# Food & leisure

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12.17.2018

It is undisputed truth that hot spring baths are exceptionally beneficial to the body, initiating the recovery of organ function and from fatigue, eliminating lactic acid and easing muscle pain and arthritis. By warming the body, they also contribute in activating metabolism and the calorie-burning process. Lastly, sulphur waters are natural cures for acne and blemishes on the skin. If you are in Tokyo, there are a few places that you easily access on a leisurely one-day or weekend trip. Hiratsuru (Atami, Shizuoka)Atami is known as a historical hot spring resort, but in particular, Hiratsuru is a hot spring inn worth of attention, because of its rōtenburofilled with naturally warm water sourced directly from 300m underground. The open-air bath is an infinity pool perfectly integrated in the environment of Sagami Bay, with a scenic view of Yugawara and Atami. After soaking in it, wear a yukataand indulge in the delicious fresh seafood from the bay. Shima Yamaguchikan (Gunma)Shima Onsen is a long-established hot-spring town, where the accumulation of rain water fallen over 60 years ago gushes out in a warm, plentiful stream, rich in minerals which are instrumental in treating gastrointestinal disorder, movement disorder, rheumatism and wounds in general. Shimameans “forty thousands”, referring to the number of ailments the hot spring water is said to heal. Shima Onsen is located in the Shima river valley, where you can enjoy the sound of gushing water and birds in the trees, in a mystical ambience. Yumori Tanakaya (Nasushiobara, Tochigi)Due to its being located in the Nikkō National Park, Shiobara Onsen offers a magnificent view of mountains and valleys It has been one of the most renowned hot spring sanatoriums since as far back in time as 1200, and its mineral-rich baths still enjoys extraordinary popularity. The water contains a great deal of calcium and is drinkable. There is hardly anything more soothing than a long soak with the backdrop of the dales and vales of Nikkō. Hottarakashi Onsen (Yamanashi, Yamanashi)Hottarakashi is a hot spring destination located not too far from Tokyo, which is famous for its open-air baths covered by a “ceiling of starry skies”. There are two outdoor baths, one calledKotchi no yuand overlooking Mount Fuji,and the other called Atchi no yu, which is double the size of the former and offers the remarkable scenery of both Mount Fuji and the Kofu basin. The slightly alkaline hot-spring water is gentle to the skin and provides an effective treatment for neuralgia, muscle pain, joint pain, frozen shoulder, motor paralysis, bruised, sprains, poorblood circulation,fatigue, chronic gastrointestinal disease and so on.With a180°panorama, you can contemplatethe sunrising over Mount Fujiin the morningand setting in the evening, as well as reputedly one of the three greatest night sceneries of Japan.  

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12.06.2018

Thisis the time of the year in which the new brew of sake is ready for consumption.When one thinks of a sake brewery, the first image that comes to mind is a place buried deep in the countryside. However, there is a number of historic saka-gurawhich can be easily accessed from Tokyo, where one can taste new sake accompanying a delicious meal. Sake breweriesare generally signalled by a sugidama, aball made from sprigs of Japanese cedar, traditionally hung in the eaves. Sake brewers used to be affluent families, thus considered as royalty in the different areas. Production of sake is carried out during October and November, using the rice harvested in the autumnThe new sake will be ready by December and a green sugidamawill be hung to announce it. The “Brewing Year” (acronym: BY), encompasses a twelve-month periodfrom 1st July to 30th Juneof the following year.The sake sold in December and January is called shiboritate, “freshly pressed”OzawaSake Brewery (Ōme, Tokyo)Ozawa Sake Brewery is located in Okutama, in the Western part of the Tokyo Metropolis, and it is renowned for its Sawanoi branded sake and tōfu. Sawanoicomes from Sawai-mura, the former name of the Okutama area, known for its clear area, lush greenery and excellent rice. In the restaurant “Mamagoto-ya”Mama”,directly managed by Sawanoi, you can enjoy the sake paired withflavourful tofu and yuba(tofu skin)dishes. IshikawaSake Brewery (Fussa, Tokyo)Ishikawa Sake Brewery isa historic sake brewery composedof six buildings designated asTangible Cultural Properties of Japan. Historical materials of sake brewingare displayed in the historical centre ofthe sake brewery.In addition to the famous labels Yaezakuraand Tamajiman, the company has brewed beer under the name Japanese Beer since 1888. Amongst the many premises, there is also a restaurant called Fussa no Beer Koya, where you can savour wood-fired pizza and seasonal dishes, while enjoying the dignified view of the brewery from your outdoor terrace seat or next-to-the-window table. Kumazawa Sake Brewery (Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture)Kumasawa Sake Brewery is considered the last remaining sake brewery in the Shōnan area. Established in 1872, the company continues to produce craft sake on a small scale, in accordance with Shonan’s climate. Brands include Tensei, Shokō, Kumazawa, Shōnan and Kamakura Shiori, as well as unfiltered beer made with water sourced from an aquifer that comes from the Tanzawa mountains. Refurbished in the style of the Taishō Era (1912-1926), Kuramoto Ryōri Tensei is a restaurant where you can enjoy a glass of newly-brewed sake with dishes based on a few core ingredients, namely rice, water, fish and vegetables. Yamanashi Meijo (Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture)Known for its supreme quality sake Shichiken, which has been made with the pure water of Hakushūsince 1750, the brewery is located in the Southern Alps, which were added to the UNESCO biosphere reserve list in 2014. Its restaurant Daiminserves seasonal menus with rice, vegetables and fruits of the Hakushu area. Popular dishes include salmon pickled in malted rice and wasabi pickled in soy sauce.  

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11.26.2018

Among the Art Deco buildings of the Porta Venezia district in Milan, hiding in a quiet courtyard, Stamberga is a special place that contains multitudes. Part tea room, part bookshop and part art gallery, Stamberga houses design, art, fashion and travel magazines and books and a permanent black & white photo exhibition called Spiritus featuring the work of Marco Beretta, a traveller and the founder of Stamberga, focusing on Tibetan monasteries. We met Marco to learn more about the journey that led him to create Stamberga. SJ: How do you choose the objects and books for Stamberga? MB: Every single title, object or detail is chosen, desired and conceived following a thin thread that links everything. Choice is a process, emotional at first and then rational. The search, instinctive and continuous, is always followed by a pause that makes the sensations settle. At Stamberga, form and meaning are are inseparable: the aesthetics anticipates the content, the content confirms the aesthetics. SJ: Stamberga is a space with an urban DNA whose definition goes beyond the classic genre boundaries, yet the idea of travel seems to be at the core of it. MB: When I look at Stamberga, I get the real meaning of the term ‘contamination’: a harmonious fusion of elements of different origins. And I guess this is rooted in travel: for 30 years, I have been travelling extensively and meeting the most diverse people, going from a Tibetan monastery to a concept store in New York, sleeping in a tent on the Himalayan plateau and in the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, travelling by train from Beijing to Ulanbataar and then on a Royal Enfield motorbike in India, visiting a museum in Santiago de Chile and an artisan shop in Burma or a gallery in Berlin, eating sashimi in Tokyo and snake soup in Hong Kong. And finally, one of my greatest passions: drinking tea, be it a cup of green tea in Shanghai or a mint black tea in Riyadh. SJ: Which cities or countries contributed the most to shaping your taste?MB: Burma and India. Paris and Tokyo. These are the places where I always want to go back. SJ: Auberge Thé Bleu, the tea served at Stambrga, is your creation: tell us about the orifin of this project.MB: I have learnt the pleasure and the art of tea in over 25 years spent traveling to Chinaas an international fashion manager. Once I ran out of the supplies accumulated throughout that period, I looked for small shops in Europe that could bring back that flavor and above all that spirit, so slow and far from mass consumption. Only in Paris did I find something similar, so I decided to make a dream of mine come true and become a tea merchantmyself. I contacted pure tea importers, became a tea sommelier, came up with a flavor list, made a selection of 25 types of tea and finally created a brand and a concept that reflected my ideas and experience. The Auberge Thé Bleu imagery is inspired by the colonial period, the atmospheres of French Indochina, the vessels of the East India Company and to out-of-time quiet of Tibetan monasteries SJ: Are tea rituals and aesthetics part of Auberge Thé Bleu's identity?MB: They are an essential and indispensable part of it. In the Far East, the gestures and the rituals are the essence of care and attention. Like Stamberga itself, Auberge Thé Bleuaims to evoke perceptions and to express ideas and intuitions.  

