Sylvia Poggioli

It was an art historian's chance discovery of a lifetime. Over 40 years ago, a museum director in Florence, Italy, found a hidden room whose walls were covered in drawings believed to be the work of Michelangelo and his disciples.

Although the drawings are not signed by the master, art experts say some of the sketches in charcoal and chalk are almost certain to be Michelangelo originals. They could shed light not only on the Renaissance artist's creative process but also on a mysterious and dangerous period in his life.

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One of Rome's must-see sights is the Vatican's Sistine Chapel — but it's usually so packed, visitors have a hard time absorbing the majesty and beauty of the frescoes painted by Michelangelo.

Now there's a new spectacle in town, where visitors can sit comfortably in plush theater seats and feast their eyes on every detail of the Sistine's masterpieces.

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Pope Francis visited Bangladesh today. And in a meeting with dignitaries, he called for them to care for the plight of refugees.

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POPE FRANCIS: (Speaking Italian).

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The tarantella is a lively folk dance and musical style originating in southern Italy's Apulia region, the heel of the Italian geographic boot.

African asylum seekers in Italy are becoming artists — and it's not only helping them cope with the trauma they've been through but also introducing their stories to the local community.

In Europe's migration crisis, Italy is ground zero. More than 500,000 migrants have arrived, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, since 2014.

Despite a smaller flow this summer, anti-migrant sentiment is growing.

Large sections of Norcia's ancient walls lie in rubble. Its many centuries-old buildings are wrapped in steel girders, off-limits to the few people who visit what now looks like a ghost town.

Coffee — it's something many can't start the day without. In Italy, it is a cultural mainstay, and the country is perhaps the beverage's spiritual home.

After all, Italy gave us the lingo — espresso, cappuccino, latte — and its coffee culture is filled with rituals and mysterious rules.

Caffé Greco is Rome's oldest café. Founded in 1760, it's also the second oldest in all of Italy, after Florian in Venice.

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Nearly 2,000 years after he held sway over ancient Rome, a notorious emperor is again causing outrage. The reason: Italian authorities approved construction of a massive stage amid the ruins over the Roman Forum for a rock opera about Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 A.D.

Archaeologists and art historians are up in arms, denouncing what they see as the commercialization of the country's heritage.

Italy has been described as the world's biggest open-air museum.

And with illegally excavated antiquities, looting of unguarded, centuries-old churches and smuggling of precious artworks, it's also an art theft playground.

But thanks to an elite police squad, Italy is also at the forefront in combating the illicit trade in artworks — believed to be among the world's biggest forms of trafficking and estimated to be worth billions.

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She was one of the great female protagonists of the late-Renaissance art world. Forgotten in the 18th and 19th centuries, she was rediscovered in the 20th as a feminist icon.

Thirty paintings by Artemisia Gentileschi are on view at Rome's Palazzo Braschi, in a major new exhibit running through May 7, 2017, that aims to showcase the female artist as a great painter — one of the most talented followers of Caravaggio.

Alongside the massive, rising death toll in territories controlled by the Islamic State, one of the major casualties has been a trove of ancient treasures that are part of the Middle East's cultural heritage.

Now, replicas of several masterpieces vandalized or destroyed in Syria and Iraq have been created in Italy and are part of a UNESCO-sponsored exhibit called "Rising from Destruction." The exhibit, which goes through Dec. 16, has been set up in the Colosseum, the most visited site in Rome, drawing 6.5 million tourists a year.

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President Obama is in Germany discussing European problems, but it's hard to miss his references to politics here.

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Here's the president at a press conference yesterday.

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About half an hour after takeoff from Philadelphia and a grueling, nine-day visit to Cuba and the United States, Pope Francis looked tired Sunday night when he appeared before reporters. He suffers from sciatica, and it was visible this week that he was having difficulty walking up stairs and standing for a long time.

Nevertheless, he took questions for close to an hour.

The pope was asked about an issue that had angered victims of clerical sex abuse: Why did he choose to show strong compassion for American bishops in one of his first speeches in the U.S.?

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Pope Francis is in Philadelphia this evening celebrating the final mass of his visit to the United States.

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Competition to get admitted to the papal trip to Cuba and the U.S. was fierce: Some 140 reporters and photographers applied for the 76 seats available for print, radio and TV journalists. I strategized for much of June on the best way to secure one of them.

On the day the decision was announced, those who were rejected received politely written emails expressing regrets from the Vatican spokesman. Those who were admitted learned of it only by going to the Vatican press room to see the list pinned on the bulletin board.

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Pope Francis continues his American tour. He's just landed in New York to cheers and waving flags an a band playing "New York, New York."

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