Countries, Culture, Europe, UK

European Spa Towns springing forward

It felt like I should have been letting all this seep into me in my reviving bath… European Spa Towns springing forward.

And indeed I’m remembered for attending our last European Thermal Cafe seminar from my tub.

Our friends from the European Thermal Towns’ visit to Chez Murty corresponded with its Heritage Day.

In truth they were in Wiesbaden but you get the picture.

It is indeed timely with the world coming together soon for COP 26 in my home town of Glasgow.

Water is, of course, the source of life, but it’s worth repeating that spas were the first tourist resorts.

Our hosts mapped out their First XI who have World Heritage Status as the Great Spa Towns of Europe.

Of course we all know that they just trip off the tongue.

The First XI

Crystal clear: Spa

But here’s a reminder.. 

1. Baden bei Wien (Austria)
2. Spa (Belgium)
3. Františkovy Lázne (Czechia)
4. Karlovy Vary (Czechia)
5. Mariánské Lázne (Czechia)
6. Vichy (France)
7. Bad Ems (Germany)
8. Baden-Baden (Germany)
9. Bad Kissingen (Germany)
10. Montecatini Terme (Italy)
11. City of Bath (United Kingdom)

And while it’s the Czech Spa Triangle I know best they all have their merits.

Belgium’s other watering hole

My kind of watering hole: With Simon in Belgium

Now I’d be more used to the Belgian bars and the kinds of beer experience which remind you of the paucity of good ales back here in Scotland.

Now as water is core to beer it’s worth flagging up Belgium’s spa sector, and particularly the town which gives the whole business its name.

Spa‘s springs we are told date back to the 14th century and you’ll get some good exercise in walking from the town to the forest to get your water.

For a town of just 10,000 Spa does punch above its weight with its grand prix and it’s status in beauty pageants, Concours de Beauté, as the first in the world back in 1888.

Beethoven on a roll

Beethoven got around: In Czechia

And the Great and Good of European society would flock to spa towns. 

With our old friend Ludwig Van Beethoven a frequent visitor to Baden bei Wien in Austria

We tracked him down at the hotel named in his honour, Beethoven Spa in Teplice in the Czech Republic on our Hops and Health tour. Complete with his hearing horns in a glass cabinet. 

That ain’t half Bad

Kaiser Wilhelm: In Bad Ems

The Germans are the only other country which has three spa towns on the list.

And yes, that ain’t half bad… but in truth, bad is just another example of the Germans having a word which means something completely different from ours.

Bads are baths and Kaiser Wilhelm I loved them (no, not the Bad Wilhelm of First World War Fame).

It was in Bad Ems where the Kaiser mixed with the Great Unwashed, before they were cleansed, and there’s a statue of him in Bad Ems in his civvies.

All of which we’re told just emphasises that in spa towns everybody mingled freely, away from the social dividing lines elsewhere.

V for Vichy

Mais oui: Vichy

Now the wars do get in the way and alas we do associate Vichy in France with the Second World War.

But get close and personal and you will see that it is one of our glorious Spa Towns with a drinking hall and a Celestins Spring.

Que Sera la spa

L’Aqua Italia: Montecatini Terme

Yes, another tortured pun brings us to Italy’s offering, but one with a funicular railway which is always a selling point with your favourite blogger.

We’re told too that Mussolini was here in Montecatini Terme... and I guess he got all the funiculars to run on time. 

We’re told there is a strenuous walk up to the springs but we’ll leave it to you to decide if you want to trek to the Alto, high part of the town.

Why not do both? 

Bath, English for Bath

Let’s get steamin’: Bath

And yes, we’ve kept the best for last, Bath

The English city with the Roman roots is twice blessed with a UNESCO stamp for both the city and also as a Spa Town.

A great lead with European Spa Towns springing forward.

 

Adventure, America, Asia, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, UK

Craig Sera Sera

Craig Sera Sera, that’s a wrap from the 12th Bond.. and he’ll sure miss those exotic missions.

So which countries has 007 visited most, other than England where he works?

Well of the 50 he’s been to, Italia would seem to have been his favourite with the spy having touched down in Il Bel Paese eight times. 

Pasta Master

Venice: And let’s catch a gondola back to Padova

Rome, Venice and Como have inevitably been stick-on locations for any filmmaker and international man of mystery.

And this time it’s the European City of Culture for 2019, Matera, which is getting its place in the sun this time. 

With its houses. built into caves, cobbled streets and high arches a dramatic backdrop for the opening scenes.

And Felice Giorni for Matera with the town’s mayor, Raffaello De Ruggieri, predicting its association with Bond will be worth $20 million to the local economy.

In truth this is probably the highpoint of the movie, and all before the credits and Billie Eilish’s disappointing dirge of a soundtrack.

As Daddy’s Little Girl rightly pointed out the best bits were the locales. 

Live and Let Spy

Love a duck: At Epcot Centre, Florida

With Britain and America enjoying that much feted special relationship it is unsurprising that The Oo Es of Eh is his next favourite stop-off.

And we particularly enjoy his forays into Florida and its keys… whose pleasures I had to put off on the outbreak of Covid but where I intend to fulfil just as soon as.

Ski another day

Like an Alpine skier: In the Austrian Tyrol

Next up might be less predictable, Austria, but then we have to remember its stunning snowscapes and Bond’s love of winter sports which of course we share.

Although we have never seen him on the slopes of Soll while we have enjoyed skiing alongside some dapper fancied-dressed folks.

And we look forward to seeing a penguin-suited Bond on the piste some time soon.

For Bond anoraks it’s an easy question but which is the only country in a film title?

The spy who came in from the Red

Dance away: Russia

Yes, the old Soviet Union, or Russia as we knew it in shorthand.

And as well as the titular film From Russia With Love, Bond turns up in Fabergeland another three times.

Turkish crossroads

Hamam bam: Istanbul

It has been the crossroads for espionage since first the first looked out over each other at either side of the Bosphorus.

And, of course, Istanbul, has been an ideal backdrop for Bond’s adventures… and yours, and mine with three films taking in Turkey’s biggest city.

Three’s a charm

Limber up: The next Bond?

And among those countries where Bond has a trio of visits is Hong Kong, Spain, the Bahamas, Scotland, his homeland and Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned the books.

And the West Indies’ biggest island is where we first fell in love with Bond on the Laughing Waters beach in Ocho Rios.

Or Sean Connery to be more precise, even if you were a red-blooded bloke, you actually wanted to be him.

Wear a swimsuit: Craig as Bond

And be with Ursula Andress.

There was much fuss too about Daniel Craig with his take on coming out of the water, ripped and in a pair of budgie smugglers.

Only thing is a budgie has more charisma.

Craig Sera Sera… whatever will be, will be.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

Eurovision 2022 in Torino

It was shrouded in secrecy but now we know. It’s Eurovision 2022 in Torino.

I’m grateful to my old friend Stefannia for flagging up that the Pride of Piedmont has got the big gig.

We’re pointed to the YouTube promo for the renewal of the live audience Eurovision.

And won’t that just be glitzier than ever for a couple of years without fans.

And, of course, we’re given the lowdown on Torino (Turin to non-Italians, or stranieri).

Sip it up

Drink it in: An espresso

Did you know, for example, that the espresso originated in Torino in 1895?

And is the handiwork of Torinese Angelo Moriondo who was from a liquer making family.

Which brings us to Espresso Martinis and Porn Stars which my own Son and Heir has a penchant for… the cocktails, of course, the cocktails!

L’automobile

Does my car look big in this? A Fiat 500 in Cannes

Most of us probably do know, but there is no harm in repeating it, that Torino is the home of the Italian automobile industry.

Opened in 1960 and dedicated to Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli, you can track the history in the National Automobile Museum – Turin,

It is, of course, a history which dates back to 1899.

You’ll naturally see the evolution of the motor car and our efforts at driving faster.

For some of us just getting the old Fiat 500 out of the car park is a push, but that’s another story.

Over to you Signora Mayor

Rocking up Italy: The new sound

And naturally the First Lady of Torino (i’ll not call her Prima Donna as it hasn’t translated well into English and she is anything but) is the city’s biggest fan.

Chiara bigs up Torino’s technological and environmental advances.

And that it is home to the first selfd-driving car (and that’s where I went wrong with the Fiat 500!)

She is keen to promote Torino as a city of inclusion.

Of ‘loving differences’ and she directs us to the Porta Palazzo.

It is the largest open-air market ‘where you can get a taste of the whole world within a walk’.

All under the tag of ‘A Symphony of Loud Beginnings’ we’re already sold.

And looking forward to the big event at the PalaOlimpico on May 14.

Say it loud, say it Shroud

I recognise him: The Shroud

‘The icon of a man scourged and crucified.’ So speaketh Pope Francis on the matter.

Whether it is in fact Christ, and it has been debated since it was first mentioned in 1354, it is kept in the Cathedral of Turin.

Christ’s public appearances, of course, are rare so look out for announcements of displays of the Shroud.

And other gods

For those of you who love their calcio (football to the rest of us) then the Allianz Stadium is a must when you’re in town for EuroVision.

It’s where the Old Lady or Vecchia Signora (that’s the nickname of the aristocratic Juventus) and I Granata (the Torino Maroons) play.

Of course such football rivalries are played out every weekend in the great city.

Now I’m a great fan of the North of Italy and am hankering for Italia again as it’s a year since I visited Bergamo.

So I’m planning for next year. And for May it’s Eurovision 2022 in Torino.

 

Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, Ireland

Cassidy’s Sundance Kids

My Dear Old Mum would visit the same Travel Agent every year to book our family holiday and I’m sure it’s the same for Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.

Cassidy, as all in Ireland know, is the country’s biggest independent Travel Agent.

And it has made generations of holidaymakers dreams come true.

Which is why families continue to go back to them again and again to book their holidays.

Now there have been many heroes over this Covid year and a half and our health workers, teachers…

And heck, all of us should take a bow.

But I’d like to give a shout-out to our Travel Providers who have often worked without pay and in their own time.

And all to make sure customers get away or are refunded or have their holidays rescheduled.

Now there are those who say that getting away is not a matter of life and death.

But if self-isolation (and the Son and Heir is facing that just now) has taught us anything it is that humans do not belong caged up.

And so we are delighted to report that Cassidy Travel’s doors are open and filling our inboxes with their offers.

And so without further ado…

On trend

Last year’s blond: ‘The Donald’ in New York

Here’s where they want to take us and I’m indebted to the awesome Aileen who has taken over babysitting us Travel professionals.

Here are the trends (as the kids say):

The late Autumn deals, New York and Las Vegas shopping breaks, Christmas markets, Lapland, Christmas and New Year Sun.

Take a breath…

New Year and January Ski, Cruising, Florida 2022 and Villa Holidays.

And, yes please to them all.

But we’ll pare some of them down to these Three Cheers.

Ola Barcelona

To the Lord: At Gaudi’s centrepiece La Sagrada

We all know Barcelona in the summer where it’s hot, hot, hot.

And I’m sure I’m still the subject of the proud, brusque Catalan waitress who I managed to draw a smile from when I asked for a hot chocolate on the hottest day of the hottest heatwave.

Thankfully we got to take to the water for a cruise stop.

flights and 3 nights accommodation at the 3*Hotel Leo for the incredible price of €149pp (based on two people sharing)!

Flight departs Dublin 13th and returning 16th October 2021.

Call Cassidy Travel on 01 8901000 or book in one of their 10 stores across Dublin.

You’re a Celebrity too

On Celebrity Cruises’ Edge

And Celebrity Edge is the ultimate in cruising with its floating tender… and yes, love me tender.

Cassidy will get you on board for a scoot around Italy and Greece aboard next summer 2022.

Get on this deal for seven nights in an interior cabin including full board.

Plus Always Included Promotion Classic Drinks package, internet package and tips for only €1929pp.

Setting sail from Rome and visiting Naples and the stunning Greek islands of Santorini, Rhodes & Mykonos,

And phinally Phuket

Phuket, we’ll finish with a land, Thailand, and resort, Phuket, where I sent many a young adventurer and page designer and scuba diver Podge in my time as a commissioning editor.

Cassidy has 50% savings included for a ten-night stay in the 4* Old Phuket Karon Beach Resort from only €998pp for next May.

Stay in a Deluxe Sino Wing room, beautiful period accommodation influenced by Sino-Portuguese architecture.

And enjoy the magnificent pool, mountain views and beach side bars.

Prices are based on two sharing and include flights, taxes, private transfers and hotel accommodation.

Book by September 30 to avail of this amazing deal!

And aren’t these all good reasons to pitch Cassidy’s Sundance Kids.

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

Italy’s history written on the walls

It’s often called a living museum and as we shake down the new UNESCO sites and celebrate Il Bel Paese’s pre-eminence.. Italy’s history written on the walls.

