Monday, July 9, 2012

Earthquake in Rome #terremotoaroma

An earthquake of magnitude 3.5 hit Rome today. The epicentre was in the Castelli Romani but it was also felt in other areas in the south of the capital including the zones Anagnina, Cinecittà, Nomentana, San Giovanni and Fidene.

So far no damage to people or things has been reported.

Image via Google maps

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rome: One of Europe’s oldest zoological gardens

Inaugurated in 1911 and situated in the historical park of Villa Borghese, Rome's BioParco it is today one of Europe’s oldest zoological gardens.

Map of Rome Zoo

Carl Hagenbeck’s original project led to the construction of a 12 hectare park where animals could roam freely: this was a completely new concept that turned the Rome Zoological Garden into one of the most modern zoos of its time. 

In 1935  the zoo was enlarged to its current surface area of 17 hectares. The new area, designed by architect Raffaele De Vico, includes the current reptile house and a large geodesic shaped aviary, which is still unique in its kind.

The zoo was later privatised until the current Foundation was set up: large restoration works and an entrepreneurial style of management have turned it into a modern zoo. In line with the World Zoo Conservation Strategy (a document adopted by WWF International and drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN) the Bioparco plays an active role in environmental education and the conservation of endangered species.

Rome zoo is home to a wide variety of animals from the very small 0-2kg to the very large 500kg+. You can find a list of the animals at along with some interesting facts about each one.

Giraffes at Rome Zoo

How to get there:

By Tram: No. 19 - “Bioparco” stop
By Bus: No. 3 - 52 - 53 - 926 - 217 - 360 - 910
On the Underground: Piazzale Flaminio, Via Veneto, Spagna – RED LINE ‘A’
By car: G.R.A. exit “Salaria centro – Parioli”
On foot: Piazzale del Giardino Zoologico No. 1

Ticket prices:

Public events that take place on Saturdays and Sundays are included in the ticket costs.

Children over 1 metre and under 12 years of age€11.00
School gruop leaders and accompanying parents€11.00
National servicemen, security forces (upon presentation of ID)€11.00
Senior citizens (60+) everyday except Wednesdays (€ 4.00*)€11.00
Groups of 15 or more adults€11.00
€ 1.50

- Children under 1 metre  
- Disabled people
- Essential carers for disabled people 

The Zoo is open every day of the year except for 25 December  Christmas day.

Something extra to remind you of your visit:

A trip to Rome zoo makes for a lovely family day out. It was also the inspiration behind my children's picture book Out and About at the Zoo

Just one of the fantastic reviews for Out and About at the Zoo:

5 Stars 

"What is your favorite animal to see at the zoo?  Author and illustrator Jo Linsdell both describes and pictures a fun day at the zoo that a young lad has with his mum.  They get to look at colorful parrots, tall giraffes, screaming monkeys, meat-eating lions and tigers, striped zebras, scary crocodiles with big teeth, hopping kangaroos, bathing hippos, and huge elephants.   But how does the boy feel when it’s time to go home?   How would you feel?

Children love to visit the zoo.  Our two boys certainly did when they were little, and we still do even today.  Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer and artist who is originally from the United Kingdom but now lives in Rome, Italy, with her husband and their two young sons.  The rhyming text and colorful pictures in Out and About at the Zoo not only make a truly fun story for children to read or have read to them and imagine what it’s like, but will also help to familiarize them with the different kinds of creatures that they will discover at the zoo when they do go."

By Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

Get your copy now from and Amazon European sites.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Famous Italian: Nina Zilli

Nina Zilli (her real name is Maria Chiara Fraschetta) is an Italian singer-song writer born in Piacenza in February 1980. Before she made her debut in 2009 with the track 50 mila, this multi talented artist presented TV shows (including a gig as VJ for MTV) and recorded a tracks with her band 'Chiara e gli Scuri'. 

She has won several awards over the years from Sanremo Music Festival, TRL Awards, Wind Music Awards and Premio VideoClip Italiano.

Nina Zilli represented Italy in this years Eurovision Song Contest and did an excellent job gaining high points during the competition.

Nina Zilli's performance at this years Eurovision Song Contest

Per sempre (recent hit from this years Sanremo)

Some other tracks by Nina Zilli

L'amore verrà

50 mila

L'Uomo Che Amava Le Donne

Bacio D'A(d)dio

Come il sole

You can find out more about Nina Zilli on her website

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Northern Italy hit by earthquakes

Northern Italy was hit by another earthquake killing at least 8 and injuring many more at around 9am this morning. The quake registered 5.8. It hit the same zone in the Province of Modena (Emilia-Romagna) that was hit on 20th May 2012 killing 7 people. Sadly these figures are likely to increase as given the amount of damage caused to buildings it is feared that more bodies may be found under the rubble. 

