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<i>IoS</i> letters, emails & texts, 24 August 2008

The prohibitions and rules in force in Rome are no different from those in the other great European capitals with regard to the respect due to monuments, piazzas, art, archeological sites and, above all, to people ("Tourists beware: if it's fun, Italy has a law against it", 17 August). The provisions I adopted before the summer holiday were intended not to prohibit normal behaviour, but to prevent loutishness and arrogance from damaging the city's treasures, creating insecurity and annoying both citizens and tourists.

Visitors will certainly not be banned from eating a panino or consuming a drink in front of a sacred place, but they will not be allowed to litter the ground, set up little campsites or behave in ways that disturb others.

Genoa, Venice, Florence and Assisi have had similar provisions for some time. I don't believe that thoughtless behaviour would be tolerated, in the UK's capitals of art and culture, such as London, Edinburgh or Bath.

Gianni Alemanno

Mayor of Rome

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary seems confused about what the airline industry carries ("Cheep and cheerful", 17 August). He asks, "will you stop buying kiwi fruit in Sainsbury's because they've been flown half-way round the world?" Only an idiot would fly in kiwi fruit as air freight is many times more expensive than sea transport per ton carried. Air transport also produces over a hundred times more CO2 per ton/kilometre than shipping.

Jeremy Harrison

The Chamber of Shipping, London EC1

Charles Darwent comments that Henri Matisse's great triptych mural The Dance II (1932-33) will remain at the Merion campus, with a copy in the galleries of the Barnes Foundation's new education complex in central Philadelphia (The New Review, 16 August). In fact, the original will accompany the rest of the teaching collection that it was created to complement, and a full-scale digital reproduction will probably replace it at Merion. Mr Darwent also reports that, on discovering he had miscalculated its dimensions, Matisse cut the mural to pieces and reassembled its parts. He actually started on a new version for Barnes. The first version is in Paris, in the Musée d'Art Moderne.

Derek Gillman

President and Executive Director, The Barnes Foundation Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sarah Sands recognises the value of home grown organic produce but sees mass-produced genetically modified crops as being essential for everyone without access to an allotment (24 August). Surely everyone should have quality food which really nourishes them. She then goes on to argue that GM crops are needed to feed the growing world population.

The only way to feed the world is by developing small-scale, sustainable, mixed farming systems managed by local farmers and their communities. This more traditional approach is also more cost-effective, since fertilisers and pesticides become unnecessary and food miles are negligible. Healthy conditions will produce top quality food, and a smaller yield of quality food will be more satisfying than a larger quantity of mediocre food.

Bernard Jarman

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Sarah Sands was irritated by the woman at her local swimming pool who sipped water after each length (24 August). Perhaps the swimmer, like me, has to take drugs for pain management, a side effect of which is dehydration. I have to carry water everywhere.

Valerie Lillie


Last weekend we saw Rebecca Adlington become the first female swimmer to win two gold medals for 50 years, a fantastic row by the coxless four, and three medals in the indoor cycling. So I was baffled by your front page photo and headline "Radcliffe's brave bid ends in misery" (later editions, 17 August). Couldn't we have had a positive front page?

Kate Bradley

via email

Geoffrey Wheatcroft is right to highlight the contrast between David Cameron and the former Tory foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind in their response to Russia's attack on Georgia ("Why are we pretending we would fight for Georgia?", 24 August). However, the hawkish tone of Cameron's support of Georgia and his self-dramatising dash to Tbilisi should not be taken seriously – they are merely PR to look tough and bid for Rupert Murdoch's support.

Christopher Clayton

Waverton, Cheshire

I find it disconcerting that a thoughtful paper such as yours should devote its front page to the British successes at the Olympics (earlier editions, 17 August). I congratulate all our competitors, but recall Juvenal's comment on the modern citizen: "Only two things does he anxiously wish for – bread and circuses."

Geoff Evans

Newcastle upon Tyne

Save a rare breed – eat it

Britain is home to many species of endangered rare breed cattle, which are part its history and heritage ("Eat British veal with a clear conscience, says RSPCA" 17 August). Without consumers to buy the meat, the keepers dedicated to the survival of these breeds would be unable to afford to raise such cattle. The purchase of rare breed beef ensures that native cattle such as my Red Polls are not lost for ever, and many of these animals are used for conservation grazing – an oft-ignored environmental benefit.

Huw Rowlands

Mickle Trafford, Chester

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