New galleries

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has opened a new wing with 10 galleries that show off its medieval and Renaissance collections from 300 to 1600.

Among the 1,800 pieces in the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries are Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks; the 12th-century Gloucester candlestick; the Lorsch Gospels covers (an ivory book cover from the court of Charlemagne); and “The Boar and Bear Hunt,” a 15th-century tapestry from the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries. The galleries also include what is touted as the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside of Italy.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. Admission is free.

Roman digs

Have you ever wanted to take part in an archaeological dig? If you’re at least 15 years old, here’s your opportunity. The Gruppo Archeologico Romano is looking for participants for its 2010 excavation program.

The program includes training and hands-on experience in the science of excavation, including conducting a topographical survey of an area, digging, and documenting artifacts and monuments.

Those interested in applying are required to join the Gruppo Archeologico Romano. Membership costs 37 euros for adults and 22 euros for students up to 26 years old. The cost of a one-week dig ranges from 240 to 270 euros. A two-week dig costs from 350 to 390 euros. Costs include food, accommodations and equipment.

The 2009 program offered digs on the Roman road, Via Amerina in Casale Ridolfi; the Etruscan settlement of Rofalco in the Selva del Lamone nature reserve; the Roman Villa of Selvicciola in Ischia di Castro; and the Etruscan necropolis of Pian Conserva in Tolfa.

Although the 2010 schedule isn’t online yet, you can check out the 2009 program. For more information, go to the English-language option at


Tickets are on sale for the multimedia, interactive show that lets you immerse yourself in the musical world of the Swedish pop group ABBA. “ABBAWORLD: The Music, The Memories, The Magic” opens Jan. 27 in the Earls Court Museum Hall.

After winning the 1974 Eurovision song contest with “Waterloo,” the group went on to sell almost 400 million records. The musical and film “Mamma Mia!” have kept the group popular.

The show features 25 rooms of music, film footage, images and memorabilia. Some of the interactive highlights include a 3-D holograph illusion in which you can stand on stage with Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida and sing and dance with the group.

The show will be open daily. Tickets cost 19.50 pounds (about $30) for adults on weekdays and 22 pounds on weekends. Children’s tickets cost 13 pounds (about $20) all week. Family tickets also are available.

For details, go to

ENGLAND: London’s annual New Year’s Day parade hits the streets Friday as more than 10,000 participants from 20 countries join to welcome 2010. American marching bands, cheerleaders, guide dogs, veterans, street dancers, city mayors and international clowns are just some of the participants who will join giant helium-filled balloons and colorful floats. The parade kicks off at noon from Piccadilly and Berkeley Street and ends at Parliament Street at about 3 p.m. The event is free, but be sure to arrive early for a good view. Find all the details at

ITALY: On Jan. 5, on the eve of Epiphany, Italian children who have been good all year hang stockings and wait to receive a treat from La Befana, a hunched-over good witch with a broom. The legend goes that she missed her opportunity to accompany the Three Wise Men in their search for baby Jesus when they stopped to ask for directions at her home. Later, she tried to find them, stopping children and giving them gifts in the hope that they would tell her the way. On Wednesday, adults in Venice will celebrate their own version of the story in a typical Venetian tradition: Teams of rowers dressed as witches will race in the city’s Grand Canal from San Toma to a giant stocking hanging from the Rialto Bridge. The fun begins at 11 a.m.

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