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11.15.2018

Kobe beef has attained the international status of delicacy meat, but what does its fame come from? “Kobe Beef,” “Kōbe-gyū,” are all registered trademarks in Japanfor the meat products obtained from the Tajima cattle breed. For a meat to be acknowledged as such, it must be compliant to stringent guidelines, concerning place of rearing, stock and quality.  Tajima is the name of acattlebreed born and reared in Hyōgo prefecture, whose bloodline has been maintained since the Edo Period(1603-1868). The excellent pedigree and the strictly controlled breeding environment result in an extremely tender meat, which can be easily recognised by its distinctive marbled pattern, given by the white parts of fat interspersed between layers of red meat, known as sashi. Wagyū defines a type of cattle, obtained during and after the Meiji period by crossbreeding Japanese cattle with stocks of foreign origin. However, the Japanese beef enjoying so much popularity worldwide is not necessarily produced in Japan. If you want to taste real Kobe beef, check out the following restaurants. Kobe TanryūThe restaurant uses counter seating, which allows the patrons to observe the chef cooking the meat teppanyakistyle, that is sliced and grilled on an iron plate. The restaurant has won the title of Champion Kobe Beef multiple times at the over 50 Kobe Beef contests held throughout the year, so you know the meat regularly served there is of unexcelled quality. Kobe KikusuiIt is a butcher’s shop and a restaurant, serving steaks and Japanese specialities, like sukiyaki and shabu-shabu, which exalt the fleshy flavour brought out by a skilful ageing of the meat. Kobe Steak Restaurant MōriyaWith a history of 130 years, Mōriya is a restaurant specialising in Kobe beef, obtained from pure-bred Tajima cattle reared on a contract farm located in the city of Yabu. Here you can taste excellent steaks at a reasonable price.  Kobe Beef Ramen YazawaIt is the company shop of Yazawa, which is famous for purchasing whole beefs. The house special is a sumptuous ramen, served in a soup which takes 16 hours to make, using Kobe beef bones and other select ingredients, such as vegetables, grown in the prefecture of Hyōgo, and chāshū (roast pork). Another recommendation that you cannot find anywhere else is Kobe beef tendons and egg over rice. A true delicacy.  

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11.09.2018

Those lucky enough to have visited Sri Lanka before the civil war, which has made this island off the southern tip of India basically unavailable to tourism for almost 30 years, will probably remember its still intact atmospheres, its delicate exotic taste, that feeling of being in a miniature India, more livable and kind, less chaotic. In an era in which intercontinental travels were a niche and the island was still mostly unknown to mass tourism, one was bound to be hosted by locals for very little money, be invited for ginseng tea in the jungle or escorted from beaches to tea plantations, temples and ancient ruins on a battered van, having surreal conversations in broken English. The feared Tamil tigers, which would soon trigger the war, were often evoked with terror or named under one’s breath, yet for a tourist it was still difficult to get an idea of how how serious the situation was getting. In 2009, the former British Ceylon, now the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, reopened its doors to visitors. Almost 10 years later, the landscape has definitely changed compared to the 1980s: Sri Lanka is not a niche tourism destination anymore, it has developed a proper hospitality industry with luxury hotels and spas that allow visitors to discover its charm without giving up the perks and the comforts. Here’s a bunch of good addresses to consider for your next trip to Sri Lanka. KK Beach (Habaraduwa)The minimalist design of this boutique hotel lets the colors and the beauty of the Indian Ocean, whose magic is portrayed in the works of local artists who decorate the suites, steal the scene. The long, champagne-colored beach and the tropical gardencomplete the view from this oasis in the south-western part of the island, which is also reasonably close the colonial city of Galle, a Unesco heritage site famous for its Dutch colonial style villas. Santani Wellness Resort (Kandy)Near Kandy, the town in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka which is home to the so-called Temple of the Tooth, Santani is a real sanctuary of wellnesssurrounded by nature, where you can practice Ayurvedic detox rituals and Yogato find your balance and peace. Ulpotha Yoga & Ayurveda RetreatUlphota is a mountain village in the north-western part of the island, near Kurunegala. The local economy revolves around rice but for six or seven months a year, from November to March and from June to August,the whole town turns into a Yoga and Ayurveda retreat where you can sleep for a bargain and attend seminars on yoga and traditional Ayurvedic therapies. Legend has it that Ulphota was founded by a group of pilgrims from the Himalayas in search for the traces of Shiva’s son, so this is the perfect place to breathe spirituality. Saman Villas (Bentota Beach)On a promontory stretching out into the Indian Ocean on the west coast of Sri Lanka, between Colombo and Galle, the 27 suites of this resort recall the design of the ancient local temples, each offering an unforgettable view. It is one of the most scenic and romantic places on the island, where privacy is sacred and the service is taken care of in every detail. Sen Wellness Sanctuary (Renawa Turtle Beach)Yoga and Ayurveda rule at this spa hotel designed to collect the energy of the Earth and give it to its guests. Near the long beaches of the lagoon of Renawa, it also offers osteopathic treatments and excellent food, in line with Ayurvedic medicine. Tri HotelSustainable luxury is at the heart of this exclusive resort on the shores of Lake Koggala, in the southern part of the island, between Galle and Madara,  co-owned by popular Yoga guru Lara Baumann. The 11 suites stretch along the promontory that makes its way between the waters of the lake.  

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11.07.2018

This autumn, visit a museum. Revel in the art on display, then linger in the café. Just sit and spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city in a design setting, with a titbit and a spectacular garden laid out before you. Mitsubishi Ichigōkan Museum: Café 1894Inaugurated in 1894,not long after the commencement of Japan’s diplomatic relations with the foreign world, the original building, faithfully recreated in 1968, was designed by British architect Josiah Conder in the Queen Anne style, which was revived and was all the rage at the turn of the twentieth century. The permanent collection revolves around works by Western artists of the late nineteenth century, such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Odilon Redon and Félix Vallotton. After seeing the collection, you can relax in the classic ambience of the café. Open from 11am to 11pm, it is perfect for lunch, tea or dinner. Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum: Café TeienBuilt in 1933as the residence of the Paris-educated Prince and Princess Asaka, it was opened to the public as an art museum in 1983. The interiors, from the wall decorations to the furniture and the lighting fittings, are some of the finest examples of Art Deco. The entrance, the grand drawing room, the great hall and the study room boast decorations by master artists such as René Lalique and Henri Rapin. Art Deco aside, the palace is also famous for its lush garden - teienin Japanese - with a quiet café overlooking the greenery, which will make it hard for you to believe you are in the city centre. The National Art Centre: Salon de Thé “Rond”The centre was inaugurated in 2007, with a design by Kishō Kurokawa, one of Japan’s most representative and prolific architects. Notwithstanding its lack of a permanent collection, it is a lively art centre and the country’s largest exhibition space. There are one restaurant and three cafés, each with a different style but a common characteristic, that is providing a relaxing space in a magnificent setting. Le Salon de The Rond is a tearoom sitting atop a gigantic inverted cone, named after the round shape of its elegant location, where visitors can enjoy the delicacies on the menu in an art-drenched atmosphere. Nezu Museum: Nezu CaféRight at the heart of the fashion district, at a short walk from Omotesandō, is Nezu Museum,which accommodatesthe private collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art of Kaichirō Nezu, a businessman who served as the president of Tōbu Railway. The lush garden makes full use of the natural undulation of the soil, creating a scenic landscape of hills and denes. There are four tea houses in the park, which are also used for tea ceremonies.  The newly-built Nezu Café provides a magnificent shelter from the madding crowd, with blend coffee, meat pies, matcha and sweets, both traditional and Western-fashioned.  Hara Museum: Café d’ArtStyled as a 1930s Western mansionby Jin Watanabe, also known for his design of the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park and Ginza Wakō Building, Hara Museum opened in 1979, when it was one of the few institutions in Japan focusing on modern art. It is regarded as one of the symbols of modernism in Japan, with a garden delineated by smoothly curving lines and the relaxing Café d’Art within. 

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10.26.2018

One cannot really expect to enjoy the autumnal scenery in Kyoto away from the hordes of tourists. Still, the former Imperial capital of Japan is a trove of secluded gardens where the enchanting colours of momiji can be thoroughly appreciated in utter tranquility. Among them is the garden at Daikin-zan Hōgon-in, a subtemple of the Rinzai Zen head temple Tenryū-ji. It was built during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) with the support of the estate of Yoriyuki Hosokawa, a deputy of the Ashikaga shogunate. The true gem of the temple is its landscape garden, first conceived by Sakugen Shūryō, a prominent Zen Buddhist priest who lived in the Muromachi period.  The garden incorporates the scenery of Arashiyama and is famous for its giant rocks, including one that is lion-shaped. It was featured in Miyako Rinsen Meisho Zue(“Illustrated Guide to the Famous Gardens and Sites of the Capital”) that was published during the Edo period (1603-1868). The garden employs the natural beauty of the Arashiyama area, with moss, plants and rocks. Also known as the Lion’s Roar Garden, it contains a dry-stone structure, representing the Dragon Gate Falls on the upper Yellow River in China. A Chinese legend has it that a carp capable of swimming up these falls will transform into a dragon. In Zen Buddhism, the waterfall-climbing carp has come to symbolise a person attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha. The train ride to Hōgon Temple on the Keihoku Electric Railroad Arashiyama Line will offer you further views of the spectacular autumn foliage. At the peak of the leaf viewing season, the Lion’s Roar Garden will be open also in the evening, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, from November 9 to December 2, offering visitors a most rare opportunity to contemplate the overwhelming scenery of Arashiyama, in utter silence, a precious time away from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds. 

