Tag Archives: Italy

Getty Museum returns the Head of Hades to Italy

29 Jan

Sometime between 300-400B.C., an unknown artist in Morgantina, Italy carefully sculpted this terra-cotta replica of the famed god of the Underworld, the feared Hades.  The skull or head itself was carefully sculpted on its own, and later the curly hair and beard were individually added, one curl at a time, just before the final firing in the kiln. Afterwards, it was carefully painted, and some parts of the paint remain such as the red in his hair and the blue in his beard.  This beautiful artifact is an amazingly well-preserved momento of painstaking artistry.

The piece goes by both the name “Head of Hades” and “Bluebeard” and was illegally excavated from an Italian archaeological dig during the 1970s. Afterwards it was sold and ended up at the Getty Museum in the USA.  

According to the Getty Website, the work was initially believed to be a depiction of Hades’ brother, Zeus (known occasionally as Bluebeard).  However, examination of the nearby discovered artifacts and the knowledge that Morgantina worshipped Persephone (kidnapped wife of Hades), they now believe it is actually Hades instead.  The kidnapping of Persephone is thought to have occurred at a lake near the city.  

Long story short, because the work was illegally excavated, it technically still belongs to Italy and was stolen property, meaning the Getty had to repatriate the bust to its nation of origin.  Although the legal exchange happened a couple years ago, the official trade occurred recently when Italian officials arrived to take over possession.  

One of the interesting notes to me is the fact that the Getty has owned this work since 1985 (almost 20 years) according to their own website. It is unclear why it took so long for them to return the stolen relic.  

Either way, the work is finally home as Hades returns to his royal lands, protecting the good and punishing the wicked as they pass into his deadly realm.


  1. Getty Website
  2. Yahoo! News
5 Aug

“44 Tips for Traveling in Italy”

by History in High Heels.


I get lots of questions about living in Florence and emails asking for tips for traveling in Italy. So I finally decided to put all of my tips and advice together in one place! I hope you find them useful and please share any tips you have.

1. Plan and Pre-Book major sights and attractions whenever possible, especially if you are traveling in mid-March (spring break) or between May and July.

2. Don’t use third party booking websites or companies. 
Companies like TickItaly will charge you an arm and a leg for a reservation you could easily make on the official museum website (or officially sponsored website) yourself. Here is a list of official museum/gallery websites:
Vatican Museums
Roman Forum and Colosseum (combo ticket)
Borghese Gallery (Rome)
The David (Accademia, Florence)
Uffizi (Florence)
Last Supper (Milan)
Doge’s Palace (Venice)
St. Mark’s (Venice)

3. Avoid restaurants with pictures of the food.
You can read more of my tips for selecting restaurants in Italy here.

4. Make the most of the high-speed train. 
It is only takes an hour and a half to get from Florence to Rome or Florence to Venice, and only thirty minutes to get to Bologna! Plus the trains are comfortable and reliable. They are my preferred way to travel around Italy. You can purchase tickets online or through a local travel agent in Italy. If you are in Florence, the lovely staff at FlorenceForFun can help you get great discounts!

5. Don’t let anyone help you put your luggage on the train or take it off.
This is a scam (mostly by gypsies) to force you to tip. If you are fine tipping, go for it, but be warned they are not the most upstanding characters.

6. Watch your bags as the train arrives and departs the station. 
Just incase somebody tries to hop on and steal something at the last minute.

7. Be prepared to lug all of your luggage down cobblestone streets and up stairs (and on and off trains). 
If your bag is too heavy or large to do this yourself, you need to rethink what you have packed! There are lots of streets and squares taxis can’t go down, so even if you cab it, you still might have another block or two to haul your stuff. Elevators can also be a rarity and you will often find random small sets of steps you have to navigate.

8. Bring a portable luggage scale, especially if you are traveling via discount European airlines. 
They are serious about bag weight.

9. Get up early every once and a while. 
Many cities, like Rome and Venice, have a completely different feel without the hoards of tourists. It is worth it to get an early start (especially in the hot summer) to get a different perspective of the city and to see many of the monuments not littered with people.

10. Always carry cash. 
Most places will not let you use your debit or credit card for smaller purchases and restaurants don’t split bills.

11. Wear comfortable shoes.

12. Look up if your bank has any affiliations in Italy (i.e. Bank of America and BNL) to avoid service charges and fees.

13. Unlock your phone and pop in an Italian SIM card. 
If you have an iPhone that is out of contract (i.e. over two years old) this is fairly easy to do and Italian SIMs are inexpensive.

14. Don’t forget sunscreen.

15. Don’t put cheese on seafood pasta. 
Despite how delicious the cheese is here, Italians do not put it on everything. . . . .


Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

31 Mar

Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss!

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors in Italy.

Manuel de Cortes’s recent book, “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss” is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.  At 125 pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas 🙂

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here.  That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures – he has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out.  You can find it on Amazon as a cheap E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour 🙂


“Italian art collector loses 13th century artwork worth one MILLION euros on Paris-Geneva train”

15 Dec

“Italian art collector loses 13th century artwork worth one MILLION euros on Paris-Geneva train”

by Mark Duell via “Daily Mail Online

Losing a treasured item can leave you feeling sick, so spare a thought for Francesco Plateroti.

The art collector from Italy left a 13th century piece by Chinese painter Wang Zhenpeng called The Banquet of Immortals on the Terrace of Jade on a high speed TGV train from Paris to Geneva.

Mr Plateroti got off the train in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, a French town close to the Swiss border, before realising the artwork – worth €1million (£800,000) – was still in his briefcase in the carriage.

Train: An art collector  left a 13th century piece on a high speed TGV service (file photo) from Paris to Geneva

Train: An art collector left a 13th century piece on a high speed TGV service (file photo) from Paris to Geneva

He alerted staff who searched the train upon its arrival at the next stop of Geneva last month, but nothing was found, and Mr Plateroti is now offering a reward for the safe return of the painting.

He said that despite the painting’s high value it was unsaleable without the cultural certificate of authenticity he still had in his possession. He had been showing the work at an exhibition in Paris.

Mr Plateroti told The Local journalist Simone Flückiger: ‘I was crushed when I realised I didn’t have it with me. It was a massive shock. People take advantage of my misfortune.

‘They are calling me to say they have the painting and that they will send it once I put the reward money in their bank accounts. This all makes having lost the painting a lot worse.’

Station: Mr Plateroti got off the train in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, a French town close to the Swiss border

Station: Mr Plateroti got off the train in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine, a French town close to the Swiss border

But he said: ‘You have to be optimistic. After all, a positive attitude can overcome many obstacles.’

I was crushed when I realised I didn’t have it with me. It was a massive shock
Francesco Plateroti

All lost property items on the TGV are sent to a central office in Berne, Swizerland. But there has been no sign yet of the painting, which dates from the Yuan dynasty of 1280 to 1329.

Mr Plateroti added: ‘Anyone who finds and returns this will be well compensated. I am hopeful that I will have it back soon.’

The collector had been travelling on the 9789 TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) train from Paris to Geneva on November 21, which left the French capital at 8.11pm local time (7.11pm GMT).


Hitchhiking in Italy: The Worst Travel Decision I Ever Made

3 Aug

Hitchhiking in Italy: The Worst Travel Decision I Ever Made

by Glynnis MacNicol via “Yahoo News

There I was, age 19, exactly 24 hours after setting out on a three-month tour of Europe, walking along the narrow shoulder of a busy freeway on the outskirts of Naples — then considered the most dangerous major city in Western Europe — bent under the weight of my backpack and the near-paralyzing fear that I would not live to see the sunrise. It was the middle of the night. My friend Angie and I had just been unceremoniously dumped from the cab of a transport truck onto the side of a busy exit ramp and left to fend for ourselves.

From the start, it had been one of those episodes that, if it had gone another way, would have been the sort of headline-making story fellow travelers shake their heads at in an “obviously, this is what happens when you’re an idiot” way and parents brandish as a dire warning to children setting out to travel for the first time.

Hitchhiking in Italy: The Worst Travel Decision I've Ever Made (Shocker, I Know!)

(Photo: Thinkstock)

In my own defense, the one good thing I can say about the worst travel day of my life is that I got all of my stupid out in 24 hours.

It was May 1994, and after living and working in England for six months on a working holiday visa, my friend Angie and I decided to spend the summer backpacking around Western Europe. We had in our possession overly stuffed backpacks, one tent, and a copy of Lonely Planet’s guide to Western Europe (the first edition having just been released a few months earlier).


A dog-eared copy of the author’s Lonely Planet guide. (Photo: Glynnis MacNicol)

We planned to give new meaning to its “on a shoestring” tagline with about $1,500 in traveler’s checks between us, plus one emergency credit card each with an individual spending limit of $1,000. Instead of planning out a route, we opted to meet at Gatwick airport, find the cheapest flight, and buy a one-way ticket, which, after 36 hours of hanging out in the terminal, is exactly what we did — to Corfu, Greece.


Traveling Dreams: Burano, Italy

7 Jun

Places I Want to See

Burano is a small Venetian island in Italy, famous for its colorful layout and its artists-in-residence.

“Traumlichtfabrik” via Getty Images


“#RealTravel: An Accidental Pilgrimage to Italy Put Life Into Perspective”

25 May

“#RealTravel: An Accidental Pilgrimage to Italy Put Life Into Perspective”

by Lorraine Chine via “Yahoo

Who: Lorraine Chin, 44, a public health educator in NYC. I decided to live the dream as a single, free-spirited woman—with a solo trip to Italy.

Where: I visited eight cities in Italy: Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice, Padua, Verona, Milan, and Como. 

Why: I had traveled prior to Paris, Scotland, Madrid, England—but as a crazy kid studying abroad. I knew seven days in northern Italy sightseeing, shopping, and eating fine cuisine was just what the doctor ordered.


The village of Assisi—one of the stops on Lorraine Chin’s life-changing trip to Italy. (Photo: Xavier / Flickr)

How I Changed After: I was working on Riker’s Island at the time and when I came back all-of-a-sudden I had an OMG moment and my eyes were open: I’m working in a jail. I started questioning how similar and different I was from the inmates I was serving. Could I be one paycheck away from being homeless? One condom away from having HIV/AIDS? I don’t take anything for granted anymore—there’s bigger purpose, bigger reason to life. It prompted me to get my real estate license and also work as a paralegal for a time. To make my life full and open. Continue reading

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