25 June 2009

Dream islands

Where, just a plane, coach then ferry journey from the UK, could you see dolphins, climb an active volcano, swim in the sea, enjoy a fine meal of local products and relax by a harbour sipping sweet wine.. all in the space of a day? The answer is the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago off the northern coast of Sicily, close to the 'toe' of Italy. From thermal mud-baths to sophisticated hotels, from traffic-free solitude to lively bars, from flowery footpaths to barren lava-slopes, the seven inhabited islands offer a whole range of holiday options. The peak summer season is busy but outside July and August you'll find affordable prices and plenty of peace and charm.

> Read our new feature on the Aeolian Islands

I visited the islands a couple of weeks ago on a long tour of southern Italy. More new destinations, travel tips and a journal will follow on Italy Heaven, as well as an extended section for the seven Aeolian Islands: Lipari, Stromboli, Vulcano, Panarea, Salina, Alicude and Filicudi.

23 June 2009

Berlusconi and Italian women

To comment on Italy's moral attitudes, gender relations and Berlusconi's crimes and vices would take a very long time, but this article from the Times makes a good start. The writer is far too sanguine about women's position in the status quo (compare her opinion to the comments of Italian journalists below), but it is a positive sign that Italy's 'showgirl' culture, introduced by Berlusconi, is now receiving such widespread critical attention. What were whispers a couple of years ago are now emerging as full-blown revelations, and feminist muttering is becoming more mainstream criticism.
> The Times: Berlusconi's Italy shows a strange type of feminism