The addition of Bologna’s porticoes and Padova’s frescoes makes Italy numero uno with 58 recognised sites.

Arches of triumph

Walk this way: Bologna

Donata McGlynn (she married an Italian) would tear her luscious brown hair out teaching me Italian of a morning.

We would do whistle-stop visits around her homeland in the exercises she set to test nostra lingua.

And we, of course, passed through Bologna’s porticoes which gave us plenty of practise our directions.

The porticoes date back to the 12th century and span over 39 miles with most found in the city.

Made of wood, stone, brick, or reinforced concrete they serve as entrances to arcades and workshops.

And naturally have become hubs for Italians to chatter, or chiacchiera, a beautiful onomatopoeic word.

Of course all with the hands, or parlare con le mani.

Padova’s frescoes

To the greater glory: Padova

Of course, Renaissance Italy all started out with… Giotto in Padova.

Long before Michelangelo got to work on his Sistine Chapel Giotto was setting the template in Padova.

His showpiece the Scrovegni Chapel.

All of which you can learn about by googling. But much more fun coming with me on my Padova journey

UNESCO didn’t just stop there although you could easily while away an afternoon… and I did.

And an advance party to Venice

There are eight religious and secular building complexes which make up Padova’s 14th century fresco cycle.

So why not start your UNESCO Historic Sites of Italy in Padova.

Where its Botanical Gardens are already rightfully on the list.

And take a gentle boat ride to Venice.

Sites for sore eyes

Caesar the day: In Rome

Italy is, of course, an ancient land of regions and cities.

And it is only right that UNESCO should celebrate le citte as a whole.

And La Citta Eterna stands foremost of them, although, of course it’s a high bar.

See Naples and Die

So you should dwell a while in Florence, Sienna, Naples and Verona.

And Ferrara which bills itself as the City of Renaissance although Giotto and Padova might have something to say about that!

So check it all out… Italy’s history written on the walls.

 

Countries, Culture, Europe

Amber lists and you’re a gem

I put my foot in it with a colleague, so just to say there will be no more gags about Amber lists and you’re a gem..

The amber threat has had holidaymakers panicking and fretting about getting back from foreign countries and then paying through the nose for self-isolation.

And the latest countries in the firing line are two of our favourites, France and Italy.

But the fossilised tree resin is something to be treasured as a precious jewel.

And also a healing property for hippies, whom I lean to….ooooohhhhhhm!

Museum pieces

Craftwork: amber

You’ll find amber really wherever you’ll find trees, or where trees once were, which is pretty much everywhere.

And among all their magical qualities they also seem to have a magnetic pull on women.

Particularly when you’re on your holiday with la famiglia in the coastal town of Southwold in England’s East Anglia.

And the evidence is somewhere at the bottom of the Scary One’s Jewellery box.

Though not the 2.2 kilo exhibit… it would only drag her neck down.

Pole stars

Shine bright: The colour of the sun

 

Now every day’s a school day when you’re meeting holiday providers from around the world.

And while feeding our bellies with big bowls of Polish soup and warming our hearts with their vodka, our Polish friends gave us the rundown on Gdansk.

And its impressive history with amber.

What’s more it’s even better than it was before with the new Amber Museum of Gdansk opened to the public only last week.

Amber is brilliant in tone and hue and can act naturally as a receptacle for all the things that can get stuck in trees, like bugs.

While it is a great building block for jewellery yes, but from spoons to chess sets to Fender Stratocaster guitars.

Opening gambit

The voice of Dresden: With Ingrid in Dresden

Museum director Waldemar Ossowski said: “Amber items are delicate and sensitive, and the susceptibility to damage increases with the age of the item, which is why many amber masterpieces have survived in fragments and are missing many figurines.”

We’re told too that it sits in the pantheon with the the collection of the Danish royal family, the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and the Grünes Gewölbe museum in Dresden.

Something begotten in the state of Denmark

Walking on air in Nyhavn, Copenhagen

And if you know your Copenhagen you’ll know the museum is located in Kanneworff’s House in Nyhavn which dates back to 1606.

You’ll be taken on a 30-50 million journey and needless to say Denmark is at the heart of it.

And there will be a celebration of Scandinavian forests and their traders.

While there’s also chess too, naturally.

