Henry James at the end of the 19th C. wrote  of his disdain for tourists in Venice  “Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice, there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.”  It now seems in the 21st C. things have deteriorated even more. As with Barcelona, the magnetism for tourists, has in the season, brought the city to the brink of a standstill. To bring some order to the chaos, the 2019 Budget for Italy allows the city to charge  a visitor 12 Euro to enter Venice if they are not staying the night: the same charge will apply to cruise-ship passengers who are sleeping aboard. Turnstiles have also been installed to regulate entry into the city, restricting it to residents and those staying in hotels. The Mayor has also proposed extending the ban on sitting or lying on pavements or monuments (as already exists for St Mark’s Square), to other areas, backed up by fines for transgression ranging from 80-800 Euro.



The award winning film Gomorrah (2008) brought to prominence the activities of the Neapolitan crime syndicate the Camorra: the film being based on Roberto Saviano’s book Camorra. The book and film outraged the mobsters and a “contract” was placed for Saviano, so for nearly  a third of his 36 years he has been unable to go anywhere without an armed elite police protection unit, and if he visits his home city, he must sleep in the Naples Police Station.

Camorra was  “documentary fiction”, but in his latest book The Piranhas, due out in the UK in September, Saviano uses the novel format to explore the emergence of teenage Camorra gangs. Youths between 14-18 armed at times with Kalashnikovs, carry out public shootings as they attempt  to wrestle the drugs trade from the old guard Mafiosi who are  much weakened by the successes of the Anti-Mafia Directorate in the last decade.


On March 15th, SAIS Member Marilyn Vio will recount the story of the S.S. Arandora Star. See Noticeboard for details.

On April 6th there is a tour of Romsey lead by the erudite an amusing Andrew Negus. There has been an Abbey with a community of nuns at Romsey since the 8th C. In the 11th C. the Normans  established the current Abbey which escaped the Dissolution of the Monasteries and is arguably the finest example of its type in the country.


Dr Niamh Curran from Southampton University was due to talk to us about the fundamental sociological and political changes in Italy after WW2. However, her circumstances have changed and she is no longer at Southampton. We are in the process of arranging a replacement event and will notify you in due course.




Umberto Boccioni: “Nudo di spalle” (Nude from behind)


Olio su tela (Oil on canvas), cm 60 x 55.2 1909



Rovereto, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto.

Umberto Boccioni was one of the most prominent and influential artists among the Italian Futurists, an art movement that emerged in the years before the First World War. In this painting he portrays his mother, a frequent subject in Boccioni’s art.



Lucio Dalla: “4 MARZO 1943” (version with English subtitles)

One of Lucio Dalla’s most beloved songs, which originally had to be called “Gesubambino”, but which due to the censorship took the singer’s date of birth as a title, and was not allowed to compete at the Sanremo Festival .




The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

Jhumpa Lahiri (Edited by)

This landmark collection brings together forty writers that reflect over a hundred years of Italy’s vibrant and diverse short story tradition, from the birth of the modern nation to the end of the twentieth century.

Poets, journalists, visual artists, musicians, editors, critics, teachers, scientists, politicians, translators: the writers that inhabit these pages represent a dynamic cross section of Italian society, their powerful voices resonating through regional landscapes, private passions and dramatic political events

This wide-ranging selection curated by Jhumpa Lahiri includes well known authors such as Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante and Luigi Pirandello alongside many captivating new discoveries. More than a third of the stories featured in this volume have been translated into English for the first time, several of them by Lahiri herself.



mimosa cocktail

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day or, as it’s more commonly called in Italy, la Festa della Donna, where the importance of women is celebrated by the giving and receiving of mimosa blossom. Historians cannot agree when and why the act of giving mimosa began, but there is documented evidence that men in Rome on March 8, 1946, gave the fragrant flowers to their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters as a sign of love and appreciation.

Nowadays, women also hand the flowers to other women as a sign of solidarity. It’s not unheard of for the woman sat behind the counter of the local post office or on the supermarket checkout to be given sprigs of mimosa by female customers as an expression of respect.


Inspired by this you will find a recipe for a Mimosa Cocktail! Visit the recipe page on our website.

A presto