Tranquil haven: Villa in the Vineyard in Montelpar

Child's play: Alastair Sawday's top 15 family-friendly Italian stays

I am writing this from my desk in Bristol, with all the frustrations of introducing an article about such stunning places. There is not one place here that I would not give a wet weekend in England for – and if I had a young family, I'd be unable to resist.

All fuel is drained from stricken 'Concordia'

Authorities say they have removed all the fuel that was left aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off Italy.

Costa captain not wearing glasses, says first officer

The captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner was not wearing his glasses on the evening of the accident and asked his first officer to check the radar for him, the officer's lawyer said yesterday at a hearing held in the Tuscan city of Grosseto.

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio last month, killing at least 25

Costa Concordia voice recorder analysis may take months

The first evidence hearing into the January 13 shipwreck of the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia began today, with so many people trying to cram into an Italian courthouse it had to be moved to a nearby theater.

The Costa Concordia at Giglio

Divers find eight more bodies on Costa Concordia as police widen investigation

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.

Captain Schettino, who is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning his vessel

Cocaine found on cruise ship captain's hair

Experts and lawyers representing survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship want further drug tests on the ship's captain after the discovery of cocaine on the outside of a hair sample. A forensic analyst involved in the case reportedly described the finding as no more than a "marginal problem". The full test results given to investigators show that the drug was not found within his hair or in his urine, which would have indicated that he had used it.

Concordia officer saved by frying pan

The last person to be found alive on the wrecked Costa Concordia has revealed how he banged on the inside of the ship with a frying pan to attract attention.

The Death of King Arthur, By Simon Armitage

This is Simon Armitage's second shot at an alliterative epic. His Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007) was highly entertaining: perhaps more entertaining than this version of Morte Arthure, but only because Gawain contains more startling images. As a feat of re-telling, The Death of King Arthur is more remarkable and sustained. One single decision makes it: consistency of tense. Epic medieval poems switch from past to present in a way that jars modern ears. Armitage held to this in Gawain, but here chooses past tense throughout.

Woman's body found on cruise ship

Divers have found a woman's body in a submerged section of the grounded Costa Concordia, raising the death toll in the cruise liner tragedy to at least 12.

Costa Concordia search suspended as ship shifts

Divers searching the capsized Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia suspended work today after the vast wreck shifted slightly, but officials said they are hoping to resume as soon as possible.

When it's so much more than just a bed and some breakfast

Britain's bed and breakfasts have a reputation for querulous hosts, poky, tired rooms and nylon sheets, but – please sit down – they are actually the best in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia, leaves court in Grosseto yesterday

View from the bridge: the inside story of Italy's cruise disaster

Coastguard tapes and witness accounts paint damning picture of captain's dereliction

The Twenty One in Brighton

Rooms with a glowing review: Britain's B&Bs are best in the world

TripAdvisor's poll of visitors' comments shows UK has six of the top 10 places to stay

Costa Concordia captain 'defied orders'

Five more bodies were recovered from a shipwreck off Italy today as an audio tape appeared to expose the captain defying orders to return to his vessel.

Rescue workers inspect the Costa Concordia

Ship's captain was 'showboating', admits cruise firm

Coastguard increases number of missing passengers as Facebook message suggests 'saluting' of Italian island was planned in advance

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Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall