Camping Funivia Del Gran Sasso

Born into a wealthy Sulmona family in 43 BC, the young Publius Ovidius Naso was shipped off to Rome to study rhetoric and carve out a career in politics. But once in the capital he fell in with the literary set and began to write poetry. His early erotic verse, such as the Amores (The Loves) and Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), gained him quick popularity in Roman high society. Considered his masterpiece, Metamorphoses is a kind of extended cover version of a whole gamut of Greek myths,...

Across The River

Across Ponte Pietra is a Roman theatre, built in the 1st century AD and still used today for concerts and plays. Take the lift at the back of the theatre to the convent above, which has an interesting collection of Greek and Roman pieces in the Museo Archeologico ( 045 800 03 60 Regaste Redentore 2 adult child 2.60 1.50 S 8.30am-7.30pm Tue-Sun, 1.45-7.30pm Mon). On a hill behind the theatre and museum is the Castel San Pietro, built by the Austrians on the site of an earlier castle. The lush...

Stromboli

Stromboli's perfect triangle of a volcano juts dramatically out of the sea. It is the only island whose smouldering cone is permanently active, thus attracting experts and amateurs alike, like moths to a massive flame. Volcanic activity has scarred and blackened one side of the island, while the eastern side is untamed, ruggedly green and dotted with low-rise whitewashed houses. A youngster among the Aeolians, Stromboli was formed a mere 40,000 years ago and its gases continue to send up an...

Brindisi

Like all ports, Brindisi has its seamy side, but it's also surprisingly balmy, particularly the palm-lined avenue linking the port to the train station and the promenade stretching along the interesting seafront. The town was the end of the ancient Roman road, Via Appia, down whose weary length trudged legionnaires and pilgrims, crusaders and traders all heading to Greece and the Near East. These days little has changed except Brindisi's pilgrims are sun-seekers rather than soul-seekers. The...

Maps

The sassi are quite a tangle, but it's not difficult to find your way around. Arm yourself with the map Matera Percorsi Turistici ( 1.50), available from various kiosks and hotels around town, which describes in English and Italian five itineraries through the sassi. The tourist office has a map (in Italian) of excursions in the Parco della Murgia Materana, showing some routes around the gorge. Basilicata Turistica (www.aptbasilicata.it) Ferula Viaggi ( 0835 33 65 72 www.materaturismo .it Via...

Ionian Coast

In stark contrast to the dramatic Tyrrhenian coast, the Ionian coast is a listless, flat affair dotted with large tourist resorts. However, the Greek ruins at Metaponto and Policoro, with their accompanying museums, bring alive the enormous influence of Magna Graecia in southern Italy. Metaponto's Greek ruins are impressive in that this is the only site where archaeologists have managed to map the entire ancient urban plan. Settled by Greeks in the 8th and 7 th centuries BC, Metapontum was...

Exploring The Gorge

Gazing out over Matera's extraordinary gorge, you may well feel the urge to strike out into it. Ferula Viaggi (www.materaturismo.it) operates according to the principle of'slow travel' and offers various guided trips (two to 15 people p715) out on the Murgia plateau, from a couple of hours' walk to week-long trips. For example, the two-day tour takes in Rock Churches park and visits fortified farms and frescoed cave chapels ( 162), while a week-long trip might visit the sassi, the canyon and...

Southern Tyrrhenian Coast

North of Reggio, along the coast-hugging Autostrada del Sole (A3), the scenery rocks and rolls to become increasingly beautiful and dramatic, if you ignore the shoddy holiday camps and unattractive developments that sometimes scar the land. Like the northern part of the coast (see p724) it's mostly closed in winter, and packed in summer. Higgledy-piggledy Scilla piles up on ochre-and-green cliffs, above a small broad sandy beach and bright bobbing boats, all overlooked by a castle on a sheer...

Blaze The Benedictine Trail

It's a strange but appropriate fact that St Benedict is the patron saint of speleologists. Appropriate because the father of Western monasticism actually spent three years holed up in a cave in Subiaco, a small town 63km east of Rome. Fleeing the vice that had so disgusted him as a student in Rome, he sought the gloom of the grotto to meditate and pray. During this time he attracted a large local following that eventually provoked the ire of his fellow friars and forced him onto the road. There...

Sicilian Godfather Arrested

Bernardo Provenzano, Italy's reputed number one Mafia boss, was arrested in Sicily on 11 April 2006 after more than four decades on the run. Provenzano's nickname was Binnu u tratturi (Bennie the tractor) because, in the chilling words of one informant 'he mows people down'. Bernardo was captured when some 50 policemen swooped on a farmhouse in the countryside near Corleone. The police were able to pinpoint Provenzano's exact location by the most mundane of means they tracked a delivery of...

