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02.23.2017

If back in the 1940s the southern Italian city of Matera was considered a national disgrace due to the conditions of extreme poverty in which its inhabitants lived inside the town’s insalubrious cave-houses, today its value coincides precisely with these notorious dwellings known as "Sassi", whose massive restoration over the last 30 years turned the city into a major tourist destination. With the inclusion in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and the consecration as the 2019 European Capital of Culture, Matera seems to have finally freed itself of a difficult and controversial past. One of the reasons that make the Sassi so fascinating is their highly stratified architectural structure: on the one hand you have the visible part made of palaces, churches, stairs, courts and galleries built through the centuries and spectacularly criss-crossing. On the other hand there is the unseen part made of caves, water cisterns and tunnels, often hidden underground or inside the buildings. Representing the core of the old town, the Sassi include two large districts, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, separated by the Civita hill, a spur of rock that guards the heart of the medieval city. The Sasso Caveoso, arranged in the shape of a Roman amphitheater with dwellings carved into the rock descending in terraces, is the ideal spot from which to admire the ravine, particularly from Piazza Caveoso, dominated by St. Peter's church. Also in this part of town are the spectacular rocky outcrop of Mount Errone, housing the cave church of Madonna dell'Idris, the religious complex of Santa Lucia delle Malve and Musma, an outstanding contemporary sculpture museum set in the caves. Walking down Via Madonna delle Virtù and along the ravine’s edge you will get to the Sasso Barisano district, almost completely restored, home to San Pietro Barisano, the largest cave church of the city, and to most of the cave hotels and restaurants. The old town also stretches along the Piano above the Sassi and in the Civita district, where you will find major sights such as the Piazza Vittorio Veneto viewpoint, the beautiful thirteenth-century Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum and the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art. Not to be missedCasa NohaInside an aristocratic mansion carved into the rock overlooking the Sasso Caveoso close to the Cathedral, this unique multimedia project offers an immersive introduction to the history and soul of Matera told through spoken words and images projected onto the walls. Palombaro LungoThe largest water tank of Matera is a deep pit dug 15 meters below the old part of the city in the first half of the nineteenth century to cater for the needs of the community. The water - 5,000 cubic meters - came this far through a network of canals that allowed it to flow all the way from the spring near Castle Tramontano. Today, the tank can be visited thanks to a fascinating guided walking tour of the caves and the cisterns beneath the city. MUSMA – Museo della Scultura ContemporaneaAn exceptional museum dedicated to sculpture housed inside sixteenth century Palazzo Pomarici and the surrounding tuff hypogeums. Its uniqueness lies in the fascinating juxtaposition of the ancient spaces carved into the rock and the contemporary sculptures. The collection, which ranges from the late 19th century to today, comprises of around 500 works including sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, drawings, prints and art books. Castello TramontanoAtop the de Montigny hill, south-east of the old town, this impressive 16th century castle dominates the landscape with its cylindrical towers. Commissioned by Count Giancarlo Tramontano to assert his domination over the city, it was left unfinished when the Count died in the course of a violent popular uprising. L’Abbondanza LucanaVia Bruno Buozzi, 11 To sample a sophisticatedly revisited version of the traditional local cuisine based on top-quality ingredients and matched with a rich wine list, this nice restaurant in the Sassi district can be a good option. The charming environment is yet another asset. La Gatta BuiaA wine bar offering 80 different labels including local and national wines and local seasonal cuisine. In spring and summer, sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy the view on the Piazza del Sedile. 

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02.21.2017

21 years of history, over 1,200 breweries and almost 7,500 different beers: these are the figures of the craft beer market in Italy, a phenomenon whose origin can be traced back to 1996 with the birth of the first brewpubs - namely pubs which first started producing their own beer. Renowned brands like Baladin (from the province of Cuneo) and Birreria Lambrate (from Milan) were born back then, and later grew into micro breweries taking the road of entrepreneurship and starting to sell throughout Italy and abroad, thus turning craft beer into a huge trend.Today, even large beer companies have started to create their own ‘craft’ lines and brands, and craft beer can be found everywhere from bars and pubs to supermarkets and specialized beer stores. Therefore, sometimes it can hard to tell beers made by truly independent craft brewers from those owned by large companies, especially if you’re not an expert. And the Italian craft beer scene has become so crowded and complex that finding your bearings among thousands of breweries and qualities is basically a nightmare. So where should you start from? Maybe from this basic list of breweries mixing classic and emerging brands.   BaladinGiven its international status, the dedicated pub chain (Open) and the recent opening of new large plant which can produce up to 50,000 hectoliters per year, this is not exactly your average microbrewery. Still, Baladin and its founder and owner Teo Musso keep ruling the Italian craft beer scene, with the solid background of an enterprise that begun in the late 1980s with a brewpub to gradually become a small empire. Birrificio LambrateIt was the year 1996 when three guys from Milan got together to produce their first two beer labels. 21 years later, these unmistakable beers with names inspired by the city’s culture and history have become a true classic, growing to include 34 different qualities available all over Italy and exported to Germany, Estonia, Spain and even Norway and Thailand. Birrificio ItalianoBorn in 1996 as Lombardy’s first brewpub ever, this brewery founded and run by Agostino Arioli remains synonymous with a sincere and genuine brewing passion. Its 15 beers qualities, produced with meticulous care and no additives, can also be purchased in England, Spain, Germany and Japan. Barley This 2006-born brewery in the province of Cagliari, Sardinia, is the pioneer of the one and only 100% Italian beer style, ‘Italian Grape Ale’, officially recognized by the US Beer Judge Certification Program and referring to beers made from grapes or grape must. Barley’s grape ales are made from local grapes such as Cannonau, Nasco and Malvasia. 32 Via dei BirraiBold, Oppale, Admiral, Nectar... These are just a few of the fascinating names chosen for the 100% Made in Italy beers produced near Treviso and distinguished by the unique look of their colorful labels. Founded in 2006, 32 Via dei Birrai focuses on top-quality ingredients and meticulous production, so much so that it has earned the slowBREWING certification, ensuring the quality of raw materials through all production stages and the respect of traditional manufacturing procedures, hygienic requirements and environmentally friendly distribution methods. CanediguerraThe fresh and compelling image of their beautiful psychedelic patterned labels is the best introduction to the great beers created by young brewer Alessio Gatti, who has been working at some of the major Italian craft breweries before launching his own brand. With 11 amazing qualities, Canediguerra represents the new generation of Italian craft brewers. 

