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FC Barcelona Players: Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto’o, although he seems to have been playing at the top level for such a long time, was, in fact, born in March 1981 in Nkon, Cameroon. Seemingly followed by controversy, Eto’o signed for Real Madrid as a 16 year old and had, to put it mildly, a strange relationship with the club from then on.

Firstly, upon his arrival at Madrid airport, young Samuel was famously forgotten about – a young black African with no Spanish hanging around an airport; an inauspicious beginning. After uneventful loan spells at Leganés and Espanyol, the coltish-looking Eto’o found himself loaned out to Mallorca, where he really began to show off his credentials.

Scoring 54 goals, Eto’o became the islanders’ highest league goal scorer and developed a real affinity with the supporters there – and he famously scored a spectacular individual goal against Madrid in the Bernabeu! Eto’o enjoyed his relationship with Mallorca so much that, when they reached the Copa del Rey final in 2003, he paid out €30,000 on a meal for them!

At the end of his loan spell, the Real Madrid supporters were almost unanimous in their desire for Samuel to return to the capital and compete for the forward positions with Raul and Ronaldo. What followed was a summer of continuous speculation and argument and eventually, for €24 million, the player signed for Barcelona – something that still annoys many Real Madrid fans.

Since then, Eto’o has scored goals galore for the Catalan giants. In his first, championship-winning season, Eto’o scored 25 league goals, including the title-clinching strike at Levante. He reached 50 goals in just 67 matches – a club record.

In addition to wining African Footballer of the year a record three times in succession from 2003, Samuel was part of the Cameroon side that won the African Cup in 2000 and 2002 and was runner-up in 2008. Previously, he had been the youngest player, at 17 years and 3 months, in the 1998 World Cup. He was the pichichi, top goal scorer, in La Liga in 2005/06, when, of course, he scored an equalising goal in the Champions’ League final against Arsenal.

Controversy has never been far away, however. After winning the league in 2005, Eto’o made the mistake of singing an abusive song about Madrid during the on-pitch celebrations. He has also been famously outspoken in his denouncements of racial abuse chanted in grounds – even threatening to walk off during one league game at Zaragova. Furthermore, there were times during 2007/08 season when Samuel Eto’o seemed a very forlorn figure, when his relationship with some of the other players was not at its best. At the end of the season, it seemed that the club were determined to transfer Ronaldinho, Deco and Eto’o, the perceived bad influences at the club. Eto’o, though, with typical determination, was adamant that his future was still with Barcelona – and he has proved to be absolutely correct.

Samuel Eto’o is fast, two-footed, brave and a totally committed team player and arguably the best centre forward in modern football.

Top 10 Moments in Football History

10. Luis Figo, a world famous football star, who played for FC Barcelona from 1995 till 2000. He was arguably the fans’ most favorite player in FC Barcelona, until 2000. That’s when “it” happened, Barcelona’s biggest rivals, Real Madrid, decided to splash the cash and break the transfer list fees record by getting Luis to Real Madrid.

The move caused outrage among Barcelona fans, Madrid got him for a world record fee of 38 Million Pounds. And that’s when the fun begins, during the match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, when Luis Figo stepped up to take the corner kick, a pig’s head was thrown at him from Barcelona’s side. Another incident took place during the 2004 EURO Cup Final between Greece and Portugal. A Portuguese fan ran out on the field, managed to outrun the police, and heading towards Luis threw a Barcelona jersey at him, as the whole world was watching.


9. 1996 – African Challenge.

