Another fight at the opera as La Scala puts Verdi behind Wagner

Controversy is never far away from The Scala and its season opener

Italians upset by La Scala's decision to kick off season with German composer Wagner and not local hero Verdi

Richard Wagner's Lohengrin kicks off La Scala's season on Friday with the renowned Milanese theatre under fire for choosing the German maestro over local hero Giuseppe Verdi on the biggest night of the year for the world of opera.

Silvio Berlusconi: I'm being 'besieged by requests' to run in Italian election

Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has given a strong hint that he would stand in next year's election, declaring he would not allow Italy to spiral into recession and saying he had been “besieged by requests” to run.

Mario Balotelli and the Mona Lisa

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is 'as valuable as the Mona Lisa'

Striker linked with return to Italy

Silvio Berlusconi passes a policeman outside Milan's justice court

Far from being a sideshow, Silvio Berlusconi's legal battles have dominated Italian politics for decades

The former President became a figure of ridicule and spawned a thousand other crooks

Vladimir Putin must find it hilarious that David Cameron won’t back Europe on Russia’s abuses

In his latest dispatch our columnist reports from a George Michael concert and has some advice for Andrew 'Thrasher' Mitchell, the under fire Tory MP

Today's wacky stories from the web: gangster guns, cryogenics and Amityville horror house for sale

A wikipedia for hip hop, Italy's most tyre-rannical politician, frost-bitten penis, snake bite vs. morphine and the brand new Taj Mahal

'People do worse things,' says politician who slashed tyres of disabled pensioner

Italian politicians have a formidable to-do list, with surging unemployment, a shrinking economy and rampant corruption to contend with. But their biggest problem, many Italians would argue, lies in their inability to apologise, let alone quit, when they find themselves in disgrace.

Pope's secret files has been found revealing Vatican scandals

Pope's butler found with thousands of secret papers

Documents tell tales of Vatican scandals, spies and secret societies, trial of Paolo Gabriele told

Mario Monti’s government has only six months left

Anyone but Silvio Berlusconi: Italy begs unelected Mario Monti to stay

Spectre of former PM is boosting popularity of leader parachuted in by European Union

Postcard from...Italy

Hollywood is making its annual trip to Venice, with the world's oldest film festival kicking off yesterday.

Postcard From...Naples

In Italy even the oldest profession needs a helping hand during hard times. With more and more women turning to the sex industry and levels of violence against prostitutes on the rise, the mayor of Naples has proposed an experimental red light district modelled on that in Amsterdam, so the authorities can gain some measure of control.

Postcard From...Milan

The less savory elements of the Italian press are doing their best to whip-up anti-German feeling as tussles continue between Rome and Berlin over how to save the euro.

PSG’s new £33m signing Thiago Silva (left) and his Brazil team-mates Juan Jesus and Alex Sandro pick up souvenirs at the Olympic Park

Thiago Silva says it's strictly business for Brazil at the Olympics

World's most expensive defender tells Andy Brassell the quest for first Olympic gold is no laughing matter

Andy Carroll: Striker to return to home-town club in an amazing piece of business

Carroll in limbo as Liverpool refuse to let him go home on loan

Liverpool last night flatly rejected what they considered to be a poor value bid from Newcastle United to take back Andy Carroll on a season-long loan.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn