Rome: 5 best March values
Italy celebrates the annual Festa della Donna on March 8 with discounts for ladies at bars, clubs, cinemas, and some restaurants. Over the weekend of March 6-7, all state-run museums and archaeological sites let women in for free. The Casa Internazionale delle Donne sponsors free exhibits, film screenings, and dance performances at Campo de' Fiori on March 7, from 11 a.m. to sunset. And don't be surprised if you see women across the city with mimosas, yellow puffy flowers on stalks that are traditionally bestowed by men (glorified rag weed, if you ask me).
"Our World" photo exhibit
Take a break from Rome's ancient glories to contemplate the modern human condition at the free National Geographic "Our World" exhibit at the Palazzo delle Esposizione. Ninety photographs are organized in a progression (kids, women, men, group) meant to highlight both our differences and similarities. via Milano 13, open Tues-Thurs and Sun 10a.m.-8p.m., Fri-Sat 10a.m.-10:30p.m., through May 2.
Organic food fair
La Citta' dell'Altra Economia, an organic food collective inside former slaughterhouse grounds in Testaccio, hosts its monthly fair on Sunday, March 21. Known as Altradomenica, the fair encompasses stalls selling locally grown produce, activities for children, and lectures. The marketplace is free and open 10 a.m. until sunset; enter at Largo Dino Frisullo. While you're in the neighborhood of Testaccio, you might stop to see statuary at Centrale Montemartini.
Ara Pacis in its true colors
The Ara Pacis—Emperor Augustus's Altar of Peace—will stay open after hours over the weekend of March 26-28. Visitors can see a multimedia exhibit devoted to singer-songwriter Fabrizio De André and another exhibit, "L'Ara Pacis in Color". Color will be projected onto the monument to recreate what it would have looked like when painted during ancient times. Evening visits March 26-28 from 8-11 p.m.; €9 ($12).
Landscapes of the American West
Museo di Roma in the medieval neighborhood of Trastevere is the unlikely site of an exhibit on the American West. American photographer Stephen Shore snapped the images for "Biographical Landscape" during his cross-country journeys from 1969 to 1979. Piazza S. Egidio 1B, Tuesday to Sunday 10am-8pm (last entrance 7pm) through April 25; €5.50 ($7.50).
Readers' best Mexico photos
The volume of your Mexico submissions—more than 850—speaks to this country's ongoing popularity and affordability. (Mexico did make our list of the top budget destinations in 2010 for the second year running.) For this slide show, we picked 18 outstanding shots, including flamboyant folk dancers, cliff divers in Acapulco, ruins along a beach in Tulum, and wild blue agave growing near the town of Tequila. Check out all the images here. MORE READER SLIDE SHOWS Reflections | Wildlife | Ireland STILL IN SEARCH OF... We're collecting your photos of doorways. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for a slide show of the best submissions.
London: Lesbian and gay film festival
London's foremost LGBT annual film event kicks off at the British Film Institute on March 17th. The star attraction is the world premiere of James Kent's costume drama The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister—which tells the life story of an aristocratic 19th-century British landowner, entrepreneur, and writer. It's based on her coded journals which were penned in complex symbols and woven with metaphor, deciphered only recently—some 150 years after her death—to reveal a secret history of a lesbian past in a time when being gay meant scandal and a jail sentence. There are dozens of other feature films, documentaries, and shorts—from locations as diverse as the Basque country, the Bahamas, New Zealand, and the USA—including a major retrospective of early Hollywood director Dorothy Arzner. The festival closes on March 31, and tickets are already selling fast. Details at the British Film Institute site. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Ask our British expert a trip-planning question by posting a comment on our London city page
San Francisco: Tacos get the star chef treatment
The Taco: a simple, wondrous thing. San Franciscans love 'em. And just like other foodie favorites, the taco is prime for reinvention. Tacolicious, a beloved Mexican restaurant in Cow Hollow, has invited some of San Francisco's top chefs to create their own unique culinary interpretation of the taco. Beginning today and going through the next six weeks, you can try a tasty new version every Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. The tacos will be sold at Tacolicious's Ferry Building outpost location, where Thursday is, serendipitously, Farmers' Market day. Fish & Farm's Chad Newton is serving up his tacos today, followed by Alex Ong of Betelnut, who is planning a taco of pork leg braised in duck fat and fish sauce infused with chilies, anise, and Szechuan peppercorns on March 19. Liz Shaw from A16 will be experimenting with beef tongue on April 1, and Delfina's Craig Stoll is still trying to decide between pig's head, lamb riblet, and tuna confit tacos for March 11. Other chefs include Robbie Lewis, formerly of Bacar and Jardiniere. Check Tacolicious's twitter feed for updates on the menu. Proceeds will benefit the non-profit Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.
London Controversy: The Beatles' Abbey Road Studios
Over the past few weeks Londoners and Beatles fans the world over have been up in arms about EMI's possible plans to sell Abbey Road Studios, the legendary location where the Fab Four recorded many of their greatest albums. The studios are a prime piece of real estate near Madonna's old home and around the corner from Kate Moss in ever-so-fashionable St John's Wood, and there were fears that they'd be snapped up and turned into swanky apartments. The rumors became a scandal that soon made the national news—on all channels. Concerned fans launched a huge Facebook campaign and Paul McCartney was rung up and interviewed repeatedly, expressing concern and proclaiming sadness. On February 17th, the National Trust—which preserves many of the country's heritage buildings—announced that it was thinking of launching a campaign to save the studios. And two days later, Andrew Lloyd Webber said he was "very interested" in buying should EMI formally decide to sell. Last week, the government finally stepped in, giving the building Grade II listed status—the third-highest legal category for protection of buildings and monuments in the country and preserving the shell—if not necessarily the studios themselves for posterity. Culture Minister Margaret Hodge explained that Abbey Road had "produced some of the very best music in the world." EMI have announced that they no longer have plans to sell Abbey Road. This is much to the chagrin of taxi drivers. The studios are a little way from my home and whenever I pass, there are always dozens of tourists holding up the impatient London traffic by photographing themselves on the zebra crossing in emulation of the Beatles. Abbey Road's greatest hits Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles Tales of Mystery and Imagination – The Alan Parsons Project Year of the Cat – Al Stewart Never Forever – Kate Bush Notorious – Duran Duran Jesus Christ Superstar – Andrew Lloyd Webber The Bends – Radiohead Be Here Now – Oasis Safe Trip Home – Dido Love Never Dies – Andrew Lloyd Webber EARLIER London: A sequel to Phantom of the Opera Tickets go on sale March 9