What's on tap: Music venue, holiday village

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NEW YORK -- Several new developments distinguish Italian tourism this summer:

• Rome got its first new major music venue in decades with the debut of the $140 million, 592,000-square-foot Auditorium Parco della Musica, or Music Park Auditorium, in the exclusive Parioli-Flaminio quarter.

The auditorium and park complex -- which took seven years to construct -- consists of three domed concert-hall venues of varying sizes around a 3,000-seat, open-air theater space known as the "cavea."

A small, 700-seat hall hosts chamber music groups and plays; a 1,200-seat hall stages orchestral performances and ballets; and the largest, 2,800-seat hall hosts symphonies.

In addition, some 430,000 square feet of new garden and public space was constructed. The cavea, gardens and foyer of the complex are open to the general public on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For an entrance fee of about $7.25, visitors can view two on-site exhibitions, including a photo essay on the construction of the complex, while guided tours of the concert halls are available for about an additional $1.80.

For performance information, visit www.musicaperroma.it, which features an online ticketing function. The auditorium also can be contacted directly at (011) 39-068 069-2492 or (011) 39-06 487-2310, or by e-mail at [email protected]. Tickets also can be purchased on site at the auditorium at Via de Coubertin 15.

• Elsewhere in Rome, lightning severely damaged the 1,700-year-old Axum Obelisk, knocking hunks of stone from the 78-foot-high pillar.

The obelisk -- moved to Rome from Ethiopia by Benito Mussolini during World War II -- stands next to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization headquarters at the Piazza de Porta Capena.

• Farther north, the Italian Riviera town of Alassio becomes a "holiday village" this summer, with daily entertainment and sporting events scheduled for the city center and local beaches from June 15 to Sept. 15.

Admission, set at about 90 cents, also entitles visitors to discounts in shops, restaurants and hotels, as well as at the nearby Genoa Aquarium; proceeds go to local charities.

A hospitality center in the town square of Piazza della Liberta will coordinate activities, organize gastronomy tours and keep visitors up to date on "village" events.

For more information, contact the Italian Government Tourist Board at (212) 245-5618 or at www.italiantourism.com.

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