Arts and Entertainment

Every week another literary shortlist is announced, a judging panel revealed, a couple of longlists named, with a juicily controversial omission or a tediously predictable inclusion. But if The Parrots is to be believed, none is more significant than The Prize, the loftiest of all literary accolades, for which there are just three men in contention. They are The Beginner, The Writer and The Master. And for each of these men, the outcome really, really matters. In the Italian writer Filippo Bologna's smart new novel, we watch the three finalists in the countdown to the big announcement.

Eat, drink and steer clear of an Italian art attack

Bologna's food is legendary. So, says Toby Follett, let's eat. But whatever you do, don't ask for spaghetti you-know-what

Basketball

Gregor Fucka, the talented center of Stefanel Milan and of the Italian national team, has signed a four-year contract with Fortituto Bologna, ending rumours of his possible transfer to Los Angeles Clippers.

The accidental terrorist

Francesca Mambro has always insisted that she and her husband did not plant the Bologna station bomb which killed 85. Now, people in high places are starting to listen. By Anne Hanley

Plenty more fish

In Comacchio, a country-cousin of Venice, Rob Ainsley checked out an automated angling system - plus wine and apricot tart - that leaves British fishing technique high and dry

British five on a high for Paris Show

Equestrianism

A history of the world in 101/2 inches

18 Universities

Terracotta-coloured and red all over

Bologna's opulence is self-assured, even if the street names are anachronistic.

Italy's rich city prays for fall of nation state

BUILDING EUROPE

Denial on Senna

Motor racing

Basketball: Houston in control of the mission

THE Houston Rockets have been America's NBA Champions for the past two seasons. Now, to nobody's surprise, they can call themselves champions of the world after winning the first unofficial world club title here last night, beating the Italian side, Buckler Bologna, 126-112.

Basketball: Houston cruise through

Basketball

Early departure for Sharks

Basketball

WHAT IT COSTS IN . . . bologna

(2,500 lire to pounds 1)

Umberto Eco is a rare thing: a high priest of semiotics who sells novels by the million. He also eats a lot.

Odd name, Umberto Eco, almost too good to be true. Umberto evokes, perhaps, Humbert Humbert, hero of Lolita. And Eco - well, it's Italian for echo, an absurdly perfect name for a writer who deals with the outer limits of memory and representation. But odd or not, that is what he is called, Humbert Echo, Post-Modern superstar, best-selling skypilot of the Zeitgeist.

A confident manner and a silvery tongue

Gianfranco Fini likes to tell how it was a John Wayne movie that thrust him, as a tender 17-year-old schoolboy from Bologna, into the arms of the neo-fascist right. He and a school friend went to see The Green Berets in defiance of a boycott called by their left wing classmates, getting themselves into a fight outside the cinema for their pains. The next day, a banner in class read "Fini is a Fascist". The young Gianfranco needed no further encouragement...
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