World Cup Brings Tourist Boom
ROME (AP) _ World Cup soccer fans have come to expect fancy footwork, but in Italy they will get it from the Bolshoi as well as Diego Maradona.
The world championship of soccer is also ballet, medieval feasts, a race between replicas of ancient oar-driven galleys and horseback rides along the scenic hunting paths of royalty.
″The World Cup is an opportunity to transmit, every day and to the whole world, an image of how much artistic and cultural richness our country possesses,″ said Paolo Arbarello, the director of tourims for the Lazio region that surrounds Rome.
During the tournament the Bolshoi theater will perform in Rome’s Colosseum, there also will be concert’s at the ruins of ancient royal baths in Rome, at the grand theater in Pompeii and the La Scala orchestra will accompany the opening ceremony on June 8 in Milan.
″Nobody has a crystal ball, but thanks to the World Cup we have been able to sponsor a series of events never done before,″ said Franco Cocquio, chief of the promotion section of Lombardy’s tourism office.
The 12 host cities want to use the World Cup to promote themselves, to call attention to Italy’s sandy beaches, mountain lakes, Renaissance churches, ancient excavations, wines, food, art and history.
Tourist cities such as Rome, Florence, Bologna, Naples and Verona want to take advantage of the crowds and the attention focused on the June 8 to July 8 tournament.
The other cities - Bari, Turin, Genoa, Milan, Udine, Cagliari and Palermo - focus their tourism strategies on regional characteristics they consider overlooked.
″Turin wants to bring back to life a classic day of celebration of the 17th or 18th centuries, which was the House of Savoy’s time of greatest glory in Euope,″ said Angelo Soria, a spokesman for the tourism office in the Piedmont region that borders on France.
Turin will host festivals and exhibitions at the country residences of the House of Savoy, a Piedmontese dynasty that ruled parts of south-central Europe since the Middle Ages, including the kingdom of Italy from 1861 to 1946.
Bologna, also concentrating on its history, plans a medieval feast on a square in the heart of the city. Neary Faenza will host the Palio del Niballo, a medieval horse race similar to the famous Palio di Siena.
Udine at the foot of the Alps in far northeast Italy will stage an exhibition on the civilization of the Lombards, a Germanic tribe that ruled the region from the 6th to the 8th centuries.
Bari, a capital of Puglia on the southern Adriatic coast, will give particular attention to 12th century emperor Frederick II of Saxony, sponsoring medieval feasts and horseback treks that trace the emperor’s hunting routes.
″The World Cup is useful not so much for the numbers of tourists but for creating an image of the city,″ said Carlo Arcolao, chief of Genoa’s tourism promotion department.
The city is focusing on its maritime past hoping to become the prime Italian tourist market for the Columbian celebrations in 1992, which mark the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by the city’s most famous son.
On the eve of the first match in Genoa on June 11, the city will host the ″Regatta of the Maritime Republics,″ a race between oar-driven galleys from the seafaring cities Amalfi, Venice, Pisa, and Genoa.
″To dispel the myth of Lombardy as a place to work, to produce, and nothing else,″ is the goal of Milan, Italy’s financial and industrial capital, said Lombardy’s Cocquio.
Lombardy will concentrate on scenic Alpine lakes, medieval cities in the Po valley and trips through the countryside on horseback, bicycle or on foot.
The Sardinian capital of Cagliari is trying to get tourists to spend some time away from its famed beaches and in the rugged interior where sheep and goat herding dominate the economy and produce the island’s famed cheeses. Cultural exhibitions in the old quarter of Cagliari will feature the vastly differing traditions of the various parts of the island.
Verona, 75 miles west of Venice, wants to take advantage of its location in Veneto, already Italy’s number one tourist destiny.
Silvio de Carli of the regional tourism department said the region will promote its major draw, the canal city of Venice, and guide tourists t the medieval towns in the country, the hot baths and the moutains.
Paolo Bongini, the directory of Tourism in Tuscany, said the region has paid particular attention to promoting itself in the United States because the U.S. team, making its first World Cup appearance in 50 years, will play two of its three first-round games in Florence.
It is particularly pushing its wine and the historical and cultural offerings of Siena, Pisa, Lucca and the Etruscan excavations in the southern Maremma region.
″The itinerary of Tuscan wines permits an appreciation of wines and of the typical Tuscan countryside, especially these castles, where wine is produced with old systems handed down from generation to generation,″ said Bongini.
Besides special concerts and art exhibitions, the Lazio region surrounding Rome also is directing visitors to the Etruscan necroples and the nearby Ponzian islands.
But despite the tournament hoopla, not every region is optimistic it can cash in on the World Cup.
Naples, the principal city of Italy’s south, also is the gateway to the dramatic Amalfi coast and to the islands of Ischia, Capri or Procida. It is promoting exhibitions of 18th century Neapolitan paintings, concerts by the renowned Scarlatti orchestra and performances by folklore groups from all over the Campagna region.
But tourism officials in Campagna, the region around Naples, also are lamenting the teams that city drew in the first round --Argentina, Cameroon, The Soviet Union and Romania.
″We are spending a lot of money, but where are the tourists?″ asked Francesco Caputo, an official with the regional tourism office. ″It’s not that the teams of our group attract many.″
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