As the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, heads to Rome for a spot of lunch with Matteo Renzi on Wednesday, I've been sounding out Italian journalists, academics and apparatchiks about what we can expect from Italy's PM and David Cameron's supposed New Best Friend, as the Great EU Junckernaut rumbles ominously on...
As Cannes Film Festival opens in true style this week, I'm invited for afternoon tea with HRH Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, the grandson of the last king of Italy, and heir to their dynasty. The encounter left me charmed, shocked, impressed, but above all lost for words at how he, like Prince Harry, just wants to be one of the lads.
Start at Rialto Bridge to re-live heated conversations from The Merchant of Venice and experience the views this tourist trap offers over the city's canals. Take a trip to the area known as the 'Jewish Ghetto' and see one of the city's stunning synagogues, like the Levantine Synagogue, where Al Pacino prayed in the role of Shylock in the 2004 film.
The warm spring sunshine that has arrived across most of Britain is dividing opinion amongst the travel industry. Companies selling holidays in the UK are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Some were wondering if coverage of the floods in the West Country would kill off bookings for the season. How quickly we forget.
I find it hard to put my finger on the city or its people. Not quite Italian or Slavic, there is rude mixture of genetic throwback which makes the Venetians fiery and hot-blooded and saturnine and big faced. These resourceful, mercantile amphibians rule their intriguing and mysterious city with contempt and indifference to outsiders.