12 October 2009

Riace bronzes 'theft'

If you are planning a trip to Reggio Calabria over the winter, and hoping to see the famous Greek statues known as the Riace Bronzes, call ahead first. According to the Repubblica, a political storm is whipping up over mysterious 'restoration work' which is sending the statues to Rome at the beginning of November. The rest of Reggio's museum is closing for restoration work itself; the fear of locals is that their statues, the city's greatest pride, will never be returned to them.

Italy is prone to conspiracy theories - which often turn out to be justified by genuine conspiracies, as in the case of Serie A match-fixing - and the suspicion is that the Riace Bronzes will finish up in one of Rome's vast museum collections, with mere copies being sent back to Reggio.

I witnessed for myself this summer the pride of the people of Reggio Calabria in their archaeological museum; as several bus passengers contended to offer me directions. The bronze statues are the most important historic and artistic objects in the whole of the Calabria region. Although they may not receive as many visitors as they deserve, the area will lose an important tourist attraction, while Rome hardly needs additional exhibits.
> Reggio Calabria
> A travel itinerary down the coast through Calabria and Reggio

10 October 2009

Italy travel itineraries

I have just added a new feature to the website: suggested travel itineraries in Italy. These are ideas to help the independent traveller plan an interesting tour, and include maps. They are all based around public transport, meaning that a hire car is an option, not a necessity. So far I have created four itineraries:

> Classic tour: Rome ,Florence, Venice
> Art and Architecture of the Veneto
> South to Calabria - from temples to volcanoes
> Puglia and Matera

Italy has so many great destinations which are still under the radar for most travellers. I hope these itineraries will provide a starting point for explorations of the country, and will offer new and interesting suggestions to holiday-makers. More will follow.

Venice update
I'm writing this post from Venice, which is in the grip of huge thunderstorms. The last week has been really varied here.

The Good: Up until yesterday there was still warm afternoon sun to enjoy - I sat outdoors by canals twice, eating lunch in the sunshine (the best was pumpkin gnocchi with smoked cheese at the Osteria ai Artisti). Now Autumn has arrived and the temperatures and tourist numbers are dropping.

The Bad: Yesterday it was reported that there have been mosquito-borne cases of West Nile Virus in Venice and other north-eastern towns - so it becomes more important than ever to cover up and avoid bites. Visitors have been told not to donate blood for four weeks after a stay in Venice or the other towns concerned.