italy

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Paris, France: Clubbed by culture

Paris, France: Clubbed by culture

We were -- with a few exceptions in the café -- exhausted foot soldiers in the Art Wars. The small café where we found ourselves that late afternoon, on the corner of Rue de l’Universite about 15 minutes walk from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, was our r’n’r refuge for an invigorating pastis, cold Belgian beer or...

Naples, Italy: You have been warned

Naples, Italy: You have been warned

"The thing with Napoli," said Alfonso leaving a pause for effect, "is the tourist people they love it or they do not. But I understand why they do not. The city, she is . . . " To be honest I can't remember exactly what he said next about his birthplace, but it could have been something like this: that Naples is noisy and...

Alberobello, Italy: Toytown in late summer

Alberobello, Italy: Toytown in late summer

The undistinguished slice of autostrada is almost deserted. Just us, and a gun-metal grey Mercedes -- a minute ago but a dot in the rear-view mirror -- disappearing into the distance ahead. We're in no such hurry so pull off to the Adriatic Coast which has been somewhere to our right this past hour as we have driven up this east coast of...

Travel with seniors: practical advice for older travellers

Travel with seniors: practical advice for older travellers

We were in a crowded post office in Venice when I said to my mother-in-law Sue, "You know the first thing you pack when you travel? Patience." We needed it that morning. We were sending home unwanted clothes and a few souvenirs. We'd queued to buy the box, queued again to have it weighed and get the necessary paperwork (in duplicate,...

Sorrento, Italy: Where life takes a holiday

Sorrento, Italy: Where life takes a holiday

Giuseppe the concierge welcomes us with a slight bow and a broad smile, then waves us towards the front desk. I am flattered and surprised that he knows our names, but the reason becomes apparent as we sign in. We are the only two guests in the 50-room Grand Hotel Cocumella which occupies a balcony seat in the pretty town of Sorrento across the...

EUR, Italy: The facades of fascism

EUR, Italy: The facades of fascism

The view at sunset from these steps is spectacular. Old men have gathered to smoke cigarettes and silently watch the orange orb sink below a horizon punctuated by distant spires and domes. The view the other way is more problematic. And pretty ugly. This is EUR -- Exposizione Universale di Roma -- a district on the southern outskirts of Rome...

Sydney, Australia: Family, friends and fine dining

Sydney, Australia: Family, friends and fine dining

Lucio pauses mid-stride as he passes my table and then – perhaps because he can recognise the colour and bouquet, or maybe he cheated and peaked at my order – says enthusiastically, “Ah, but you are drinking a wine from my region, Liguria”. He claps his hands gently then stares at me for a moment. What...

ITALIAN POP AND ROCK: Searching for the young soul rebels

ITALIAN POP AND ROCK: Searching for the young soul rebels

Let’s be honest, Italian opera might be wonderfully transcendent -- despite Oasis’ Noel Gallagher dismissing Placido, Carreras and the Big Pav as “three fat blokes shouting” -- but Italian pop/rock hasn’t made it internationally. A book entitled Famous Italian Bands would be slim indeed -- and wisely not...

Pompeii, Italy: New days in the old place

Pompeii, Italy: New days in the old place

Alfonso lives in the hills behind Sorrento and is Neopolitan by birth. "But the two places are very different, you know. I don't want to say anything against the Spanish . . ." he says, but the pause is the giveaway. "But when that pope, you know the one maybe 400 years ago, when he came to be pope he appoint a Spanish king...

Florence, Italy: A long way from Footscray

Florence, Italy: A long way from Footscray

The instructions on how to get to her hotel were quite specific: she said they were located directly opposite Cartier. Which was true, but it might have been equally easy to describe it as being just down the street from the enormous Palazzo Strozzi which dominates this block in central Florence 10 minutes walk from the Major Attractions: the...

Rome, Italy: The only sure thing in life

Rome, Italy: The only sure thing in life

It's all in the odd juxtaposition really. Just off the Piazza Barberini in Rome with its magnificent Fountain of Triton by Bernini -- and only a short walk from the more famous Trevi Fountain -- is the Autocentri Balduini on Via Vittorio Veneto. In the window glistening Lamborghinis are displayed like shop mannequins in a clothing store....

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Florence, Italy: The passing strange parade

Ever been in a place where everything is the same, but different? Let me illustrate. It was close to midnight in Florence and after a fine dinner I went for a lazy stroll through the lamp-lit streets, then stopped at an outdoor cafe in Piazza della Repubblica for a nightcap of grappa. From across the broad square the distant sound of a...

Rome, Italy: The healing doll

Rome, Italy: The healing doll

There are few churches in Rome more interesting, or more overlooked, than Santa Maria in Aracoeli, tucked in beside the famous Vittoriano, the massive white monument which dominates Piazza Venezia and looks like an old Olivetti typewriter. But walk up a very steep flight of old steps and after a wheezing climb you enter one of the more...

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