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Rediscovering the conviviality of dining out with your family although you’re facing serious work and financial problems. That’s the idea behind Ruben, the Milan restaurant owned by Fondazione Pellegrini, a charitable organization linked to the homonymous company specializing in catering and food supplies. This nice and welcoming eatery in the city’s western suburbs has been conceived as a corner of warm home feel, offering everyone who is temporarily facing a difficult situation that moment of normalcy and serenity that can make a difference. This amazing idea is the brainchild of entrepreneur Ernesto Pellegrini, who dedicated the place to the memory of Ruben, a man who used to work on his family farm and later (after the farm was confiscated) ended up living on the streets and sleeping in a wooden cabin, where he eventually freezed to death. In the name of Ruben, people in need can apply to obtain a 60 days valid renewable card to access the restaurant and dine for just one euro (accompanied by their children under 16 years of age if necessary). All further costs are covered by the Foundation and the work of its volunteers. The restaurant sits 500 people divided into two shifts, it offers two different menus to meet different tastes and needs - including special options for vegetarians, vegans and religious diet requirements - and the ingredients are all high-quality, the same used in the other restaurants of the company. Open since 2014, Ruben continues to brighten up the evenings of those who, despite not being in the position to resort to the services of homeless shelters and canteens – at least not yet – are experiencing some serious hardships and difficult situations. 

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02.20.2017

Spring is coming, but it may still take a little while before sakura cherry trees blossom. However, the beauty of Japan does not lie in cherry blossoms only. The deep-pink plum flower has been an important element of the Japanese culture, since as far back in time as the Nara Period (710-794 AD), appearing in a number of family emblems and proverbs. The plum flower is sacred to Tenjin, the Shinto kami of scholarship, a deification of Sugawara-no-Michizane, who was a prominent scholar, poet and politician in the Heian period (794-1185). It is currently retained as a symbol of the prefectures of Ibaraki, Wakayama, Fukushima and Osaka. There are supposed to be over five hundred types of plum flowers, which can be seen all over the country. Here below you will find a selection of places where you can admire the Japanese plum trees. Yushima Tenjin FestivalYushima Shrine has been a plum blossom viewing spot since the Edo period (1603-1868). This year’s will be the 60th edition of the Yushima Tenjin Matsuri, the first having been held in 1958. The festival has grown larger and larger, with approximately thirty thousand participants. From 8 February to 8 March you can enjoy the spectacle of the plum blossoms, with a small entrance fee. Mido Plum FestivalThis year’s festival will be at its 121st edition. The venue is Kairaku-en, which is one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens, along with Okayama’s Kōraku-en and Kanazawa’s Kenroku-en. The garden was built by the ninth Lord or Mito, Nariaki Tokugawa, as an public place of recreation. At Kairaku-en you can admire 3,000 plum trees of about one hundred different types, blooming in different times of the month. The festival opened on 18 February and will close on 31 March. Plum Grove at Osaka Castle ParkIn 1974 the Plum Grove opened to the public, with 880 trees of 22 different types, donated to mark the 100th anniversary of Osaka Prefectural Kitano Senior High School. In this period, you can admire 1,270 plum trees of approximately one hundred varieties, blooming over a 1.7 ha surface in different times of the months of February and March, with the majestic main tower of the castle in the background. Forest Garden of SuzukaThis botanical garden in Suzuka is centred on the Gofuku-shidare double-flowering plums, which can be admired from 18 February to 31 March. The opening time is 9:00 am – 4 pm. 