Vulcano

Vulcano is a memorable island, not least because of the vile smell of sulphurous gases. Once you escape the drab and dated tourist centre, Porto di Levante, there is a tranquil, unspoilt quality to the landscape, and a refreshing lack of souvenir shops selling (yet more) black-lava trinkets. Following the well-marked trail to the looming Fossa di Vulcano, the landscape gives way to rural simplicity with allotments, birdsong and a surprising amount of greenery. The island is worshipped by...

Southern Eastern Piedmont

The bucolic hills, valleys and townships of southern and eastern Piedmont are a gourmand's dream. Bursting with some of Italy's finest fresh produce, including unusually sweet hazelnuts, rare white truffles, and grapes crushed and fermented into world-class wines, the area is blessed with rich regional culinary traditions. As such, it's the headquarters of a number of seminal institutions - the Slow Food Movement, the University of Gastronomic Sciences and the International Culinary School for...

North of Stresa

Heading 4km north of Stresa brings you to Baveno (population 4550), which has good ferry links to the Borromean Islands, and a fistful of hotels. If you've got energy to burn (or kids who do), stop off at Lake Maggiore Adventure Park ( 0323 91 97 99 www.sport-fun.info Strada Cavalli 18, Baveno full course adult child 25 17 S 10am-4pm winter, 10am-11pm summer, closed Dec-Feb). Thrills and spills include suspension courses, an artificial climbing wall, a trampoline 'acro-jump', and a cycling...

Baia Cuma

About 7km southwest of Pozzuoli, Baia was an upmarket Roman holiday resort with a reputation as a sordid centre of sex and sin. Today much of the ancient town is under water and modern development has left what is effectively a built-up, ugly and uninspiring coastal road. At weekends between April and September, CYMBA runs glass-bottom boat tours of Baia Sommersa ( 349 497 41 83 www.baiasom mersa.it tours 10 h departures noon & 3pm Sat, 10am, noon & 3pm Sun), the underwater ruins. All...

Monti Sibillini

It's not easy to reach and all but impossible by public transport, but Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini is filled with mystical valleys, ancient hamlets, infinite expanses of wild-flowers and soaring peaks (10 are more than 2000m high). Monti Sibillini straddles the Le Marche Umbria border. For tourist purposes, the region is divided into four slopes for all tastes flowering, magic, sacred, historical. The area is paradise for anyone interested in outdoor activities and wildlife. Walking...

Around Genoa Nervi

Just 7km east of central Genoa, this former fishing village has been well and truly subsumed into the city's urban sprawl. It does, however, boast four worthwhile museums, which can be accessed on a combined ticket ( 10). The most important for aficionados of Italian art is the Galleria d'Arte Moderna ( 010 372 60 25 Via Capolungo 3 adult child 6 5 S 10am-7pm Tue-Sun), displaying works by 19th- and 20th-century artists such as Filippo De Pisis, Arturo Martini and Rubaldo Merello. More 19th- and...

Taormina

Spectacularly located on a terrace of Monte Tauro with views westwards to Mt Etna, Taormina is a beautiful small town, reminiscent of Capri or an Amalfi coastal resort. Over the centuries, Taormina has seduced an exhaustive line of writers and artists, aristocrats and royalty, and these days it is host to a summer arts festival (p779) that packs the town with international visitors. Perched on its eyrie, Taormina is sophisticated, chic and comfortably cushioned by some serious wealth - very far...

SIGHTS

Passing under the baroque Arco di Sant'Antonio at the western end of pedestrianised Piazza XX Settembre, you emerge into Piazza Roma, dominated by the imposing, elegant 17th-century Palazzo Ducale, built over an ancient castle and now used as municipal offices. From Piazza Roma, follow the fine Corso Vittorio Emanuele, with baroque townhouses, to reach Piazza Plebiscito, the centre's baroque heart. The piazza's overlooked by the 18th-century Basilica di San Martino (Piazza Plebiscito), its...

Info

Mussolini and Pope Pius XI sign the Lateran Pact, whereby Catholicism is declared the sole Italian religion and the Vatican is recognised as an independent state. In return, the papacy acknowledges the Kingdom of Italy. The Italian government was divided between a noninterventionist and war party. The latter, in view of Austria's intransigence, decided to deal with the Allies. In the London pact of April 1915, Italy was promised the territories it sought after victory. In May, Italy declared...

Nht

Piazza Maggiore is the city's principal focus and an obvious starting point for sightseeing. A lively pedestrian hub through which you'll find yourself passing several times, it was laid out in the 13th century. Adjacent to Piazza Maggiore, Piazza del Nettuno owes its name to the Fontana del Nettuno (Neptune's Fountain), a stirring bronze statue sculpted by Giambologna in 1566. Beneath the muscled sea god, four cherubs represent the winds and four buxom sirens, water spouting from every nipple,...

Around Alghero

About 6km northwest of Alghero on the road to Porto Conte is one of the island's most professional diving centres Diving CenterCapoGalera ( 0799421 dive from 40 d 60-100,6-bed apt from 100) which also offers accommodation in a tastefully refurbished holiday villa dating from the '50s. Continuing on the road to Porto Conte you reach the impressive Nuraghe di Palma-vera ( 079990040 admission 3, audioguideadditional 3, guided visit additional 2, ind Necropoli di Anghelu Ruiu 5 10 8 s 9am-7pm...

Potenza

Basilicata's regional capital Potenza has been ravaged by earthquakes (the last in 1980), and has some brutal housing blocks. If that wasn't enough, as the highest town in the land, it broils in summer and shivers in winter. You may find yourself here, however, as it's a major transport hub. The centre straggles east to west across a high ridge. To the south lie the main Trenitalia and Ferrovie Appulo-Lucane train stations, connected to the centre by buses 1 or 10. Potenza's few sights are in...

Belluno

Belluno is a beautiful town at the foot of the Dolomites. If you start early enough, you could just about combine it with Treviso in a day trip from Venice, either by train or bus. Better still, hang around for a few days and use it as a base to explore the mountains. For further information on walking in the Dolomites, see p305. Buses arrive at Piazzale della Stazione, in front of the train station. From here take Via Dante (which becomes Via Loreto) and then turn left at the T-junction down...

Monreale

Inspired by a vision of the Virgin and determined to outdo his grandfather Roger II, who was responsible for the cathedral in Cefal and the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, William II set about building the Cattedrale di Monreale ( 091 640 44 03 www.comune.monreale.cres.it Piazza del Duomo h cathedral 8am-6pm, treasury 9.30am-noon & 3.30-5.30pm), located 8km southwest of Palermo. The resulting cathedral is considered the finest example of Norman architecture in Sicily, incorporating Norman,...

Sleeping Eating

An inordinate number of hotels cram into Sirmione, many of which close from the end of October to March. Four camping grounds lie near the town and the tourist office can advise on others around the lake. Pizzerias, gelaterie and restaurants crowd around Piazza Carducci and along the main street you'll also find atmospheric spots in the side streets leading to the lakefront on both sides of the peninsula. Camping Sirmione ( 030 91 90 45 www.camping -sirmione.com Via Sirmioncino 9, Colombane per...

Milazzo

This is the sort of city that takes a while to appreciate, particularly given the industrial outer shell with its belching oil refineries. In reality, the prime reason for setting foot in this town is to get off the main island and head for the Aeolian archipelago. But away from the refinery and busy dock, Milazzo's Spanish quarter is actually very pretty, and the isthmus that juts out to the north is an area of great natural beauty. All the ferry-company offices are directly opposite the port,...

Clerical Chic

Being the City of the Holy See, Rome is constantly full of clergy from around the world. In between their learning, worshipping and networking, these members of the church have something high on their 'must-do' lists when in town - namely, updating their wardrobes with the latest in clerical chic. Anyone who enjoyed the famous ecclesiastical fashion parade scene in Fellini's Roma, with its 'classical line of black satin for novices' and its roller-skating priests in red satin, is sure to...

Cividale Del Friuli

Lucky Cividale del Friuli, with its small medieval centre, has survived several devastating earthquakes since Julius Caesar founded it in 50 BC. Just 15km east of Udine, Cividale is most picturesque where the 15th-century Ponte del Diavolo (Devil's Bridge) crosses the emerald-green Natisone river. Blown up by retreating Italian troops in 1917, the bridge was rebuilt after the war. Legend says the devil threw the 22m-high stone bridge into the river at an earlier point in its history. Walk...

Sant Agata sui due Golfi

Perched high in the hills above Sorrento, sleepy Sant'Agata sui due Golfi commands spectacular views of the Bay of Naples on one side and the Bay of Salerno on the other (hence its name, Saint Agatha on the two Gulfs). The best viewpoint is the Deserto ( 081 878 01 99 Via Deserto S 8.30am-12.30pm & 2.30-4.30pm Oct-Mar, 8.30am-12.30pm & 4-9pm Apr-Sep), a Carmelite convent 1.5km uphill from the village centre. A short drive, or a long walk, from the village you'll find Agriturismo Le Tore (...

Sinking City

Known as acque alte, these mainly occur between November and April, flooding low-lying areas of the city such as Piazza San Marco. Serious floods are announced several hours before they reach their high point by 16 sirens throughout the city and islands. There is nothing new about the phenomenon (disastrous floods have been recorded since at least the 13th century), except for the increased frequency. There are three main types of flooding tidal, waters...

