EASTER IN ITALY

On Good Friday the Pope leads a solemn torch-lit procession, the Via Crucis, from the Colosseum and up the Monte Palatino, re-enacting the 14 Stations of the Cross, from Jesus' death sentence to the placement of his body in the tomb.

A large wooden cross is carried on the way and at every station the Pope offers a brief prayer. At the final station he also gives a speech, linking the re-enactment to current events. Tens of thousands of the faithful gather with torches and lights to follow this solemn procession, which starts at 9 pm.

OTHER HOLY WEEK EVENTS IN ITALY

Special events, processions and celebrations during the Holy Week occur almost in every city, small town and village in Italy and they are too many to mention.

One of the most famous is the procession in Gubbio, Umbria. It is staged at night, announced by Miserere choirs.

A wooden sculpture representing the dead Christ dating back to the year '600 is carried in procession together with the statue of Mary in pain for her dying son under a baroque canopy. They are followed by choir singers, then by the Sacconi (men dressed with a white tunic and hood covering their faces) and, finally, by members of the public carrying lit torches.

The procession follows a route through the most important street of Gubbio and the ambiance is particularly touching and suggestive.

Easter celebrations are particularly important in Sicily with many processions and feasts.

Particularly touching is the Procession of the Mysteries in Trapani, where 18 wood-carved statues belonging to different associations of craftsmen of the town plus the statue of Christ and the Virgin Mary are paraded through the town.

The procession starts on Good Friday afternoon and ends on Saturday morning.

Other famous processions starting at the beginning of the Holy Week until Easter Sunday are in Marsala with the live representation of the Passion of Christ on Holy Thursday, in Caltagirone where its magnificent staircase in the middle of town is used as a backdrop for the representations, in Piana degli Albanesi where the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox rites are combined in the celebrations and Palermo where the re-enactment of the Last Supper is staged in various city churches on Holy Thursday and 3 important processions are organized by the associations of the Bakers, the Horsemen, the Artisans of the city on Holy Friday.

SCOPPIO DEL CARRO ON EASTER DAY in Florence

In Florence on Easter Day one of the city's most atmospheric ceremonies, attended by thousand of people, takes place in front of Florence Cathedral, the Scoppio del Carro, the "Explosion of the Cart".

It is not precisely know when the cart, the Brindellone to the Florentines, was first introduced, but it is known that originally it contained a large tub of flaming firebrands which were distributed to worshippers gathered in front of the Cathedral.

The explosion, "scoppio" takes place at twelve o' clock precisely, following a ceremony that begins several hours earlier in the Church of SS Apostoli. The priest takes the ancient flints brought back from Jerusalem during the First Crusade and rubs them together to produce sparks to light the Easter candle which in turn is used to light coals of a "fire holder".

These coals are then handed over by civic authorities to the archbishop and while the Gloria is sung he lights the fuse of a rocket that has the appearance of a white dove (symbol of peace), this runs the length of the Cathedral on a steel cable, exits into the Piazza and hits the cart, which then explodes releasing clouds of smoke and setting off sparkling wheels and crackers. According to the legend, if there is a snag or obstacle in the flight of the dove, the next harvest will be a meagre one.

EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS

Torino 2008 World Design Capital

Turin 2008

www.torinoworlddesigncapitl.it

The City of Turin was nominated First World Capital of Design for 2008 by the Industrial Design World Organization. This is an important acknowledgement not just for the city but for the entire Region of Piedmont: for its strong industrial tradition always on the cutting edge of innovation and for its research in the field. Throughout the year, more than 180 events are planned, in Turin and beyond, divided into four sections: Public Design, Economy and Design, Education and Design, Design Policies. As World Design Capital, Turin is called upon to represent Italy and its culture and tradition in the field of design and engineering as well as the creativity of the Made in Italy brand on the international stage.

