Showing posts with label Royal Palace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal Palace. Show all posts

28 September 2019

Filippo Illuminato - partisan

Teenager who gave his life for his city

The young partisan Filippo Illuminato, killed at the age of 13
The young partisan Filippo Illuminato,
killed at the age of 13
The partisan fighter Filippo Illuminato died on this day in 1943 in Naples.

He was among more than 300 Italians killed in an uprising known as the Quattro giornate di Napoli - the Four Days of Naples - which successfully liberated the city from occupying Nazi forces ahead of the arrival of the first Allied forces in the city on 1 October.

Illuminato’s memory has been marked in a number of ways in the southern Italian city, honoured because he was only 13 years old when he was killed by German gunfire in a street battle in the famous Piazza Trieste e Trento, just a few steps from the Royal Palace. His last act had been to blow up a German armoured car.

Born into a poor family, Illuminato was working as an apprentice mechanic when he decided to join the uprising, which was sparked by a brutal crackdown imposed by the Nazis in response to the Italian government’s decision to surrender to the Allies, confirmed in the signing of the Armistice of Cassabile on 3 September on the island of Sicily.

The German forces, which had numbered 20,000, had responded to the news by banning all assemblies and introducing a curfew. Thousands of Italian soldiers and citizens were rounded up and deported, bound for labour camps in the north of the country.

Citizens who remained in the city were warned that any insurrection would be punished by execution and the destruction of the homes of each individual offender. The wounding or killing of any German soldier would be avenged with the deaths of 100 Neapolitans.  Word spread that the Germans had been instructed to "reduce Naples to cinders and mud" before they retreated from the Allied invasion.

Neapolitans welcome the arrival of Allied troops in the city following the four-day uprising
Neapolitans welcome the arrival of Allied troops in the city
following the four-day uprising
After a number of sporadic incidents, a more consolidated rebellion began on 26 September, when around 500 citizens, their stock of weapons and ammunition bolstered by a raid on a German munitions store in the Vomero quarter a few days earlier, attacked German soldiers who had rounded up 8,000 Neapolitans for deportation.  A number of further insurgencies occurred in other parts of the city later in the day, including the capture of a German weapons depot in Castel Sant’Elmo.

Illuminato had by this stage taken up arms with other members of his family and friends. The German forces knew they had a full-scale insurrection on their hands and street battles broke out as the resistance fighters were sought out.  It was during one such battle that Illuminato was killed - but only after an act of personal bravery that would posthumously be recognised by the awarding of the Gold Medal of Military Valour, Italy's highest award for gallantry.

Fighting with a group of partisans in the heart of the city, he became separated as other men sought cover from a German patrol. Yet he courageously advanced on a German armoured car that was moving from Piazza Trieste e Trento into Via Toledo, which was then known as Via Roma.

The main post office in Naples was destroyed by the German occupiers before they withdrew
The main post office in Naples was destroyed by the
German occupiers before they withdrew
Illuminato destroyed one vehicle with a grenade and continued to advance despite the German patrol opening fire, managing to throw another grenade before he fell under a hail of bullets.

Over the following two days, the Germans began to withdraw, aware that the advancing Allied forces were only a few kilometres away to the south. By the time American and British soldiers arrived, no Nazis remained in the city.

Although there were three times as many deaths among partisans and civilians as there were among the German forces, the uprising was hailed as a victory because it played a part in the decision of the Nazi command not to mount a defence of Naples against the invading Allies, and thwarted Hitler’s instructions to his army to leave the city in ruins in their wake.

Nazi troops did torch the State Archives of Naples, which destroyed many historical documents, and blew up the main post office, but quit without bringing about the wholesale destruction Hitler had wanted.

Illuminato became a symbol of the Four Days. His memory is preserved in the city in a number of ways, including a street name - the Via Filippo Illuminato in the Fuorigrotta district - and a high school in the Mugnano district.

The Piazza Trieste e Trento, where Filippo Illuminato was gunned down in 1943, as it looks today
The Piazza Trieste e Trento, where Filippo Illuminato was
gunned down in 1943, as it looks today
Travel tip:

The Piazza Trieste e Trento is a much smaller space than the vast Piazza del Plebiscito it adjoins, but is nonetheless an important square at the convergence of the Via Toledo, Via Chiaia and the Via San Carlo. Around its perimeter can be found the Teatro San Carlo, a wing of the Royal Palace, the Palazzo Zapata, the Galleria Umberto I and the Caffè Gambrinus.  The square acquired its current name in 1919 in celebration of the Italian victory in the First World War.

