Italian

Sistine Chapel visitors to be limited to 6 million per year

In order to protect its precious frescoes, the Vatican has announced that it will restrict visitors to the Sistine Chapel to 6 million each year. Experts say that dust, sweat and carbon dioxide from up to 20,000 tourists a day pose a major threat to Michelangelo’s masterpiece. (photos)

What medieval Venice can teach about controlling Ebola

Experts on disease control, working with the Ebola outbreak in Africa, are looking back to medieval Venice to understand how to contain the disease. Dr. Igor Linkov of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center believes the key is resilience management, "managing physical movement, social interactions, and data collection."

Medieval Italian died of brucellosis, say scientists

DNA testing has revealed that a man, whose skeleton was found in the ruins of a Medieval Italian village, died of an infection called brucellosis usually acquired by ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. The report, by Warwick Medical School's Professor Mark Pallen and his colleagues, was published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Rome's Colosseum in the Middle Ages

Once a scene of battle and carnage, Rome's Colosseum later became "a bustling medieval bazaar full of houses, stables and workshops." Evidence of the re-purposed site was collected recently during an archaeological dig.

Vlad rests in Italian soil?

New research may show that the remains of Count Vlad Tepes, a.k.a. Dracula, may not be buried in romania, but in Naples, Italy. scholars from the University of Tallinn believe they have found evidence that the nobleman was "taken prisoner, ransomed to his daughter - by then safe in Italy - and buried in a church in Naples."

Mona Lisa in 3-D?

The discovery of a Mona Lisa twin in the Museo del Prado in Madrid has led art historians and scientists to consider if Da Vinci's most famous work was actually the world's oldest 3-D artwork. (photos)

15th century Torah sold at auction for US$3.87 million

“The volume represents the very first appearance in print of all five books of the Pentateuch as well as the first to which vocalization and cantillation marks have been added,” said the Christie's auction house catalogue about the sale of a Torah, printed in Hebrew in Bologna in January 1482. An anonymous buyer paid US$3.87 million for the book. (photo)

Japanese IT company to digitize more Vatican documents

The Vatican Library processes many requests to use documents and manuscripts from its enormous collection, but the increased requests have led to fear that the fragile documents will be damaged. Enter NTT DATA, a Japanese IT company who has been contracted to digitize 3,000 manuscripts at a cost of 18 million euros (US $22.6 million).

Removing hair - not flesh - in the Renaissance

Ladies, no more spending your hard-erned money for salon waxing. Simply follow the renaissance recipe for hair removal: arsenic, cat dung and vinegar. Read the article by Rose Eveleth in Smithsonian.

Earthquake may explain Shroud of Turin mystery

An article by Alberto Carpinteri and a group of researchers in Springer's journal Meccanica suggests that an earthquake might explain the mystery of the famous Shroud of Turin, whose cloth has been carbon dated to the 13th century.

Construction workers uncover mass grave at the Uffizi

Construction workers at the site of a new elevator for Florence, Italy's famous Uffizi gallery were surprised to find not the usual Roman artifacts, but a mass grave that might contain over a thousand bodies.

Will the codpiece make a comeback?

Stephen Smith of the BBC News opines on one of our favorite accessories, on or off the battlefield.

Altopascio skeletons show history of disease in Europe

For several years, biological anthropologist Giuseppe Vercellotti of The Ohio State University has led a field school in the Badia Pozzeveri Churchyard in Altopascio, Italy, where he and his students unearth and study the skeletons hoping "to read the history written in the bones." Of particular interest was a mass grave covered with a layer of lime. (photos)

Pope Francis displays bones of St. Peter

For the first time ever, the relics of St. Peter, discovered in the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica in 1939, were displayed during mass, and prayed over by the Pope. The relices include nine pieces of bone. (photos)

"Grubby, old pot" contains rare coin

For eight years, a grubby, old pot sat in a basement in Rothbury, England. It was not until recently that builder Richard Mason, who found the pot on Lindisfarne, took a second look, discovering a hoard of gold and silver dating to the 16th century.

