**Cultural Tourism Flourishes in Italy’s Campania Region This Summer (Free Italy Travel Advice)**

The region of Campania, the area encompassing Naples and the renowned
Amalfi Coast, has planned an array of gala summer events to prompt American
tourists to come explore the area, in a year when the weak dollar and uncertain
economic forecasts have been less than encouraging auspices for prospective
tourists from the United States. As a way to bring these special offerings to
the attention of U.S. residents, the government of Campania has also programmed
a series of cultural events to take place in key U.S. cities as an additional


In Italy, it is now widely recognized that “cultural tourism” can
be one of the most effective ways to attract the well-heeled traveler. In this
vein, Campania has opted to partner with major U.S. arts institutions and important
musical organizations, including the National Gallery of Art and the Center
for Musical Studies in Washington, D.C. to present a year-long program of lectures,
concerts, and seminars celebrating the “Golden Age of Naples,” entitled:
“The 18th Century Re-Discovers the Ancient World.”

These events kicked off last November at the National Gallery of Art and the
Italian Embassy with an exhibit of original 18th century musical manuscripts
(on loan from the Naples Conservatory) and a series of concerts presenting the
works of Neapolitan composers, featuring both Italian and American musicians.
More recently, the spring program continued in Philadelphia and Washington,
D.C., with a seminar in Philadelphia on March 29th, on “Discovering the
Cultural Legacy of Campania in the Summer of 2008.” In Washington, on
April 5th and 6th, a presentation on the San Carlo Opera Theater summer season
at the famous Roman Baths of Baia in Campania was complemented by a
slide lecture given by Georgetown University Musicologist, Dr. Anthony DelDonna,
on “Naples, Antiquity, and 18th Century Opera,” followed by evening
concerts at Strathmore Hall and the National Gallery, featuring Italian composers
from the Baroque period, performed by early music chamber ensembles.


These events are also intended to set the stage for the blockbuster exhibit
on Pompeii, the lead exhibit this autumn at the National Gallery, considered
the jewel of the extensive line-up of museums and art galleries in the nation’s
capital. Opening at the Gallery with much fan-fare in October, “Pompeii
and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples,” will include
a rich array of art works and artifacts from the region of Campania and the
vast excavation sites of Pompeii.

The “Discover Campania” celebration continues through the summer
season with ongoing musical events and special tours of the world-renowned monuments
and historic sites of the area, such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Capodimonte
Museum and the many historic abbeys and libraries that make this region one
of the cultural epicenters of the world, giving credence to the oft-repeated
observation that Italy possesses two-thirds of the world’s cultural treasure

Visitors will have the rare opportunity to visit the excavations of Pompeii
by moon-light in the month of June or attend sun-rise concerts on the stage
overlooking the sea at the Ravello Music Festival throughout July and August.
A stand-out event in Naples takes place on July 2, when the historic Piazza
del Plebiscito
, the heart of the old city, will provide a dramatic setting
for a landmark open-air performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with
Zubin Mehta conducting the orchestra and chorus of the San Carlo Theater.

Other musical offerings include a full month of concerts presented by the
Amalfi Coast Music & Arts Festival (July), featuring chamber music, piano,
and vocal concerts in Maiori, Minori, Amalfi, and Vietri sul Mare. Festival
highlights include performances by the internationally renowned Fine Arts Quartet,
the Atlanta Chorus, the East West Jazz Ensemble, and concert productions of
Pucccini’s operas: “Gianni Schicchi” and “Suor Angelica.”

Another series of classical music concerts takes place in Naples at the historic
Music Conservatory of San Pietro Majella (July 20 to 25) as part of the annual
conference of the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML). More
contemporary music (rock, pop, jazz) can be heard during the Cornetto Free Music
Festival (Piazza del Popolo), also in Naples.

On the museum circuit, one of the most interesting exhibits in Campania this
summer is devoted to the Italian baroque painter and print-maker, Salvator Rosa
(“Between Myth and Magic”), already underway through June at the
Capodimonte Museum, which rises majestically above the hill-sides of Naples.
Other noteworthy museums in Campania offering special tours or exhibits include
the Royal Palace of Naples, the Abbey of San Loreto (Mercogliano),
the San Lorenzo Maggiore Complex and the Museum of the Treasures of San Gennaro,
both in Naples, as well as the Museum of the Grand Tour (Carpaccio)
and the Library of Giambattista Vico (Valtolla).

The Ravello Music Festival (June through October) has expanded its traditional
symphonic and chamber music offerings with an emphasis on the music of Wagner,
to embrace an integrated program of dance, film, and literary events. Highlights
this summer include the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Prague Philharmonic
Orchestra, the extraordinary percussionist, Evelyn Glennie, an array of Jazz
concerts, and the European debut of the Taipei Dance Forum with choreography
by Wen Chung Lin.

Last but not least: not to be missed by aficionados of cultural tourism are
the temples of Paestum, stunning examples of classical Greek architecture, and
the ruins of Herculaneum, an ancient Roman town, buried at the same time as
Pompeii, where a greater quantity of original art work and artifacts is still
in place.