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02.16.2017

The name, Hongdae, is derived from the prestigious private university Hongik Daehakgyo, currently home to over 20,000 students, which has been at the heart of the neighborhood since 1946. And it is thanks to the current and former students, many of whom have specialized in fine arts and later opened their own studio or workshop in the area, that Hongdae has become perhaps the most lively, eccentric and pleasurable Seoul neighbothood, loved by locals, tourists and expats alike, the ideal place to kick back and relax after visiting the many historic and cultural beauties of the city. So what is so special about Hongdae? First and foremost, its vibrant nightlife: the bars, the cafes and the clubs where you can dance and listen to music all night long - especially on the second and last Friday of each month, when the Club Day ritual allows you to get into all the clubs paying for a single entrance ticket (and an affordable one as well, since this is a university district). Then there are the shops lining the pedestrian streets of the neighborhood - from small independent boutiques to emerging designer stores, offering plenty of opportunities to those who like to hunt for unique objects, unusual souvenirs and unique gifts. Not to mention the exciting street food scene, the beautiful graffiti, and the young local crowd of young people sporting bizarre and elaborate outfits and the craziest haircuts. The fil rouge is undoubtedly the creativity that has always pervaded Hongdae and that makes it so unique as well as an authentic must-see. To help you discover it, we selected some of our favorite places in the area. SeeHongdae PlaygroundThis simple children playground, with walls covered in colorful graffiti and little more, opposite the university building, has become the heart of the neighborhood’s life, and definitely the right place to start from if you are willing to experience the spirit and the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere of Hongdae. Young musicians gather here to improvise gigs, especially on weekends, stalls sell street food, gadgets and second-hand clothes, and people sit or stroll leisurely. Aa Design Museum (& Café)A hybrid space entirely devoted to design - part museum, part design furniture showroom, and part café. Spread across many floors with different styles and functions, it's a place where everyone can get familiar with the history of design between past and present times, before relaxing in the café among more beautiful pieces. Behind the amazing project of aA Design museum is the idea of offering vistors and customers the chance to find design furniture they will hardly be able to see anywhere else in South Korea. The collections are constantly updated with new pieces from some of the most outstanding names of the international design scene Trickeye MuseumHard to resist the kitschy madness of this most unusual interactive ‘museum’ featuring three-dimensional trompe l'oeil reproduction of world-famous paintings. Of course, you can interact with the works, touch them and take thousands of crazy selfies. ShopHongdae Free MarketEvery Saturday during the summer months, the Hongdae creative and artistic community gathers at this remarkable flea market in the Playground, where art objects and original creations are sold as well, including some interesting contemporary reinterpretations of traditional Korean crafts. Design squareOn the fifth floor of the unmistakable Sangsangmadang glass and concrete building, where students can attend movies, concerts and exhibitions, is an amazing crafts and design shop selling handmade objects and accessories. Eat & DrinkThanks Nature CafeThis amazing themed cafe around the corner from the university is all dedicated to nature. References include plenty of greenery, portraits of animals hanging on the walls, animal figurines, stuffed animals and... a couple of actual sheeps happily grazing in the outside patio and occasionally bleating. Street FoodThe pedestrian streets of the neighborhood are lined with stalls selling all different and constantly changing kinds of street food - a real must for those who want to experience traditional Korean food and sample the most absurd food trends. There is truly everything, from the classics Tteokbokki (chewy rice dumplings dipped in plenty of moderately spicy red sauce) to chicken skewers covered in tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. AnhWhy go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Seoul? Because at Anh’s, provided that you have enough patience to deal with the perennial queue, you can sample authentic Vietnamese home cuisine; only a few dishes, prepared according to family recipes. The BeastroFrom Vietnamese cuisine to modern American gastronomy? Why not! As the name itself suggests, this beloved neighborhood restaurant that serves fine US cuisine made based on hearty and not exactly low-calorie ingredients. The weekend brunch is usually very packed. Nightlife The VaultAction movie-themed escape rooms, a restaurant and a nice list of cocktails: what else could you ask for? This is the definitive Hongdae night destination. NB2 A nightclub specializing in hip hop sounds that has literally conquered the neighborhood and the entire city - so that is crowded not only on weekends, but every night of the week. Photo creditsCover photo: Travis Estell under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseThe market: Emily Shin under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGraffiti: Dawn Lim under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license 

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02.15.2017

Bologna is an authentic Italian gem, perhaps not as well-known as it would deserve, especially abroad. It has the world’s most ancient University, historic taverns and great food, and its radial plan and long straight streets make it so easy to tour that, as late Bologna-born singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla used to sing, “not even a child would get lost” in the old city. Wherever you end up, you just know that sooner or later, crossing one of the medieval gates along the ancient walls, you will walk straight the two towers, the emblem of the medieval city. Although Bologna is comparatively small, it has many different faces. There is the historical town dating back to late Middle Ages, with the towers and the majestic palaces, and of course with those 38 kilometers of arcades that make Bologna so unique. There is the pleasure-loving city with its renowned local cuisine and delicacies – mortadella (known worldwide simply as Bologna), tagliatelle, lasagne and tortellini, just to name a few. There are the picturesque hilly outskirts of the city, just beyond the medieval walls, and the Giardini Margherita, the green lung of the city, where families and students mingle come spring. Yet perhaps the real essence of the city lies in the intersection of all these different souls, in its ability to mix its village feel with the cosmopolitan spirit of a town crowded with thousands of students from all over Italy and the world, and enriched by an exciting diversity of languages, dialects and nationalities. Not to be missedSquare of the Seven Churches24, via Santo StefanoThe square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica, also known as ‘Square of the Seven Churches’, is one of the city’s most fascinating and remarkable sights. Built on the site of an ancient pagan temple, the Basilica’s complex has a unique feature that attracts tons of tourists every year: it includes the remains of seven churches in different styles and from different eras. Four of them are still recognizable: the Church of the Holy Crucifix, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Church of Saints Vitale and Agricola, and the Church of the Trinity. Mercato di Mezzo12, via ClavatureNestled in the area between Piazza Maggiore, Via Rizzoli, Piazza della Mercanzia, Via Castiglione, Via Farini, Piazza Galvani and Via dell'Archiginnasio is what the locals call Quadrilatero, a place where grocery stores and stalls have been thriving ever since the Middle Ages, home to the gastronomic tradition of the city and the definitive foodie destination in town. Arranged on three levels, the newly restored Mercato di Mezzo was created to allow people to do their food shopping any time of the day, being able to choose from a wide choice of products: fish, meat, cold cuts, cheeses, bread, pasta, fruits, wine, beer and dessertsSalita San Luca36, via di San LucaOn top of Colle della Guardia, one of the hills surrounding Bologna, stands the beautiful Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of San Luca, which can be reached on foot by climbing up a 4 km long stairway under the 666 arches of one of the most beautiful arcades in the world, built between the late seventeenth and the early eighteenth centuries. Pastificio Paolo Atti e figli Since its birth in the 1880s, this historic pasta workshop has been selling bread, pasta, and sweet delights in one of the most beautiful streets of the city. The shop has preserved its original signs, as well as its cherished tradition handed down from generation to generation. Osteria BottegaVia Santa Caterina, 51In the heart of the city, between Porta Saragozza and via Barberia, is the most famous restaurant in town, a renowned tavern which is very popular among locals and regular visitors as well. The main reason behind its undying fame is the delicious traditional Emilian cuisine, which of course includes the inevitable tortellini and the savory Bolognese cutlet, along with a wide choice of local cured meats, such Ennio Pasquini’s mortadella, Parma ham, and the famous culatello di Zibello. 