Pintoricchio

Perugia – Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria

Spello – Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore

February 2 - June 29, 2008

www.mostrapintoricchio.it

Tourist Office Information Perugia: Tel. +011 39 075 5736458 / +011 39 075 5772686

Tourist Office Information Spello: Tel. +011 39 0742 354459 / +011 39 0742 354165

550 years since the birth of Pintoricchio, Perugia honors the artist with an exhibition held at Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria. Here visitors will be able to admire most of the artist's works and drawings, shown for the first time in one monographic exhibition.

The journey of discovery of the works of this sophisticated master from the Renaissance continues along the places that hold his frescoes, starting from the Baglioni Chapel in the Duomo in Spello, and on to Spoleto, Orvieto, Trevi, Citt di Castello and Perugia.

47 Stresa International Festival

Stresa – Easter Concerts

March 15-22, 2008

www.settimanemusicali.net

www.stresafestival.eu

The third edition of the Easter Concerts will be held again this year, in anticipation of the Musical Weeks of Stresa and Lake Maggiore, traditionally held in August and September.

Feathers in the festival's cap will be the performance by the string quintet "Brixia Musicalis" with soprano Monica Piccinini on March 15 in the Chiesa rinascimentale in Madonna di Campagna di Verbania and the concert of the Atalanta Fugiens Orchestra accompanied by the Ars Cantica Choirs conducted by Vanni Moretto on March 22 at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Stresa.

Ottone Rosai

Florence – Palazzo Medici Riccardi

Through March 25, 2008

www.firenzeturismo.it

Installed at Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the exhibit is entirely dedicated to Ottone Rosai, the great Florentine painter from the 20th century and it includes 50 paintings, from private and public collections, that details Rosai's production from the '10s to the '50s. Furthermore, from the beginning of February the symposium "Rosai uomo e artista" will be held at Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

L'ultimo Tiziano e la sensualita' della pittura

Venice – Gallerie dell'Accademia

Through April 20, 2008

www.ultimotiziano.it

The Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum, in collaboration with the Venetian cultural activity agency, has undertaken several research projects to determine the characteristics of the modality adopted by Titian in his last period, known as "pittura a macchia". The Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice pay homage to this research by showcasing invaluable works attributed to Titian.

Thanks to exceptional loans, art lovers will have a chance to enjoy a superb collection from the world's most important museums. The exhibition is divided into three sections, dedicated to portraits, and the subjects of the sacred and the profane.

Thomas Struth

Naples – Museo Madre

Through April 28, 2008

www.pierreci.it

The Madre Museum in Naples hosts the first personal exhibition in Italy dedicated to Thomas Struth, one of the most important contemporary photographers. On display 500 works that detail the main landmarks of the artist's career, from the first black and white urban landscapes and the portraits of families, to the Museum Photographs, a series on which Struth has been working since 1989, comprised of huge color photographs that portray silent visitors, observing the great works of art.

Guido Cagnacci. Protagonista del Seicento tra Caravaggio e Reni

Forl – Musei San Domenico

Through June 22, 2008

www.emiliaromagnaturismo.it

Installed at the Musei San Domenico in Forl, the exhibition presents more than 40 works by Guido Cagnacci and as many paintings by Caravaggio and Reni. This is Italy's biggest monographic exhibition ever dedicated to the artist, who was able to affectively combine inputs from his knowledge of Caravaggio's naturalism and Reni's realism. The location is easily reachable by car, plane or train. Visiting hours are Tuesday to Friday, 9:30 am - 7:00 pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 9:30 am – 8:00 pm.

50th Anniversary of Capodimonte

Napoli - National Museum of Capodimonte

Until June 29th 2008

www.museo-capodimonte.it

This year on the 50th anniversary of the "refounding" of the Museum of Capodimonte, the Neapolitan Soprintendenza is promoting a series of initiatives recalling on one hand the historical, and institutional development of the Museum of Capodimonte, and on the other its constant vocation as a cultural and civil beacon of international renown. The objective is to show the public a Capodimenonte active and still present artistically and culturally. To consolidate this a few events and shows have been selected which the public will be able to enjoy until June 29th and which will support the permanent collection of the museum:

Uno sguardo su Capodimonte. Uno sguardo da Capodimonte

Photographic shows of Mimmo Jodice May 23rd to June 29th

Fumetto al museo April 11th to May 11th

Salvator Rosa, tra mito e magia April 18th to June 29th

Rome and the Barbarians. The birth of a New World

Venice – Palazzo Grassi

Until July 20th

www.palazzograssi.it

The exhibition, Rome and the Barbarians, taking place in Palazzo Grossi will witness and emphasize the artistic richness of the late Antiquity and the Early Middle Age of the West facing the classical Roman art.

