18 December 2006

Mirror brings winter sun

We love this story from the BBC about the determination of a little village in Italy to capture some winter sunshine: Italy village gets 'sun mirror' . Through the cunning placement of a large mirror on the hillside, Viganella can now direct the sun's rays into the town square. Sunshine and an outdoors social life are crucial to the Italian way of life, although one would have thought the villagers would be used to their winter gloom by now. Still, 'Progetto Specchio' (Project Mirror) will doubtless brighten Viganella's winters as well as giving the village some international publicity. The village is in the north of Piemonte, in the shadows of the Alps, and the nearest tourist town is Verbania, on Lake Maggiore.

15 December 2006

Alagna versus La Scala

There's a lovely new chapter in the saga of the Tenor and the Opera House. First he walked out on the Scala during the second performance of their new high-profile Aida. Roberto Alagna was in a huff after some boos from the audience. Then his employers - understandably, one might think - accused him of breach of contract.
Alagna retaliated by threatening to sue them, claiming they hadn't protected him suitably. Now he has turned up outside the theatre to sing a moving farewell aria.
> Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: Get rid of audiences
> Neil Fisher in the Times: Relax, Roberto
> The original incident, which made a hero of Alagna's jeans-clad understudy, Antonello Palombi:

13 December 2006

Florence Christmas Market

Until the 17th December Piazza Santa Croce in Florence is taken over by an annual Christmas Market, the Mercato di Natale di Heidelberg. This German market is colourful and bright and a great place to visit in the early evening when the Christmas lights are on. Visitors can sip hot mulled wine while gazing up at the facade of Santa Croce, feast on beer and sausages, or browse for unusual Christmas presents, from glove puppets to wooden angel chimes. There is even a revolving merry-go-round bar for drinkers who want to watch the world spin by.
> Mercato di Natale (Italian-language Florence blog)

5 December 2006

Rome tourist card

If you're planning a long weekend in Rome it might be worth considering the tourist board's Roma Pass. This costs €18 for 3 days, and includes public transport, free entry to 2 museums, and a range of discounts. A standard 3-day travel card costs €11, so by comparing ticket prices of your chosen museums you can work out whether the Roma Pass will represent a worthwhile saving for you.
> Roma Pass
> Rome tourist guide