Cruise ship has alleged close call in Venice

The row over the presence of giant cruise ships in Venice’s lagoon was reignited this weekend after claims that a huge vessel belonging to the same company as the wrecked Costa Concordia sailed dangerously close to St Mark’s Square.

Travel in 2013: Holidays for couples

What better reason do you need to take your loved one to the romantic city of Venice than to revel in the spruced-up interiors of the Gritti Palace (00 39 041 2961 2222; star, due to reopen in February after a major refurbishment?

De Pavant retires from Vendée Globe after colliding with trawler

Kito de Pavant became the second to retire from the Vendée Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race in the opening 48 hours after colliding with a fishing trawler 45 miles off the coast of Portugal. It was the second time he has been forced to withdraw from a race notorious for the rate of attrition.

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Scenes from an Execution, Lyttelton, National Theatre, London

“It's death to be understood,” declares Galactia, the 16th century artist-heroine of Scenes from an Execution. But the fact remains that this 1986 play is one of Howard Barker's most accessible and stringently witty works - a searching study of the fraught relationship between artist, patron, critic and political culture. 

Beastly Things, By Donna Leon

I went off Donna Leon several books ago – not enough plot, too much pasta, too much family stuff, above all, an excess of the tiresomely perfect Signorina Elettra, paragon of the Venetian cop-shop. But this is a return to form. Commissario Brunetti exerts himself with a lot more policing, plus the book is written with that depth of thought about crime and humanity that characterises the best of Leon's work.