repopulated around 1300, under the feudal rule of the principality of Taranto. In 1484 the Venetians tried to occupy it, but without results. King Ferdinand I of the Two Siciliesstarted the construction of the port, which in the 18th century became the largest olive oil market in the Mediterranean. After the unification of Italy (1861), Gallipoli was capital of a circondario, together with Lecce and Taranto.
Alberobello, the city of drystone dwellings known as trulli , is an exceptional example of vernacular architecture. It is one of the best preserved and most homogeneous urban areas of this type in Europe. Its special features, and the fact that the buildings are still occupied, make it unique. It also represents a remarkable survival of prehistoric building techniques.
There was prehistoric settlement in the Itria and the tholos (dome-shaped tomb) tradition of building may have come to the region at this time. The present settlement dates from the mid-14th century, when what appears to have been an uninhabited area was granted to the first Count of Conversano by Robert d’Anjou, Prince of Taranto, in recognition of his service during the Crusades. He and his successors colonized the area by moving people from their other fiefs, allowing them to build cottages known as caselle.
However, recent research suggests that scattered rural settlements that began around AD 1000 gradually coalesced to form the village units of latter-day Aja Piccola and Monti. Tradition has it that drystone walling was imposed upon the new settlers so their houses could be quickly dismantled. This served two purposes: recalcitrant householders could be dispossessed easily and, later, it would be possible to avoid taxation on new settlements. In the latter case the buildings could be reconstructed equally rapidly. This is known to have occurred in 1644 to thwart tax inspectors sent by the King of Naples. However, historical and comparative analysis suggests that this technique was a minimal physical response to local conditions, later to be exploited for punitive purposes.
By the mid-16th century the Monti area was already occupied by some 40 trulli , but it was in 1620 that the settlement began to expand, when Count Gian Girolamo Guercio ordered the construction of a bakery, a mill and an inn. By the end of the 18th century the community numbered over 3,500, and in 1797 they brought the feudal rule of the Acquaviva family to an end by obtaining the status of royal town from Ferdinand IV, King of Naples. The name of Alberobello was adopted, taken from the medieval Latin name of the region, siva arboris belli . From this time onwards the construction of new trulli quickly declined.
These buildings were constructed using roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighbouring fields and, later, the large water-collecting basins in the area. They were built directly on the underlying natural rock, using exclusively the drystone technique. The walls that form the rectangular rooms are double, with rubble cores, and are pierced by small windows. Fireplaces, ovens and alcoves are recessed into the thickness of the walls. The roofs, which are also double-skinned, spring directly from the walls, simple squinches allowing the transition from the rectangular to the circular or oval sections of the roofs themselves.
These are built up of successive courses of grey limestone slabs, known as chianche or chiancarelle . The roofs of the larger building terminate in a decorative pinnacle, often apotropaic in function. There are ingenious provisions for collecting rainwater using projecting eaves at the base of the roof which divert the water through a channelled slab into the cistern beneath the house. Flights of narrow stone steps give access to the roofs.
The interiors are equipped with wooden fittings, such as door frames, barrel-vaulted niches, etc., and in some of the larger trulli there is a second storey formed from a wooden floor and reached by means of a wooden staircase. Stone fireplaces and ovens are ventilated through stone slabs covering them. The roofs are not painted and develop a patina of mosses and lichens; they sometimes bear mythological or religious symbols in white ash.
By contrast, the walls of the trulli must be whitewashed at regular intervals, which has the effect of rounding the outlines of the stones, giving a brilliant homogeneous surface. The Monti quarter, which covers 6 ha on a hillside, contains 1,030 trulli . Its streets run downhill and converge at the base of the hill. The Aja Piccola quarter, with 590 trulli , is less homogeneous than Monti. The streets converge on a common farmyard where in feudal times the peasants were forced to thresh wheat.
Ostuni (Greek: Astynéon) is a city and comune in the province of Brindisi (Puglia, Italy), with a population of about 32,000 located about 8 km from the coast. Its main economic activities include tourism, attracted by its nearby pristine beaches, historical architecture in the city and its surroundings, as well as a vibrant olive and grape agribusiness.
