Gatwick to get new budget flights
Budget fare airline Wizz is to launch four new routes from Gatwick. From 27 March it will fly five times a week to Venice and two days later it will start operating twice a week to the Sicilian capital, Palermo, with departures on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Venice needs little introduction. I particularly like it in winter, though you need to wrap up against the occasional mists on the lagoon, the tourist hordes are thinner and the city is at its most atmospheric. Palermo has plenty to occupy you for a short break, with its magnificent cathedral and the 12th century Palazzo dei Normanni, where Norman architecture coexists with remnants of Arab influence. Those influences remain, to stunning effect, in the carved wooden ceiling muqarnas of the breathtaking Capella Palatina, on middle level of the palace's loggia. Longer trips to Sicily might involve renting a car, which is not for the faint hearted. The local approach to driving is generally, to use a diplomatic description, carefree. That would open up too many possibilities to be listed here but could get you to the sprawling Valley of the Temples complex near Agrigento, for example, and the remarkably well preserved, 439BC Tempio della Concordia, whose façade was the model for UNESCO's logo. Walkers might brave the hairpin bends en route for Madonie Park – best in spring when wild cyclamen and forget-me-nots add splashes of colour beneath the trees. Or you could head for Marsala, production centre of that eponymous, somewhat neglected wine which, as they will be quick to remind you is much, much more than just something with which to deglaze the pan when cooking calves' liver or saltimbocca. Not far from there, and not to missed on any account, is the island of Mozia and its museum, which contains and ancient statue, known as the Young Man of Mozia. His white marble form, clad in a thin garment whose fold are intricately carved is one of those masterpieces which defies the centuries and transports you in wonder.
In June Wizz will begin flying to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. It will launch services to Varna on 13 June and Burgas two days later. Varna is close to the seaside resorts of Golden Sands, St Konstantin and Albena. Its Archaeological Museum contains the world's oldest gold treasure haul, discovered in 1972, dating from 4600 to 4200BC and filling three exhibition halls. It includes stunningly intricate jewelry. Burgas is similarly close to beach resorts but its main attraction to many mature travellers must be its nearby lakes and ancient salt works, partly an ornithological reserve where some 265 bird species have been spotted. They include the red breasted goose, whiskered tern, great white pelican, little bittern, white headed duck and black crowned night heron.