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02.14.2017

A "palace for culture." That’s how the Italian President Sergio Mattarella defined the new Fondazione Feltrinelli in Milan, a huge glass and concrete building that has been towering over the old Porta Volta tollhouses, in an area destroyed by WW2 bombings and basically abandoned for seventy years, since last December. Designed by the famous Swiss architecture studio Herzog & De Meuron, this iconic palace is not just another insanely expensive ‘archistar’ building, but the core of an all-round cultural project; and although it was entirely funded by private capital, it intends to serve as a public cultural hub and entertainment space for the neighborhood and the city. The cultural value is given primarily by the legacy of the Foundation that bears the name of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli - founder of the Institute and of the publishing house of the same name - and promotes literature and culture since 1974. A legacy including 270,000 books and 16,000 periodicals, which makes the Foundation one of the main European documentation and research centers in the fields of history, politics, economy and sociology. This heritage is available for scholars and private citizens through the Library, and it also serves as the basis for plenty of cultural events and conferences organized by the Foundation in its own spaces, and particularly in the Multipurpose Room.The beautiful Reading Room on the top floor, under the sloping roof of the building and flooded with light from the large windows overlooking the city, is perhaps the most amazing space in the new headquarters - and the most loved too, to the point that it is really hard to find a free spot. It can be accessed free of charge subject to availability, and it is truly great to sit here and enjoy the quiet and the view. On the ground floor is the Bookstore - not your usual Feltrinelli bookshop, but a smaller store concept whose departments are modeled on the disciplinary areas of research of the Foundation, ranging from humanities and social sciences to literature and visual arts. And within the library is yet another delightful social space, the Babitonga cafe, an island surrounded by books and open until late evening, where you can grab a bite any time of the day, from breakfast to the after-dinner cocktail, or sit and work on your laptop advantage of the free wi-fi spot. The building also houses the new Italian Microsoft headquarters, which includes a consumer area showcasing the latest technologies of the company and an educational workshop for developers, startups and IT professionals. 

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02.13.2017

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a true chocolate festival throughout Japan. According to the Economic Research Institute, in 2016, confectionery sales in Japan amounted to 1 trillion 981.1 billion yen (about 16.4 billion euros), a 102% increase compared with the previous year, of which chocolate accounted for more than 50%. These figures are attributable to the expansion of the market targeting adults, in a decreasing birth-rate and aging population scenario. Nowadays, not only is it customary on Valentine’s Day to exchange chocolate gifts between - or among - lovers, but it is also good form for women to give the so-called giri-choco to their male superiors. This means that the  “obligation chocolate” market is also expanding, from the most famous and refined brands to the more common types, with a wealth of options in terms of design and taste. This Valentine, you may want to try the exquisitely Japanese taste of Kyoto’s chocolates, in the shops listed below. Assemblages KakimotoLocated near Kyoto Gyoen, it is a patisserie, chocolaterie and bar opened in April 2016 by Chef Akihiro Kakimoto, one of the contestants who made it to the finals at Paris’s World Chocolate Masters 2013. After working for many hotels, restaurants and patisseries, Kakimoto opened his own shop, where gourmets can savour chocolate and sweets incorporating traditional ingredients, such as Japanese ginger and shiso leavesChōgorōmochiNamed after the rice cake popularised by the Great Kitano Tea Party, thrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Chōgorōmochi is a historical cake shop, headquartered near the Kitano Tenmangū Shrine. For a limited period of time the shop will serve its renowned Valentine’s chocolate-flavoured mochi, for a bite of traditional Kyoto. Cacao 365 Gion ShopThe shop is an extension of the Western sweetshop Malebranche, acclaimed for its fondant au chocolat with thick matcha. In no other shop can you taste the delicate flavour of Malabranche’s flagship chocolates and éclairs, or the limited-edition Valentine chocolates, a morsel of Kyoto’s elegance and refinement. Nama Chocolat Organic TeahouseLocated near the Heian Shrine, it is a teahouse serving chocolates hand-made by New York-trained master chefs. Flavours include sweet Australian herb liqueurs. bitter Amami Ōshima brown sugar shōchū and bittersweet Uji matchaMunianMunian is a luxury French-style chocolatier located in Shijō, renowned for the delicious Munian truffles, available in this shop only. The most representative dessert is perhaps the Premium Gâteau Chocolat aux Truffes. 