The Via Toledo in Naples - known as Via Roma until 1980 - is one of the main commercial streets in the centre of the city
The Via Toledo in Naples - known as Via Roma until 1980 - is
one of the main commercial streets in the centre of the city
Travel tip:

Via Toledo is a busy street in Naples, linking Piazza Dante with Piazza Trieste e Trento. One of the most important shopping streets in the city, it is almost 1.2 km (0.75 miles) long. Created by Spanish viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, 2nd Marquis of Villafranca in 1536, it was designed by Ferdinando Manlio, an Italian architect.  It was called Via Roma between 1870 to 1980 to celebrate the Italian unification.  The Metro station Toledo, which can also be found on the street, is one of the city’s more unlikely must-see places. One of a number of so-called ‘art stations’ on the line linking Piazza Garibaldi and Piscinola, Toledo is famous for its breathtaking escalator descent through a vast mosaic by the Spanish architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca known as the Crater de Luz – the crater of light – which creates the impression of daylight streaming into a volcanic crater.


2 September 2018

Marie Josephine of Savoy

Italian noblewoman who became titular Queen of France

Detail from a portrait of Marie Josephine by the French royal portraitist Jean-Martial Frédou
Detail from a portrait of Marie Josephine by the
French royal portraitist Jean-Martial Frédou
Marie Josephine Louise of Savoy, who married the future King Louis XVIII of France, was born Maria Giuseppina Luigia on this day in 1753 at the Royal Palace in Turin.

She became a Princess of France and Countess of Provence after her marriage, but died before her husband actually became the King of France.

Marie Josephine was the third child of prince Victor Amadeus of Savoy and Infanta Maria Antonio Ferdinanda of Spain.

Her paternal grandfather, Charles Emmanuel III, was King of Sardinia and so her parents were the Duke and Duchess of Savoy.  Her brothers were to become the last three Kings of Sardinia, the future Charles Emmanuel IV, Victor Emmanuel I and Charles Felix.

At the age of 17, Marie Josephine was married by proxy to Prince Louis Stanislas, Count of Provence, the younger brother of the Dauphin, Louis Auguste, who was fated to become Louis XVI of France and to be executed by guillotine.

After the outbreak of the French Revolution, the Count and Countess of Provence stayed in France with the King and Marie Antoinette, but when their situation became too dangerous they successfully escaped to the Austrian Netherlands.

Marie Josephine as a child before her marriage to Prince Louis Stanislas, the future Louis XVIII
Marie Josephine as a child before her marriage
to Prince Louis Stanislas, the future Louis XVIII
Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette also tried to leave the country but were arrested in the small town of Varennes and were taken back to face charges of treason and ultimately to be executed.

In 1795, the only surviving son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who was regarded by the exiled French Court as Louis XVII, died in his prison. Marie Josephine’s husband was therefore proclaimed by loyalists as Louis XVIII and Marie Josephine then became regarded as titular Queen of France.

After years of moving from place to place, often separately, the couple were reunited in England and allowed to set up a French exile court in Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire, where Marie Josephine died in 1810.

She had a magnificent funeral attended by many French royalist sympathisers, whose names were recorded by spies and sent to Napoleon.

Members of the British Royal family followed her funeral cortege in a carriage and saw her laid to rest in the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey. But her body was removed a year later and taken to the Kingdom of Sardinia, where it was buried in Cagliari Cathedral.

The Palazzo Reale in Turin, by night
The Palazzo Reale in Turin, by night
Travel tip:

The Royal Palace of Turin, the Palazzo Reale, where Maria Josephine was born, was built by Emmanuel Philibert, who was Duke of Savoy from 1528 to 1580.  He chose the location in Piazza Castello because it had an open and sunny position. In 1946 the building became the property of the state and in 1997 it became a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria e Santa Cecilia in Cagliari
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria e
Santa Cecilia in Cagliari
Travel tip:

The Cathedral in Cagliari in Sardinia, which was the final resting place of Marie Josephine, is in the medieval quarter of the city called Castello. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria and Santa Cecilia was built in the 13th century. Marie Josephine’s brother, Charles Felix, had an imposing monument erected over her grave, where she is described as ‘wise, prudent, kindest’ and ‘Queen of the Gauls’.

