Hidden Campania

I'm going on a one week self-drive holiday around Italy's Campania region this June. What attractive and interesting places well off the beaten track would you would recommend visiting in this region?

Caroline O'Reilly

Dublin

The travel editor replies: Parts of Campania's coastline rate as amongst the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, this beauty is reason that hordes of tourists flock here in the summer months - which means that just about every attractive and interesting place is on the beaten track. My advice is to turn your back on the coast and head inland where there are a few gems - namely Capua, San Leucio and Benevento - that remain relatively untainted.

Capua is a proud, two-faced town - in the best sense of the term. The "modern" part was founded in the ninth century, while the older one dates from the Dark Ages. Both sections are full of charm and interesting nooks and crannies. The town's chief glory is the second largest amphitheatre in Italy. Although few sections of the stand remain intact, the underground network of tunnels and trap doors remain to give a real flavour of the past.

San Leucio, just 10 miles east of Capua, is a sleepy village with plenty plenty of peeling cinnamon-coloured stucco. It's a great place to watch the rural world go by and enjoy a few glasses of the local wine from the shade of a parasol. But if you want a sight to head for, look no further than nearby Caserta, which is home to the 18th century Reggia di Caserta, the biggest palace in Italy and one of its most grand.

The main reason for venturing out to Benevento is to visit the town's many historic buildings that date back to 200AD - and have the scars to prove it. There's an old Roman theatre, the remains of an 8th century Benedictine abbey, an obelisk dating from the Napoleonic era and a Duomo that was heavily bombed during the war.

In addition, Benevento is so remote as to be probably as far off the beaten track as you'll want to go.

How best to see a lot of Australia in a very short time?

My husband and I would like to see a lot of Australia in a short time. How should we go about planning our trip?

A Carter

Witney

The travel editor replies: If you're constrained by time, your best bet is to try and organise as much of your holiday as possible before you leave home. Otherwise, you may spend two or three days sorting out many of the essentials when you get there, or worse still, you may find that flights, hotels, tours and attractions are booked up.

There are a number of companies offering everything from basic car hire to tailor-made packages and expert advice on travel in Australia. The ones listed below are approachable and welcome even tentative enquiries. All their advisers have travelled extensively, and so are well placed to make suggestions to suit your needs. Any itineraries they organise can be as flexible or as restrictive as you'd like.

Organising part or all of your trip through them will not only help ensure things runs smoothly, but it will also help you budget your money and shouldn't work out all that much more expensive than organising everything yourself.

Travelmood (tel: 0171 258 0280)

Bridge the World (tel: 0171 734 7447)

Travelbag (tel: 01420 887 24)

Quest Worldwide (tel: 0181 547 3322)

How important is it to take malaria medicines?

What is the situation regarding malaria in the Philippines and surrounding areas? Is it necessary to take medicine beforehand, or would it be OK just to take steps to avoid being bitten, or take a suppressant medicine just in case?

Juliette Fritsch

London

Larry Goodyer replies: It is worth checking the exact area to which you are travelling when inquiring about malaria prophylaxis, as this can vary greatly depending on where you are going.

In the Philippines there are a number of regions where no malaria prophylaxis whatsoever is required, including Manila and general urban areas. In rural regions below 600 metres, however, it is advisable to take chloroquine and proguanil. These tablets should be taken one week before you leave, whilst away and for four weeks on return. The chloroquine is taken weekly and the proguanil daily and care should be taken not to miss a dose. Both tablets can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription.

As no prophylaxis is 100 per cent effective, you should still take measures to avoid being bitten. Wear long shirts and trousers, particularly at night, apply insect repellents to exposed skin and sleep in a screened room or under a mosquito net.

The plug-in devices which vapourise a mat containing insecticide may also be useful. Malaria is not the only danger from mosquito bites as dengue fever has also recently been reported in Bacolod, about 300 miles south-east of Manila.

Apart from malaria, mosquitoes can carry other diseases of which you should be aware. Dengue fever is on the increase in Thailand and the mosquito species responsible tends to bite during the day. Japanese B Encephalitis is a risk when visiting some rural areas in the north, but is only a problem between May and October.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181-889 7014) which specialises in catering for travellers' medical needs.

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