31 May 2006

Bronze Age Skeleton in Roman Forum

There's an interesting article on the BBC about a 3000-year-old skeleton found on the site of the Roman Forum:

Rome skeleton find pre-dates city

29 May 2006

Drunkenness in Italy

Sad to see that the tide of drunkenness is sweeping through Italy.

La dolce vita loses its fizz as spritzer leaves the young flat out in the piazzas

Living in Italy revolutionised our views of heavy drinking - our northern cultures are so used to bad behaviour and loss of control that it came as a shock to realise that in Italy this is seen as revolting, undignified and unacceptable.

We dreaded the evenings in the Centro Storico when our shouting, staggering countrymen (and women) would embarrass us with their boorishness. And we laughed at the UK government's idea that 'Mediterranean drinking habits' might civilise the Brits. In Rome these drunken tourists cause so much trouble that the city actually had to introduce licensing hours to cut down on drinking.

Now, despite general cultural disapproval, some young Italians are embracing northern-style inebriation. Rather than getting a tiny bit light-headed on their local wine, they drink beer in 'Irish pubs'. And now even the Veneto favourite, the spritz, is being blamed for "broken glass and puddles of vomit" on the streets of Padua.

We only hope that the Times article and the Paduan ban are an exaggerated response. It would be tragic to see an enforced end to the civilised pleasure of sitting outdoors in a piazza, sipping wine in moderation and enjoying the traditional Italian nightlife. Especially if it is our fellow tourists who've led to this state of affairs.

- Travelling Blonde on a night out in Venice earlier this year
- The Travelling Blonde is also writing up her more recent Venetian experiences in a new travel journal

5 May 2006

Cortona: Tuscan Sun Festival

If you're in Tuscany in August, consider checking out the Tuscan Sun Festival. Taking place in the picturesque town of Cortona, the festival is in its fourth year and includes classical concerts, lectures and wine-tastings. Highlights include Antonio Pappano with the Chamber Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.