In Rome, April truly kicks off the tourist season – especially with so many making their pilgrimage to Vatican City for Easter. This month, a whole host of events surrounding Pope John Paul II’s ‘Santo Subito’ Sainthood – on May 1st are planned. And, to make things easier, they’ve even devised a ‘Pope Pass’. Fittingly called the PJPII PASS (and not the Italian, PGP...) it entitles you to unlimited transport on buses, a city tour on the ORP's yellow guided tour bus (just ignore the crummy audio) and other treats. Check out http://www.jpiibeatus.org/it/site/specialPass for more information.*
April 4-10 marks the ‘We’ve Named it in English so it Must be Good’ Week…or rather, ‘Restaurant Week’ [actually, I've been informed that it's an int'l organization thus the name]. You can enjoy 3-course gourmet meals provided by select restaurants for a fraction of the cost. You can find info on participating
**But, since I spent 40 minutes trying to make a reservation on DiningCity.com, save yourself the time&energy, & and simply follow my instructions-for-use posted in the comments below.
April is also the month we get a Week of Culture at Italy’s State-Owned Museums (usually, the Biggies – like the Colosseum or the Uffizi). Enjoy Free Entrance to the – WTF?! – most popular museums April 7-10th – A welcome event, sure, but one of those obtuse non-marketing practices whereby we don’t get enticed to discover the treasure troves of the little-known places filled with great works, but rather get to join the already-obscene crowds at the mobbed-on-a-slow-day-in-midwinter mass market houses of art.
As for me, I’ll try my luck taking in Agri-Culture that same week at the Fiera dei Cavalli, a showcase of thousands of horses, equestrian events, and all things ippo-related…Note to self: take an anti-histamine before leaving the house!
April wraps up with Rome's Birthday Celebrations (April 21st) and the Nation's Liberation Day festivities (April 25th) - see my blog entry about the tempest in a tatsa over this now-controversial festa.
But as for Belle Cose this past March, we were treated to Chocolate Festivals across the country. Hard to explain this right smack dab during lent, when probably everyone you know (well, at least women) has given it up. Yet another indication of the marketing prowess of my paesani. It's just one more sign from above as to how far astray the flock has in fact, strayed.
And so this March we were treated to the Cioccolatò Festival in Torino, featuring an entire country of monuments created in pure dark ambrosia, and in the spirit of equal time, another in the South – held in Vulcano Buono di Nola. And for those (most likely men) who gave up alcohol for lent, never fear – the devil awaits to tempt you at the 45th edition of Verona’s VinItaly held before Easter as well.
Perhaps it’s actually some sort of test of your willpower or a way to pay for indulgences – As for me, as I indulge in my umpteenth chocolate truffle, it certainly makes me think of the Divine...
* And for those of you daring enough to descend on Vatican City this April, don't forget to download my Audioguide narrated by the inimitable Art Historian Nun, Sister Wendy Beckett - for a complete tour of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel www.touringtracks.com