The damage caused by the earthquakes will have a huge effect on the region. Many of the historical buildings in the area have been destroyed. A large part of the region was listed on the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as sites of heritage. The area is also famous for it's production of cheeses and balsamic vinegar, a large quantity of which has been damaged by the earthquake.

Modena is marked in red.
The area remains on emergency alert.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book feature: All He Saw Was The Girl by Peter Leonard

If you're looking for a book with a connection to Italy try today's featured book All He Saw Was The Girl by Peter Leonard. 

TITLE:  All He Saw Was The Girl
AUTHOR:  Peter Leonard

PUBLISHED BY:  The Story Plant

  • ISBN-10: 1611880424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611880427 
GENRE:  Suspense
# OF PAGES:  290

McCabe and Chip, two American exchange students, are about to become embroiled with a violent street gang, a beautiful Italian girl, and a flawed kidnapping plan.

Sharon Vanelli’s affair with Joey Palermo, a Mafia enforcer, is about to be discovered by her husband, Ray, a secret service agent.

Brilliantly plotted and shot through with wry humor, ALL HE SAW WAS THE GIRL sees these two narratives collide in the backstreets of Italy’s oldest city.


Peter Leonard’s debut novel, QUIVER was published to international acclaim in 2008, and was followed by TRUST ME in
2009, and VOICES OF THE DEAD in 2012.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Nina Zilli to represent Italy in Eurovision Song Contest

This is a video of Nina Zilli's first rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest. She will represent Italy in this years competition.  As Italy came in second at last years event she will be aiming for the top spot this year.

"Like several other of the participants in their first rehearsal, Nina and her three backing performers were casually dressed. Nina does however wear some bright green shoes, which might give a clue to her outfit in the Final next week. today she was wearing a short white dress, with a large loose scarf around her upper body and neck. a headband kept her hair swept back and in place.
It is not surprising that today they were dressed casually, as later on this evening they will have to head off to the official opening party. Her three backing performers comprise one male singer and two female singers and unlike some backing singers in this year's contest can be clearly seen standing behind her in a line. Although the position of the backing singers was changed around in the latter rehearsals, so they moved from being behind Nina on the left, to being behind her on the right.
The LED screens behind her, as well as the floor lighting, display black and white shapes, which fit in with the shape of the set that surrounds the LED screens. The images give the song something of a retro look." - Source:
I personally really like Nina's music and hope she does well. What do you think? Will she do as well as last years entry?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free entry into State museums on your birthday

Throughout 2012 Italians and E.U. citizens can visit any one of Italy’s  magnificent state museums free of charge on their birthday: just show your identity card at the ticket office!

In the event the museum were to be closed on your birthday, a free ticket will be available on the following day.

from 1-1-2012 to 31-12-2012
Telephone: 800 99 11 99

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Extreme Language Exchange

Whilst searching the internet I came across Extreme Language Exchange. I've never taken part but it definitely looks like a fun and easy way to practice Italian.

What is Extreme Language Exchange?

It is a language exchange that unites English speakers, Italian speakers, and puts them in an atmosphere that is fantastic for learning each others language.

Each Italian speaker is paired with an English speaker. These pairings last for 10 minutes, which means you get 5 minutes in English and then 5 minutes in Italian. After the 10 minutes is up you switch to a new partner and start all over again. This gives you the opportunity to learn and practice the things that you want.
How does it work?
7.30pm - Everyone meets and registers with the host. 
7.45pm - Everyone is lead downstairs by the host and paired up.
7.55pm - First change of partner, and then every 10 minutes after that.
9.30pm - The last change of the evening is announced.
10.00pm - The evening officially finishes.

You can connect with Extreme Language Exchange at:

For more details and to sign up visit the website

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1st May concert 2012

The concert on 1st May at San Giovanni in Rome is one of the highlights of the city's events calendar. The theme for the 2012 concert is Musica del Desiderio: la speranza, la passione e il futuro (Hope, Passion, Future). 

Attracting both Italian and international artists, the show is free to the public. 

This years edition is presented by Francesco Pannofino and Virginia Raffaele.

Francesco Pannofino and Virginia Raffaele

2012 Performers include:

Concerto primo maggio 2012: tutti i cantanti


Buon primo maggio a tutti!