More reading:

Charles Emmanuel IV - the King of Sardinia descended from Charles I of England

The first Victor Emmanuel

The reign of Victor Amadeus of Savoy

Also on this day:

1898: The birth of chocolatier Pietro Ferrero

1938: The birth of actor and stuntman Giuliano Gemma


16 July 2017

Vincenzo Gemito - sculptor

Neapolitan who preserved figures from local street life

Gemito's statue, Il giocatore di carte, so impressed Vittorio  Emanuele II he placed it on permanent display in a museum
Gemito's statue, Il giocatore di carte, so impressed Vittorio
Emanuele II he placed it on permanent display in a museum
Vincenzo Gemito, one of the sculptors responsible for eight statues of former kings that adorn the western façade of the Royal Palace in Naples, was born on this day in 1852.

The statues are in niches along the side of the palace that fronts on to the Piazza del Plebiscito, displayed in chronological order beginning with Roger the Norman, also known as Roger II of Sicily, who ruled in the 12th century, and ends with Vittorio Emanuele II, who was on the throne when his kingdom became part of the united Italy in 1861.

Gemito sculpted the fifth statue in the sequence, that of Charles V, who was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1519 to 1556 and, by virtue of being king of Spain from 1516 to 1556, also the king of Naples.

Born in Naples, Gemito’s first steps in life were difficult ones.  The son of a poor woodcutter, he was taken by his mother the day after his birth to the orphanage attached to the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata Maggiore in the centre of the city and left on the steps.

He was brought up by a family who adopted him after two weeks at the orphanage. It is thought that his adoptive father, an artisan, encouraged him to work with his hands and even before the age of 10 he was working as an apprentice in the studio of Emanuele Caggiano.  He was enrolled into the Naples Academy of Fine Arts when he was 12.

Gemito's Il pescatorello
Gemito's Il pescatorello
Gemito was known for the outstanding realism in his work, as can be seen in his sculpture Il giocatore di carte – the Card Player - which he created when he was only 16, which depicts a boy seated with one leg crossed, the other bent so that the knee is level with his chin, scratching the side of his head with one hand while he contemplates the cards he holds in the other.

It was such an impressive piece of work that after it has been exhibited for the first time in Naples, the King, Vittorio Emanuele II, purchased it and had it placed on permanent display in the Museo di Capodimonte.

Where many other sculptors created romanticised figures or works of fantasy, Gemito was fascinated by what he saw around him, on the streets of Naples, and it was everyday scenes that were his inspiration.  Another brilliant example of his eye for detail, especially for facial expression and natural poses, was Il pescatorello – the Fisherboy – which shows a boy, his fishing rod tucked under his arm, looking down at the fish he has just caught, which he clutches to his chest with both hands.

Gemito moved to Paris in 1877, where he forged a friendship with the French artist Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier and created new works in various media, exhibiting in major salons and galleries, and at the Universal Exposition of 1878. It was at the Paris Salon - the official exhibition of the Paris Academy of Fine Arts – that his Fisherboy was unveiled, a work greeted with such acclaim that he won widespread fame, as well as lucrative commissions for portraits.

He remained in Paris for three years before returning to Naples. He settled on the island of Capri for a short time, where he married.

The Royal Palace in Naples, with the eight statues inset in niches along the frontage overlooking Piazza del Plebiscito
The Royal Palace in Naples, with the eight statues inset in
niches along the frontage overlooking Piazza del Plebiscito
Back in Italy, Gemito constructed his own foundry on Via Mergellina in Naples, where he revived a Renaissance process for using wax for bronze casting.

The commission to create a marble statue of Charles V, to be erected as part of the changes made by Umberto I of Savoy to the frontage of the Royal Palace, came in 1888.

It caused Gemito much anxiety. He did not like working with marble and suffered a crisis of confidence, doubting his ability to produce a statue that would meet expectations. He finished the job but became so depressed he suffered a mental breakdown. He became a virtual recluse, living in a one-room apartment and several times being admitted to a mental hospital.

For the next 21 years he produced only drawings and did not resume his sculpting career until 1909. 

In 1911, by which time he had turned to using gold and silver, he created another masterpiece, a severed head of Medusa in partial gilt silver, which again was notable for the realism of expression and the intricacy of detail.

