John Bensalhia goes back to nature as he checks out some of the events happening in Italy this April...

We're going back to nature this month as a number of the entries in this list revolve around animals, birds and plants, whether through exhibitions, hikes or trails. In addition to the wonders of nature this April, we've got comic conventions, design inspiration for the home and an ultimate keep fit solution!

Butterfly House

Throughout April 2018, Bordano

The first of this month's nature-based events and destinations takes you to the impressive Bordano-based Butterfly House.

It's an ideal place to go whether it's a family or schools' day out. Boasting more than 1000 butterflies from around the globe, the Bordano exhibition allows these wonderful creatures to fly freely in three specially-built greenhouses. These purpose-built greenhouses have been specially designed as to replicate the unique climates of the African Jungle, the South East Asian tropical rainforests and the Amazon Rainforest.

Visitors to the Bordano Butterfly House can also learn about environmental subjects such as sustainability, development, and animal and plant strategies. It's a good, practical day out for school parties, where kids can take part in special workshops and visits.

Romics

5th- 8thApril 2018, Rome

https://www.romics.it/en

Comicon 2018

28thApril - 1stMay 2018, Naples

https://www.comicon.it/

With world events getting crazier by the day, isn't it tempting to immerse yourself in comic culture? Adventures in which good triumphs over evil and in which the bad guys are guaranteed to always end up taken to task for their actions? If only real life was like that...

That's why comic-themed events are always a hit. Two of Italy's biggest and best are happening this month. First up, Romics comes to Rome between the 5thand 8thof April, lining up a bumper cross-section of events devoted to comics, animations, illustrations and games. If you've got the money, you might find those rare comic books that you've been after, or why not buy some special themed memorabilia? Guests scheduled for the event include Tsukasa Hojo, Martin Freeman, Massimo Rotundo, and Cristina D’Avena.

The 20thComicon is celebrating in style in Naples at the end of the month. The  Mostra d’Oltremare will play host to special exhibitions, events, screenings, video games, gaming tournaments and meet 'n' greets with a line-up of invited stars. There will also be a special exhibition at Castel dell’Ovo, which presents 20 years of comics in Italy from 1998 to 2018.

Names pencilled in for Comicon Naples 2018 include Luca Vergerio, Carlo Rispoli, Emiliano Pagani, and Bruno Cannucciari.

Spring Birds Fair

14th- 15thApril 2018, Sacile

Looking ahead to the region's most popular events, the Osei Festival (held in August), the Spring Birds Fair is a highly enjoyable prelude.

This mid-April market fair sees farmers, florists and entrepreneurs bring the pick of local flora, fauna and of course, birds for visitors to see. There is actually a special contest for singing birds and hybrid exotic canaries.

Piazza del Popolo, Sacile's centrepiece square, sees the Exhibition of Ornamental and Garden Flowers and Plants become an impressive landscape of plants, fruit plants, vegetables and shrubs. There is also a competition to see the best in exhibiting Bonsai plants and trees, as well as musical entertainment for all to enjoy.

ARTICHOKE FESTIVAL

Ladispoli, 13th - 15th April

As Spring enters the building, that means it's a fine time for sampling the freshest and the best vegetables. And one example that Italy prides itself on is that of the artichoke.

If you're a big artichoke fan, then 13th - 15th April should be pencilled in your diary. The 67th Festival of the Roman artichoke is held on these dates in Ladispoli. The three-day festival will be devoted to free tastings and sales of specialities. Attend the stands, and sample some of the finest Italian artichokes and products from regions such as Sicily, Lazio and Puglia. The families of local producers will also be preparing specially fried artichokes for that extra bit of flavour.

Ladispoli makes a big deal out of its annual artichoke festival and really goes to town on ensuring that a good time is had by all. In addition to the stalls and tastings, other forms of entertainment will be provided. These include an exhibition of paintings, works of art and craft by Filippo Conte, called "Viale Italy as Via Margutta", chess games, performances, and also a celebratory Spring Carnival, which is full of fun, colour and pizzazz! More info here.

Salone Internazionale del Mobile

17th- 22ndApril 2018, Milan

For the furniture and accessories design sector, April is a massive month, as a six-exhibitions-in-one comes to Milan.

Salone Internazionale del Mobile is about to open its doors for the 57thtime, attracting worldwide visitors, companies, designers, buyers and more from over 165 countries.

The main Salone Internazionale del Mobile features a whopping 2,000 exhibitors including 650 designers of SaloneSatellite. There is also an international furnishing accessories exhibition that showcases the best in classic and modern furnishing accessories, decorations and objects.

For lighting inspiration, try Interluce, in which more than 450 exhibitors will show you the best and latest, and also energy-conscious light products. Meanwhile, those looking to get ideas for the kitchen should give EuroCucina FTK – Technology For the Kitchen a go. Bathrooms are also catered for in Salone Internazionale del Bagno, with a notable emphasis on sustainability.

Finally, SaloneSatellite celebrates the best in modern designing talent, with a special award recognising the up and coming players in the field of design.

A Sunset With The Wolves

21stApril 2018, Pescasseroli

Come and see the wonders of wild animals on this afternoon hike to the Colli Alti di Pescasseroli. Once there, you will be able to see a sighting of animals such as wolves, deer and wild boar. Sunset views of these creatures will be capped off by a walk back under the stars, and at the end of the experience, you can tuck into some traditional Abruzzese food.

The event lasts for four hours, from 4pm to 8pm. Because you'll be trekking into the mountains, the right kind of clothing gear is recommended, such as boots, protective jacket, hats and gloves. Also bring a rucksack, torch, and camera, if you want to keep a photographic journal of the afternoon. Discounts are given to families with children. For more details, email info@ilbelsentiero.it

Gargano Running & Trekking

21st- 22ndApril 2018

While I'm on the subject of trekking, one of the key events to promote this and trail running occurs in Gargano on 21stand 22ndApril 2018.

It's an event that not only includes keen Italian trekkers and runners, but also people from around the world. A series of races are organised that takes participants through three different kinds of locale, whether it's along the coast, in the hills or through the forests. Depending on your abilities, there are courses of either 14, 34 or 80 km. There is also an ambitious trek covering the entire Gargano in three separate 30k stretches and a Gastro Run that spans the top local olive mills.

International Po Delta Birdwatching and Nature Tourism Fair 2018

28thApril 2018 - 1stMay 2018, Emilia-Romagna

Rounding up a loose back to nature theme this month, the 2018 edition of the International Po Delta Birdwatching and Nature Tourism Fair comes to Emilia-Romagna.

It's an event that attracts an impressive 30,000 visitors and around 200 exhibitors. A good number of activities are on offer for attendees, including photography theory lessons, exhibitions and also the Delta In Focus contest that comprises four categories (Birds of the Delta, Birds of the World, Natural Landscapes and Slow Tourism) for entrants.

There will also be side shows, bird watching lessons, scientific conventions, and an appearance from regarded birdwatcher Lars Svensson. You can also check out the delights of the Po Delta Park through boating, cycling or hiking excursions, and if you're hungry, then sample some of the tasty foods and wines on offer!