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02.09.2017

Trieste is a city of unique beauty and many contrasts - suspended between the roughness of the Karst and the sea, lashed by the Bora wind and sun-soaked, torn between immense bright and aristocratic squares and narrow steep alleys. Much of its appeal comes from its being a border town with a rather painful history, which has often been the object of territorial disputes and torn apart by war, until it was eventually returned to Italy in 1954, safe for its Istrian extension. From the airy and majestic sea-facing “gate” of Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia (dedicated to Italy’s reunification) to the Jewish ghetto with its network of narrow streets, from Piazza della Borsa to Venice-inspired Canal Grande, from the ancient Roman Arch in the old town to the Hill San Giusto, dominated by the fifteenth-century cathedral of the same name, Trieste is a city of many faces and landscapes, which reveals its beauty only to the attentive and curious visitor. And then of course there's the waterfront where the people from Trieste love to lie down and sunbathe as soon as the air gets warm, lined with historic buildings and enriched by contemporary statues celebrating the city's characters and crafts.The 19th century Miramare Castle, once the residence of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium, dominates the Gulf from its lush promontory washed by the blue waters of the Marine Protected Area. Not to be missedPiazza Unità d’ItaliaThis majestic square with its white and regal vastness is the city’s open air living room, and it never fail to charm visitors. Here are the heart and soul of Trieste, along with the buildings that have marked the history of the city and of Italy itself. On this very pavement, illustrious local intellectuals and international poets and writers have walked surrounded by the beauty of the town that was once the heart of Central European culture. Caffè degli SpecchiWelcome to the most renowned cafe in Trieste, overlooking the magnificent Piazza Unità, and  standing as an emblem of the local nineteenth-century cafe culture, largely inspired by the Viennese and Central European one. This is not the kind of place you go to for coffee (although it tastes great), but rather the one you visit because its rooms hosted the likes of James Joyce, Italo Svevo and Franz Kafka back when the city was crowded with a hundred similar institutions where artists, intellectuals, politicians and businessmen met. Kleine BerlinThis complex of tunnels dug by the German army during World War II close to the Courthouse is an amazingly intact piece of the city’s past. You can visit the public bomb shelter and the German military air-raid shelter, where everything has been left just as it was back then, including the old and flaking wall paint. The complex also houses two permanent exhibitions, one of which focuses on the bombing of Trieste during World War II. The Opicina trolleyTrieste like Lisbon? In a way, yes, because the lovely "tram de Opicina", mentioned in one of the most famous local folk songs, rides up and down steep slopes. A 5 km ride takes passengers up to Opicina, on the Karst, a favorite destination among locals for a short trip out of town or simply for a lunch in one of the many osterias. Miramare ParkStrange as it might seem, the 22 lush hectares of the wonderful park surrounding the picturesque Miramare Habsburg Castle were once a wasteland. And it took actually many years for the karstic rocky promontory of Grignano to take on its current appearance. Behind the enterprise was Maximilian of Habsburg, who hired landscapers, botanists and nurserymen and had large amounts of soil from Styria and Carinthia carried here to create his private "garden of wonders", full of rare and exotic species, unusual buildings, paths and waterways. 

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The moon is our only natural satellite, our closest planet, our neighbor – but will it ever become a second home to us Earthlings? Some believe it will, and that it is to the moon we should turn our gaze in order to ensure our survival and create a limitless future for our children, expanding to it our social and economic sphere. This may sound like a threat, and in a way it is: as a matter of fact, by the end of this year, men will set foot on the moon again, only this time it will be a commercial mission, with the long term goal of mining for minerals that are rare on Earth, such as niobium, yttrium and dysprosium. The mission, authorized last July by the American Federal Aviation Administration, will be carried out by Moon Express, a private company founded by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in 2010 - the first to get the necessary permissions for the launch of a space mission for commercial purposes, but certainly not the only one willing to embark on such an enterprise. In addition raising 45 million dollars and taking part in the l Google Lunar X Prize, a space competition organized by the X Prize Foundationand sponsored by Google - Moon Express has developed a lander in collaboration with NASA, signed an agreement with the aerospace corporation Rocket Lab for the launch of three robotic spacecrafts and eventually moved to the NASA Space Center in Cape Canavera. And now it is ready to become the first private company to travel out of the Earth’s orbit, opening "a new era of low cost lunar exploration and development for students, scientists, space agencies and commercial interests ", as stated by CEO Bob Richards. Whether you think of this as the promise of a better future or as the threat of a mere exploitation of the moon, we all need to come to terms with the fact that the mineral resources of our satellite are worth much more than we may expect, and that according to Moon Express co-founder and chairmain of Moon Express Naveen Jain, in 15 years, the moon will be an important part of the Earth’s economy.  

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02.06.2017

The National Museum of Western Art is Japan’s most relevant institution for Western art, developing around the Matsukata Collection, with pieces returned to Japan by the French government which include impressionist paintings and sculptures by Rodin. Regardless of the splendour of its exhibits and collections on display inside the Museum, the premises themselves are internationally acclaimed for being an architectural masterpiece. Completed in 1959, the National Museum of Western Art was designed by Le Corbusier, possibly the most influential architect of the 20th century. In 1998, the Ministry of Infrastructures listed the Museum among the 100 Greatest Public Buildings. It was designated as a Nationally Important Cultural Property in 2007. In July 2016, the Museum was added to the World Heritage List along with other works by Le Corbusier, “for his outstanding contribution to the modern architecture movement”. The premises bear all the characteristics of Le Corbusier’s architectural style, such as the use of pilotis, free elevation and roof gardens. But the real peculiarity of this museum is the spiral slope at the center of the exhibition room. The Matsukata Collection is composed of pieces of art that Kōjirō Matsukata started collecting while staying in London during the First World War. He was the third son of Masayoshi Matsukata, a statesman who also served as Prime Minister of Japan and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Japan. Aiming to cater authentic Western art to the young Japanese artists, Kōjirō relentlessly collected up to 10,000 pieces of art, which include Western paintings, sculptures, furniture and tapestries, as well as 8,000 ukiyo-e. Unfortunately, the works stored in the London warehouse were destroyed by a major fire, whereas the French government initially withheld the pieces which Kōjirō had brought to Paris. In the name of the amity with Japan, France later returned all the items belonging to what is now known as the Matsukata Collection, which include Rodin’s sculptures and French art spanning from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The Matsukata Collection is displayed in a permanent exhibition in the main building, the new building and the front yard.  

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02.06.2017

Mexican haciendas, those huge estates where the Mexican families of Spanish descent once lived and worked on their productive activities, are part of the landscape of the country, especially in the central and southern states. Dating back to the period between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century, these buildings are authentic pieces of Mexican history, as well as the backdrop of the economic and social life of that era, when their residents and owners engaged in competition over the beauty of the facades, the spectacularity of the architecture and the luxury of the interiors. What is left today of that golden world? Sometimes only a few, decayed walls, but for the most part those buildings have been perfectly preserved, renovated and turned into gorgeous boutique hotels, full of history and old-time glamour. And that is why sleeping in a hacienda is the quintessential Mexican experience, a plunge into the authentic history of the country, providing just the right amount of ease and comfort light years away from the standardized mass tourism holiday resorts. Hacienda UayamonA few kilometers from the city of Campeche, in the western part of the Yucatán peninsula, this eighteenth-century hacienda is now part of The Luxury Collection hotel chain. It combines colonial charm, lush nature and well being: the spa offers Maya-inspired treatments featuring natural products. And speaking of Maya culture, the archaeological site of Edzna with its magnificent temple is in the vicinity. Hacienda Sac ChichSouth-east of Merida is another beautiful historic complex. The heart of this hacienda is Casa de Maquinas, an extraordinary limestone building dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, complete with a flowered balcony, a terrace and a pond. The Casa has been renovated by Mexican architect Salvador Reyes Rios, and furnished with locally made furniture. And then there's Casa Sisal, a new addition featuring a contemporary design but built with ancient Mayan techniques - a real luxurious home enriched with tropical plants and an infinity pool. Chablé Resort & SpaClose to Merida, this resort mixing old world charm and contemporary architecture has been developed around a restored nineteenth-century hacienda has 38 casitas and two large villas. Renowned for the sophisticated cuisine of award-winning chef Jorge Vallejo, Chablé also has a holistic spa built around a cenote, a natural cave with a freshwater pond. Hacienda El CarmenClose to Jalisco’s capital Guadalajara, in west-central Mexico, an old Carmelite monastery and farm has been transformed into a sleek countryside spa hotel full of history and charm, and away from the usual tourist routes. Hacienda SepulvedaA few kilometers from Lagos de Moreno – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major stop on the Camino Real, the famous trade route running between Mexico and the United States dating back to the sixteenth century - is another delightful complex offering 25 suites surrounded by 20 hectares of greenery and a spa. The place has everything you can expect from a classic hacienda: a red seventeenth-century facade, stone colonnades, and romantic interiors inspired by the colonial era. Hacienda De San AntonioJust over the border between the states of Jalisco and Colima this Hacienda blessed by the eternal spring that characterizes the local climate offers a very unique view of the nearby Volcán de Colima. Surrounded by a formal garden, it has four beautiful suites spread across building and around the large central courtyard.  

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The advancing of the desert in sub-Saharan Africa is not fresh news: already in the 1950s, during an expedition to the Sahara, British forester and environmental activist Richard St. Barbe Baker launched the idea of building a green barrier against desertification. But it was only in 2005, when the project was relaunched and approved by the Conference of Leaders and Heads of States members of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, that his dream finally started to turn into reality. Two years later, in 2007, the Great Green Wall project, which involves more than 20 countries of the Sahel-Saharan region, was launched with the ambitious goal of creating a 15 km wide and almost 8,000 km long green strip, from Dakar on the Atlantic coast to Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden. An unprecedented enterprise supported and financed by several regional and international organizations, including the African Union, the World Bank, and the French government, owner of most of the former colonies.In addition to curbing the expansion of desertified areas, the project aims to promote sustainable agriculture, farming and food security in the involved areas, but also to create new jobs and business opportunities, thus giving a good reason to stay to the millions set to migrate to Europe. The figures concerning the objectives achieved so far are pretty impressive: 15 million hectares of degraded land restored in Ethiopia, more than 11 million trees planted in Senegal, 20,000 new jobs created in Nigeria... And the epic project continues with the aim of changing the lives of millions and millions of people living in the Sahel region, and of building a better world for the generations to come. The story of the Great Green Wall.  Film: venturethree. Music: Almok. 

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01.31.2017

From the traditional salons de thé, where everything exudes luxury and grandeur, to the small neighborhood cafes, the afternoon tea tradition in Paris is alive and kickin’. It may not be London, but there are plenty of opportunities for tea lovers, whether you prefer an assortment of high-quality pastries, a wide selection of teas, or maybe both. Here are some of our favorite addresses. Angelina If you wish to try the very best of the world-renowned French confectionery as an accompaniment to your tea, this is the place for you. The Salon de thé at the prestigious maison Angelina in rue de Rivoli, founded in 1903 by Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer, is an aristocratic Belle Epoque-style tea room which once boasted Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel and all of the greatest French fashion designers among its regulars. House specials include the famous old-style hot chocolate, known as "l'Africain". Café PouchkineThe much-loved tea room of Printemps department store does not offer a huge variety of teas, yet its rich offer of French pastries with a Russian accent definitely makes up for it. The choice of unusual ingredients is truly exciting, and their hot chocolate is also highly appreciated. Pavillon Lenotre This beautiful early 20th century pavilion built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition proudly sits on the Champs-Elysées, right in front of the Grand Palais: could there be a better place to immerse yourself in the most classic Parisian atmosphere while sipping on a cup of tea accompanied by delicious pastries? La Pâtisserie des RêvesThis much-loved gourmet mecca is the realm of pastry chef Philippe Conticini. It has several addresses in Paris and in the world, but only one tea room in rue de Longchamp. It is a great place for essaying sophisticated top-quality confectionery, but there is also a bunch of deliciously revisited traditional recipes such as millefeuille and tarte tatin. The tea room at the Grande Mosquée Built in the aftermath of World War I as a homage to the French Muslim soldiers who had died in the conflict, the Great Mosque is the largest mosque in France, as well as a genuine oriental corner in the heart of the Latin Quarter. In the beautiful Moroccan-style tea room you can try the classic mint tea served in little glasses, plus a good selection of oriental pastries. Umami Matcha Café In the haut Marais, a stone's throw from Place de la République, this nice little place featuring a clean and essential design combines the atmosphere of a coffee shop in New York City, French culinary influences and a total devotion to matcha, a.k.a. Japanese green tea, a drink with countless properties and a unique taste - and above all one of the main ingredients of the menu, both for the food and the drinks. Photo credits:Angelinaphoto by Gryffindor under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licensePâtisserie des Rêves: photo by Norio Nakayama under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGrande Mosquée: photo by Celette under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license 

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01.30.2017

South American and Japanese flavors make quite a solid couple - just think of the delicious Japanese-Brazilian fusion cuisine which originated in Liberdade, the Japanese neighborhood of São Paulo, before spreading to all major cities in the world. The Japanese-Mexican fusion trend, which has also become largely popular in the US, seems to have met quite the same success in Italy, as shown by the recent opening of Coffee Pot, a lovely restaurant in Rome’s nightlife district Trastevere with the refreshing look of a lush winter garden, scattered with references to both worlds that inspired it, from the Japanese-style essential design to the Mexican cactuses that adorn the walls, warming up the atmosphere. Yet the fusion mostly occurs in the kitchen, where Chef Marco Fontana, specializing in desserts, Mexican dishes and low-temperature cooking, and Ajmal Ameer, director of the raw food and sushi section, team up to match great taste and lightness with the aim of offering a varied and exciting but healthy cuisine. The result is a remarkable menu ranging from nigiri and sushi rolls to gourmet tacos, with a recently added touch of Hawaiian ingredients and low-temperature cooking techniques. The delicious mezcal-based cocktails are the only concession to non strictly health-conscious cuisine - and a must-try too, especially in combination with the unusual flavors of dishes like the “Polynesian taco” with low-temperature cooked octopus, herbs, lime-flavoed sour cream, onion and jalapeno. All in all, Coffe Pot is great address in Rome for enjoying good sushi and trying a unique fusion of flavors in a beautiful and laid-back ambience.  

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01.30.2017

Toreiyu-Tsubasa is a shinkansen train operated by JR East, connecting Fukushima and Shinjō, in the Yamagata Prefecture, on which you can really relax the body and the mind. Since its inaugural run, it has been the safest, fastest and most precise bullet train ever put on track. The timetable and the actual operation time differ by only a few seconds, much to the surprise of the entire world. Not only is the train safe, fast and precise, but also extremely comfortable. The name itself a portmanteau of train and soleil, which is French for “sun”, perfectly conveying the warm ambience you get on board, in the reserved tatami seats, at the bar counter, or enjoying the view while soaking your feet. The Relaxation Space is in car 16. There are two red coloured footbaths carved in a raised stone floor, with wooden louvres to create an enclosure. You will forget you are on a train. At the end of your trip, you will feel as though you have been at the onsen, the hot spring baths. Do not forget to make a special reservation for the footbaths. Car 15 is a unique tatami lounge with a red bar counter serving Yamagata’s sake and wine, as well as tea, coffee and soft drinks. The tatami seats are located in the cars from 12 to 14, where the traditional rice-straw mats are complemented with the elegance of birch tables and a ceiling decorated with Yamagata’s fruit patterns in relief. On no other train in the world will you travel as comfortably as on Toreiyu-Tsubasa. 