The Russians are coming

And take a tour of the ramparts: Kaliningrad

Whisper it around Poland where they like to claim amber as their Baltic gem but the Russians are coming with their own amber museum in Kaliningrad.

Well, like all things Polish, they’ve already settled and are flagging their own museum.

Should you be in the region then lucky you. So have a look around.

Obviously at all the amber and the many exhibitions including the Fifth Russian Contest of Gallery Art.

But also take a guided tour of the rampart to learn about the history of the growth of Konigsberg fortification power.

So that’s our Amber lists and you’re a gem all of you who are called Amber.

 

 

 

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Our world is ever changing

Our world is ever changing but not according to the cork map I’ve been sent.

OIt has taken me, in truth, the best part of a week to realise that this world at my fingertips was the one of my schooldays.

When Britain was still in denial about the loss of Empire.

Pin sharp

A different world

It was only after I’d stuck the pins in (I’d expected them to include them as in the picture) that I’d realised.

I’d covered Western Europe in red, blue and a spot of Irish green.

And adapted as your sticky pins only seem to come in the primary colours.

Red, white and blue

Don’t tell the Indians

So you end up pinning the Oranje Netherlands in red which to be fair is one-third of their flag.

And Italia in verde green the same, though Il Bel Paese is more associated with sporting azzurro.

Some countries have spent generations fighting not to go red so it seemed wrong to pin Germany red, but hey ho.

Red, of course, means different things, in different places and America and the Arab World proudly flashes red.

We will pin them on the beaches

And it can’t be a Beijing Duck

Of course it’s not just travel-longing Travel Editors who pin stickers to an atlas.

And world leaders are probably doing the same as we speak.

I’ve seen it too first hand at Winston Churchill’s War Rooms in Whitehall in London.

Now I’m thinking that I must have been delivered one of Winnie’s maps when I turned my attentions to Asia.

It can’t be a Mumbai mix

It’s not Queenstown any more: Cork

And saw that my mapmakers are still clinging to old British names of Bombay (Mumbai) and Peking (Beijing).

Before scanning back to Ireland to check that the names were correct.

It truly would not have surprised me if their cartographers were working to a 20th Century template.

I should have known when they insisted that my purchase was for a Queenstown map of the world.

Rather than a Cork one.

Our world is changing for sure, it’s just some are stuck in the past.

 

 

 

 

Caribbean, Countries, Europe

Italia und Deutschland

They’ve been wanting to welcome us back, and now they can… bella bella et Wunderbar Italia und Deutschland.

Italy and Germany are heading up a tranche of countries green-listed for us to visit again.

That also includes two of my other go-to countries Austria and Switzerland.

Ciao now Bergamo

Buon Giorno Bergamo

That Italy should be leading the way is reward for the efforts they have made in the last year and a half.

The good people of Bergamo have a claim to the title of huggiest people you’ll meet.

Having got into the Guinness Book of Records just five years ago.

When 11,460 Bergamaschi embraced each other, and that’s 5730 couples.

Huggy bears

Atalanta fans: With Matteo in Betgamo

All of which is revealed in the council offices, an antidote to the heavy subject of Covid, which I was there to discuss with the Tourism Minister.

And isn’t it refreshing to count in cuddles than casualties?

It is, of course, what we miss in these days of restricted engagement when we travel.

And so when I wanted to hug my host Matteo for his friendship after we said Ciao we knew we could only elbow.

Give us a cuddle

My Swiss Miss: In Interlaken

Which used to be what you did when you wanted to get rid of somebody.

Now the peoples of some countries seem to be able to get by without the need for physical contact.

My hugginess then is probably more my Irish than my Scottish half.

Sometimes a smile a clink of glasses and a Prost with your eyes fixed on each other.. a la Germany, the Austrians and the Swiss.

Caribbean dreams

My Tobagonian pals: Auntie Ali, Uncle Kenneth

But quite how my Bajan and Tobagonian pals will get by without enfolding each other in their arms…

I haven’t had the chance to see for myself.

For now I have my sights set again on Italia und Deutschland.

I’ll be back then as soon as I can to throw my arms around Bergamo.

 

 

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Food, UK

World Ice Cream Day

If you’re slurping an ice cream on World Ice Cream Day you’re in good company with King Tang of Shang, Marco Polo, Nero and Ronald Reagan.

With temperatures in the UK the hottest for 45 years ago ice cream vans are doing a roaring business.