In 1952, Gemito’s life was commemorated in an Italian postage stamp issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The waterfront at Mergellina, with Vesuvius in the distance
The waterfront at Mergellina, with Vesuvius in the distance
Travel tip:

Mergellina is a coastal area of city of Naples, technically in the district of Chiaia, standing at the foot of Posillipo Hill and facing Castel dell'Ovo.  It was once a fishing village entirely separate from Naples but was incorporated into the Naples metropolitan area in the early 20th century.  Today it has an important tourist harbour for ferries from the islands of Ischia, Capri and Procida and points on the Campania mainland. It is also a popular area for seafood restaurants.

Almost always thronged with tourists, the  bustling Piazzetta is at the heart of Capri town
Almost always thronged with tourists, the
bustling Piazzetta is at the heart of Capri town
Travel tip:

Capri, an island situated off the Sorrentine peninsula on the south side of the Bay of Naples, has been a popular resort since Roman times.  In the 19th and early 20th century, it was a place to which many wealthy intellectuals and authors were drawn. Norman Douglas, Maxim Gorky, Graham Greene and Axel Munthe were among the authors who chose to live there for parts of their careers.  It has been a magnet, too, for figures from the entertainment world. The English singer and actress Gracie Fields spent many years at her villa there; today, the American singer Mariah Carey has a property on the island.  Tourists are drawn to Capri town, the pretty harbour Marina Piccola, the Belvedere of Tragara  - a panoramic promenade lined with villas - the limestone sea stacks known as the Faraglioni, the Blue Grotto and the ruins of Roman villas.

30 July 2016

Naples earthquake of 1626

Devastating tremor and tsunami killed 70,000

A 17th century painting  shows the 1631 eruption of Vesuvius  that followed just five years after the 1626 Naples earthquake
A 17th century painting shows the 1631 eruption of
Vesuvius just five years after the 1626 earthquake

The region around Naples, one of the most physically unstable areas of high population in the world with a long history of volcanic activity and earthquakes, suffered one of its more devastating events on this day in 1626.

An earthquake that it has been estimated would register around seven on the modern Richter scale struck the city and the surrounding area.

Its epicentre was about 50km out to sea, beyond the Bay of Naples and the island of Capri to the south, but the shock waves were strong enough to cause the collapse of many buildings in the city and the destruction of more than 30 small towns and villages.

A tsunami followed, in which according to some reports the sea receded by more than three kilometres (two miles) before rushing back with enormous force, towering waves engulfing the coastline.

In total, it is thought that approximately 70,000 people were killed by the quake itself and the tsunami.

Naples at the time was a thriving city, still under Spanish rule.  It had a population of around 300,000, which made it the largest port city in Europe and the second largest of all European cities apart from Paris, which had about half a million inhabitants.

It was enjoying a golden age in expansion, particularly at the more expensive end of the property market, with many luxury estates springing up in the Chiaia district to the north of the city.

Construction of the Royal Palace, the masterpiece of the late Renaissance architect Domenico Fontana, was almost complete.  Overlooking the Bay, the palace would for many years be the main residence of the Bourbon kings.

A typical fumarole at Solfatara in the Campi Flegrei just outside Naples
A typical fumarole at Solfatara in the
Campi Flegrei just outside Naples
However, bordered to the south by Vesuvius and to the north by the steaming, bubbling Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields), the city was under constant threat from seismic activity.  In Naples alone, between 10,000 and 20,000 people were thought to have been killed on July 30, 1626.

Indeed, the 1626 quake came during one of several periods punctuated by deadly events.  There had been three earthquakes in one year in 1622, sparking a wave of activity that was perhaps behind the substantial eruption of Vesuvius that took place in 1631. It was the first of any consequence for four centuries, resulting in the deaths of between 3,000 and 6,000 people.

Another earthquake in 1693 claimed the lives of 90,000 in the wider region.  Earthquakes and eruptions were so frequent in the next century that 110,000 people were killed in one 75-year stretch between 1783 and 1857, equating to 1,500 every year.

There has not been an eruption of Vesuvius since 1944 and the last major earthquake to hit the region was in 1980, when a tremor measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale took place in the province of Avellino, its epicentre 85km east of Naples, with a death toll of 2,914.

Nowadays some three million people live in and around Naples and although the last few decades have been calm, seismologists say there is little reason to be complacent.

