News The Costa Concordia at Giglio

Divers searching the Costa Concordia have found eight more bodies, including that of a 5-year-old Italian girl, onboard the semi-submerged cruise ship.

Obituary: Kinta Beevor

Kinta Beevor inherited her strong character from the distaff side but it was not until she was in her eighties that she followed her many ancestresses into print. Her A Tuscan Childhood was published in 1993 and is now a Penguin paperback.

The 7.15 at Siena

Next Wednesday evening, the Palio hits the piazza. Report by Michael Sheridan. Photographs by Francesco Cito

BOOK REVIEW / A heart of stone: 'The Marble Kiss' - Jay Rayner: Macmillan, 12.99 pounds

THIS energetic, well-written first novel divides its narrative between a Tuscan hill town in the 15th century and 1980s Florence. As with Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, it juxtaposes an animated portion of history with the obsessive, often misguided efforts of interested parties in the present day to tell a ripping good yarn. It also raises deeper questions: Has humanity really changed in 500 years? What on earth is history?

Florence murder trial opens

ROME - A farm labourer went on trial yesterday accused of being the 'monster of Florence', the serial killer who preyed on courting couples in the countryside around the city, murdering 16 people in 17 years, writes Fiona Leney.

Gelli's assets seized

AREZZO - An Italian judge yesterday ordered the seizure of assets alleged to be worth 16.5bn lire (pounds 6.5m) from Licio Gelli, former head of the banned Propaganda Due (P2) masonic lodge, who is free pending appeal against an 18-year prison sentence.

Siena horses finish unscathed

The medieval Palio of Siena horse race, the focus of controversy in July when three thoroughbreds had to be put down after heavy falls, was run yesterday without further losses, Reuter reports from Siena.

The lean at Pisa is a little less

THE LEANING Tower of Pisa is setting a timely example to Italian politicians - after 800 years, it is beginning to straighten itself up, writes John Shirley.

Letter: Brighten our summer

Sir: A visit to Tuscany, where the fireflies were firing away on all cylinders, prompts me to suggest that the pleasures of the English summer would be enhanced by the sight of fireflies here.

BOOKS / Hothouse blues: James Hamilton-Paterson lives in Tuscany, but not in Chiantishire. Reclusive, publicity-shy and unpredictable, he has yet to find a wide audience. But at least one admirer thinks him 'our best writer by far'

IF THERE is a corner of Italy that is forever England, it can be found in a small, neatly arranged, classically Tuscan house perched like an eagle's nest a very long way up an Apennine. In it lives one of our most original writers.

DRINK / Good buys

LAST WEEK I mentioned an unusually aromatic, modern Spanish dry white, the Rueda 1992 Sauvignon Blanc made by the Lurton Brothers. Now Sainsbury's is stocking it, too, as well as Oddbins, and at the same price, pounds 3.99.

ART / Win a trip to Ruskin's Tuscany

Independent readers are offered the chance to win a trip for two to Florence, flying Air UK from Stansted and staying for two nights at the luxury Hotel Medici. Answer the three questions below:

At base camp on the Siena trail: Battling against determined mice in their hill-top tent, Chris Arnot and his family still managed to enjoy a holiday in Tuscany

HE WORE a Union Jack T-shirt, tight denim jeans and Doc Martens. Not the usual Tuscany uniform. He lifted the lager to his lips and his tattoos came into view. I could just make out the words 'Mad Dog'. In English.

BOOK REVIEW / Piero della Francesca : 'Piero della Francesca' - Ronald Lightbown: Abbeville Press / John Murray, 60 pounds

A detail from The Battle of Chosroes, the Defeat of the Persians, and Chosroes Executed before his Throne, c1454-58, by Piero della Francesca. This battle scene, from the chapel of San Francesco in Arezzo, is taken from Piero della Francesca by Ronald Lightbown (Abbeville Press / John Murray pounds 60), the best of the books published to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Piero's death. Majestically illustrated, it follows the artist's progress, from the 'fused suavity' of his first altarpiece to the luminous final Nativity. The easy command of historical context is matched by scholarly contention: 'Clark's criticism misapprehends the Virgin's action - she is not kneeling, but bowing in humble acceptance.'
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

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Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

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From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

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A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

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