China ices

And even Chinese bears love them

Our favourite cool treat dates variously back to ancient China, Greece and Rome.

But it is now a truly global obsession which should be on your to do list when on holiday.

Here’s some of the best to mark World Ice Cream Day:

Made in Japan

Little balls of fun

Mochi ice cream, Japan: And the adventurous among the Olympic athletes in Tokyo will be digging into Mochi.

As we are with Little Moons Creamy Coconut and Passionfruit & Mango mochi desserts, drawing in 45 million TikTok followers.

The Tesco mochi bites are gluten free. You wrap blue-sized balls of gelato in soft mochi dough.

Na-na-na

Let’s split: Banana splits

Banana Split, USA: One banana, two banana, three banana, four… the sundae which spawned a cult kids’ TV show and punk anthem.

We owe it all to 23-year-old Pittsburgh pharmacist David Strickler for giving us…

The Banana Split… a scoop of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate nestled between a sliced banana with cream, chopped nuts and a cherry.

And the Pittsburghers have honoured David with a statue and plaque.

Gelato spirit

Ice one

Gelato, Italy: And I know the burning question you’re asking while you burn: how is a gelato different from an ice cream?

I’m indebted here to website Healthline for filling us in… and what I took from them is that there’s more air and milk in a gelato.

Anywhere in Italy is good to eat gelato but I’m channeling my inner Nero in the Eternal City.

Yes, with a tang in it

You’ll want some ice cream for afters

Tang, China: Yes, ice cream with a tang.

Ice cream is said to date back to 200BC (Before Cornettos?) when a milk and rice mixture was frozen by packing it in snow.

Tang, who reigned from 1675-1646, had 94 ice men help to make a dish of buffalo milk, flour and camphor.

Porty time

And you can have yours on top

99, Scotland: And who would have thought our little corner of Scotland gave us the 99.

Our old homestead of Portobello, Edinburgh’s town beach, spawned the 99.

When Stefano Arcari broke a flake and inserted it into the ice cream at his shop in 99 Portobello High Street.

Next year is the centenary of his breaking of flake… just saying!

Reagan’s scoop

Sundaes are on us: Ronnie and Nancy

And as for World Ice Cream Day we have former US President Ronald Reaganj to thank.

The Gipper championed Ice Cream Day in 1984 and it just snowballed after that.

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Music, UK

Nobody sleeps until Italia sings

There’s another song at the Euros, the song of opera, and nobody sleeps until Italia sings.

In the final at Wembley on Sunday against the winners of tonight’s England v Denmark semi-final.

It seems apt then that Italy, who opened the football extravaganza a few weeks ago with Bocelli’s belter, should be there at the end.

La Duckiata

Great quack in Macerata

Of course Nessun Dorma sounds a lot more lyrical than Nobody Sleeps.

And Giueseppe Verdi better than Joseph Green or Federico Chiesa than Frederick Church.

Federico e is il figlio di Enrico, o Henry, and come suo padre nella squadra d’Azzurri.

Forza Azzurri

Il Calcio

You see everything is usually better in un altra lingua and even better in their country.

And so opera should be enjoyed in Italy, where it is not the stuffed-shirt evening out for the posh that it can be elsewhere.

Being the Bohemians that we are we look out for news on opera and are kept up to date with aria world.

My Bohemian rhapsody

A night at the opera in Prague

And so we’d like to share the imminent renewal of the Macerata Opera Festival ‘100×100 Sferisterio’ from July 23-August 13.

Mace-where? Well, it’s in Le Marche, south-east of Florence on the Adriatic Sea.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

And this year we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first opera in Macerata.

Opera, while Italian is multinational, and Verdi’s Aida is entrusted to Valentina Carrasco, from Argentina.

And Carrasco worked with the Spaniards, rivals last night on the footy field, and the theatrical group Fura dels Baus.

Message to you Rudy

Theatrical: Macerata

The month-long festival will also celebrate Italy’s national poet Dante Alighieri with the rest of Il Bel Paese on his 700th anniversary.

There will be a homage too to Rudolf Nureyev, who loved the Macerata Festival.

Aida in 1921 in Macerata

Now we’re not going to commit who we’re following in Sunday’s final or calling a winner.

Because we all know it’s not over till la bella canta.

Oh go on then, nobody sleeps until Italia sings.