Raphael's School of Athens

The Renaissance Book Club

  I’m on the Acela to Washington, D.C., my favorite way to reach the capital from New York City. The dining car is so crowded there is only one seat left—the one across from me. A man approaches to ask if he can take it and I answer, “Of course!” As he settles himself, he […]

King Richard III and Queen Anne

The Nature of Noble Loyalty

  It’s spring in London and the flowers are bursting forth on Cheyne Walk, which skirts the edge of the River Thames until it gives way to the Chelsea Embankment. I have ambled along the street for nearly an hour identifying plaques representing the famous people who’ve lived on nearly every block. Finally, I’ve reached […]

Windsor Castle Upper Ward Quadrangl

The Tapestry of History

  In just a few hours, the modern ideal of a fairy tale wedding will take place at Windsor Castle. A trip I took to the medieval palace several years ago had a legendary feel to it that may not rival the experience of a young American woman marrying her prince charming but it was […]

medieval personality exudes from Castel Monastero

The Personality of Place

  So, this is how it feels to experience a medieval Tuscan village that has existed on a hillside in some form for almost 1000 years! My view from the courtyard of Castel Monastero encompasses a string of buildings that meander along the edge of a quaint piazza. The bricked courtyard is paved in a […]

Death of Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini.

Echoes of History

  Life is a paradoxical affair at the corner of Boulevards Saint-Michel and Saint-Germain. Uber drivers dressed in tailored suits whiz through the intersection in sleek Mercedes just yards away from an assemblage of ragged walls nearly 20 centuries old. Pocked with scraggy arches, they splay toward the streets—unapologetic in their dilapidation.     The […]

Virgil Reading the Aeneid

Far from Oblivious in Bologna

  If you find yourself strolling along the streets of Bologna near the city’s center, don’t be surprised if you turn a corner and come upon an anomaly. It will stand unapologetically as traffic whizzes by, a thumb of unruly masonry with its flanks sawed off. The amputations were necessary to make way for thoroughfares […]

A portrait of Louis XV in the Salon de Mercury at Versailles

The Fabric of Design

In their introduction to The Decoration of Houses, Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., write, “In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the conditions of life, and men camped in their castles much as they did in their tents, it was natural that decorations should be portable, and that the naked walls of […]