1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, The most surprising gold medals went to the hands of Nigerian football stars after they overcame Brazil in thrilling semi-finals, with a 4-3 score. The finals was between Argentina and Nigeria, well over 2 billion people were watching it, of course most of them thought that Argentina will have no problems getting the gold medal, but most of them were wrong. Argentina was in the driver’s seat after leading 1-0. The goal came on a 3rd minute, scored by Claudio Lopez, on the 28th minute Nigeria managed to equalize, as Babayaro scored a perfect finisher. So it was 1-1 on half-time. In the early second half Hernan Crespo gave Argentina the lead again and Argentina was on the way to get the gold medals, but “not so fast” said Amokachi as he scored the equalizing goal and again gave Nigeria hope. Match was almost over and everybody thought it was going to be decided by the penalty shoot out. 90th minute and Amunike gave the lead to Nigeria, it was a shock for Argentina, time was almost over, Argentina had no chance, so it ended with a final score 3-2. Nigeria won the gold medal, for the first time in Olympic Games history.


8. 1960, First ever UEFA European Football Championship (EURO) held in France. It was won by the USSR, beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in a tense final in Paris. It is however quite interesting to note that earlier in the competition Spain had withdrawn from its quarterfinal match against the USSR due to political reasons. As an interesting fact, USSR also scored the first goal in the EURO history, during the qualification games.


7. 1998/1999 English Premier League season, Manchester United got all trophies possible that season. They became the first ever team in football history to do so in one season. First they got the Premier League title, finishing first in the league table, then they took the F.A. Cup title by beating Newcastle United 2-0, and of course the most famous UEFA Champions League final, when United managed to come back from a 1-0 defeat, and score not one but two goals in an injury time beating Bayern Munich 2-1; it was considered to be one of the greatest comebacks ever witnessed.


6. 2002 World Cup, Korea/Japan. Korean fans will never forget that historic moment, when Guus Hiddink took them all the way to the Semi-Finals of 2002 World Cup. Korean national football team became the first ever Asian national football team to reach semi-finals of World Cup. Nobody expected the underdogs to go that far, as they beat Portugal 1-0 in a group stages, then a famous 2-1 win over Italy, drawing with Spain in a quarter-finals and then beating them 5-3 on penalties. In the end however they couldn’t take on Germany in semi-finals, and they lost 1-0. In the game for the third place Korean team met Turkey, but again they lost. Eventually the Republic of Korea finished 4th in the 2002 World Cup, which was still a great success for the country’s football team.


5. June 2003, Chelsea FC was bought by the Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich for a record fee of 140 million pounds. Back then it was the biggest sale of an English Football club. Straight away Roman wanted to make Chelsea the best and strongest club in the world. He began buying players for a record braking transfer fees. First season with a new owner Chelsea FC finished as a runner-up. But next year, the 2004/2005 English premier league season, Chelsea became champions of England, for the first time since 1954/1955 season. 2005/2006 Season they took the premier league trophy again as they were crowned the champions of England for the second time in a row. These 2 seasons were the most successful 2 years in the club’s history.


4. January 11th 2007. It was confirmed that David Beckham will be leaving Real Madrid to play for the United States “soccer” club, Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham’s decision was a shock to many, as one of the world’s best football players moves to United States of America, where “soccer” is not that popular. He was the first big player to enter Major League Soccer.


3. 6th February 1958, the Munich air disaster. It was the darkest day in Manchester United Football Club history. On the board of the plane was Manchester United football team along with the club supporters and journalists. 23 of the 44 passengers on board died. Captain James Thain, the pilot tried to take off twice, but both attempts were aborted due to engine surging. When a third take off was attempted, the plane failed to gain adequate height and crashed into the fence surrounding the airport and then into a house. Now every year on this day Manchester United holds a memorial to the people who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster.


2. 2006 World Cup Final produced one of the most famous moments in football history, when Zidane’s head-butted on Italian defender Marco Materazzi. It was Zidane’s last international appearance for the French national team and 3 billion people around the world were watching it. The next day newspapers all over the world were not writing about how Italy won their 4th World Cup title, but they were writing about how Zidane pulled the “stunt” on Marco. Definitely that was one of the biggest moments in the history of football.