Spaghetti Westerns

Highlights Clint Eastwood's so taut and flinty you could light a match on him, with southern Italy co-starring as the Wild West. Downsides Musical scores that stay in your head for days, thanks to composer Ennio Morricone and his professional whistlers. Per un pugno di dollari (A Fistful of Dollars), director Sergio Leone, 1964. A gunslinger played by a squinting Clint Eastwood wanders into town in the midst of a standoff, plays the factions against one another for profit, and earns savvy Leone...

Pedal Round The Region

At the forefront of Italy's cicloturismo (bicycle tourism) trend, Emilia-Romagna offers excellent cycling. The region's geography is mixed, encompassing the flatlands of the Po Delta and the peaks of the Apennines, and facilities are excellent. There are hundreds of bike-hire points, repair shops are widespread and transporting your bike is easy on the rail network. Tourist offices can supply itineraries and basic maps, although you'd be advised to get hold of a decent regional map, one of the...

Information

Guardia Medica ( 0465 44 05 38, 0465 80 16 00) Emergency doctor. Madonna tourist office ( 0465 44 75 01 www .campiglio.to Via Pradalago 4 S 9am-12.30pm & 3-7pm Mon-Sat, 10am-1pm Sun) Pinzolo tourist office ( 0465 50 10 07 www.pin zolo.to Piazzale Ciciamimo S 9am-12.30pm & 3-6.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-12.30pm Sun) Tourist medical service ( 0465 44 30 73 h early Dec-Easter & mid-Jun-mid-Sep). A network of chairlifts and several cable cars ( 0465 44 77 44) take skiers and boarders from Madonna...

Truffle Time

Buried beneath Piedmont's forests are treasure troves of tartufi (truffles). These mysterious fungi cannot be cultivated, hence the vast sums and cloak-and-dagger secrecy surrounding the truffle trade. Also known as Tuber magnatum, truffles are formed by an exchange of amino acids between the roots of certain trees (including poplar, willow, oak and lime) and specific soil types. Humidity forms mould and ultimately the truffle mushroom. The truffles' growth depends on factors such as soil type...

Speedy Wash And Planet Internet

Planet Internet Speedy Wash Mon-Sat, 1-5pm Sun), a Renaissance chocolate box designed by Pietro Lombardo and seemingly lathered in magnificent sculptures. Pietro and his son Tullio Lombardo executed the carvings on the choir stalls. From here it is a quick hop eastward over a couple of bridges into the neighbouring sestiere of Castello. In Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo you are confronted by the proud equestrian bronze statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, one of Venice's more loyal...

To Heaven In A Hay Bath

The diametric opposite of going to hell in a handcart is surely a soak in the hay. Hay baths originate from farmers taking a quick, refreshing snooze on their freshly cut hay. The mountain meadows of the Alpe di Siusi's lower slopes - with their aromatic cocktail of grasses, plants and medicinal herbs, such as lavender and thyme - have the best grass. It's cut when damp and left to ferment for several days. When it's bath time, you strip off your gear (yep, all of it), then lie directly on a...

Parco Nazionale Del Pollino

Italy's largest national park, the Pollino National Park (www.parcopollino.it), straddling Basilicata and Calabria, acts like a rocky curtain separating the region from the rest of Italy. It has the richest repository of flora and fauna in the south, and covers 1960 sq km. The park's most spectacular areas are the central Pollino Massif (2267m), and the Monti di Orsomarso (1987m), in the southwest (in Calabria). These sheer mountains, often snowbound, are blanketed by forests of oak, alder,...

Brenta Dolomites

Part of the Parco Naturale Adamello-Brenta, this majestic group of Dolomite peaks northwest of Trento provides dramatic walking opportunities, best suited to those keen to test their mountaineering skills. Harnesses and ropes are essential for most of the high-altitude trails, including one of the group's most famous trails, Via Bocchetta di Tuckett. This trail was opened up by 19th-century climber Francis Fox Tuckett from Molveno to Cima Brenta, and includes gruelling sections of vie ferrate...

Ffn

In the very centre of the piazza stands the Fontana Maggiore Great Fountain . It was designed by Fra Bevignate, and father-son team Nicola and Giovanni Pisano built the fountain between 1275 and 1278. Along the edge are bas-relief statues representing scenes from the Old Testament, the founding of Rome, the 'liberal arts', and a griffin and lion. Look for the griffin all over Perugia - it's the city's symbol. The lion is the symbol for the Guelphs, the Middle Ages faction that favoured rule by...

