Cathedral Cities of Italy, by William Wiehe Collins
Originally published in 1911, and is now is the public domain. One of our goals as a Catholic publishing company is to make books available that were out of print, but still very much in demand.
The cathedral cities of Italy, the heir of all the ages in art, are as full of enchantment to the lover of architecture as to the poet, the painter, and the historian. Side by side with the great churches that give them their crowning splendour are the public buildings, universities, palaces, and fountains that tell the story of the glorious past, and form the best monument of their great creators. These architectural jewels are often set amidst scenes of great natural beauty, which relieve and enhance the perfection of their art. Every traveller in Italy will recall the emotion with which he first saw Rome rising from the green stretches of the Campagna, recognised the domes and campaniles of Florence, or lifted up his eyes to one of those towered “cities set upon an hill, which cannot be hid”—Siena, Perugia, or Orvieto. Among the many appeals which Italy makes to aesthetic appreciation is that of infinite variety. In no country are the different styles and periods so wonderfully exemplified. Here we may range from Rome and Verona, with their relics of the antique world—amphitheatres, temples, and thermae—to the Byzantine glories of Ravenna and Venice, the Romanesque grandeur that finds typical expression in the cathedral of Pisa, and thence to the manifestations of that Gothic art which, though it was alien to the climate and character of Italy and so struck no deep roots into the soil, intervened between Romanesque architecture and that of the Renaissance as a brilliant episode, and finds stupendous expression in the thousand pinnacles of Milan.