Two thousand archaeological treasures coming from the most famous museums in Europe, Africa and America – some of the pieces will be showed to the public for the first time. The exhibition will shed light on the richness and the technical skills of those barbarians population that have shaped the European cultural heritage. The exhibition, prepared by Kunst und Ausstellungshalle of Bonn and l'Ecole francaise of Rome and looked after Jean-Jacques Aillagon.

SPORTING EVENTS

Rome marathon

16 March 08

www.romaturismo.it

A 42 Km route through the symbolic sites of the city with the participation of international athletes. On the same day, starting a few minutes later, also on the Via dei Fori Imperiali , the easier "Stracittadina" will take place . This is a 5Km route open to everyone at the cost of 5 euros.

Treviso Marathon

March 30th

www.trevisomarathon.com

The fifth edition of the Treviso marathon will be held on March 30th, an International marathon which distances 42,195 Km. Besides the traditional one which starts from Vittorio Veneto, the marathon will have three different routes to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first world war. There will be routes from Vidor and Ponte di Piave, with the three colours of Italy. Besides the marathon, other events will be organized to get to know Treviso.

Gastronomic cycle "The roads to salt and wine"

Cervia

April 6th

www.sportur.com

For the passionate of gastronomy and cycling, next April 6th, there will be a scenic ride across the most evocative points in the region of Cervia with stops which allow you to sample typical products. The event is open to everyone and with any type of bicycle. The gastronomic cycle "The Roads of Salt and Wine" is an initiative organized for the third edition of the Sportur Bicycle Show.

Up and Down the Bridges

Venice

April 15th

www.tgseurogroup.it

On April 15th Venice will host once again the already traditional march "Up and Down the Bridges" organized by the Associations TGS Eurogroup (Youth and Social Tourism) supported by Veneto Region, Province of Venice and Venice. The route will be 10 km starting and finishing at Saint Mark's Square passing through all the major sights and wonderful spots and bridges of Venice. A shorter route is also available for the younger generation. Registration to the race is open to all ages, families and students. It will be beautiful day well spent together in friendship and solidarity.

INITIATIVES

Salerno Card

The initiative Salerno Card, was proposed by the Salerno Convention Bureau, the objective is to supply all the tourists that visit the town with a valid tool to orientate themselves and to get to know better the attractions of the territory. The Salerno Card is foldable and fits easily in your pocket it has the same typology as the Z-Card, which has a map of the historical centre with useful telephone numbers, cultural information with a brief description of monuments, museums, archaeological sites, villas and gardens. Space is also dedicated to the more longed for itineraries in province, like Amalfi, Padula, Paestum, Postano, Ravello and Vietri sul Mare. SCB, is also useful for shopping.

NEWS ON TRANSPORT AND CONNECTIONS FOR ITALY

Ryan Air: flights to Genoa and Pisa

Ryanair will start again from March 16th to October 28th connections London – Genoa, which was suspended during the winter season, because of low demand. Starting connections will be 4 times a week but then on April 1st there will be daily flights.

In the springtime three new Ryan Air flights will land at the Pisa airport Galileo Galilei. Birmingham–Pisa flights will launch April 2nd with three flights a week. The connecting flight Edinburgh–Pisa will launch April 15th and Costanta–Pisa on April 18th.

Bmibaby inaugurate Birmingham – Orio al Serio

On April 1st Bmibaby will inaugurate the flight Birmingham – Orio al Serio. The flight will operate three times a week Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.