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Book feature: Diavolino by Steve Emmett

Title: Diavolino
ISBN: 9781936751211
Author: Steve Emmett
Publisher: Etopia Press

Author Bio
Steve Emmett is a British horror writer. He studied at the prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture in London where he developed a love of Italy and all things Italian. For over twenty years he ran his own estate agency specializing in Italian country homes and, for almost ten years, lived by Lake Trasimeno in Umbria, the setting for Diavolino. Born at the end of the 1950s, Steve grew up on Dennis Wheatley novels and Hammer Horror films, and on many occasions started to put pen to paper. Completely dissatisfied and unfulfilled with his career, Steve decided in 2008 that he wanted to write professionally and began laying the foundations of Diavolino. At the moment he is completing a new horror novel – which is set largely in Rome - and a number of other horror projects including the sequel to Diavolino. He has reviewed for the New York Journal of Books and Suspense Magazine, and appeared in a couple of dark short films. He currently lives with his partner and some rather large spiders in the Yorkshire Wolds, close to the ancient City of York in the north of England, not too far as the bat flies from one of Dracula’s favourite haunts – Whitby.

Steve Emmett
Author Website


Paradise is just one step from Hell.

The chance to build a dream home on a private island on one of Italy's most beautiful lakes offers architect Tom Lupton the fresh start he's been yearning for. But when he arrives with his family on Diavolino, he finds the terrified locals dead set against them. The island, whose very existence has been shrouded in secrecy for half a millennium, has a dark history that no one cares to remember, and as the opposition to Tom and his family grows, so grows a brooding evil that will lead them to the very doors of hell...

What the reviewers have said
Lots of action, lots of surprises, great writing and vivid descriptions make DIAVOLINO a must-read for any horror aficionado. Sheri White. The Horror Fiction Review

Steve Emmett's debut novel Diavolino reawakens ancient terrors in the small Italian town of Poggio del Lago ... Emmett takes painstaking care with architectural and regional descriptions to bring this world to life with effortless ease. After all, it's true what they say; the Devil is in the details. And in the case of Diavolino, this takes on a quite literal meaning. Dreadful Tales

Steve Emmett writes with a clarity of purpose. You can feel truth in his words when his characters experience Italy; there's a passion that goes down deep, and you know he's been there before. His horror is textural and in your face: the boat ride to Diavolino after the lake receives Clavelli's special touch is something I'll never forget - if my experience was music, I could see it as a heavy metal nightmare from Pentagram, Rush, Judas Priest or Black Sabbath.
Clayton Clifford Bye, The Deepening

Diavolino has a raw grittiness to it that works well with the wonder and intrigue within the world that Steve Emmett has created. Double Shot Reviews


Instead of taking the direct route across the car park and up the steep flight of steps that led to the center of town, Annamaria followed the narrow footpath alongside the lake. It meandered between a pitiful woodland of umbrella pines, furnished with the occasional broken bench, and the shoreline. At one point the beach gave way to weathered cubes of rock on which had been constructed a perilous jetty, rotting bits of timber protruding out from the sides. She hauled herself onto the platform by means of a handrail that snagged her skin. She cursed the local council for not spending money where it was needed. Tourism. Fundamental to the area. God damn them!
From the edge of the jetty, she could see the sparse lights of Polvese winking at her from under their roof of leaves. The water lapping at the base of the pontoon churned up a stench of dying algae that marred the sweet scent of jasmine from the nearby bushes. She took the pack of Merit from her handbag and lit one, inhaling deeply. The match hurtled through the air like a comet, fizzing when it hit the water. She looked up into the night sky, perfectly clear, and without the interference of the big city lights, it was still possible to see the stars here. So many of them, glowing like a scattering of dandruff on a velvet gown. Life seemed so insignificant. All the struggling, the fighting, the sheer effort, and for what? In the end it was always the same old story of Good versus Evil—and these days it seemed that evil was on the winning side. Or was it simply that the Devil bought better advertising than God? She ground the cigarette butt under her heel and resumed her walk along the pathway. A trash can overflowed onto the track, and an unseen drinks can clattered as she caught it with her toe, what was left of its contents leaving a dark trail in the dusty surface. Vermin scuttled into the vegetation, their scavenging interrupted. The track finally swung inland to make way for the old waterworks, and as she joined the pavement along the main lakeside road, she suddenly had the feeling that she wasn’t alone. She looked behind her but could see nothing. She certainly hadn’t seen or heard anyone on the lakeside path. On the other side of the road there was no sign of life, just the sealed up tunnels that the locals said once connected Poggio with the monastery over on the island. She shook her head and continued.
It was there again. A footfall, just a split second after hers. She stopped. It stopped. When she walked faster, the following sound came faster. But each time she turned, there was no one and nothing.
Before she reached the flight of steps that would take her into town and home she spotted the seasonal bar, no more than a brightly painted kiosk, already open for business. It represented refuge from what she considered totally irrational neurosis and she entered. Her mouth was stale, as much from fear as from the tobacco, so she ordered a decaf and a large glass of water. Perched on a stool at the bar, she noticed the place was once again under new management. This barman wasn’t Italian, Moroccan possibly. Nevertheless, in the corner, over the door to the toilets on a small shelf, was the ubiquitous television set. It was tuned to RAI news. A story was just finishing about the latest political scandal. Annamaria had long ago lost interest in politics; none of them was worth voting for.
“Promises, promises,” she muttered under her breath. When a story about the Northern League started, she reached for her purse. “If they get their way we’ll need passports to visit Bologna.”
“I’ve seen what nationalism can do. Nationalism and religious fanaticism,” said the barman. “I came here to get away from it.”
Poor sod, she thought, leaving a generous tip and steeling herself for the seventy-three steps to the top.

