Arts and Entertainment Rome sweet Rome: Tony Servillo in 'The Great Beauty'

From its delirious opening montage of disco divas, ageing socialites and strippers at play – one imagines Berlusconi's bunga bunga in a nutshell – Paolo Sorrentino's Roman satire has its sights fixed on epic greatness. There's a touch of La Dolce Vita in its fluid portrait of the city as carnival, with its parade of nuns, tourists, freaks, hangers-on, performance artists and other jokers. It is overseen by the dapper, disenchanted Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a journalist who once wrote a great novel but is now more famous for his roof-terrace parties and languid cynicism. The haute bourgeoisie circles Jep moves in turn a blind eye and a Botoxed pout to the depressed, debased society around them, preferring to dance themselves dizzy and drink themselves silly. (Sample dialogue: "What job do you do?" "Me? I'm rich". "Great job"). Nor is there any recourse to religion when Vatican prelates offer not spiritual succour but top cooking tips.

Spotlight falls on artworks in Detroit’s search for sellable assets

As Detroit goes down what could be a painful path to resolve its debts, attention has turned to the city assets that might be sold off to raise much-needed funds, including the valuable paintings and other objects that are part of the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Street Fight in Naples, By Peter Robb

If you're heading for Sicily this autumn, Peter Robb's masterpiece Midnight in Sicily is de rigueur. If Naples and environs is your goal, you may be better off saving this extraordinary work until you get back. The muscular exuberance of Robb's style – one of the finest in contemporary English – is perfectly suited to Neapolitan brio but the central topic of this book is the art of the 16th century.

Italian art historians claim they have found 100 early Caravaggios

The works showed 'the faces, bodies and scenes Caravaggio would use in later years'

A six-pack is the Holy Grail of men's fitness

Journey to the Planet of the Abs

A six-pack is the Holy Grail of men's fitness. But just how difficult is it for an average male to achieve? Gym-shirker and beer drinker Tom Mitchelson gave himself six weeks to get into shape

A six-pack is the Holy Grail of men's fitness

How to perk up your pecs

A six-pack is the Holy Grail of men's fitness. But just how difficult is it for an average male to achieve? Gym-shirker and beer drinker Tom Mitchelson gave himself just six weeks to get his abs in shape

Caravaggio: Exile and Death, The Place, London

His life was full of drama, but it's the art as much as the painter that inspires this absorbing show

Great Works: Crucifixion of St Peter, 1601 (230cm x 175cm), Caravaggio

Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, By Andrew Graham-Dixon

A portrait of the artist as a young villain

Caravaggio, By Andrew Graham-Dixon

Feuds, brawls, exiles, murders, sexual intrigues (of every variety): tell with flair and zest the life and times in Milan, Rome, Naples and Malta of Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), and it already makes for a shockingly rollicking read.

Michelangelo's basilica may finally be completed

The mayor of Florence wants a referendum to decide if the city should embark on a major work by Michelangelo that was shelved because of the huge cost nearly 500 years ago.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Serpentine Gallery, London

An Arte Povera pioneer reveals the miracle within cheap materials – and gives us a vision of our wonderful selves

Are new books on Italian art and history simply re-framing old pictures?

In July 2008, I sat in the early-evening sun on the terrace of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli – the palace, surrounded by exuberant fountains and cascades, built in the 1550s for Lucrezia Borgia's son Ippolito as a sort of consolation prize for his failure to win the papacy. I strained to spot the dome of St Peter's, supposedly visible across the plain that separates the Sabine Hills from Rome. But my companions, local councillors and archaeologists, had more than tourist clichés on their mind. They told me about the hysteria that had recently greeted the election over in Rome of a mayor with a neo-Fascist past, Gianni Alemanno (who's still in office).

Dutch coach drives Britain on

Van Commenee cites Michelangelo as his model as records fall and medal prospects rise

A lost Michelangelo? Art scholar claims controversial find in Oxford

A respected Italian art scholar claims to have identified a previously unknown painting by Michelangelo at the University of Oxford.

The Blagger's Guide To...Samuel Johnson

Ten pages of quotes, but none about oranges
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own