Italy is a country with a rich heritage, especially in the Arts. After all, the Renaissance was born here. Additionally, the Roman Empire was, for most of its history, headquartered in Rome. Also, within the confines of Italy is the center of Roman Catholicism (Vatican City), and this great religion, with it many spectacular edifices, have spilled over into the countryside. Thus, there are many choices for the honor of being one of Italy’s Seven Wonders. Here, in my humble opinion, is the list.
1. Colosseum, Rome. This icon of Western Civilization was built in 79 AD and served as the major entertainment venue in the city of Rome. It is perhaps most famous as the location for gladiatorial contests, brutal fights between men or among men and animals which all too often resulted in death. The arena even had a retractable awning.
2. Pantheon, Rome. This building, probably the best preserved relic of the Roman Empire was a temple built for all religions. Its glorious interior is made of multi-colored marble and there is an oculus (opening) in the roof to allow light in. It is still used for worship, as it contains many altars around its circular edge.
3. Piazza dei Miracoli, Pisa. This gigantic field contains three noteworthy buildings. Pisa’s Duomo is spectacular in white marble. Next to it is the circular Baptistry. But, the most recognizable structure is the Leaning Tower, which has been famous through the ages as a representation of poor engineering (or at least poor site selection). Legends also credit the tower as the place Galileo learned about the acceleration due to gravity.
4. Pompeii, near Naples. On August 24, 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, sending billows of pumice and ash toward the Bay of Naples. In its path was the city of Pompeii, and it was buried and burned completely. The remains of the city was rediscoved in 1748 and has since been partially excavated to reveal much about life during the Roman Empire days. Many of the buildings and their contents were remarkably well-preserved, providing visitors with a veritable time-capsule of city life at the time. Even bodies were preserved by the ash and casts made reveal the positions they were in when the were buried.
5. Duomo, Milan. Milan’s stately Duomo is the second-largest church in Italy (a country known for its large and elaborate churches), and the third-largest in the world. It also contains the world’s largest collection of sculptures in the niches on its exterior. Its tallest spire is topped with a golden statue of the Madonna, and the cathedral can hold 40,000 people.
6. Duomo, Florence. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the real name of the church, is stunning, with its exterior walls of white, pink and green marble, and its fantastic, red-roofed dome, engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. It is accompanied by an octagonal Baptistry, with the famous, golden "Doors of Paradise," designed by Ghiberti, and the beautiful Campanile (bell tower), erected by Giotto.
7. St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. One of the most beautiful and opulent churches in the world, St Mark’s was built in Byzantine style and dedicated in 1094 AD. Above the center doors are four, bronze horses, taken from the Hippodrome in Constantinople, and all the front-facing doors are topped with elaborate Byzantine mosaics. The interior of the church is also splendid and is crowned with a golden altar, the Pala d’Oro, which is studded with numerous precious and semi-precious stones.
Other sites considered:
Basilica of St Francis, Assisi.
Roman Forum, Rome
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Amalfi Drive, the road from Sorrento to Amalfi