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10.18.2018

Sugamo: Japanese Soba Noodles TsutaStanding tall in the Tokyo fine dining scene, Tsuta is a Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for the superior quality of its ingredients. In a bowl of shōyu soba you can thoroughly savour thenoodles dipped in a warm, wholesome broth, blending three types of shōyu taresauce, Nagoya’s cochinand shamorokkuchicken, seafood and vegetables. The bowl is finished off by an original topping consisting of pork slices marinated with herbs and red wine flavoured bamboo shoots. Other recommendations include shio sobaand miso soba. Ginza: Kamonka“Abalanced diet leads to a healthy body”: this is the principle behind the restaurant’s wide selection of noodles, prepared with organic vegetables and other healthy ingredients. The restaurant is famous for its soupless tantanramen, topped with mabo-dofu, where you can taste the two most representatives dishes of Sichuan’s spicy cuisine. At lunch time, it comes with white rice or kayurice porridge. Other specialities, which will warm you up with their spiciness, includetantan ramen with steamed chicken and mala sauce or Sangen pork and lettuce. Shinbashi: Taiwan MensenMensen is sōmen (thin noodles) boiled in a thick soup. A staple of the Taiwanese cuisine, usually sold at food stands, whose ingredients vary seasonally and geographically from Taipei to Kaohsiung, becoming middle and milder as one goes southwards. Shinbashi’s Taiwan Mensen was the first restaurant to open in Japan. Since 2014, it has been catering noodles directly shipped from Taiwan and served in a delicious soup, garnished with pork giblets and seasoned with coriander. Ōtemachi: Beimen Shokudo by ComphoBeimen, rice noodles, is the base for a number of recipes, which blend ethnic ingredients with a Japanese-style soup. One of the most popular dishes istom yum, prepared with luscious prawns and seasoned with herbs and spices. In the evenings, you can taste not only the noodles, but also a variety of healthy, vegetable-based dishes. Ōtsuka: NakiryūIn Nakiryū’s tantan ramen, which won the restaurant a Michelin star, the noodles are served in a soup, where the flavours of the minced meat, the onion and the sesameare perfectly balanced.Even people who are not really partial tothe spiciness oftantan ramenwill love this Michelin-starred version of itand will want to return to the restaurant over and over again. 

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10.09.2018

Everyone should have the opportunity to experience true quality. Chef Nicola Dinato believes this and turns his idea into haute cuisine every time he opens the door of Feva, the restaurant he opened with his wife Elodie Duboisson and which earned a Michelin star in 2014. Feva is located a stone's throw from the walls of Castelfranco Veneto, the birthplace of Dinato in the heart of the Treviso region. This is where he left from at the age of twenty, in 2001, to learn from some of the greatest masters of international cuisine - Ducasse, Roux and Ferran Adrià. Nicola worked at El Bulli, Adrià’s legendary Costa Brava restaurant, for a season; it was the golden era of molecular cuisine, so close to science in terms of techniques and precision and therefore extremely influenced by the peculiarities of each ingredient. Nicola managed to make this conceptual haute cuisine more understandablewithout giving up precision and research. The prices are deliberately affordable, the open kitchen allows guests to see what’s happening and the tastes respect the character of each ingredient. This is what he calls ​​"mother cuisine", a concept that is based on respecting the essence of each ingredient and returning it in the form of an experience in terms of taste and emotion. Feva is like a family, a community of people who share the same space - the fertile land of the upper Veneto with its raw materials and its traditions - and the same goals. The name itself, Feva, evokes the concept of “family” in the local idiom. Dynamism and creativity are the means by which the past lives again in the kitchen of Feva: without indulging in nostalgia and with the freedom and the expertise to create variations of traditional local dishes. The result is a sensory experience that often plays with appearances, offering presentations that mimick ingredients of a completely different nature than the actual ones. "Like Peppered Mussels", for instance, is a dish of ravioli looking exactly like mussel shells. Apparently, nothing is what it seems in this remote corner of the Venetian province that surprisingly manages to offer a cutting-edge gastronomic experience by transforming simple ingredients into complex and refined dishes. 

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09.27.2018

Since the highball boom, whisky consumption in Japan has skyrocketed from75 millionin 2008 to 135 million in 2015. Similarly, in 2017 the sales of Japanese whisky abroad hit a record high of 5.49 million liters, more than five times the amount of ten years ago. At the same time, the shortage ofmalt whiskybecame a problem. Of course, other cereals can be malted, such as maize, wheat or rye, and the resulting product is known as grain whisky. However, what is popular today is single malt whisky, obtained from malted barley. Due todifferencesin the manufacturing method, distilleriestends to fall short of single malt whisky, compared to grain whiskywhichcan be mass producedinstead. A recipient of numerous prizes at the International Spirits Challenge, with its brandsYamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu,Suntory’s single malt whiskyhas risen to international fame.Suntory Yamasaki Distillery isJapans oldest malt whisky distillery,located in the southwest of Kyoto, at the foot of Tennozan. The history of Japanese whisky making beganin Yamazaki in 1923. The neighbourhood of Yamazaki Distillery is known for theRikyūno Mizu(“water of the imperial villa), a natural spring wellhead mentioned in the Song of Man’yōand selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters.This water serves as the preparation water for whisky. In addition to the spring water, the area is blessed with the tree intersecting waters of the Katsura, Uji and Kizu rivers and the perfect degree of humidity for the ageing of whisky. Suntory Yamazaki Distillery offers guided tours of the production plants and the Yamazaki Whisky Museum, with explanations and exhibits about the history of Single Malt Yamazaki whisky, from the foundation of the companyto the present day, a tasting counter and a shop. Also, the Whisky Library on the first floor iswonderful collection gatheringthousands of whiskies. Last but not least, at Yamazaki Distillery visitors can experience the different flavors and fragrances of the rarest vintage whiskies. Since tours are generally full, early reservation is necessary. 

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09.14.2018

The summer heat and the air conditioning can be very taxing to your physical and emotional health, and you really need to recover before tackling all your autumn projects. What you can do is take a relaxing bath at a spa and have a healthy meal there. If you are in Tokyo, you will just be spoilt for choice. Odaiba: Hilton HotelAt An Spa Tokyo, you can relax while enjoying the view of the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. In addition to the indoor pools, whirlpools and facilities incorporating elements of nature, it also offers a variety of treatments and fitness activities.  Shinjuku: Thermae YuIdeal for body recovery after a hard day’s work or a night out drinking, this spa includes anopen-air bath named Jindai no Yu, with natural hot spring waterwhich is carried every day from Izu and has soothing effects on neuralgia, muscle pain, bruises, sprains, cold and fatigue. There is also an indoor bath, with high-concentration carbon dioxide, where you can soak and relieve your fatigue. Ryōgoku: EdoyuEdoyu is a Japanese-style modern spa where you can enjoy the atmosphere of Edo, with a mural featuring two of Hokusai’s ukiyo-e paintings, Fine Wind, Clear Morningand Red Fuji both part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fujiseries. The facility features artificial hot springs, a a high-temperature Finnish sauna, a medium-temperature Loess soil sauna, cold baths, mist shower, massages and strigil treatments.  Sugamo: Tokyo Somei Onsen SakuraThe moment you cross the threshold, the Japanese-style garden will make you forget the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Here you will find luxurious facilities of eleven types of baths and three types of saunas, including natural hot springs rich in natural minerals, cypress indoor baths and open-air baths. Furthermore, in the bedrock bath, with natural stone the far infrared rays and negative ions enhance metabolism and have a soothing, relaxing and detoxifying effect.  Ogikubo: Nagomi no YuOnly a minute walk from Ogikubo Station, at Nagomi no yu, you can enjoy different types of natural hot springs seasonally along with the popular and rich in natural sodium chloride hot spring water sourced directly from Musashino, a rare occurrence within the city limits. There is also a healing spa with Finnish-style bedrock and hot-air saunas, a carbonated bath and a mist and minus ion sauna. 

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09.13.2018

In Spain, among the century-old oak forests of Navarre, there is a tree hotel where you can sleep among the branches in maximum comfort and literally immersed in nature. This is what the guys at Basoa Suitescall "barefoot luxury", something that is very easy to achieve at this tree boutique hotel featuring six hand-crafted wooden suites designed to preserve the beauty of the ecosystem that surrounds them, a veritable source of well-being for each guest. The Basoa Suites are located in Lizaso, between Pamplona and San Sebastian, in the heart of the Amati Oak Forest(Ultzama valley, Spain), a protected natural gem. The suites are all different and accurately designed in every single technical and aesthetic detail to minimize the impact and maximize the creation of a virtuous circle of beauty and well-being between man and nature.  The wood is processed with traditional, strictly artisan techniques: each wooden element at Basoa Suites, from the structures to the objects, is handmade. The Japanese shou sugi bantechnique, for instance, closes the pores of the wood through a careful burning of the surface that prevents water from penetrating and gives the wood a particular burnished color and an exceptional resistance to time and rain. The Italian shingle technique is a special cutting method turning the wood into thin slats.  Everything has been conceived combine refinement, comfort and sustainability: a dry toilet system to avoid the installation of pipes and drains into the forest, and there are elevated wooden walkways to prevent soil compaction, direct the traffic of people to the paths and ensure that the soil and plants do not suffer the impact of our presence. As for breakfast and dinner, they are delivered to your suite in a basket that you can pull up with a rope.  What's even more interesting, the goal of the founders is to bring the Basoa Suites experience to Italy. The project is called Tree Suitesand has been developed by Mikel Leyun Perez, a technician and craftsman in construction and woodworking, Claudia Marchesotti, an architect of Milan’s Polytechnic, Inaki Iroz Zalba, current manager of Basoa Suites, and geologist Leire Iribarren. Like Basoa, Tree Suites was born from the desire to offer the pleasure of being immersed in nature through the use of innovative design and natural materials. Home automation will also come into the picture to minimize energy consumption through a specially developed open source system. Everything will be built in collaboration with local artisans and companies sharing the same values ​​and goals of the project.  

