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 […]

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 […]

Antonio Cotti paints "Dante in Verona"

Reading Dante in Milan

  “I’d like that sunny table near the windows under the beautiful mirror,” he says to the hostess at Le Vrai, pointing to the niche set with two café tables, perfect for reading Dante all afternoon. Only a few decades earlier, the waistcoat and watch fob dangling from its pocket would have been out of […]