Something To Declare: Ferry to Flanders; expert Rome; music on the Danube; Italy's transport strikes

Bargain of the week: Ferry to Flanders

For the past five years, a shipping company called TransEuropa has been sailing between Ramsgate in Kent and Ostend on the coast of Flanders. It has focused on freight rather than passengers and cars, and has been largely invisible for most European travellers. But from next month, the energetic LD Lines company – which already sells crossings to Boulogne, Dieppe and Le Havre – will effectively take over marketing the operation. The Ostend Spirit – originally the Prins Filip, a Belgian ferry sailing between Ostend and Dover – will make the voyage twice daily, with a crossing time of four hours.

In order to promote the route, some very low fares are on offer – typically £45 return. Call 0844 576 8836 or visit .

To see the Independent Traveller film Twin Tracks: through the Cities of Flanders, featuring Ostend, Bruges and Antwerp, visit .

Tip of the week: Expert Rome

If our 48 Hours in Rome inspires you to visit the city, a leading British guide is offering a special Caravaggio walk to tie in with the new exhibition: James Hill (00 39 347 875 4486;

Destination of the week: Music on the Danube

"Matching music and place – that is the governing principle of this festival." So says the cultural tour operator Martin Randall Travel (020-8742 3355; ) about the 17th Danube Music Festival, which takes place 20-27 August. The firm has organised a river trip to celebrate the music of the Austro-Hungarian empire, including Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Smetana. Stops include Bratislava, Vienna and Linz.

The highlights are nine concerts in venues that are chosen because of their connections with the music. For example, at the Eszterháza palace in Fertöd, Hungary, the London Haydn Quartet will play several compositions that were first performed in the very same rococo hall of the palace.

Accommodation and transport is provided by a Danube river cruiser, the Amadeus Royal. The price of £2,900 includes flights from London to Munich, transfers and all meals with wine.

Warning of the week: Transport strikes in Italy

"Major pre-planned strikes" in the transport sector persuaded the Foreign Office to update its Italian travel advice this week. All sorts of aviation employees will be striking on Tuesday 16 February.

Meridiana pilots will take the whole day off, though the airline's cabin crew will strike only between 10am and 2pm. Alitalia pilots aim to take industrial action from noon to 4pm, while that carrier's cabin crew will withdraw their labour from 10am to 6pm. Eurofly staff in various posts will strike from noon to 4pm.

On Friday 19 February, attention switches to terrestrial transport. The Foreign Office warns of a "rail and general transport strike from 10am to 2pm".

Finally, handling staff at Milan's two main airports, Linate and Malpensa, plan to strike for 24 hours on 5 March.

More information, in Italian only, can be found on a page on the Ministry of Transport website: .