Naples As Inspiration

Naples has long provided inspiration for artists, writers, musicians and film-makers. Here, Neapolitan writer, director and producer Antonietta de Lillo explains why 'There's an energy here that seems drawn from Mt Vesuvius itself. Like Caravaggio's chiaroscuro paintings, it's a place of extreme light and shadow. On one level there are the grand, sun-drenched castles of Sant'Elmo, Castel Nuovo and Castel dell'Ovo, and the sweeping views from Posillipo. But then there's the hidden Naples, the...

Selinunte

The ruins of Selinunte are the most impressively sited ruins in Sicily. Try to visit in spring when the surroundings are ablaze with pur ple, yellow and white wildflowers. The huge city was built in 628 BC on a promontory overlooking the sea, and for two-and-a-half centuries it was one of the richest and most powerful in the world. It was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409 BC and finally fell to the Romans in about 350 BC, at which time it went into rapid decline and disappeared from...

Valdostan Cheese

Something like a cross between Gouda and Brie, fontina is preserved under its own DOP designation of protected origin . It must be made from the full-cream, unpasteurised milk of Valdostan cows that have grazed on pastures up to 2700m above sea level. During a period of three months it matures in underground rock tunnels, and is turned daily and brushed and salted on alternate days. Learn more about these and other local cheese-making traditions at the Valpelline Visitors' Centre 0165 7 33 09...

La Mattanza

A centuries-old tradition, the Egadi Islands' mattanza the ritual slaughter of tuna is on the critical list. For centuries, shoals of tuna have used the waters around western Sicily as a mating ground. Locals recall the golden days when it wasn't uncommon to catch giant breeding tuna of between 200kg and 300kg. Today, tuna stocks are less than 70 of what they were in the 1970s due to competition from long-line trawlers and, more recently, a new 'hi-tech mattanza' that deploys satellite...

Orientation

Rome is a sprawling city, but most sights lie within the centro storico historical centre comprising the areas around the Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori, Pantheon, Ghetto, Capitoline, Piazza Barberini, Trevi and Tridente . Vatican City and Trastevere are over the water on the west bank of the Tiber. Distances are not huge and walking is the best way to get around the city. The city's major transport hub, Stazione Termini its full name is Stazione Centrale-Roma Termini is a useful, if...

Shopping

Beautiful Como silk scarves and ties have been sold at A Picci Via Vittorio Emanuele II 54 since 1919. A craft amp antiques market Piazza San Fedele S9am-7pm Sat fills the piazza out the front of the basilica. Wines, vintage whiskies and grappas, along with olive oils and balsamic vinegars, line the walls of the sociable wine shop and bar, Enoteca da Gigi 031 26 31 06 Via Luini 48 S 9am-1pm amp 2.30-8pm Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm Sat, 11am-9pm Sun . Drop by in the evening for a glass of Prosecco or a...

Verona

Wander the streets of Verona on a winter's night and you might believe the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet to be true. Beyond the Shakespearean hyperbole, however, you'll find plenty to keep you occupied in one of Italy's most beautiful cities. Known as pic-cola Roma little Rome for its importance in imperial days, its truly golden era came during the 13 th and 14th centuries under the Della Scala family also known as the Scaligeri . The period was noted for the savage family feuding of...

Lush Locations

Puglia's most luxurious masserias cluster around Fasano, with discreet drives leading to worlds where the linen is soft, the pools glorious, the look rustic-regal and the golf courses pea-green. Masseria Torre Coccaro 080 482 93 10 www.masseriatorrecoccaro.com Contrada Coccaro 8, Savelletri di Fasano d 333-466 i , around 10km from Locorotondo, has a hacienda feel. This super-chic yet countrified masseria is set in an evocative fortified farmhouse, with a glorious spa set in a cave, a...

TRAIN

Although Perugia's main train station is named 'Stazione Fontivegge', the sign at the station simply reads 'Perugia'. It is on Piazza Vittorio Veneto, a few kilometres west of the city centre and easily accessible by frequent buses from Piazza Italia. The ticket office is open from 6.30am to 8.10pm closed for lunch 12.50pm to 1.20pm , but you can buy tickets at the automated machines at any time of day with a credit card or cash. For train information, call Tren Italia 89 20 21 . Perugia is on...

Piazza della Repubblica Around

The area around Piazza della Repubblica Map p102 is not immediately appealing, but it is here that you will find the bulk of the Museo Nazionale Romano's world-famous archaeological collection. The complex of baths, libraries, concert halls and gardens that made up the Terme di Diodeziano Diocletian's Baths Map p102 was the largest of its kind in ancient Rome, covering about 13 hectares, with a capacity to hold 3000 people. Completed in the early 4th century, it fell into disrepair after the...

Saline Di Trapani

Drive along the SS115 coast road between Marsala and Trapani and you will find yourself in a bleached landscape of shallow saline salty pools and softly shimmering heaps of salt. The salt from these pans is considered the best in Italy and has been big business since the 12th century. Now, however, only a cottage industry remains, providing for Italy's more discerning dinner tables. The most attractive spot along the coast is the Riserva Naturale di Stagnone, a shallow lagoon and noted wetlands...

