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

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor