The best of the nation's art, fashion, music and products will go on show Gladiator shows, opera performances, art exhibitions and a toga party are just some of the activities planned for Italy 2003: Quality & Lifestyle, which opens today at the Atrium in Times Square. Now in its fourth year, the annual fair is organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) with the support of the Consulate General of Italy. Traditionally held in June, it was postponed due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) this year. The event aims to promote Italian art, culture, design and the country's quality of life. The Italian Trade Commission will also take part in the event with its Italian Festival project, which includes a fashion show at the event's main venue, and food and wine promotions at large supermarkets and restaurants thoughout Hong Kong. ICC president Giovanni Orgera says Italy 2003 aims to bring members of Hong Kong's Italian business community closer together and educate the public about Italy. 'Hong Kong people think that Italy is only good in fashion, but that is not the case,' he explains. 'We are strong in many areas, such as machinery.' Mr Orgera also hopes the event will contribute to the city's recovery after Sars. Themed 'Rome: The Eternal City', Italy 2003 is the largest event from Italy to be staged in Hong Kong. Times Square, the epicentre of much of the action, has been transformed into a miniaturised version of Rome, with a Romanesque facade, sculptured pillars and a reconstructed model of the Colosseum. Exhibitions and parties will be held at these 'landmarks'. Visitors can look forward to some 'bloody action' at the piazza in front of Times Square, as professional Roman gladiators from Gruppo Storico Romano, an Italian-based group whose aim is to preserve ancient Roman heritage, re-enact the clashes that took place 1,000 years ago. The first of these battles, lasting 30 to 45 minutes, will be held today around noon, after which the gladiators will march to the Atrium to join the grand opening ceremony in front of the 'Colosseum'. The excitement will continue with a fashion show organised by ITC and Lane Crawford as part of the Italian Festival, to be held at the Atrium at Times Square. Another fashion show, featuring designs by Fendi, will be held at the same venue tomorrow. This evening, the Italian Music Festival opens with 'Opera Suggestions From Arena', a selection of arias from Italian operas performed by Arena di Verona, a 90-year-old opera house in Italy. Its artists performed at last year's event and are back this year due to popular demand. The concert will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Theatre 1. In the days to follow, there will be a 10-day Italian Products Exhibition to showcase the best from Italy, including cars from Maserati, motorbikes from Aprilia and Motoguzzi, home accessories from Alessi, Artemide and Cappellini, children's clothing and toys from Chicco, watches from Fila, sportswear from Diadora and food items from Barilla and Vicenzi Biscotti. Also planned is a nine-day Italian Etchings Exhibition at the Atrium called 'Rome by Nike A Borghese', who is a celebrated Italian artist. On September 14, the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix will be broadcast live on the big screen at Times Square, complete with a wine and antipasto party at the piazza. The Italian Film Festival opens at UA Pacific Place on September 16 with La Finestra di Fronte (The Facing Windows), winner of best film and best actor at the David Di Donatello Awards last year. Other films include Mamma Roma and But Forever In My Mind. Times Square will become the scene of a Roman toga party at the piazza on September 20. If you happen to be passing by and want to join in the fun, 100 spare togas will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. On September 26, it will be time to dust off your ballgowns and tuxedos for the gala dinner Dolce Vita alla Fontana di Trevi, a glamorous night of good food and dancing. Tickets start at $1,500. Music will again fill the air on September 28 when world-famous guitarist Massimo Scattolin and violinist Nicola Granillo play Italian classical music together at HKCEC Theatre 2. The performance is called 'Italian Classical Music With A Difference'.