Mustsee Italian Movies

Before you start your real trip, why not embark on a celluloid adventure through Italy with some of the following classics, new and old See p64 for reviews. Ilpostino 1994 Director Michael Radford La dolce vita 1960 Director Federico Fellini Il gattopardo 1963 Director Luchino Visconti Ladri di biciclette 1948 Director Vittorio de Sica La vita bella 1997 Director Roberto Benigni Roma citt aperta 1945 Director Roberto Rossellini Mamma roma 1962 Director Pier Paolo Pasolini Nuovo cinema paradiso...

Panarea

Tiny Panarea is just 3km long and 2km wide and feels like a Greek island with its adobestyle whitewashed houses. Exclusive and expensive, it is the smallest and most fashionable of the Aeolians, attracting the international trust-fund babes and Milanese fashionistas for a little taste of dolce far niente sweet noth ing . In the summer, luxury yachts fill the tiny harbour while flocks of day-trippers dock at San Pietro, where you will find most of the expensive accommodation. Originally a bigger...

Cefalu

This popular holiday resort wedged between a dramatic mountain peak and sweeping stretch of sand has the lot a great beach a modern town with good shops and services a truly lovely historic centre with a grandiose cathedral and winding medieval streets lined with restaurants, boutiques and small, intriguing shops. Avoid the height of summer when it's hard to find towel space on the beach and the charm of the place is tainted by bad-tempered drivers trying to find a parking space. From the train...

Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro is an important stop on an itinerary of Piero della Francesca's work. Between the two, make a brief stop in Monterchi to see the artist's famous fresco Madonna del parto Pregnant Madonna 0575 7 07 13 Via della Reglia 1 adult child 3.10 free S 9am-1pm amp 2-7pm Tue-Fri, 9am-7pm Sat amp Sun Apr-Sep, to 5pm Oct-Mar . A sensitive touch pregnant women get free admission. Sansepolcro is the birthplace of Piero della Francesca. The artist left town when quite young and returned in his...

Gunk Alert

It's not just bag snatchers and pickpockets you need to watch out for in touristy old Florence says Janet C of the USA, who sent the following tale to Lonely Planet 'I was crossing the piazza at Santa Maria Novella on the way to the train station in Florence last Friday morning when a very well-dressed Italian gentleman on his way to work walked past me and pointed out gunk dripping down the front of the luggage I was wheeling behind me. My natural response was 'Gross What's that ' and when he...

Lago Dorta

Shrouded by thick, dark-green woodlands, little Lago d'Orta measures 13.4km long and just 2.5km wide. It's separated from its bigger and better-known eastern neighbour, Lago Maggiore, by Monte Mottarone. The focal point of the lake is the quaint medieval village of Orta San Giulio population 1130 elevation 293m , which is often referred to simply as Orta. Just across from the town's web of squares and cobbled lanes sits the island of Isola San Giulio. The island is almost entirely taken up by...

Gay Lesbian Milan

Like that other queen of the catwalk, Paris, Milan confounds visitors trying to figure out the city's gay scene - because, as one baffled traveller put it, 'everyone's so stylish and sexy'. Added to that, virtually all of Milan's venues attract a mixed gay lesbian straight crowd - even on allocated 'gay nights'. But the reigning confusion keeps things interesting during any night out in Milan. Centro d'Iniziativa Gay - ArciGay Milano Map pp254-5 0254122225 www.arcigay milano.org in Italian Via...

Mt Etna

Dominating the landscape of eastern Sicily and visible from the moon if you happen to be there , Mt Etna is Europe's largest volcano and one of the world's most active. Eruptions occur frequently, both from the four craters at the summit and on the slopes of the volcano, which is littered with fissures and old craters. The volcano's most devastating eruptions occurred in 1669 and lasted 122 days. A huge river of lava poured down its southern slope, engulfing a good part of Catania and...

Lucanian Apennines

The Lucanian Apennines bite Basilicata in half like a row of jagged teeth. Sharply rearing up south of Potenza, they protect the lush Tyrrhenian Coast and leave the Ionian shores gasping in the semi-arid heat. Careering along its hair-raising roads through the broken spine of mountains can be arduous, but if you're looking for drama, the drive could be the highlight of your trip. The Fascists exiled writer and political activist Carlo Levi to this isolated region in 1935. He lived and is buried...

Wine Cheese Tasting

The Valle d'Aosta is home to vineyards producing sought-after wines that are rarely available outside the region, including those from Europe's highest vineyard, Morgex et La Salle www.caveduvinbland.com , named for the two villages strung together by its vines. Aosta's tourist office has a free, comprehensive booklet in English with information on cellars you can tour and taste. Local cheeses can be tasted at the Valpelline Visitors' Centre - see boxed text, below. You'll need your own wheels...

Liguria Piedmont Valle dAosta

Italy's most seductive attributes - stone villages baking in the sun, rows of vineyards, castles, palm-shaded beaches and rich cooking traditions - all abound in this trio of regions. Shaped like a rainbow, Liguria arcs from Tuscany to the French Riviera. Its ancient maritime capital, Genoa, is a seething port city with a maze of medieval passageways. Liguria's coastal walking paths wind past pastel fishing villages tumbling down vine-terraced cliffs to the sea while dazzling marine life lures...

Icon Painting

If the extraordinary array of religious art in Rome inspires you to create something in a similar vein, why not book into an icon painting workshop at the Centro Russia Ecumenica il Messaggio dell'Icona Map pp94-5 06 687 93 55 www.russiaecumenica.it Borgo Pio 141 These small classes maximum 15 participants are run by master iconographers. At the end of the six-day course 520 , you will have created your own original icon using materials such as gold leaf.

Classical

Italy's classical contributions can be heard nightly at music venues around the globe, including ever-trendy Gregorian chants and Vivaldi's ubiquitous Four Seasons, played on prized Stradivarius violins from Cremona. But within Italy, there's also a modest revival of 'early music' from the baroque and Renaissance periods and the Middle Ages. Ensembles in Venice, Naples, Milan and Rome are playing historically accurate arrangements on period instruments like recorders and harpsichords,...

BOAT

Regular hydrofoil and ferry services operate between the islands. On Lipari nearly all hydrofoil and ferry services arrive at and depart from Marina Lunga. Siremar and Ustica Lines have ticket offices in a cabin opposite the port. Full timetable information is available at all offices. On the other islands, ticket offices are at or close to the docks. The following table lists destinations, fares and approximate sailing times from Lipari. If you're only visiting the islands for a couple of...

Medical Services

24-hour pharmacy Map pp254-5 02 669 09 35 Stazione Centrale Farmacia Carlo Erba Map pp256-7 02 87 86 68 Piazza del Duomo 21 S 8pm-8.30am daily, plus 2-7pm Mon, 9.30am-1.45pm amp 3-7pm Tue-Fri, 10.30am-12.30pm Milan Clinic Map pp256-7 02 760 16 047 www .milanclinic.com Via Cerva 25 One of several private clinics with English-speaking doctors. Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico Map pp256-7 02 5 50 31, foreigners 02 550 33 171 Via Francesco Sforza 35 Hospital.

Treviso

Touted by the locals as 'little Venice', Treviso is the home of the Benetton fashion dynasty along with radicchio, a tart red lettuce and is blessed with a pretty historic centre. This much-overlooked town dates to Roman times and was long the most faithful of Venice's subject cities. Treviso is an easy day trip from Venice or a fine stop on the way north to Belluno and the Dolomites. If you're coming to Venice with Ryanair, stop in here overnight on your way in and out. From the train station...

Monterosso pop

Enormous statues embedded into the rocks overlook one of the area's only sandy beaches at the village of Monterosso. The westernmost of the five villages, Monterosso is the most accessible by car to the village edge. Footsteps from the sea, Carla 0187 82 90 39 Via IV Novembre 75 d 60-70 has charming affit-tacamere rooms for rent. Monterosso also has a handful of hotels, including good value-for-money at the four-star Hotel Palme 0187 82 90 13 www.hotelpalme.it Via 4 Novembre 18 d from 155 S...

Eating

Being a university town, Pisa has a good range of eating places, especially around Borgo Stretto, the university on Piazza Dante Alighieri and south of the river in the trendy San Martino quarter. Trattoria della Faggiola 050 55 61 79 Via della Faggiola 1 meals 20 S lunch Mon-Thu, lunch amp dinner Fri amp Sat An excellent value, locally loved spot, this traditional trattoria with brick interior and a line-up of lovingly tended potted plants outside is delightful for lunch. The menu, chalked up...

Specialist Shops

Via de'Gondi and Borgo de'Greci, east of Piazza della Signoria, seethe with leather shops selling jackets, trousers, shoes and bags, as do the street markets above . Otherwise try Scuola del Cuoio, adjoining Basilica di Santa Croce see p476 . For gold and jewellery, browse the shops on either side of the Ponte Vecchio. Pineider Map p470 055 28 46 55 www.peneirder .com Piazza della Signoria 13r Shop for Florence's famous delicate marble-patterned paper at its most exclusive stationer, dating to...