The façade of the Royal Palace in the centre of Naples
Travel tip:

Work began on the construction of the Royal Palace in Naples in the early 17th century.  The main part of the building, including the façade that opens on to the Piazza del Plebiscito, was completed by 1620 and additions were made over time, including the connecting Teatro San Carlo, the famous Naples opera house, which was opened in 1737.

Travel tip:

For a less strenuous volcanic experience than climbing Vesuvius, the volcanic crater Solfatara, just outside Pozzuoli, is a worthwhile alternative. Part of the vast Campi Flegrei, a volcanic area with a four-mile diameter, Solfatara is fascinating for its active emissions of volcanic ash that form piles of yellow tuff rocks and for the fumaroles releasing sulphorous steam.


17 July 2016

Lady Blessington’s Neapolitan Journals

Irish aristocrat fell in love with Naples

Lady Blessington, depicted here by Thomas Lawrence, settled in Naples after touring Europe
Lady Blessington, depicted here by Thomas
Lawrence, settled in Naples after touring Europe
Marguerite, Lady Blessington, an Irish-born writer who married into the British aristocracy, arrived in Naples on this day in 1823 and began writing her Neapolitan Journals.

She was to stay in the city for nearly three years and her detailed account of what she saw and who she met has left us with a unique insight into life in Naples nearly 200 years ago.

Lady Blessington made herself at home in Naples and thoroughly embraced the culture, attending local events, making what at the time were adventurous excursions, and entertaining Neapolitan aristocrats and intellectuals at the former royal palace that became her home.

Those who know Naples today will recognise in her vivid descriptions many places that have remained unchanged for the last two centuries.

She also provides a valuable insight into what life was like at the time for ordinary people as well as for the rich and privileged.

A society beauty, she came to Naples during a long European tour after her marriage to Charles Gardiner, the first Earl of Blessington, and immediately became fascinated by the local customs, food and traditions. She also visited Ercolano, Paestum, Capri, Ischia and Sorrento and made an ascent of Vesuvius on an ass.

The Vomero hill offers spectacular views over Naples
The Vomero hill offers spectacular views over Naples
She describes her first sight of the city on her arrival on 17 July in 1823. “Naples burst upon us from the steep hill above the Campo Santo, and never did aught so bright and dazzling meet my gaze. Innumerable towers, domes and steeples, rose above palaces, intermingled with terraces and verdant foliage. The bay, with its placid waters, lay stretched before us, bounded on the left by a chain of mountains, with Vesuvius, sending up its blue incense to the Cloudless sky.”

She was so impressed with her first view of the city that she ordered the postilions to pause on the brow of the hill so that she might fully appreciate the panorama in front of her.

She recalls: “… as our eyes dwelt on it, we were ready to acknowledge that the old Neapolitan phrase of ‘Vedi Napoli e poi mori’ - 'see Naples and die' - had a meaning, for they who die without having seen Naples, have missed one of the most enchanting views in the world.”

Three days later, having looked at half the palaces in Naples, she arranges to rent the Palazzo Belvedere at Vomero, describing it as: “…one of the most beautiful residences I ever beheld, in the midst of gardens and overlooking the Bay. The view it commands is unrivalled; and the gardens boast every rare and fragrant plant and flower that this delicious climate can produce.”

In February 1826 she writes with sadness about her planned departure from Naples. “As the time approaches for quitting Naples, my regret increases. A residence of nearly three years has attached me to the country and the people by ties that cannot be rent asunder without pain.”

Lady Blessington’s Neapolitan Journals are fascinating and endearing and have inspired many people to visit the city over the years. There is an abridged version of the journals in Edith Clay’s book Lady Blessington at Naples published by Hamish Hamilton.

The Royal Palace, once home to the Kings of Naples
The Royal Palace, once home to the Kings of Naples
Travel tip:

Lady Blessington mingled in royal and aristocratic circles while in Naples and would have visited the Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale), one of the magnificent residences of the Kings of Naples. The palace is at the eastern end of Piazza del Plebiscito and dates back to 1600. It now houses a 30-room museum and the largest library in southern Italy, which are both open to the public.

Travel tip:

You can take the funicular railway up the hill to Vomero, where Lady Blessington lived for a while, to see the fine views over the city and the bay of Naples. It is well worth visiting the 14th century Castel Sant’Elmo for for what you can see from its vantage point.


