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Bamboozled in Barcelona

In the Catalan capital, Rosemary Bailey discovered the plus side of  looking mumsy………. “You must be really careful in Barcelona,” I warned my son, en route to Madrid to study Spanish. “They are really clever, really devious. They’ll point out pigeon shit on your shoulder and pick your pocket as you turn your head…” Famous last words.…

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Life returns to the Caves of Matera

First impressions of Matera are somewhat underwhelming. The newer buildings on the outskirts are the familiar mixture of residential tower blocks with shops and cafes at ground level interspersed with public and commercial buildings. Press on towards the Baroque town centre however, and by the time you reach the Piazza Vittorio Veneto you realise you…

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At Rigoletto’s place

Mantua’s Gonzaga dynasty casts a long shadow – in fiction as much as fact. There’s a sequence in Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot when Spats Colombo, played by George Raft, is questioned about his whereabouts on the night of the St Valentine’s Day massacre. “ I was at Rigoletto”, he protests. After some verbal…

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Cultural hot spots of Amsterdam

Whatever your motive for going to Amsterdam – diamonds, Dutch masterpieces or ladies in red-lit windows – spare some time for the cultural hot spots. The alternative arts scene is booming, the Van Gogh Museum has seen a radical redesign, the Stedelijk Modern museum has almost doubled in size and the gleaming EYE Museum, luring…