Walk The Coast

Rising steeply from the coast, the densely wooded Lattari mountains provide some stunning walking opportunities. An extraordinary network of paths traverses the craggy precipitous peaks, climbing to remote farmhouses through wild and beautiful valleys. It's tough going, though - long ascents up seemingly endless flights of steps are almost unavoidable. Probably the best-known walk, the 12km Sentiero degli Dei Path of the Gods 5V2 to six hours follows the steep, often rocky paths linking...

Gay Lesbian Rome

Rome is essentially a conservative city and although homosexuality is well tolerated, the gay scene is not a patch on that of many other international capitals. Rome's main cultural and political gay organisation is the Circolo Mario Mieli di Cultura Omosessuale Map p91 06 541 39 85 www.mariomieli.it in Italian Via Efeso 2a , off Via Ostiense near the Basilica di San Paolo Fuori-le-Mura, which organises debates, cultural events and social functions. It also runs free AIDS HIV testing and a care...

Parco Regionale Della Maremma

This spectacular nature park admission 6-9 includes the Monti dell'Uccellina, which drops to a magnificent stretch of unspoiled coastline. The main visitors centre 0564 40 70 98 www.parcomaremma.it h 8am-5pm mid-Mar-Sep, 8.30am-1.30pm Oct-mid-Mar, 8.30am-4pm mid-Mar-Jun is in Alberese, on the park's northern edge. Park access is limited to 11 signed walking trails, varying from 2.5km to 12km. Entry by ticket bought at the visitors centre varies according to whether a minibus transports you to...

Ci B Ai B

Via Foder admission free S9am-1.30pm amp 4.30-6.30pm Mon-Sat above the old church. The nuns here will sell you cakes and pastries, including dolci di mandorla, cuscusu couscous made of almonds and pistachio and bucellati rolled sweet dough with figs . The tourist office can provide you with a list of multilingual guides. The official rate is 84 for a half-day. Michele Gallo 0922 40 22 57, 0360 39 37 30 www .sicilytravel.net temples 90, incl museum 115 is an excellent English-speaking guide who...

Golfo Di Castellammare

Saved from development and road projects by local protests, the tranquil Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro 0924 3 51 08 www.riservazingaro.it adult concession 3 free h 7am-9pm Apr-Sep, 8am-4pm Oct-Mar is the star attraction on the gulf. Sicily's, and Italy's, first nature reserve, Zingaro's wild coastline is a haven for the rare Bonel-li's eagle along with 40 other species of bird. Mediterranean flora dusts the hillsides with wild carob and bright yellow euphorbia, and hidden coves, such as...

Pizza E Mortadella At 279 Via Cavour In Rome -tripadvisor -babies

Casa del Pane Map p102 06 495 83 37 Via Goito 9 S 7am-2.30pm amp 4.30-7.30pm, closed Sat afternoon In the Termini area, this swish bakery rustles up a mean slice of pizza, as well as some mighty fine bread. Pizza amp Mortadella Map pp100-1 0648904328 Via Cavour 279-283 There aren't many cheap eateries around the Colosseum, so it's useful to know about this deli-cum-pizza al taglio joint. A hefty slice of its pizza or torta di ricotta ricotta tart at lunch should keep you going for the rest of...

ATP Tigullio Trasporti wwwtigullio

Trasporti.it in Italian runs buses to from Portofino every 20 minutes and Camogli every 30 By train, there are hourly services to from Genoa 2.10, 35 minutes and La Spezia 3.95, 1 hours . Servizio Marittimo del Tigullio 0185 2 8 46 70 www.traghettiportofino.it Via Palestro 8 1b runs seasonal ferries to from Cinque Terre one way return 15 22 , Porto Venere 18 28.50 , San Fruttuoso 8 13.50 , Portofino 4.50 7.50 and Rapallo 3 4 .

Highlights

San Marino Emilia Romagna Italy

Lap up the animated atmosphere in Bologna p413 , the region's dynamic capital Marvel at the kaleidoscopic colours of shimmering mosaics in Ravenna p449 Pay homage to the king of cars at Maranello's Galleria Ferrari p426 Study the finer points of Romanesque architecture at Modena's inspiring cathedral p423 Throw yourself into the medieval maelstrom at Ferrara's Il Palio p446 , the oldest horse race of its kind in Italy Add a drop of aceto balsamico balsamic vinegar to a hunk of parmigiano...

The Horror Of The Foibe

After years of repression under the Italian Fascists and Nazi Germans, the communist Yugoslav partisans of Josep Broz Tito were in no mood for handing out chocolate bars when they occupied Trieste in May 1945. During May and June of the Yugoslav occupation, thousands of people there appears to be no reliable figures in and around the city, Italians and Slavs alike, were rounded up, tortured and cast, often alive, into foibe sinkholes in the Carso area especially around Basovizza, where there is...