1 March 2016

Luigi Vanvitelli – architect

Neapolitan genius drew up a grand design for his royal client

Giacinto Diano's portrait of Luigi Vanvitelli, which is housed at the Royal Palace in Caserta
Giacinto Diano's portrait of Luigi Vanvitelli,
which is housed at the Royal Palace in Caserta
The most famous Italian architect of the 18th century, Luigi Vanvitelli, died on this day in 1773 in Caserta in Campania.

The huge Royal Palace he designed for the Bourbon kings of Naples in Caserta is considered one of the greatest triumphs of the Baroque style of architecture in Italy.

Vanvitelli was born Lodewijk van Wittel in Naples in 1700, the son of a Dutch painter of landscapes, Caspar van Wittel. His father later also took up the Italian surname Vanvitelli.

Luigi Vanvitelli was trained as an architect by Nicola Salvi and worked with him on lengthening the façade of Gian Lorenzo Berninis Palazzo Chigi-Odelscalchi in Rome and on the construction of the Trevi Fountain.

Following his notable successes with the facade of the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (1732) and the facade of Palazzo Poli, behind the Trevi Fountain, Pope Clement XII sent Vanvitelli to the Marche to build some papal projects. 

Vanvitelli worked with Nicola Salvi on the construction of the Trevi Fountain and designed the facade of the Palazzo Poli
Vanvitelli worked with Nicola Salvi on the construction of the
Trevi Fountain and designed the facade of the Palazzo Poli 
At Ancona in 1732, he directed construction of the Lazzaretto, a large pentagonal building built as an isolation unit to protect against contagious diseases arriving on ships. Later it was used as a military hospital or as barracks.

Back in Rome, Vanvitelli stabilised the dome of St. Peter's Basilica when it developed cracks and painted frescoes in a chapel at St Cecilia in Trastevere. 

In partnership, he and Salvi worked on an extraordinary project that involved the construction in Rome of a chapel for King John V of Portugal, which was then disassembled and shipped to Lisbon to be rebuilt there.

Vanvitelli was eventually commissioned by Charles III, King of Naples, to build a summer palace for the royal family in Caserta and he modelled his design on the Palace of Versailles in France.

Vanvitelli designed both the 1200-room Royal Palace and the spectacular gardens
The imposing 1200-room Royal Palace seen from
the Grande Cascata waterfall
He drew up plans for a quadrilateral building, enclosing four courtyards, with 1200 rooms, a chapel, a theatre and the largest staircase in Italy.

Vanvitelli also devised an aqueduct system to bring in the volume of water needed to run the cascades and the fountains in the gardens.

The architect worked on the Royal Palace until his death in 1773, while also building a church and a monastery in Naples and designing the huge aqueduct that supplied the city with water.

Vanvitelli's Grande Cascata waterfall is a feature of the Royal Palace's vast gardens
Vanvitelli's Grande Cascata waterfall is a feature of the
Royal Palace's vast gardens
Travel tip:

The Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces erected in Europe during the 18th century, was in 1997 designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vanvitelli wrote in his memoirs that it was the King who designed the palace. This may have been to flatter him or because Charles III knew was actually quite explicit in what he wanted. The celebrated staircase, 18th century royal apartments and court theatre are among the star features of the palace. The architect also designed the famous park, with its Grande Cascata waterfall.

Vanvitelli's pentagonal building was also known as Mole Vanvitelliana
Vanvitelli's unusual Lazzaretto di Ancona, a
pentagonal building on an artificial island

Travel tip:

Vanvitelli designed the unusual Lazzaretto di Ancona for Pope Clement XII, which is also sometimes known as the Mole Vanvitelliana. It is a pentagonal building built on an artificial island, which served as a quarantine station for the port town of Ancona in the 18th century.

More reading:

Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Italy's last universal genius

Nicola Salvi - creator of Rome's iconic Trevi Fountain

Carlo Maderno - one of the fathers of Italian Baroque

Also on this day:

1869: The birth of sculptor Pietro Canonica

1926: The birth of movie actor Cesare Danova

1930: The birth of cycling champion Gastone Nencini

Selected books:

Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture, by John Varriano

Italian Splendour: Palaces, Castles and Villas, by Jack Basehart

(Picture credits: Trevi Fountain by Diliff; Royal Palace by Reame;  Lazzaretto by Claudio.stanco; via Wikimedia Commons)