Purchase Links

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rome Celebrates its 2765th Anniversary

On 21st April The Eternal city celebrated its 2765th Anniversary. This is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.
The city has organised various events in order to give Rome the birthday party it deserves.

Despite its age, Buzz in Rome found the city to be still in reasonable condition:
"Yes, Rome is very old but still in pretty good shape, notwithstanding the damages done by its unruly citizens, politicians and visitors! On April 21 according to the legend/tradition, it turns 2765. But, of course, there is no scientific evidence that it was founded in 753BC, let alone on April 21. Anyway, before the Liberation Day (April 25)/Labour Day(May 1) very long weekend there is one more big occasion to celebrate and have fun in Rome. The City council has organized a lot of events. Let’s see those that might be more enjoyable for non-Italian speakers".

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's your favourite Roman landmark?

Cast your vote in the comments section

The Pantheon

The Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain

The Colosseum
Castel Sant'Angelo

Friday, April 6, 2012

Reality TV: Has Italy had enough?

Over recent years reality TV programmes exploded across Italian TV ranging from 'fly on the wall' types like Grande Fratello (Big Brother) to talent show formats like Amici and X-Factor.

Grande Fratello 12 was won by Sabrina, who was in the house for 84 days and came through 10 nominations. She is the 4th woman to win the reality TV show and possibly the last winner of the program as the shows audience rating weren't that great this year and it looks like the show won't be back next year. I have to say I'm not surprised. Although I did watch the first few editions, I gave up watching Grande Fratello a few years ago. I think they basically did everything that was possible with the show and ran out of ideas. The people they put in the house began to just repeat the same stuff we'd seen before thinking it was a winning recipe and forgot to be natural. 

I can't say I'm going to miss the show but do wonder if its cancellation from next years schedule means that Italian have had enough of reality TV and if so what will they find to replace them?

Last night was the final of L'Isola dei famosi (the TV reality program based on Celebrity Survivor). I have to confess that the program is my favourite reality show and the only one I've watched this year outside of MTV's Jersey Shore.

Despite not so positive press at the beginning of this years show, L'Isola dei Famosi has proved to still be a winner and pulled in huge audience ratings. 

The show got a new look for this years edition with presenter Simona Ventura being replaced by Nicola Savino. Vladimir Luxuria joined participants in Honduras as this years daytime presenter.

This, the 9th edition of the show, was won by Antonella Elia.
Although the show used mainly past participants from previous editions it still managed to be fresh. I'm sure L'Isola dei Famosi will be back next year and I can't wait!

X-Factor moved from Rai to Sky and as such is no longer a "mainstream" program.

Amici is now in the final stages of this years show and has undergone some radical changes to the program format. More 'teams', separate winners for dance and singing, new teachers... They even have a battle going between ex-Amici singers.

The fact that some shows have clearly reached the end of their popularity and others are sticking around by evolving into new formats gives a clear indication that Italians views of Reality TV are changing.

Is this the end of an era?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

Italy joined Earth Hour in 2008, with WWF involving Rome and Venice to symbolize of the threat of climate change. In 2009 soccer champion Francesco Totti turned off the Coliseum, becoming a symbol of the campaign. In 2011, Earth Hour involved more than 240 cities and international icons like the Tower of Pisa, Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Dome of Milan, while ships of Costa Cruises took Earth Hour into the oceans of the world. More than 15 main business joined the challenge, including Auchan, IKEA and UniCredit Group. And, while celebrity videos invited people Beyond the Hour, hundreds of kids wrote (or sang!) their green ideas for the future.

Newspapers have given front page slots in occasion of tomorrow's Earth Hour inviting their readers to blackout social media sites (including access through smartphones and tablets) during the one hour event that runs from 20:30 to 21:30 tomorrow evening.

An hour without electrics but also without Facebook and twitter. The polar bears will no doubt thank us.


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