Here comes Frankie, Siena and the Italian cavalry

Ciao tutti… and they’re off.

We bring you good news from Italia courtesy of Frankie Dettori, Italy’s brand ambassador for their new promotional campaign.

Race time in Siena

Frankie is Italy’s most famous horseman since well, ever.

Only the most devoted racing fans, or Italians, though would be able to name you another Italian jockey.

Medieval jewel: Siena

But, in truth, Italy has a rich tradition with the cavalli.

It goes back to the days of the Romans and the superstar chariot drivers.

Champion jockey Frankie is a proud Sardinian and waxes lyrical about his island, particularly the beaches.

While he also extols the virtues of Rome all of which I share.

Rock god

Being the rock god that he is, of course, Frankie namechecks other iconic Italian cities, fashionable Milan, Venice and cultural Florence 

Horsing around in the Circo Maximo in Rome with my Laurie

While he also bigs up the Amalfi Coast and Capri, and for the winter Cervinia 

If it’s horses you want then the Palio di Siena on July 2 andd August 16 is a horse of another colour.

The Palio like all traditions in Italy has its origins in religion with the first running of the bareback race in the mid-1600s in honour of the apparition of the Virgin Mary.

Oh, Frankie: Frankie Dettori

The jockeys are kitted out in the colours of their districts, the Contradas of Siena as they race around the square.

Our friend Frankie has his English subtitled in the promotional video which is something Scots and Irish have become used to over the years so our sympathy.

Wait for it

For the women (and the men) it’s not what Frankie says but how he says it anyway, and how he looks and the background of Italia.

But wait for it, Frankie’s pay off is Italia Wait For It. And we will.

And when we get back it’ll be with our old favourites Topflight, the Italian specialists.

Now all I need are some suitable colours.










Keep on truckin’… the five best carnivals

Mardi annual: Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

Come on take me to the Mardi Gras. Singing aside, yes, take me to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I’ve flirted with Norleans, most notably at the annual IPW, the American Travel Fair, where the Preservation Society Jazz Band entertained us.

And drunk the Sazerac and eaten the gumbo and jambalaya.

But I’ve yet to get there… soon, though.

Of course, we owe it all to King Louis XIV, naturellement, and Pierre Le Moyne d’iberville.

The highlight is the Rex Ball. As they used to say in Norleans… laissez les bons temps rouler, or ‘let the good times roll.’


Rio, Rio, by the sea-oh

Float on: Rio

Rio, the self-titled Biggest Show On Earth…. and it all starts with the Romans.

The Classical Romans threw a wine festival back in the day to the vino god Dionysius, or Bacchus.

The Portuguese adopted it with ‘Entrudo’ and then took it to Brazil.

In 1840 the first Rio masquerade took place with polka and waltz, of all things, front and centre.

Samba, the music of the Africans, took over in 1917. And we’ve never looked back.


Notting Hill, London

Golden vision: PIcture:

The Caribbean Carnival of St Pancras Town Hall doesn’t have the same ring to it as Notting Hill.

But that’s how it started out indoors in 1959 before they took it outside.

And the rest is history.

A million people take to the streets every August Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of the month… She’ll have me cutting the grass.


Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Toast to Carnival: On Tenerife

Europe’s biggest carnival and the second largest in the world.

A fancy dress fest, it culminates in the entierro de la sardina (burial of the sardine).

And they pack them in for that like…!


Carnavale de Venezia

The Mask: Venetian Carmival

It’s as old as time… well 1162 at least and a military victory before Carnavale went on to become a Rennaisance staple.

But the mean Holy Roman Emperor Francis II banned it in 1797.

Probably got given a dodgy mask at the hire shop.

And it only really came back in 1979.

A package for Carnavale

If you’ve got a fancy mask you want to give an outing then we found this package with Weekend A La Carte

Three nights Mascheranda package from February 21-24.

That’s entertainment, dance and costume hire. And party in the Palazzo Pisani Moretta on the Grand Canal.

And the chance to pose in St Mark’s Square.


And just to get your started here is Barbados Crop Over, Foreday Morning and Grand Kadooment…