An outpost of Umbria

You know youre free of the burden of bureaucracy when, in the tourist information centre of Norcia, you are informed that free camping is permitted anywhere within the national park. Thats 70,000 ha t...

Women on wheels smash stereotypes

Men with long, greasy hair. Pot bellies. Tattoos. Hairy chests. Grimy black leather. Motrhead t-shirts. This is probably what comes to mind when you think of motorbike riders. However, this stereotype...

Wising up about wasps

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all Mrs C.F. Alexander (1818-1895). Wasps, and the wasp season has j...

The graffiti writers of Rome

The commander of the enemy of Romes graffiti writers, or scrawlers, or mural vandals, virtually acknowledges defeat at the hands of his opponents, whom he thinks must now be counted in their thousands...

Tougher times for immigrants

Social and political problems are becoming ever more European rather than just Italian. The flow of immigrants into Italy began more than 20 years ago but only in the last few years have governments b...

The revival of Italian foreign policy

Foreign affairs is news once again in Italy. Last month the 19 NATO leaders plus Russias Vladimir Putin met just outside Rome to sign the Rome Declaration which brings Russia into the NATO council. A...

Diamonds to the rescue

The unique Diamanti exhibition, due to end its four-month run at the Scuderie Papali, opposite Palazzo del Quirinale, on 30 June, has turned out to be one of the revelations of this springs cultural p...

An interview with Frank McCourt

When I was on holiday in Greece two years ago, I remember going to a bookstore and finding Frank McCourtss Angelas Ashes, the memoir for which the Irish author won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. The inte...

A recipe for Italian dressing

Can you spot a tourist a kilometre away? After living in Italy for weeks, months or even years, are you afraid you still look like one? For women, clothing and accessories are never simple. There are...

Seeing Rome with a tour guide

Danny from Dublin knew his stuff. He sped a puffing group of 19 visitors from Piazza di Spagna This was once known as Piazza di Francia to the junction of Via di Propaganda and Via della Mercede: Th...

Saying goodbye to a four-wheel friend

As the witnesses described the scene, it was painful. Looking back, they said, the parents should never have brought their little girl with them. She was seven or eight, and obviously a sensitive chil...

Police and magistrates clash in Naples

This is an ugly story in itself but it has become the symbol of much more since it began. As ever in politics, and particularly in Italian politics, a single event becomes the cue to fight other battl...

Italian NGOs: an introduction

In the second week of June representatives of over 600 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations from all over the world will gather in Rome for the Forum for Food So...

In Naples without a jacket

Naples is an informal city. No need to dress up. No need to stand on ceremony. Yes, it has its glamour and glitz, but for the temporary visitor there is no need to put on a show. Naples has all types,...

The abandoned cats and dogs of Rome

When you first arrive at the Torre Argentina cat sanctuary, you are subconsciously reminded of the childrens game where the object is to find items hidden in a drawing. As you glance around the ruins...

A journey from drugs to a new world

His diving mask snugly fixed over his face and his oxygen tank strapped to his back, Daniele Silvestri is a happy young man when he plunges into the depths around Ponza or Elba. Theres a whole beautif...

The Italian art of dubbing

Muhammad Ali speaks fluent Italian and so do ET, the Royal Tenenbaums and every dinner guest at Gosford Park. The dubbing industry remains a bedrock in Italy, where nearly every film, from Oscar-winne...

An evening with Tim Parks

Tim Parks had a surprise in store for those of us gathered to see him at the British Council. Im not here to promote my new book, he announced. Im looking for new recruits for the Rome branch of the H...

Shopping etiquette Italian style

Do you like to touch and feel when shopping? Are you tempted to pick up items you have no intention of buying just to take a closer look? Have you been chastised for reaching into a window display as...

Czanne: the father of the moderns

On a hot summers day, when we were blinded by the play of deep shadow against bright sunlight in the leafy, lime-lined avenues of Aix-en-Provence, we drove out of town, giving up the search for Czanne...

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