The region around Ostuni has been inhabited since the Stone age. The town is reputed to have been originally established by the Messapii, a pre-classic tribe, and destroyed by Hannibal during the Punic Wars. It was then re-built by the Greeks, the name Ostuni deriving from the GreekAstu néon (“new town”).
Sacked after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in 996 AD the town became part of the Norman County of Lecce. In this period started the development of medieval town around the summit of the 229 m high hill, there was built a castle (now only parts of the original castle remain) and city walls with four gates.
From 1300 to 1463 it was part of the Principality of Taranto and from 1507 (together with what is now thefrazione of Villanova and Grottaglie) passed to Isabella, Duchess of Bari, wife of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan. Under the influence of Isabella, Ostuni enjoyed a golden-age within the wider panorama of the Italian Renaissance. In this period Isabella gave protection to humanists and people of art and letters, including bishop Giovanni Bovio. Isabella died in 1524 and Ostuni passed as dowry to her daughterBona Sforza, wife-to-be of Sigismund I of Poland, King of Poland.
During Bona Sforza’s government, Ostuni continued to enjoyed a liberal and magnanimous regime. In 1539 she had towers built along all the shoreline, as protection against anticipated attacks from the Turks who controlled the Balkans. These towers (still existing, including Pozzella Tower, the Pylon, Villanova and others), were permanently garrisoned and communicated through fire beacons.
The so-called “Old Town” is Ostuni’s citadel built on top of a hill and still fortified by the ancient walls. Ostuni is regarded as an architectural jewel, and is commonly referred to as “the White Town” (“La Città Bianca”, in Italian) for its white walls and its typically white-painted architecture. A monument on its own, the town’s largest buildings are the Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace, together with a number of palazzi of local aristocratic families: Aurisicchio, Ayroldi, Bisantizzi, Falghieri, Ghionda, Giovine, Jurleo, Marseglia, Moro, Palmieri, Petrarolo, Siccoda, Urselli, Zaccaria.
In the surrounding countryside there are typical Pugliese “masserie”, fortified large estate-farms, one of which, San Domenico, was once held by the Knights of Malta.
Ostuni is one of the most beautiful and famous towns in Apulia. Its unique historic town, called “Città Bianca” (the Italian for “white town”), its monuments, its baroque-style churches, are examples of the great architecture and culture that characterizes this part of South Italy.
In the summertime Ostuni is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The population rises from about 30,000 inhabitants in wintertime to about 100,000.
Ostuni is the fifth city in Italy for the percentage of British people residents. People from North Europe, in particular Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and Germany went in Ostuni searching for good weather and good food. This particular phenomena is called “salentoshire” and characterizes this area of Apulia since 2010.
Rome (/ˈroʊm/; Italian: Roma pronounced [ˈroːma]; Latin: Rōma) is a city and special comune (named “Roma Capitale”) in Italy. Rome is the capital of Italy and also of theProvince of Rome and of the region of Lazio. With 2.9 million residents in 1,285.3 km2 (496.3 sq mi), it is also the country’s largest and most populated comune and fourth-most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. The urban area of Rome extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 3.8 million. Between 3.2 and 4.2 million people live in Rome metropolitan area.
The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of Tiber river. Vatican City is an independent country within the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Rome’s history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC. Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe. It is referred to as “The Eternal City” (Latin: Roma Aeterna), a central notion in ancient Roman culture. In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization. Since the 1st century AD, Rome has been considered the seat of the Papacy and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.
After the Middle Ages, almost all the popes since Nicholas V (1422–55) pursued coherently along four hundred years an architectonic and urbanistic program aimed to make of the city the world`s artistic and cultural center. Due to that, Rome became first one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance along with Florence, and then the birthplace of Baroque style. Famous artists and architects, such as – to name just a few – Bramante, Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, made of the city the center of their activity, creating masterpieces like St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, Raphael Rooms and St. Peter’s Square.
Rome has the status of a global city. In 2011, Rome was the 18th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy. Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations with both locations receiving millions of tourists a year. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Olympics and is the seat of United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
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