elizabeth salthouse

Since the first days of language, humans have been passing on stories. From the sea shanties of Cornwall to the shadow puppetry of China, from the creation tales of Hula dancing to the drama of Caribbean calypso. Sicily is no …

Rarer than diamonds, more expensive than platinum and found only in a few secret Sardinian sea caves, seasilk is the stuff of legend. Its long silky filaments blaze like gold in sunlight and are gossamer light even when delicately woven …

Before the unification of Italy, the  peninsula was a patchwork of independent states, republics and occupied territories each one with their own rulers and laws. And with the different statutes came differing calendars based either on the church’s or the …

The glossy, celebrity-filled cologne counters of modern shopping malls hide a fascinating, if odd history. Today’s fragrances offer heady punches of patchouli, sweet vanilla, amber and candy floss, but their ancient counterparts called for deer musk, the anal secretions of …

Venice at the height of its power conjures images of merchant traders, carnival masks and debauchery. But for all its decadence Venetian life was governed by a well-established democracy with strict standards of behavior that held society together. The State …

Living on an island presents a number of challenges. The first priorities are food, shelter and a reliable source of drinking water. The earliest settlers of the Venetian saltwater lagoon, however,  only had two out of three as freshwater was …

Crossroads and street corners have long been the haunt of peddlers, pickpockets and prostitutes. And as far back as ancient Roman times images of deities have been hung there to protect passers by from evil. Today over 500 statues and …

Used since ancient times for cooking, cosmetics and curative properties, saffron is the wonderfully aromatic queen of spices. The Greeks used it to fight toothache whilst the Romans used it in fish sauce recipes. And since the 1200s Italians have …

Rome’s Spanish Steps are famous around the globe. As too are Venice’s stepped bridges crossing her countless canals. And the Vatican Museum’s Bramante spiral stairway is one of the most photographed in the world. But Italy is also home to …

The Catholic Church has a lengthy tradition of collecting relics from saints and clerics dating back almost to its beginnings. Bones, clothes or artifacts from the person were carefully preserved in caskets, lockets and glass urns to commemorate and venerate …