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09.03.2018

In the Vinazze vineyard at Tenuta San Michele, a few kilometers from Syracuse, Sicily, sits a milestone reminiscent of a date and a fact that have changed history: the armistice between the Kingdom of Italy and the Allied army on 3 September 1943, following the landing of the Allies in Sicily. On that date, Sicily once again turned into the heart of the Mediterranean and of Italian history, and it all happened in the mansion of the Grande family, where aristocracy, taste and openness to the world have come together for generations. This summer buen retiro for intellectuals, nobility and notables from nearby Syracuse, Noto, and Modica had a special hostess: Coraly Grande Sinatra, a brilliant woman who lived through the twentieth century travelling and devoting herself to art and women’s rights.Her name and her story, imbued with style, elegance and intelligence are all reflected in the Donna Coraly resort, brought back to its rustic and aristocratic splendour by the niece of Coraly Grande Sinatra, Lucia Pascarelli. The five suites, enriched by majolica tiles, lava stone, antique furniture and modern and contemporary art, are all housed in the villa set in an ancient farmhouse dating back to the fifteenth century, protected by a moat and walls as was once typical of the local rural architecture. Each room has direct access to the bio-pond, the swimming pool and the botanical garden.In perfect harmony with the surrounding nature, the huge garden houses a large variety of Mediterranean plants dotted with exotic and tropical species. A large carob tree indicates the road to the Hortus Conclusus where aromatic plants, vegetables and fruits grow.The surroundings offer endless opportunities to discover some of the island’s most unique places, from the marine protected areas of Cavagrande, Plemmirio and Vindicari to the beaches of Fontane Bianche and San Lorenzo. The baroque gems of Noto, Ortigia and Syracuse with its art and the magnificence of the Greek Theater are just some of the possible destinations just over 15 minutes from the resort that will allow you to experience the many nuances of Sicily through its rich history, warm hospitality, and powerful nature. 

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08.24.2018

This is not a restaurant.It takes Magritte's surrealism to describe Vespertine, the new idea of ​​Jordan Kahn, “best new chef of 2017” according to Food & Wine. A dinner at Vespertine overcomes the trite definition of “experience” and verges towards that of an event which takes place in a space and a time that are utterly unforgettable.  As for the space, Vespertine is housed inside a building without walls, a corrugated glass enclosure covered with a steel grid that earned it the nickname of “The Waffle”. It was designed by Eric Owen Moss, the architect behind the most innovative and futuristic buildings of Culver City, the LA suburb where Vespertine is located. Moss first came to Culver City when it was a ghost towndue to the relocation of the film studios, including Metro Goldwin Mayers which had had  its main production center here since the 1920s, in the 1970s and 1980s.  Starting from the 1990s, the city began to attract a new pioneering population of artists, creative professionals and start-uppers, including Moss himself, who created a series of hot spots. Following this wave, Jordan Kahn launched Destroyer, a unique bistro with a sci-fi aesthetics designed by Kahn, and later Vespertine (2014), a space which is a veritable swirl of inspirations and references: from the sculptures hanging in the large foyer to the elevator and the steel tables with a transparent acrylic top in the 22-seat dining room.Music is also a crucial element in Jordan Kahn's staging: it marks time and changes according to the space. For instance, strange and disharmonic sounds accompany patrons accessing the foyer, so that once inside they will have an immediate feeling of relief, landing in a pleasant elsewhere. The elevator is the only silent place, being the transit space that leads first to the roof, where guests are invited to enjoy snacks, and then to the restaurant hall.  Dinner is a very structured 18-course ritual, with dishes that are hard to identify at first glance, with unpredictable but sharp flavors. Everything contributes to taking guests to another dimension, where everything feels alien, including the waiters dressed in uniforms designed by Brooklyn, NY based designer, Jona Sees. Because choosing Vespertine means losing one’s bearings and getting away from the usual trendsto indulge in a sequence of gestures that activate all five senses. In the world of Jordan Kahn, food becomes the leitmotif of a story experienced individually in another world: could there be anything more appropriate for a restaurant in the city of Angels and cinema? 

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08.16.2018

Salad, avocado, eggs, coffee and Vegemite, not necessarily in this order: if this is what you’re about to eat, then you can be sure that this is an Aussie breakfast, basically ‘the new brunch’, a combo of healthy, tasty and beautifulfood that is delicious as well as perfectly instagrammable. After all, breakfast is essential for an authentic Australian lifestyle: in the land of kangaroos people get up early and eat light and nutritious food that will help them do some physical exercise. Nature is the context, the source, the inspiration of a cuisine that betrays the complex and hybridized character of its own roots: eggs from the British breakfast, local fish, veggies and avocados and flavors and spices from Asia and the Pacific Ocean and of Asia, with the occasional Mediterranean influence. Avocado is king: served in the form of a sauce, sliced, diced, in a salad or on toasted bread, it is ubiquitous. Eggs are also a must, mostly poached or scrambled. Seasonal fruits and vegetables(ideally fresh and locally-sourced) are the ingredients of colorful, luxurious salads mixed with quinoa or cereals. Corn pancakesare the quintessential Australian dish, a homely taste that often accompanies Aussie breakfast even in New York and London, to intrigue newbies and feed the nostalgia of the expats. Vegemite, a salt-based spreadable yeast cream whose taste is hardly describable, serves the same purpose. Finally, coffee is preferably 'flat white', i.e. black with milk foam. Australian bistros and cafés around the world often recreate the warm relaxed feel of Ocean beach life, offering breakfast at any time of the day. 

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08.13.2018

Legend has it that summer in the city is not an option, especially when the sea is just too far away to allow for a day trip to escape the heat and the boredom of an empty town. But is it really like that? Since smart working has become a thing, summer in the city in more a trend than a taboo, and above all an occasion to experience another face of the city, a milder, quieter one, enjoying new spaces such as urban beaches on lake and riverbanks. Here is a tentative list of some of the most intriguing European urban beaches. Paris Plages, ParisFrom 2002, every summer for a whole month a real beach appears along the Seine.On the Rive Droite, between the Louvre and Pont de Sully, between July and August Parisians can walk barefoot on the sand, catch a tan, relax, enjoy a drink or an ice-cream and plenty of summer night events. AFK Canary Wharf, LondonWith such a harsh weather all year long, the British definitely know how to take advantage of every single ray of sunshine. In East London, in the shade of the skyscrapers that have changed the skyline of the British capital at the turn of the millennium, a sandy beach with volleyball fields appears every summer to offer kids and adults the opportunity to play summer sports. Nearby Kerb Food Market is yet another perk: drop by at lunch break or for street food snacks at any time. HamburgEurope’ second major port has some truly remarkable beaches along river Elbe. With the first sunny days of spring, tons of sand are carried to the banks to create an artificial sandy shore dotted with deck chairs where you can relax and have a drink. There is a beach for every taste: from the laid-back Strand Paulito the sophisticated Hamburg City Beach Club. WarsawThere are almost 300 kilometers between Warsaw and the sea, but luckily river Vistula, which crosses the heart of the city, has plenty of natural bays that have gradually been turned into beaches. Here, the nights are all about music and DJ sets, whereas daytime it is for sunbathing (when sunny) in the company of deer, elks and wild boarsliving in the woods that border the beach and the river. Vienna Part of the river flood control system, the Donauinselis a 21-kilometer artificial island created on the urban stretch of the Danube that has become the ideal destination for those who want to escape from the city and relax in nature. Pebble and sandy beaches, long cycle paths and barbecue areasare available to citizens only a few minutes ride from their offices. PragueThere are three artificial beaches in Prague. Vltava Beachis the closest to the center: famous for hosting swans and ducks, it is a great place for swimming or going for a boat ride along the river with a view of St. Charles Bridge, one of the symbols of the city. Smìchov Beachis located on the Vltava river: 700 tons of sand provide ample space to relax and enjoy every single ray of sunshine, taking advantage of the volleyball, basketball and badminton courts during the day and of the many events scheduled for the evening. Artificiallake Lhotais an oasis of nature and quiet just a few kilometers away from the city. Blijburg Aan Zee, AmsterdamBIiijburg, in the south-east of the city, is one of the latest neighborhoods created in Amsterdam, where the houses sit on artificial islands. The young and bohemian feel of this place is the same that you can breathe on the sandy beach created to offer its inhabitants a vibrant summery place of leisure, open to everyone. Vicenza (Italy)In this small gem of a city designed in the 16th century by notorious architect Andrea Palladio, Bacchiglione river makes its way between ancient palaces and bridges with a Venetian flavour. One of its larger bends houses a small sandy beach equipped with deckchairs, a bar and a children’s playground, for a unique cocktail of seaside relaxation and urban beauty. Arena Badeschiff, BerlinEvery summer, a large platform of over 1,400 square meters moored on the Spree becomes Berlin's favorite beach, with heated swimming pools, a solarium, bars and small restaurants. The view includes the Oberbaum bridge (1724), once the longest bridge in Berlin, which connects Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and the famous television tower. Geneva (Switzerland)Even the most informal space in Geneva has an elegant allure. This is the case of the famous Bains de Paquis, on the banks of the lake: a historic urban bathing establishment created in 1872 and renovated in Art Deco style in the 1930s, which now houses a leisure and refreshment area at affordable prices.  

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08.06.2018

It was just a matter of time. Hawaiian poké, a dish based on raw marinated fish, was destined to become just another food trend and to turn from traditional and daily food from the Pacific archipelago into an object of desire for foodies worldwide. Let's start from the beginning, though: poké stands for poh-kay, or diced, and it refers to raw fish, which used to be eaten this way long before Westerners landed in Hawaii. The first poké was in fact simple raw fish freshly caught, diced and marinated in sesame oil and shoyu (soy sauce), under the influence of Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisine, witnessing the constant cultural exchanges on that side of the Pacific. Its next version, ahi shoyu poké, is the perfect expression of the encounter between the Western tradition and the local culture that took place at the end of the 18th century. Thanks to the new naval fleets, Hawaiians were able to catch yellow fin tuna (ahi) in the deepest seas, far from the coast. They mixed it with onions, chillies, seaweeds and toasted inmonawalnuts, rich in mineral salts and oils and originating from the Moluccas archipelago, Philippines. The contemporary evolution of poké arises from the contact with the taste of urban tribes from around the world: from Los Angeles to Paris, from Milan to London, there is no lifestyle capital where poké bowls do not proliferate with their unique mix of taste, freshness and healthiness. The variations are endless, both concerning fish, marinades, and the additional rice and seasonal vegetables which turned poké into a perfect one-course meal.  The trend originated from James King's Sons of Thunderin New York, with its special marinades, and SweetFin Pokéin Los Angeles, where the bowls include additional ingredients from all over the Pacific area. In Milan, poké bowls can be tasted at Pokeiawhere chef Vincenzo Mignuolo offers his own variations coupled mixologist Flavio Angiolillo’s cocktails. AhiPoké Londonhas now spread throughout the city, bringing the Hawaiian bowl from Fitzrovia to Spitafields and Victoria.In Paris, Nativesis a great address in the emerging neighborhood around Canal St. Martin, with five available set menus including freshly pressed juices.  Yet if you were to ask the Hawaiians, they would definitely say that the only place in the world where to taste the authentic poké are their own islands, where it can be found anywhere from  convenience stores to tiny kiosks, as history teaches us: as a matter of fact, its global rise to success started from the Tamashiro supermarket in Honolulu back in the 1970s. 

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08.03.2018

The Clifton is a charming hotel housed inside a complex of 18th century villas set in an old 100 acre estate just a few minutes from Charlottesville, Virginia, where you can breathe the history of the United States, especially that of its third president Thomas Jefferson, philosopher and author of the Declaration of Independence. The Clifton is actually housed inside the villa that was built for the President’s daughter, Martha Jefferson, and her husband Thomas Mann Randolph in 1799, and other 4 villas built between the end of the 18thand the beginning of the 19thcentury. Each of its 20 private room has its own character, but they all share a harmonious combination of antique furniture and modern decorations, punctuated by a careful selection of contemporary works of art. The antique grand chandelier in the foyer welcomes the hotel’s guests to the majestic living room dotted with Chesterfield sofas and Bergéres armchairs, with its retro and relaxed elegance, and to the lounge. The copper cladding of the oak shelves is the distinctive element of the bar area, together with the large mirrors that enhance the light and make the velvet upholsteries vibrate, recalling the atmosphere a 1930s speakeasy. A large patio with glass windows running from the ceiling to the floor allows you to enjoy the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian range that runs from Pennsylvania to Georgia, with its typically sharp peaks. Michelin-starredchef Matthew Bousquet takes care of the ‘1799’ with his creative seasonal cuisine, served in different spaces according to the time of the day, so as to allow guests to enjoy every room with the best light. Bosquet offers his own interpretation of local dishes based on seasonal products mostly sourced from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden, accompanied by an excellent wine list and amazing cocktails. And as you sip on your drink at the large copper-covered oak bar counter, you will feel like you are travelling in time to the most refined and sophisticated soul of the US

[...]

08.03.2018

Awa Odori, the Awa Dance Festival, originated approximately 400 years ago. Awa is the former name of Tokushima, in Shikoku.There is no single accepted theory about the origin of the festival, but at least three. Some maintain that the Awa Dance was first performed to celebrate the completion of Tokushima Castle.  Others argue it is a local variation of Bon-odori, the dance performed during O-bon, the Japanese Buddhist festival honouring the spirits of one’s ancestors. Finally, the third theory suggests that Awa Odori has roots in fūryūdance, which is also believed to be the source of Noh theatre. In the Edo period, the Tokushima clan feudal administration issued edicts that prohibited dancing due to public order concerns. Samurai were particularly forbidden to attend public celebrations, in order to prevent them from bringing shame on themselves with drunken skirmishes and misbehaviour. Hachisuka Ichigaku was imprisoned for participating in the Awa Dance Festival. However, prohibition could not kill the enthusiasm of the people of Awa for the festival. Awa Odori was patronised by wealthy merchants who became key players in the cultural exchange between Awa and the rest of the country, contributing to the rhythm of the Awa Dance with songs and dances from elsewhere. There are two styles of Awa Odori: otoko-odori(male dancing), which is dynamic and ludicrous, and onna-odori(female dancing), which is seductive and elegant. The dancers form teams called renand compete against one another. Awa Odori begins in the evening, when men,women and children take to the streets and fill the venue with music, dances and excitement, to the rhythm of the songAwa Yoshikono, played on shamisenand taikodrums.The main spectacle takes place every evening from 6 to 10. Daytime performances will be held in different stage areas around the city centre. On 11th August, the Asty Tokushima Indoor Arena will host a pre-festival show with the most celebrated dancing teams. There is an entrance fee for the performances, with free and reserved seats. Additionally, a dance hall will be set up, where tourists will be offered the opportunity to learn the basics of Awa Odori.A video of the 2017 edition is viewable here.   

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07.26.2018

Yoron Island: YurigahamaYurigahama is a beautiful beach floating lightly about 1.5km off the coast of Ōganeku, in the town of Yoron, Ōshima district, Kagoshima prefecture. Yurigahama has been nicknamed “the ghost beach”, since it is a long, white sandbank only appearing at low tide in spring and summer. It is a mesmerising earthly paradise, with pure white sand and emerald green waters, glittering in the sunlight. Legend has it you will have good luck and happiness for as many years as the star-shaped sand grains you collect. Shikine Island: Tomari BeachTomari Beach can be easily reached by a three-hour speed boat ride from Tokyo. Tomari Beach, which is a five-minute walk from Nobushi port, is a cove where rocks surround the white beach emphasising the blue of the clear, shallow water, where fish are also visible. Shikine Islandis very well known for its hot springs and there are three outdoor baths open 24 hours a day, free of charge. One of the most representative hot springs of the island is Jinata Onsen, which is a highly regarded for internal medicine, due to its efficacy in the treatment of neuralgia and poor circulation. Ashitsuki Onsen has a reputation for its healing efficacy on cuts, scrapes and other wounds. Finally, Matsugashita Miyabiyu makes a nice soak regardless of the tide. Shizuoka: the beaches of ShimodaShimoda is a town located on the Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka prefecture, at a three-hour train ride from Tokyo. Shimoda is famous for its nine beautiful beaches, especially for the beautiful white sand of ShirahamaNagata Beach is a small and quiet beach protected by stone breakwaters, extending in Shirahama Chūō, along the National Route 135 running southwards in the Izu Peninsula from Odawara to Shimoda. On Nagata Beach barbecues are also allowed. If you are looking for clear waters, gentle waves and tranquillity, Sotoura is the place to goKujuppama is a little known beach. Hidden by the hills, which prevent cars from entering the quite area, Kujuppama has a pleasantly private feeling to it. Nabetahama Beachis the closest beach to Shimoda, frequented by locals, especially children, since it lies in the arm of the bay and the waves are consequently calm. Tatado Beach is famous for surfing. Also a popular destination for surfers throughout the year, Iritahama has the appearance of a tropical beach, with sago palm trees lining up along the shore. Other enchanting beaches in Shimoda include Kisami Ohama and Tōji. Kōchi: KatsurahamaKatsurahama is an arch-shaped beach extending between the Ryozu Cape and the Ryuo Cape. It is one of the best scenic spots in Kōchi prefecture, with green pines, deep blue skies and colourful pebbles. It is also a wonderful moon viewing spot. A famous statue of samurai Sakamoto Ryōma stands near the beach. The area around the beach is part of the Katsurahama Park, with the Katsurahama Aquarium and The Sakamoto Ryōma Memorial Museum. Hateruma: NishinohamaNishinohama is located onthe southernmost tip of Japan, at about a one-hour speed boat ride from Ishigaki Island, Okinawa prefecture. Its perfect beauty almost seems computer-generated. It is not hard to believe, therefore, that it Nishinohama has been elected the best beach in the world, with white sand beach stretching for 1 km and emerald green water. On the inside of the reef, the sea is calm and very pleasant to swim in. Outside, you can go snorkelling and enjoy the spectacle of the aquatic life, with corals and fishes of all colours. The beach is covered in soft sand, where you can walk without hurting your feet.If you are not partial to swimming, snorkelling or walking, you can just lie on the sand in total idleness. Nishinohama is ideal for that purpose, too. 

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07.25.2018

Tiziana Alamprese's love for Tokyo was born well before she decided to move permanently to the Japanese capital twelve years ago, when she took on the role of Marketing Director at Fiat Auto Japan.Born in Potenza, Italy, and currently the Marketing Director of Fiat Chrysler Japan, Tiziana told us that she has been fascinated by Japanese Zen culture since high school, when she first read Heidegger's dialogue with a Japanese disciple from the collection of philosophical essays On The Way To Language. She later graduated at Naples’ University of Oriental Languages specializing in Japanese history, language, economy and law, earned a master's degree in economics at Kyushu University, in Fukuoka, and decided she would someday go back to Japan. As a European woman manager, how do you feel you are perceived in the Japanese work environment?TA: Just like in Italy, the work environment in Japan can sometimes be hostile to women, especially to a "foreigner”. Emancipation requires creativity, professionalism, a clarity of vision and mission, knowledge of the local culture and language, and ideally a shoulder to cry on, someone as “foreign” as yourself to encourage you. Although I had to face many difficulties and challenges through my 13-year-long path, I think I managed to make my own difference a strong pointat workDo you ever find yourself in trouble juggling with the complex rules of Japanese etiquette either at work or in social contexts?TA: My solid knowledge of the local culture and language makes it easier for me to follow the rules and convivial rituals of Japan, but occasionally I do make mistakes too! Truth be told, the Japanese forgive easilyand they even have fun watching us clumsy Westerners. I actually believe it’s a shame that they pretend they not to notice our shortcomings, because being told would help us learn from mistakes. Anyway, the best strategy is to apologize with a deep bow and to join in the hopefully benevolent laughter that your mistake aroused. In case your Japanese interlocutor looks offended and does not smile, escape is the only option! Why, in your opinion, do the Japanese love Italy so much?TA: I have my own personal theory about it: I believe the Japanese are "inherently Italian". You can see it for yourself by entering any place where friends, colleagues or strangers gather to sing, laugh, hug and dance without inhibitions. Alcohol is only the “conductive medium” of this expansiveness, which the Japanese love to attribute to the Italians but which is actually also inherent in their DNA! In short, the true reason of their love for Italy is not to be found only in their profound appreciation for our food, fashion, style, design, art and beauty (all of which also abound in Japan), nor does it reside solely in the obvious similarities between our territories (the volcanoes, the earthquakes, the four seasons), but it lies mostly in the same "joie de vivre"that we Italians express freely and the Japanese tend to keep more controlled to comply with the local rules of social behavior. What do you particularly like about Japanese culture and the national character?TA: Their curiosity and the ability to be amazedlike little children by any new discovery, even the smallest one, expressing this amazement without shame, at any age and in every context, even in front of complete strangers. Another thing that always strikes me is how they can always tell those little details that reveal true beauty, which sometimes we Italians completely miss. Can you outline your sentimental map of the city?TA: The neighborhood of Hiroo, which is the area where I saw my daughter grow up from six to eighteen. Our walks in Arisugawa park, which is beautiful in every season, and of our beloved sushi restaurant. Sunday mornings in Harajuku along the famous Takeshita street, shopping for clothes or accessories inspired by metropolitan subcultures with my teenage daughter, and always ending up finding something for me too! The outstanding contemporary art exhibits at Mori Museum, on the 52nd floor of the Roppongi Hills complex, combined with a breathtaking view of Tokyo that never fails to amaze. The occasional visits to the beautiful Nezu museum of ancient art in Minami Aoyama, and the contemplation of the changing seasons in its magical garden.Celebrating the new year at the impressive Meiji Shinto templeor at the magnificent Zojo-ji Buddhist temple. Spending gloomy winter Sundays at one of the fantastic city spaswith thermal water pools and restaurants. And finally, my Tokyo nights in Shinjuku, the city’s most exciting neighborhood, vibrating with excesses and contradictions, neon lights, and a unique mix of transgression, kitsch, beauty and ugliness, perfectly bended like its massively consumed cocktails. A perfect evening in Shinjuku always ends with a walk in the Golden Gai, a maze of alleys and tiny clubs where you can drink a sake offered in a small bar by a mama-sanand feel at home in the company of perfect strangers. Which non-touristy places should we absolutely visit when in Tokyo?TA: I love the Yamanote, the legendary 35-kilometer railway line that runs through all the 23 Tokyo districts in a circular path around the untouchable and sacred space of the Imperial Gardens. A proper tour of Tokyo tour should include all of its 23 "cities in the city". In the shade of the glittering skyscrapers that continue to rise and bring the city closer to the sky, every neighborhood has preserved its identityin the alleys, in the old houses and cafes run by old ladies, in the markets and in the temples, in the amazing gardens, in the traditional food and sake culture. Walking from one district to another is also a very pleasant experience. I recommend strolling from Ueno Park to Nippori through the ancient district of Yanaka, which looks very much like Kyoto! To see the city from a different point of view, I suggest boarding the boat that connects Asakusa to Odaiba, the modern district literally built on reclaimed land, and stopping at Hamarikyu gardens, a green oasis on the backdrop of the Shiodome skyscrapers, for a cup of matchain the old tea house. Is the excitement for the 2020 Olympics tangible? Do you think it will be a good opportunity for the city?TA:There has already been a very positive effect on all business areas, but I think it will be even more interesting to see how the event impacts society. This is a great opportunity for Japan, as it could foster the adoption of more advanced policies in terms of equal opportunities and same-sex marriage. After all, diversity is the theme of the 2020 Olympics! Tell us a bit about your relationship with Japanese cuisine.TA:Even after 12 years of living here and intensely exploring the city, Tokyo continues to amaze me and has me caught in a spell of continuous discoveries of every kind, but above all gastronomic ones! I simply love Japanese cuisine, which I consider the best one in the world along with the Italian one. I recommend trying everything - sushi, soba, teppanyaki, tempura, yakitori, robatayaki, kushiaki, and of course the vegetarian cuisine of the Zen temples.  

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07.10.2018

Edamame is the Japanese name for soybeans harvested when they are still young and soft, from May to late October, now a popular snack all around the world. Gunma prefecture accounts for approximately 28% of the domestic production, followed by Akita (24%) and Yamagata (12%). Some varieties of soybeans need to mature before they can be harvested, whereas others are suitable to be picked before maturation. New types were created in order to increase the size, quantity and quality of the beans. Edamame were presumably eaten already during the Nara period (710-794)or the Heian period (794-1185). There also exist written references of their being presented as gifts during the Kamakura period(1185-1333). Duringthe Edo period (1603-1868),in the summertime,street vendors would peddle soybeans still attached to the twig, then boiled and soldto people who would snack on them while walking. Originally, they were called edazuki mame, literally “beans on a twig”, which was later shortened into the present day form edamame. The colour of the pod is important, and bright-green is most desirableshade. Ripeness induces a reduction in the content ofsugar (responsible for the distinctive flavour and sweetness of edamame), amino acids and ascorbic acid. The most popular way of preparing edamame is to boil and salt them. They are a popular snack in bars, especially paired with beer and drinks. The high protein content of soybeans will reduce the toxic effects of alcohol. In Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, edamame are boiled and reduced to a jam, which is used to make the famous zunda-mochi, edamame-flavoured rice cakes. What is unexpectedly unknown is the great nutritional value of boiled edamame. Boiling is the tastiest fashion of preparing edamame and it is incredibly easy, too.  All you have to do is rinse the edamame cut both ends of the pods and rub them in salt. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add the edamame and boil for about three minutes. When they are cooked,you shouldstrain and sprinkle them with salt to coat. Do not try to cool them by spraying them with cold water. That would only make them soggy. Grab a nice, cold beer and you are settled. Enjoy! 

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07.09.2018

From the 5th to the 11th of August, the Farmer’s Market Weekcelebrates American farmer’s markets to promote the advantages of this centuries-old tradition that has come back into vogue with a new focus on sustainability and well-being. All over the world, the markets selling fresh, local products from small,  often family-owned businesses are a great way to familiarize with regional food and traditions and to meet the locals, enjoying an immersive and authentic experience. Here is a tentative list of 10 farmer's markets around the world, each one a faithful mirror of the culture that feeds it and of the city that hosts it.  Union Square Green Market (New York, USA)It was the year 1976 when a bunch of farmers and breeders from New York began to bring their own products to Union Square, one of the largest open and public spaces in the city. Since then, the growth has been continuous: today, fishermen, farmers and bakerstake up around 130 stalls visited by thousands of New Yorkers stationed or in transit, looking for unique and fresh produce. Roppongi Ark Hills (Tokyo, Japan)Part farmer's market, part outdoor meeting and entertainment space with a special focus on families who may take advantage of a large playground for children, Roppongi Art Hills offers fresh fish and specialties from around Tokyoalong with small handicrafts. Besides shopping, we recommend eating at one of the many small restaurants that surround the market.  Borough Market (London, UK)This market originated in 1014, when crossing the Thames and reaching the southern shore was a no easy task and occasionally illegal. The market enjoyed a renaissance starting from the 1990s, when the first specialty food stalls landed in its empty warehouses and their instant success showed the world that there was a new desire to experience tastes and traditions in London. Open 6 days a week, this market is now  a must-see for anyone visiting the city and willing to explore the contemporary British food scene.  Cangas De Onis (Spagna)Cangas de Onis is a small town in the mountains and, quite unexpectedly, the former capital of the Asturian Kingdom, in northern Spain. A classic border city, every Sunday it comes alive with an ancient market dating back to as far as the Middle Ages, housed in the large square between Palaciu Pintu and the church of Santa Maria. The result is a feast of food and colors revolving around Asturian and Spanish culture, with a focus on local cheeses, a true specialty of which each producer will be happy to explain visitors the production process and complex taste. Desserts, jams and typical local hazelnuts complete the landscape. Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market (San Francisco, USA)This 25-year-old market is an expression of the pioneering Californian spirit in terms of sustainability and zero-mile food. Managed by CUESA (a non-profit association), it is a point of reference for those who love the sustainable culture of food, as well as for renowned chefs and for thousands of visitors who flock to the market, especially on Saturdays. Standing along the Bay Area commuter route, it offers fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and baked goodsRoma Farmer’s Market (Roma, Italy)The Garbatella district is a historic, working-class district of Rome. Among its old buildings, often covered in murals, sits the old local market, which was recently renovated to include the city’s most historic market formerly located in the Testaccio neighborhood. The stalls sell pizza, pasta, cheeses, meats, fruit, vegetables and local delicaciesfrom the local countryside. Open on Saturdays and Sundays.Piazza delle Erbe Market (Padua, Italy)In every venetian city there is a ‘Piazza delle Erbe’ where, often since the Middle Ages, farmers used to come to sell their products. In Padua, this long-standing tradition continues: in the heart of the city, among palaces that echo the splendor of the Venetian Republic, every day (except Sundays) fruits, vegetables and fresh produce from the surrounding countryside are sold in more than 70 stands extending into the adjacent Piazza della Frutta, for the benefit of locals, tourists and thousands of students. Marché Bastille (Paris, France)As it often happens in France, at Marché Bastille the beauty of the food delights the eye even before its taste delights the palate: endless varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, spices, and olives. There is also an African component represented by the presence of batik fabrics, decorations and jewels. Finally, the abundance of gourmet stalls has turned this market into a major foodie destination, yet this gastronomic ‘gentrification’ suggests paying attention to the prices. Kaupattori Market (Helsinki, Finland)This market is one of the many good reasons to visit Helsinki. The square that houses it offers an unmissable view of the Gulf of Finland and it is connected to Esplanade Park, one of the city's green arteries. Fresh fish, to be taken away or eaten on the spot, is king, along with seasonal local vegetables and fruits. Kowloon City Wet Market (Hong Kong, China)With over 500 stalls housed inside a huge structure that looks like a ship, this market is mainly focused on fresh fish, available in endless variations. For a full immersion in the colors and the fragrances of southern China, take a look at the stalls selling local fruits like longan, rambutan and durian. 

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07.02.2018

In 2013, UNESCO added traditional Japanese cuisine, or washoku, into its Intangible Cultural Heritage list, as a social custom handed down from generation to generation that expresses Japanese people’s respect for nature. The main characteristics of Japanese traditional cuisine are: diversity and freshness of ingredients and respect for their inherent flavours;an extraordinarily well-balanced and healthy diet; an expression of natural beauty and the changing seasonsand a close links with annual events. Ichijūissaiis a word that expresses the ideal nutritional balance of Japan’s dietary habits, revolving around a set meal consisting in a bowl of soup, rice and one further dish. The combination of these three main ingredients is rich in umami and low on animal fat and it makes a wonderful tool for longevity and obesity prevention. Last but not least, set meals are an inexpensive yet tasty choice, especially in Tokyo. If you like washoku, here are a few recommendations. To-iro (Nakameguro)At To-iro, you can take one of the eight seats at the counter and enjoy rice and miso soup prepared with different ingredients every day. Nutritious and delicious. Chisō Kōjiya (Shirokane-dai)Home-made miso and salted rice malt are the base of Chisō Kōjiya’s dishes, with the freshest vegetables and fish from Tsukiji Market. We particularly recommend the free-range chicken from O’oyama, Tottori prefecture, seasoned with salted rice malt. Washoku Ando (Akasaka)In the modernly furbished shop, you can taste seasonal ingredients changing every month. Washoku Ando uses Koshihikari rice from Niigata prefecture. Nidaime Aoi (Shibuya)Chef Yūichirō Satoyoshi will find the dish that best matches your personal taste. A personal recommendation would be dashimaki tamago, traditional Japanese rolled omelette made with egg and dashi. Sake Square (Kinshichō)The speciality is fresh fish, paired with sake selected by a lady sommelier. 

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06.25.2018

The Japanese capital is a hectic, hard-working, crowded city, and while these are just the things that make it so vibrant and exciting, sometimes life in the city can stressful, especially when you’re tired and in need of a well-deserved break. So, where do Tokyoites go to spend a relaxing weekend whenever they unplug from work? As it turns out, there are so many incredible and diverse places only a short train ride away that they are definitely spoiled for choice. Following are a few ideas recommended by locals. Just take your pick!  Mount FujiThe world’s most iconic mountain, Mont Fuji, is actually an active stratovolcano sitting 60 miles south-west of Tokyo. On clear days, it can be seen from several viewpoints in the city, including the tallest skyscrapers and the surrounding mountains. Oshino, a small village in the Fuji Five Lake region, Yamanashi Prefecture (114 kilometers from Tokyo), offers an absolutely mesmerizing view of Mount Fuji, especially when its snow-crowned summit appears in the midst of the cherry trees or the autumnal foliage. We recommend taking the opportunity to visit nearby Oshino Hakkai, a set of eight ponds fed by snow melted from the slopes of Mount Fuji that filters down the mountain through porous layers of lava for over 20 years, resulting in very clear spring water.  Tōshōgu Shrine in NikkoLocated about 2 hours north of Tokyo, Nikko’s Tōshōgu can be reached from Akasaka Station by the “Kengo” limited express train in two hours only. It is a truly mystical place, a World Heritage Site lying on the holy grounds of the Nikkō mountain range, where the shimmering waters of the Daiya River, flowing from Lake Chūzenji, and the Inari River, flowing from Mount Nyohō, converge. The whole area is covered in a forest of cedar trees aged between 400 and 800, and dotted with shrines. The Tokugawa Ieyasu Tōshōgu is a magnificent place with a strong impact. Animals are carved in the wooden parts of the building: these include the “Three Wise Monkeys”,respectively covering their eyes, ears and mouth to avoidlearning from evil or dwelling on evil thoughts. KanazawaA two and a half train ride from Tokyo by Hokuriku Shinkansen, Kanazawa, overlooking the Sea of Japan, is known as a trove of seafood, such as snow crabs and amberjacks. Besides trying the amazing local cuisine in the restaurants, we recommend that you take a tour of the extraordinary Omicho Market, where about 180 shops are lined on both sided of a huge shopping arcade selling the specialities of Kanazawa: fresh raw and cooked seafood, seasonal vegetables from the area and sushi lunchboxes.  The Hakone Open Air MuseumThe Hakone Open-Air Museum, 90 kilometers south of Tokyo, is a unique outdoor exhibition of sculptures by Japanese and international artistssurrounded by nature, and on the background of some truly beautiful views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Featured artists include Juan Mirò, Auguste Rodin, Henry Spencer Moore, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and Medardo Rosso. The museum also has various indoor sections. The Picasso Exhibition Hallis an impressive two-story exhibition space entirely devoted to the Spanish artists, with paintings, sculptures, ceramic works and even photographs documenting Picasso’s life. The indoor exhibition rooms display masterpieces byBrancusi, Renoir, Giacometti and other major artistsIto, Izu Penninsula100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo and easily reachable by train, the Izu Peninsula is the perfect weekend getaway from the capital. The eastern coast is home to some of Izu’s most renowned hot spring resorts, including Ito, a real favorite among Tokyoites who like to come here and indulge in well-being and relaxation. Surrounded by cliffs and hills, Ito boasts a long tradition in hospitality: one of its oldest buildings is Tokaikan, a former ryokan, A.K.A. a traditional Japanese wellness inn, now open to the public. Besides admiring the former guest rooms with their classic tatami flooring, futon beds and intricate wood carvings, visitors can access to the ryokan’s tea room and baths, both still in operation.   

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06.25.2018

Yamagata Prefecture is renowned for the high quality of the rice. Here, surrounded by the paddy fields, stands the first hotel designed by famed architect Shigeru Ban, which will open this summer. Shōnai Hotel Suiden Terrasseis a wooden two-storey lodging complex, inspired by the beautiful landscape of Shonai’s rice paddies, one of Yamagata’s symbols. The complex consists of three buildings, named Gassan, Haguroand Yudono(the Three Mountains of Dewa), with 143 rooms, which include suites, double and twin rooms, as well as bedrooms for larger groups. Each room offers the relaxing view of the floating Yamagata country scenery. The designer of the hotel,Shigeru Ban, is an architect who has worked all over the world and has won numerous awards, including the Japan Architecture Grand Prize and the Asahi Award. In 2014 he was appointed Officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Pritzker Architecture Prize and the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice.  Furthermore, after the 1995 Great Kobe earthquake, he founded the Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) and undertook the construction of the emergency housing and temporary chuch assembly halls. Ban is also active providing support to areas affected with natural disaster in Japan and abroad. In addition to the lodging facilities, Shōnai Hotel Suiden Terrasseis an ideal pied-à-terre for those travelling both for business or for leisure, with a restaurant and bar, a meeting room, a shop, a library, natural hot springs and a fitness area. The real jewel in the crown is the hot spring facility, covered in a beautiful wooden roof, which pumps the water from a depth of 1,200 m.At the restaurant you can enjoy seasonal ingredients farmed locally without using any pesticides, while admiring the enchanting view of Mount Gassan. The pre-opening is scheduled for 1stAugust, whereas the grand opening will be held mid-September. 

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06.22.2018

21 years of history, over 1,200 breweries and almost 7,500 different beers: the Italian craft beer market has evolved a lot since the birth of the first brewpubs - namely pubs producing their own beer – in the mid-Nineties.These brewpubs grew into microbreweries, and with entrepreneurial spirit, started to sell throughout Italy and abroad, and joined the global craft beer bandwagon. Telling apart beers made by truly independent craft brewers from those made by large companiescan sometimes be tricky. Yet when it comes to 32 via dei Birrai, all doubts seem to dissolve: this microbrewery from Treviso puts such meticulous attention to ingredients and productionthat it is the first Italian beer to earn the Slow Brewing Quality Seal. Slow Brewingis an international organization that works with the Technical University of Munich and the Italian Brewing Research Centre at the University of Perugia (CERB) to ensure the quality of raw materials through all production stages and set rigorous standards for hygiene requirements, environmentally friendly distribution methods while respecting the traditional manufacturing methods.  The story of 32began in 2006, when sales expert Loreno Michielin, engineer and homebrewing enthusiast Alessandro Zilli, and master brewer Fabiano Toffoli combined their passion and skill to create a craft beer with a unique character that would stand outin the already saturated Italian craft beer market. Why the name 32 Via dei Birrai? "32 is the number corresponding to the beer production class according to the Nice international classification of goods and services", Loreno Michielin explains. "And via dei Birraiis a reference to a street in Brussels, rue Des Brasseurs, or brewers’ street”. The three founders focused mainly on the relationship between taste and design: a set of unique flavors reinforced by unmistakable packaging and bottle design, topped off with their signature round 32sticker.  The other focus is sustainability, not only regarding energy usage throughout the production process but also after: the packaging is designed to be recycled or reclaimed into decorative objects, for example corks that become keychains.  "Of course, to have a craft beer emerge, you need to work on making a great impression on the final consumer, and on achieving a kind of quality that is tangible, proven," Michielin explains. 32 Via dei Birraiachieves quality via a long production process characterized by limited quantities, craft techniques such as re-fermentation, and respecting the raw materials. Six weeks are required for 32’s beers to metamorphose from simple ingredients in a factory to a final product being sold on a shelf. This is because each beer is highly fermented and non-pasteurized.  The result is a non-standardized beer- to the point that an expert consumer might notice the difference between different batches of the same type of beer. "Unique, steady and consistent" are the keywords which, according to Loreno, give us the best definition.  One of their side projects is donating money to Fondazione Lucia Guderzo’s school for vision impaired children from the sales of bottles with braille printed on the label. 32 via dei Birraiis a very non-standard beer company, indeed.  

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06.15.2018

Exit-Gastronomia Urbana was born with the ambitious goal of bringing the excellence of a haute cuisine restaurant inside a historic food kiosk in the old city. Behind it is Matias Perdomo, the starred chef who owns a very famous restaurant in Milan, and who decided to bring the excellence of his own experimental into a very humble location, with a menu that honors the ancient local food kiosk tradition with premium raw materials and innovative techniques. Partnering with chef Simon Press and maître-sommelier Thomas Piras, Perdomo conceived Exit-Gastronomia Urbana as a place that challenges the rules by turning a place that is an integral part of the urban landscape of the city into something purely innovative. The kiosk thus becomes a bridge between tradition and avant-garde, between the history of Milan and the city’s new cosmopolitan spirit. The opportunity to eat at any time of the day is a further innovation here in Milan: à la carte dishes can be enjoyed from morning to night, without constraints. From Monday to Friday from 8.00 to midnight and on Saturdays from 10.30 to 4 p.m., you are free to choose one of the 30 available seats available and enjoy great food and the pleasant atmosphere of the vibrant piazza where the kiosk, thanks to an efficient system of movable windows. The interiors are in perfect harmony with the hybridization of places and eras that Exit's cuisine and wine list express. The local Ceppo di Gré stone, widely used for Milanese period buildings, has been carefully crafted to create small objects such as cutlery holders, and Venetian Briccole, the same wood from which the long poles that emerge from Venice’s lagoon are made, has been used for the counter, the tables other wooden elements. Suspended between rediscovery and avant-garde, Exit is bound to become a point of reference for gourmands in Milan. 

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05.30.2018

Not at a man's pace, but certainly on a human scale: seeing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world from a bicycle changes your perspective and perception of the distances. Whichever route you choose - long or short, easy or challenging - cycling tourism is a great way to experience big cities or to explore wild new territories. Here are ten cycling paths to inspire your desire to discover the world on two wheels. Dali and LIjang (China)The province of Yunnan, in south-eastern China, is a mix of natural beauties and small villages with ancient traditions that definitely deserves a visit, especially at bicycle pace. The villages of Baisha, Xizhou and Shuhe will allow you to experience a very different Chinafrom that of the huge cities, as will the pretty towns of Dali and Lijang. Visiting the stone forest or cycling along the Erhai lake is a truly unforgettable experience. Paris (France)All the world capitals provide bicycle tours to discover their landmarks and points of interest. Paris offers plenty of itineraries for groups or individualswith a private guide, as well as the opportunity to rent bicycles discover the City of Lights from an alternative point of view. Trossachs and Highland Pertshire (Scotland)The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, just north of Glasgow, comprises lakes, mountains and castles, epitomizing the ancient and indomitable landscapes that make Scotland unique in the world. Most tours by the local agencies include fun stops at the whiskey distilleries along the way. From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)It takes about 15 days to go from the extreme south to the extreme north of Vietnam, slowly exploring the course of the Mekong River and the coast overlooking the South China Sea with the famous Ha Long Bay. By bicycle and onboard the traditional local fishing boats, you will be able to savor the beauty of this land, from the extraordinary variety of nature, landscapes and cuisine to their proverbial hospitality. Aeolian Islands (Italy)This Italian archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perfect for a cycling holiday between April and June, when temperatures are mild and the sea already offers its best colors. The most suitable routes are located in Lipari, Salina and Vulcano, less harsh than the other islands of the archipelago, with perfect roads for a relaxed cyclingtour and harder routes for those who prefer a little challenge. From The Baltic to the Adriatic Sea (Poland/Slovenia - EuroVelo9)There are 15 Eurovelo routes outlined within the European territory to date and, although they are not yet fully completed (because long stretches are not equipped), they are an interesting opportunity for those who choose to travel Europe by bicycle. We picked the one from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea, running for 1,870 kilometers from Poland to Sloveniaalong the ancient Amber Road. From Toulouse to Marseilles (France)The Canal du Midi is the eighteenth-century waterway that connects Toulouse to the Mediterranean Sea running through the ancient Languedoc region. Over 240 kilometers long, it was born to connect the local waterways to the Garonne and tto the Atlantic, creating one large water course. If you love slow holidays, the Canal du Midi – a Unesco heritage site - is a silent and patient travel companion that will keep you company as you ride among some the most beautiful landscapes of southern FranceMoroccoThe western outpost of North Africa lends itself more and more to be a destination for bicycle tourism, seasonal temperatures permitting. In two weeks you can touch imperial cities like Fes and Marrakech and maybe head towards Zagora and Merzouga. Those who love free camping will have no problem finding suitable spaces, maybe counting on the ancient local tradition of hospitality. Cape of Good Hope (South Africa)A bicycle tour might allow you to include all the best reasons to visit South Africa in one single itinerary: enjoying some whale-watching, tasting the excellent local wines, crossing national parks and travelling to the southernmost coast of the continent, just to name a few. Our suggestion is to find a guide and inquire about the levels of difficulty of each route in advance. Carretera Austral (Chile)The road that leads from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins through Patagonia and almost to the end of the worldis a veritable cycle tourism classic. Todo cambia: the paths, from asphalt to dirt roads, the altitude, and the climate. What does not change yet is the beauty of the landscapes along this 1,240 km journeyto be done in at least one month, camping along the way and learning to find your bearings in the almost total absence of road signs. From Teruel to Valencia (Spain)Spain is crossed by the so-called "green roads", cycling routes that follow the tracks of the old disused railways. The longest one is called Ojos Negros, and it runs for 160 kilometers from Teruel to Valencia, including two sections with the Sierra Menera montains as an intermediate stage. 
 
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