Something to Declare: Talking Italian

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The Independent Travel

Bargain of the week: for Florence, aim for Pisa

Amerigo Vespucci airport is just three miles from the centre of Florence, but inconvenient for the low-cost airlines; their planes are too big to land there. As a result, , the only direct services from the UK are from Gatwick on Meridiana (020-7839 2222; www.meridiana.it), the airline founded by the Aga Khan. Fares on this service tend to be high; for next weekend, the best fare you can expect is £277 return.

It is usually much cheaper to fly to the self-styled "Pisa Florence" airport, 50 miles west of Florence but within walking distance of the Leaning Tower (right). You can fly there from Stansted on Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com), from Birmingham on MyTravelLite (08701 564 564, www.mytravel-lite.com) and from Gatwick and Manchester on British Airways (0845 77 333 77; www.ba.com).

Trains run direct from the airport to the centre of Florence every hour or so (though with an annoying gap between 10.13am and 1.31pm), taking 70 minutes.

Warning of the week: driving into danger in Italy?

Official travel advice from a number of governments suggests that motoring in Italy is not for the faint-hearted. The US State Department, for example, warns that "streets in cities are often narrow, winding and congested; lane markings are often non-existent; traffic lights are limited and often disobeyed". On autostrade, it says, "commercial and individual drivers travel and pass [overtake] on these well-maintained roads at very high speeds. Accidents in which excessive speed is a contributing factor do occur."

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs warns against keeping valuables in vehicles: "Car thefts occur at gas stations and on highways. Thieves often work in pairs or groups. One or more will distract the victim while another steals."

An alternative to driving is the Trenitalia Pass, a ticket offering unlimited travel on a certain number of days within two months. The top price, for 10 days of first-class travel, is £258. In second class, it is £208. For four days of travel in a two-month period, the price falls to £159 in first, £129 in second. You can choose other durations, from five to nine days, at pro-rata fares. Travellers under 26 get a discount of around 25 per cent on the second-class fares. Buy the pass upon arrival at main stations, and at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

Destination of the week: Turin

Risotto and chianti are as much part of Turin as the Fiat car company and Juventus football team, yet this handsome former capital of Italy is often overlooked in favour of other cities. The most startling sight is the Mole Antonelliana, a 500-foot skyscraper resembling a cross between the Chrysler Building in New York and the Sagrada Familiar in Barcelona. It houses the National Museum of Cinema (00 39 011 81 25 658; www.museonazionaledelcinema.it).

Equally impressive is the Egyptian Museum, which includes an entire temple hewn from the rock. The most celebrated relic of all, the Shroud of Turin, is back on show in the cathedral; decide for yourself if this cloth wrapped Christ's body after the crucifixion.

Fly from Birmingham on British Airways (0845 77 333 77; www.ba.com), and from Stansted on Ryanair (0871 246 0000; www.ryanair.com).

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