1. Edison Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pele, the world’s most famous name in football. Football is probably the most famous sport in the world, and Pele is the man who made it what it is today. Pele made 669 appearances in club football, scoring 626 goals. He also made 92 appearances for Brazilian National football side and scored 77 goals. He made his first club appearance when he was just 15 years of age. He made his first international appearance for Brazil when he was 16, and won his first World Cup when he was just 17. Pele is hailed in Brazil as a national hero. The number one moment in football history is when Pele managed to score his first international goal for Brazil, just three month before his 17th birthday.


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The Amero: Should the US support a North American

I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve heard of this concept. I don’t know many of the details but I disagree that this ‘Amero’ could benefit North America. In 2004 I studied in Barcelona, Spain for about 6 months. I stayed with a host-mother the entire time and though the language barrier made it difficult for us to have in-depth conversations (I didn’t learn very much Spanish while I was there), we did discuss the Euro and how Spain was affected by it. I think it was brought up by a sad attempt of me asking her why she took in ‘host children’. She told me that since the Euro was worth much more than their previous form of currency, and no inflation occured after the switch, she needed another form of income to pay the rent of her apartment other than her full time job. Even so, as a tourist, I loved the idea of never having to worry about exchanging my cash when I traveled to other countries. But Europe is quite a bit differnt than North America. First off, there’s a form of transportation in Europe that literally connects almost every country. Secondly, the distance between each country is considerably smaller. If a European visits northern Canada, would they then spend however many hours it would take to travel to the US? And then to Mexico? I lived in Pennsylvania my entire life and only once traveled to Canada. I had no trouble with money because I used my check card to get cash or pay for meals. The same goes for my one and only trip to Mexico. If the main benefit of making an Amero that can be used anywhere in North America is convenience, then it doesn’t seem necessary to me.


YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BARCELONA TRAVELWelcome to the home of 1888 Worlds Fair and 1992 Olympics, the capital of Catalan region-a culture branded for its unique amalgam of Spanish and French mode of cooking. Known for its affluent culture and heritage, the city of Barcelona nestled on the shore of Mediterranean is of profoundly entrenched in the past.The Spectacular Art and ArchitecturesHolidaying at Barcelona will treat your eyes with some of the worlds finest and out of the ordinary archaic architecture that stands unrivaled and unsullied till date. It is the work of the superlative Spaniard architect Antonio Gaudi. Gaudies exclusive masterpiece work can be sighted at the church of Sigrid Familial, the six storey apartment of Casa Battle, Casa Mila also known as The Quarry-the multi family private residence that gives the impression of surging around the self same corner, Casa Vices-the summer villa outside Barcelona that is a perfect blend of traditional and innovative designs and last but not the least the Park Gull an urban setting project, a magnum opus of this genius. To intensify the magnificence of Barcelona, what waits ahead is the outstanding and exquisite work of Picasso. Picassos distinguished concerto is put on view at the Museum Picasso where wing of the museum parades Picassos take on Velazquezs famous Las Manias. The MNAC i.e. Museum National dart de Catalu±a displays an exotic collection of the work during Gothic and Renaissance era along with numerous other stupendous things like coins, medals, sculpture and carvings etc. but this is not all. A plethora of 20th century art and sculpture by prominent Joan Mire, Bolero, Asquint and Mother well can be treasured at the MACBA Meuse d Art Contemporaneous de Barcelona and Museum Foundation Joan Mire museums. Something more about BarcelonasThe months of June and July flicker with the celebration of the Fest de Greco-Barcelona arts festival, October and November have the onus for the international film festival and May is swarming with all the grand prix aficionados. You may choose any of these seasons and even apart from these to marvel at the exquisiteness of Barcelona. The accommodations are conveniently available suiting to your pocket. There are some good hotels at Sur Diagonal, Example, Bari Gothic etc. and luxury villas t spoil your self on the countryside. Barcelona on the streets of Spain has not scaled heights demographically. The thin population of les than two million, the city permits you to liberally roam around everywhere without much hurly burly. On your vacation to Barcelona do not leave untouched the Ceuta Vela-the old city that nests in the midst of Barcelona that speaks of its rich Gothic architecture of medieval times and a memorable march on the pedestrian street of La Ramble that grounds vibrant markets and street entertainers. The nightlife can be savored in the relatively solitary area of Garcia near the middle of Barcelona that also possesses the coveted Gaudies project of Casa Vices. Let the water caress and pamper your body at the beaches of Little Barcelona or Barcelonese and let your mouth relish the succulent seafood served here in Little Barcelona. A breath of air along the contemporary urban development project-Example where a grid is made with a garden adjacent to each block is unquestionably meaningful.Once you step into this massive city that is bifurcated into numerous districts and zones, you will have no snag in getting around. From metros, buses and trains to rental cars all are at your service. To the budget travelers it is advisable to take a special Barcelona Card that permits you free entry and discounts on hundred renowned venues along with priceless public transportation. sSo are you ready to be bedazzled by the Barcelona curves and curvatures?Did you find this article useful? For more useful tips and hints, points to ponder and keep in mind, techniques and insights pertaining to traveling, do please browse for more information at our websites.swww.infozabout.comswww.traveling.infozabout.com

Andorra Real Estate 2007 Gets Tax Haven Boost

More demand for residency in the European tax haven of Andorra has increased significantly in recent years, as rival tax haven Monaco has seen her property prices rise significantly.

And while property prices in Andorra have increased significantly as well, particularly in the last three years, it started from a much lower base than Monaco, and a property in Andorra still costs less than a quarter of that of Monaco.

The lowest price property in Andorra is currently a 38m2 studio apartment at 145,000 Euros, while in Monaco a 30m2 studio with a 7m2 balcony is on the market for 720,000 Euros.

Similarly, a three bedroom two bathroom 100m2 apartment in Andorra’s prime ski village of Soldeu is being marketed at 395,000 Euros, while in Monaco 2,500,000 Euros is being asked for a slightly larger 108m2 two bedroom apartment in the Fontvieille district of the principality.

As well as lower cost property, Andorra has the added advantage over Monaco of lower closing costs – while Monaco is in double digits Andorra’s is around six per cent.

One of the reasons for Monaco’s soaring property prices has been the lack of new buildings and properties in recent years. Although some new building is currently taking place, the apartments will be for Monaco citizens rather than incoming residents, ensuring key workers can live as well as work in their home country.

A new island is planned to be built off Monte Carlo which will add housing stock for new residents, but this could be as much as ten year before it is ready.

The tax benefits of Andorra compare very well Monaco, with private banking, income and inheritance tax at zero, security and privacy achieved for high net worth individuals in both.

Buying a property in Andorra is often seen as a route to residency, which entitles people to live in Andorra and benefit from her tax haven status. Many potential buyers stay in one of the hotels in Andorra while on a property inspection trip.

To obtain residency in Andorra, applications need to be submitted in Catalan. A notarised copy of the applicants passport, birth certificate and a certificate of good conduct from the home country are submitted at the same time. According to local travel guide YourAndorra.com residency normally takes between three and six months to be approved.

Once residency is granted, residents are supposed to spend six months a year in Andorra, but this isn’t policed.

One of the drawbacks for those looking to become a resident in a tax haven when considering Andorra has been that the country has no airport of its own, and is unlikely to have ine future given that it is located in the Pyrenees. The nearest airports are Barcelona and Toulouse.

Recent improvements in the road from Barcelona to Andorra though have cut the travelling time by some thirty minutes to two hours fifteen minutes from Barcelona airport to Andorra’s capital, Andorra la Vella.

Stay safe in Barcelona!

A lot of tourists are heading to mainland Europe, visiting cities such as Barcelona, Rome and Paris as opposed to the previously more popular destinations on the coast. However, you must stay safe when abroad, as there are a lot of risks of going to big cities like these, namely crime. Here are some tips to help you avoid pick-pocketing in these major places:

• Wear your normal clothes, to avoid ‘standing out’. There are a lot of tourists that go about wearing football shirts or other branded goods – these simply identify you as an easy target.
• Keep maps and guidebooks out of sight. These again will identify you as a tourist, and if you have bought some Barcelona tickets for a football match, keep these concealed.
• Wear your bag on your front. Known as a ‘bum bag’ in the UK or a ‘fanny pack’ in the USA, this allows you to keep your belongings safer by having them in full sight as opposed to on your back.
• Avoid physical contact. Some people might “accidentally” bump into you whilst slipping a hand into your pocket or handbag. A lot of collisions will probably be very innocent and accidental, but be wary anyway.
• Avoid street games. Many of these will appear entertaining, but some will just be a con or set up to attract your attention whilst people eye up your belongings.
• Don’t carry all your belongings around with you at the same time. Just carry as little cash as possible, with a little more in case of emergencies. Using your credit card can be the most secure method because if you lose it then you can ring your bank and cancel it immediately.
• Avoid using public transport. When possible, book the trip with your travel operator as you will be surrounded by other tourists and also have a guaranteed way of getting to and from your destination.

Euro Tax Haven Property Prices Climb Again For 2007

One of Europe’s best kept secrets and hardly known outside of the skiing and financial communities, the small European tax haven of Andorra has seen some startling rises in her property values in the last two years, with a repeat performance in 2007 possible.

In 2005 property inflation hit 19 per cent, and in 2006 the official property inflation reached sixteen per cent, and according to Andorra real estate specialists Tribune Properties 2007 is likely to see a further ten per cent rise.

‘There are three streams of buyers for Andorra’, say Tribune, ‘An active local market, second home buyers looking for ski apartments, and international buyers who want to gain residency in a tax haven. The international buyers add pressure on prices and often buy three or four bedroom apartments and chalets, making sure that the top end of the market is as active as the low and mid range properties.’

With a lack of snow for the first eight weeks of the Andorra ski holiday season, the second home buyers could be thinner on the ground than usual. The number of tourists is down by some fifteen per cent, and that could impact the property market as some visitors like it so much they buy a property in popular resorts such as Arinsal and Soldeu. So we feel a ten per cent rise in Andorra property values could be realistic for 2007.’

Andorra as a tax haven destination has been benefitting recently from the high cost of real estate in Monaco. Monaco recently became the most expensive country for property in Europe, and while a 32m2 studio in Monaco will cost close to a million Euros including the closing costs, Andorra offers over 100m2 three bedroom two bathroom apartments at less than half the price – with the same tax advantages as better known Monaco, bringing out a map of Andorra for many investors recently.

The different type of buyers tend to head for different areas of Andorra, with the ski apartment buyers tending to purchase in the key ski resorts of Soldeu and Arinsal.

Those looking for residency go more for the year round villages and towns which have a resident community.

Outside of the capital (la Vella) these tend to be La Massana and the upcoming village of Anyos, Ordino and Arinsal, although Arinsal’s nightlife during the ski season early December to late April tends to steer many newcomers to La Massana and Ordino.

Barcelona Hotels

In addition to attracting international buyers in increasing numbers for residency, the Andorra authorities have invested heavily in their ski infrastructure, boosting the country’s tourism potential and subsequently Andorra’s real estate market.

And for this year’s ski season Andorra has opened a new family friendly ski park in Arinsal, moving away further still from her old image of a cheap and cheerful ski holiday for 18-30 year olds to one that caters well for all.

One of the few drawbacks when taking residency in Andorra compared to Monaco has been access to a major international airport, as there is no Andorra Airport. While Monaco enjoys close proximity to Nice Airport, with a ten minute helicopter ride available, Andorra’s nearest airports have been Barcelona and Toulouse, three hours away, with no direct Andorra flights.

Recent road improvements between Barcelona and Andorra has cut this by thirty minutes, and there is a possibility of a scheduled helicopter service, Andorra weather forecast permitting, or more likely ten minutes from the Spanish Andorra border, allowing quicker access to international flights for business people considering Andorra residency.

Other improvements within Andorra include new tunnels, allowing quicker access to the ski fields, and driving around Andorra easier.

With more demand from international buyers who want to take advantage of Andorra residency, the Andorra government announced in February that it was increasing the number of residency applications from the previous 200 year a year to 500.

‘Andorra is becoming more popular among the international buyers’, comment local travel guide YourAndorra, ‘And with Monaco real estate prices sky high it comes as no surprise that the government has moved favourably by allowing more residents. But it’s not just the tax free living they come for – it’s the weather in Andorra as well for many who see the ideal opportunity to live in a tax free environment and enjoying winter sports on top.’

Best cities to visit in Europe – Part 3

PRAGUE, is without doubt the most amazing City I have ever been to.

During the last 4 years, I have been to Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Amsterdam and Athens, but Prague has that WOW factor around ever corner.

The best time to see the City is early in the morning, before the hoardes hit the streets, with their cameras. I mean early too, we went out with our cameras at 6:30.

We stayed close to Wenceslas Square, which is just a stone’s throw from the Stare Mesto, the old town. It is here that you will find the wonderful astrological clock, the old town square with it’s bar’s and restaurant’s. As I said go early if you don’t want photograph’s of other people’s head’s.

Cross the river on Charles Bridge, leading you into the area known as Mala Strana, which translates into ‘lesser quarter’. Then climb up the hill to Hradcany. It is here where you will be swept off your feet with buildings around the castle and St Vitis cathedral. The parliament buildings and embassies are on a scale of grandeur second to none that I ever seen.

Prague has a growing reputation for stag and hen parties,(bachelor parties) but we didn’t see too much of that. The reason for this is the cheap price of beer and food. The first bar we wandered into was out of the way, but, with a pint of ‘Svelte Bernerd’ at 22 crowns, about 55 english pence, it was a great place to start.

If you go you must try the bread dumplings and potato dumplings, mmmmm!

Because of the stag and hen parties, you will not struggle to find people who speak English. We found the locals pleasant, even the local hookers offered us breakfast with their usual offers. Of course we declined their offers of both. Or at least that’s what the wife thinks.

Again, if you choose to go, don’t do what we did and decide to go and visit the Jewish quarter on a Saturday. Not the best day of the week.

The price of flights to the Czech Republic from the UK is getting cheaper each year so please give this beautiful City a visit, you will not regret it and you will have memories and photographs to treasure for ever.

Monaco Overpriced Claim Disputed

A well respected US magazine recently claimed Monaco has the most overpriced real estate in the world, claiming the rental returns as part of their figures meant the tax haven’s property costs were unduly high.

In response a Monaco internet site says the American magazine are wrong, and have forgotten why Monaco’s property prices are high in the first place.

‘The error they made was comparing Monaco with places like Rome, Warsaw, Los Angeles and Vancouver, and they also overestimated closing costs. While admittedly high in Monaco at around 11 per cent, it’s not common to be 20 per cent that their research was based on.’

The comparison of 50 financial centres assumed the property was not a main residence and looked at rental returns – another error when calculating Monaco’s property prices according to the Monaco internet guide.

‘By law in Monaco rentals are a minimum of one year, so it’s obvious that rental returns are going to be less than places where weekly and six monthly rentals are possible. To gain residency in Monaco via renting the residency office needs evidence of a twelve month contract, so Monaco is in a unique position when compared to other leading financial centres.’

‘There is a shortage of available property in Monaco and high demand that shows no sign of slowing down – given all these factors we just think the US magazine’s analysis of the Monaco real estate scene has been done without taking local factors into consideration.’

Typical property prices in Monaco at the moment include a second floor studio apartment at 1,100,000 Euros, a one bedroom apartment in Monte Carlo at 2,150,000 Euros, and a three bedroom two bathroom apartment at 5,500,000 Euros.

As well as buying a property, to gain residency in Monaco a bank account needs to be opened in the Principality, with account opening deposits varying between 100,000 and 500,000 Euros.

One thing that could put the brake on the number of Brits looking to move to Monaco was announced after the magazine’s claims about Monaco real estate prices were published.

The amount of time British tax exiles can spend in their home country is being limited by the British government, and it could impact the British economy, claim a company who specialise in tax haven property and residency.

Up until now a British taxpayer could avoid paying income tax by taking residency in a tax haven such as Andorra or Monaco, and be allowed to spend 90 days a year in Britain before falling foul of the Iland Revenue. Importantly both the day of arrival and departure into the UK didn’t count as a day.

So technically, a tax exile living in Andorra could drive to Barcelona airport for a 7am flight to London, and given the hour’s time difference between Spain and the UK, be comfortably in an office working by lunchtime.

Equally, the same tax exile could leave the London office at 6pm Friday for Barcelona en route to Andorra – and importantly those five days in the UK would count only as three of their ninety day allowance as the day travelling to and from the UK aren’t counted. Which allowed business men and women to commute from the tax havens of Andorra and Monaco thirty weeks a year. Some would do Monday to Thursday and could do that virtually all year and still stay on the right side of the British tax man.

When in Rome Visit the Film Festival

While Rome, affectionately referred to as la Città Eterna (“the Eternal City”), is often visited due to its rich history, its stunning architecture or renowned cuisine, later this month from the 18th to the 27th of October, visitors can experience the Rome Film Festival. Although it is only in its second year, it has attracted a high number of private sponsors, and the City Council of Rome, in the name of the Mayor and film-buff Walter Veltroni, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region all strongly support it both in terms of institutional communication and economic investment.

The actual title of the festival in Italian is Festa, which could be translated as feast, not festival, and is apt, since it is more a celebration of the joy of cinema than a regular film festival. Indeed, though the Rome Film Festival’s jury includes a renowned director as its president, last year Ettore Scola, the rest of the 50 jurors are not film professionals but are, in fact, regular moviegoers selected both in Italy and Europe.

Although it enjoys fierce rivalry with the Venice Film Festival, The Rome Film Festival has attracted its own audience and this year will host the world premiere of 11 new films. Among the most exciting is ‘Youth Without Youth’ – Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film in a decade. The film is about a timid Romanian professor who becomes young again after being hit by lightning. The five-time Oscar-winning director wrote the film based on a novella by Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade and has been described as his “third renaissance” after ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’.

Coppola’s film appears out of competition, along with a number of American films exploring the political climate post 9/11. These include Robert Redford’s ‘Lions for Lambs’ and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition’. ‘Lions for Lambs’ stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep and tells the story of two soldiers wounded behind enemy lines in Afghanistan and the repercussions back home. ‘Rendition’ is about an American woman trying to track down her Egyptian-born husband, who is held at a secret CIA detention centre. It also stars Meryl Streep, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

The 14 movies in competition for the top Marcus Aurelius award for Best Film include ‘El Pasado’ (The Past), with Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, ‘Li Chun’ (translated as ‘And the Spring Comes’) from China’s Chang Wei Gu, ‘Barcelona (un mapa)’ (translated as ‘Barcelona, a Map’) by Spain’s Ventura Pons and Alain Corneau’s ‘La Deuxieme Souffle’ (translated as ‘Second Wind’), starring Monica Bellucci and Daniel Auteuil. Separate awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, as well as a special jury prize, will also be handed out.

In addition to the more mainstream fare, the festival also boasts dedicated sections for alternative productions and documentaries, children films, first films by new directors and the craft of acting.

Visitors wishing to experience the Rome Film Festival can take advantage of cheap flights to Rome’s two main international airports, Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, more commonly known as “Fiumicino airport”, and Ciampino International Airport. From either airport travellers can catch a train or bus or arrange private transfer to get to their final destination with ease. Hotels in Rome can be booked online in advance, which is recommended, especially due to the popularity of the festival. Last year’s inaugural edition attracted half-a-million visitors and this year is looking to top that.