Researchers create "virtual villa" using video game technology

Researchers at Indiana University, leading an international collaborative team, have used the Unity 3D game engine to create an interactive digital model of Hadrian's Villa, a Roman ruin located near Tivoli, Italy, for research and educational purposes.

Experience the viola organista

Leonardo Da Vinci had more projects than time, a fact illustrated by his notesbooks of inventions never built, but Polish pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki recently took on one challenging by constructing da Vinci's viola organista, an instrument which combines "the bowed sound of a viola (or cello) with a cabinet that resembles a baby grand piano." (video)

Anglo-Saxon game piece found in Kent great hall

Archaeologists excavating the remains of an Anglo-Saxon in Lyminge, Kent have discovered a game piece "made from a hollow piece of bone closed with delicately turned wooden caps, held in place with a bronze pin," part of a high-end backgammon set. (photo)

Da Vinci mystery solved

Rumors of a portrait of Renaissance noblewoman Isabella d’Este by Leonardo da Vinci have circulated for centuries, but no art historian had actually seen it. Now a painting, believed to be by the master, has been discovered in a Swiss bank vault, possibly solving a 500-year-old mystery. (photo)

3D laser mapping may help preserve Leaning Tower of Pisa

The campanile of the cathedral of the city of Pisa, Italy has been leaning since its construction in the 12th century. Now, a new handheld 3D mapping system developed by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, may "preserve" the Leaning Tower in bits if the ultimate catastrophe happens. (photos, video)

The jewels of the saints

After the Reformation, many Catholics were depressed about the loss of relics of their saints. In the 16th century thousands of skeletons were taken from the catacombs in Rome, bedecked with jewels, and distributed throughout Europe. A slideshow of jeweled saints, photographed by art historian Paul Koudounaris, is online.

Mona Lisa quest sparks controversy

Everyone knows the face of the Mona Lisa, but Silvano Vinceti hopes that he can show the world her actual face by identifying her remains removed from the Sant'Orsola convent in Florence. The task is expected to be accomplished by matching DNA from eight skeletons removed from the convent with that of remains taken from the lady's family tomb.

Happy birthday, Giovanni Boccaccio

Through 20 December 2013, the University of Manchester and Bristol will celebrate the 700th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Boccaccio, author of the 1351 Decameron, a collection of 100 tales ranging from the erotic to the tragic, with an exhibition.

Galileo ice debate continues

Why does ice float on water? This was the subject of debate between Galileo and his arch-enemy Lodovico delle Colombe during the summer of 1611, which brought into focus some of the odd properties of water.

Leonardo at the Smithsonian

Visitors to Washington D.C. this fall may want to explore a Smithsonian exhibition Codex on the Flight of Birds, which examines Leonardo da Vinci's studies and sketches dealing with flying machines, the nature of air, and bird flight. The exhibit will be at the National Air and Space Museum until October 22, 2013. (video)

Is there a "real" message in the Voynich manuscript?

The 15th century Voynich manuscript may be considered "the world's most mysterious medieval manuscript," and quite possibly a hoax, but a new study by theoretical physicist Marcelo Montemurro, published in the journal Plus One, theorizes that the book has a "genuine message."

The socio-cultural transformation of the Renaissance

In 1952, Frederick Godfrey wrote an article which transformed forever scholarly consdieration of the Renaissance. The Pictorial Records of the Medicis looked at the work of the period's artists in the "context of the society from which it had sprung and that social attitudes could be recovered from the study of art." Alexander Lee of History Today looks at the impace of the article.

The color of the Colosseum

A restoration of the Colosseum, currently underway, reveals frescos in a corridor that has been sealed off since the 3rd century. Unlike the moss-and-marble walls of today, the building interior, in its day, would have been a Technicolor extravaganza.

Machiavelli gets the sack; civilization gets The Prince

Civil servant Niccolo Machiavelli flourished at government work, but his fall from grace came in 1512 when he was fired and imprisoned for his involvement in a conspiracy against the Medicis, leading to the creation of his greatest work, The Prince. Sarah Dunant has the feature for the BBC.

9th century pumpkin patch revealed in Rome

Experts from the Vatican are excited by a pumpkin patch - one that was part of a Benedictine monastery surrounding the Basilica of St Paul’s outside the Walls.