Marveling At Italian Architecture: More Than The Icons

Italian architecture takes you on a journey. For almost 3000 years this has been the land that influenced the rest of the world. Of course, there are the icons, from the legacy of the Ancient Romans to the Italian Renaissance. Across the country you’ll find outstanding examples of a particular style, like cathedrals or archways that mesmerize from every angle.

Sometimes the challenge is that there are too many outstanding examples. With only a week all you can do is rush. Even a few months in Italy isn’t longer enough to experience the complete list of famous buildings. As hard as it sounds, try to forget about the icons. Forget about the lists – there are simply too many beautiful buildings to contemplate. Try to think about Italian architecture as a journey, one that transcends the centuries and delights in its intimate detail.

The Italian Experience: Understanding Each Distinctive Style

Consider Florence Cathedral, Tempio Malatestiano in Rimini, and San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. They are all astonishingly beautiful buildings. Yet they are all relatively similar as prime examples of Renaissance architecture. For a more complete Italian experience, plan around the contrasting styles so you can piece together the evolution of architecture and design.

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Ancient Roman Architecture – The famous examples are in Rome, like the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

Romanesque – St Mark’s Basilica in Venice or Modena’s Duomo.

Gothic – The cathedrals in Orvieto or Siena.

Renaissance – Florence Cathedral.

Neoclassical – Many of the villas in Venice follow this style.

Baroque – Syracuse Cathedral or The Church of the Gesu in Rome.

Avant-garde – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

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The Niche Experience: A Journey Through the Styles in Rome

While there are outstanding architectural examples all across Italy, only the capital city features the complete sphere of design. While Rome is famous for the Ancient Roman monuments, the whole city is a mishmash of elaborate styles. Take some time when you arrive to explore the most prominent examples. With this as a base you’ll start to recognize the different architectural styles on every street you visit. And through this understanding you’re able to truly appreciate the idiosyncrasy of Italian architecture.

Ancient Roman Architecture – Compare Trajan’s Market, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Catacombs for the glory and grandeur.

Romanesque – The foundation style for most Catholic churches. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is a great example.

Gothic – Climb the steps and explore the interior of Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli.

Renaissance – Rome is Italy’s second Renaissance capital (after Florence). Admire the exteriors of Palazzo del Quirinale, Palazzo Spada and Villa Farnesina.

Baroque – Rome was the birthplace of Baroque and most of the grand piazzas are in this style. So, sip a coffee on a terrace at Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia and Campo de’ Fiori. Baroque grew out of Renaissance and St. Peter’s Basilica is a beautiful example of the two styles merging.

Neoclassical – Another place for a coffee: Piazza della Republica.

Fascist – Not everybody likes the style but it’s very interesting. Just take a glance at Palazzo della Civilta Italiana or Palazzo della Farnesina.

Ready to explore Italian architecture in 2018? Join us on our next trip departing in April to Italy, Spain and Greece. Click below to learn more!

Ross LonsdorfComment