Something to Declare: On the rails around Italy, Valerio Catullo, Staying safe in Italian cities

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The Independent Travel

Destination of the week: On the rails around Italy

Verona to the Brenner Pass and Domodossola to Locarno – those are the highlights of the Italian rail network, according to the new March edition of the Thomas Cook European Timetable (£9.50). Both these trips are on the northern fringes of Italy. The first line is a 150-mile run to the Austrian border, just 22 miles short of Innsbruck; the second runs for 20 miles to the Swiss border, then continues for 12 more to the Swiss city of Locarno.

To reach Verona cheaply, read on...

Bargain of the week: Valerio Catullo for under £70

The Latin poet Valerio Catullo was born in Verona 21 centuries ago, and has bequeathed his name to the city's airport. British Airways, meanwhile has bestowed upon travellers to Romeo and Juliet's home town a fare of only £68.30 (including a £5 online discount, via www.ba.com).

This summer, the rest of northern Italy is better connected to the UK than ever before. Besides a new no-frills link on Ryanair (08701 569 569; www.ryanair.com), Avro (0870 036 0116; www.avro.com) has just announced a new link from Glasgow to Venice, flown by Monarch, and departing on Sundays from 5 May. Return flights start at £155.

Warning of the week: Staying safe in Italian cities

"Crowded tourist sites, public buses or trains, and the major railway stations, including Rome's Termini, Milan's Centrale, Florence's Santa Maria Novella, and Naples' Centrale" – those are the places you are most likely to get robbed in Italy, according to the US State Department. Beware, too, if you are using an internet café. The Americans go on to warn that "Elderly tourists who have tried to resist petty thieves on motor scooters have suffered broken arms and collarbones"

The Foreign Office warns of different hazards – and picks out Rome's number 64 bus, which goes to and from St Peter's Square. The FO also says: "Visitors should be particularly wary of groups of children (mainly girls) who try to distract your attention while you are being robbed."

Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls, authors of the Cadogan Guide to Italy, say that "The smallest and most innocent-looking child is generally the most skilful pickpocket. If you are targeted, the best technique is to grab sharply hold of any valuable possessions and shout furiously".

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