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Seven weeks of la dolce vita

SCHOOLS are gearing up for the biggest festival of Italian culture held in Britain, starting this month.

"Italy In Every Sense" will be a seven-week nationwide celebration with 55 events - many relevant to the national curriculum.

Few countries have had more impact on life in Britain than Italy and the festival will reflect this in a series of concerts, films, exhibitions and other events.

Media students may want to take in a season of classic Vittorio de Sica films, including Umberto D (1952) and Bicycle Thieves (1948), which will run in Manchester, Nottingham and London, while modern Italian films will be shown at the 43rd London Film Festival from November 3 to 18.

Design and technology pupils at key stage 4 and above might benefit from an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London's Portland Place, where four top modern Italian designers will be speaking.

An exhibition at London's National Gallery on the Medici family's patronage of Renaissance Florence should be useful for key stages 1, 2 and 3. This runs from October 20 until the New Year and will feature artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Leonardo re-appears at London's Science Museum, where design students of all ages can see the work of a true Renaissance man. "The Art of Invention: Leonardo and Renaissance Engineers"demonstrates how Leonardo didn't just paint the Mona Lisa but was also an expert on hydrodynamics, anatomy and aeronautics, including a prototype sketch of the helicopter in his notebooks.

With the possible exception of Accidental Death of An Anarchist, Italian drama is not well known in Britain. This will be remedied by the appearance of Bologna's Teatrino Clandestino at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, and Lucca's Teatro del Carretto who will be performing Biancaneve (Snow White) in Belfast.

Italy's great operatic tradition, will be represented at the Wembley Arena by Verona's Arena company, who play in that city's enormous former amphitheatre.

As well as two Verdi spectaculars (Nabucco and Aida) the company will present Puccini's more intimate tear-jerker, Madama Butterfly, a good piece for young first-time opera-goers.

No celebration of Italy's contribution to the British way of life would be complete without a celebration of pizza, pasta and chianti, so part of the Wembley Arena will be turned into an Italian piazza for the opera festival.

Festival sponsors include Pizza Express, the Arts Council, Sainsbury's and the Comune di Napoli,

For further information about "Italy In Every Sense" telephone Askonas Holt Ltd on 0171 400 1700.

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