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01.26.2017

Florence belongs to everyone and to the world. Wherever you come from, it's easy to feel at home in a place whose image is so familiar, so popular to everyone in every continent. A city that you’ll inevitably learn about no matter which course of study you choose, a dream destination to go to at least once in a lifetime for those who live far away, and an opportunity to plunge into beauty every now and then for those who are lucky enough to live close to it. Every year, Florence is visited by millions of tourists from all over the world, equally attracted by its artistic treasures and by its amazing food and wines. Yet sometimes judging the authentic Florentine flavors and traditions from those merely designed to meet the expectations of tourists can give you quite a hard time, so if you’re willing to go beyond the romantic postcard-perfect image of Florence and experience it like a local, follow our recommendations and dive into the genuine taste of the local cuisine. Mercato CentraleAfter exploring Florence’s historic covered market, with its stalls brimming with peaches, basil, eggplants and other fresh fruits and vegetables, head upstairs to the newly renovated floor and plunge into an authentic foodie's paradise, featuring sublime artisan deicacies made from the ingredients sold on the ground floor. This space is dedicated to showcasing the very best that Tuscany and the other Italian regions have to offer in terms of food and wine, a celebration of Italian excellence against the backdrop of this historic huge iron and glass building designed by Giuseppe Mengoni and first opened in 1874. The LamprodottaiYou cannot leave Florence without having tasted a lampredotto sandwich. Finding the original Florentine lamprodottai is easy, just follow the scent of this much loved traditional Italian street food item - a super-tasty sandwich filled with tripe that will most probably have you at the first bite. Here’s a list of the best lampredotto kiosks: Maurizio Marchetti (Via dei Cimatori); Leonardo Torrini (Viale Giannotti at Via del Paradiso); Palmiro Pinzauti (Piazza de 'Cimatori); Mario Albergucci (Piazzale di Porta Romana). In FabbricaHoused inside Pampaloni’s historic silver  factory, this restaurant is actually the workers' canteen, which turns into a gourmet restaurant allowing you to have dinner surrounded by silver candelabrums and fine dinnerware in the shade of a huge hammer and sickle-shaped  chandelier, served by silverworker-waiters who will occasionally wear military uniforms and work overalls with white gloves. Needless to say, silver is everywhere, so expect silver cutlery, pitchers and even ice buckets, whereas the original green tiles on the wall and humble flooring have been preserved and enlivened by noble and sacred heads created by artists and colorful neon lamps. An amazing world of taste, fine crafts and Tuscan spirit.  Trattoria SostanzaTucked away in a narrow alley in the heart of the city, this restaurant with only a few tables surrounded by walls covered with paintings, prints and postcards from friends and loyal customers, has all the flavor of an early 19th century inn. Booking well in advance is a must. Osteria PepoRibollita and Chianti wine are king at this typical little place in the heart of the city, where the daily specials are handwritten on blackboards to emphasize the fresh quality of the ingredients. Expect real home cooking to be enjoyed to the gentle rhythm of background music. Zazà If you are eager to try the most famous local dish, Florentine steak, head to this historic restaurant in Piazza del Mercato, where you will also find other house specials with fresh fish, and, depending on the season, mushrooms and truffles from the city’s surroundings. Enjoy your food between old paintings and hanging hams, or dine alfresco at one of the few outside tables overlooking the square. Photo creditsLampredotto: photo by Lucarelli under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenseFiorentina: photo by AkiragiuliaVista sulla città: photo by MustangJoe 

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01.25.2017

There are cities whose current identity tends to be overshadowed by their less recent history, and Düsseldorf, the German capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, is certainly one of these. To many, its name still evokes a purely industrial landscape - the one that developed in the aftermath of World War II, when the city, after facing total destruction from the conflict, quickly became one of the main industrial hubs in Germany. Yet that aspect of the city belongs to the past, because while Düsseldorf is still undoubtedly one of the most economically strategic areas in the nation, this is mainly due to finance and communications. What remains of its industrial era has been transformed and reconverted with great commitment and vision over the last 20 years. Medienhafen, the former river port, has become a sort of huge architectural workshop where names of the likes of David Chipperfield, Joe Coenen, Steven Holl and Claude Vasconi have had free rein to create their most daring works to replace old warehouses and disused industrial buildings.Among the most futuristic and cutting-edge design examples is the Neuer Zollhof building by Frank Gehry with its unmistakable curves and asymmetrical lines, built at the end of the 1990s where the old custom house used to be. If the river’s west bank is home to the newly renovated parts of town, on the east bank is the oldest part of the "little Paris of Germany", as Napoleon once called it, whose glorious past finds its heart in Altstadt, the old city, rich in history but also a favorite nightlife spot, to the point of having earned the nickname of “longest bar in the world". Surrounded by traditional buildings artfully reconstructed after the destruction of World War II, bars and clubs follow each other seamlessly, while the magnificent Königsallee (fondly called Kö), one of the most popular shopping streets in Germany, is lined with luxury boutiques and sparkling windows. Altstadt is also home to ancient churches, historic buildings like the Schlossturm and prestigious cultural institutions of primary importance such as the Academy of Fine Arts and the Kunsthalle, an exceptional contemporary art museum. To escape the hustle and bustle of downtown, head to bohemian and alternative Flingern, in the north-east of the city, a former working-class area that has been experiencing a huge reinassance, and enjoy the creative and cool feel of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, cafes, galleries, independent design stores and lovely boutiques.Among the emerging neighborhoods are also Unterbilk, south of the center (on the border with Medienhafen), another highly redeveloped area which attracts young families, and Pempelfort, north of downtown. In Pempelfort, take a walk in one of the many parks of the city, the beautiful Hofgarten, a superb green lung enriched by long tree-lined avenues, ponds, sculptures and ancient trees. Visiting a varied and complex city like Düsseldorf and learning to know all its different faces is definitely worth it, but it requires quite a bit of time. If you find yourself in town for a weekend or maybe a few days, here are six experiences that you should not miss on. 1) Dine on top of the RheinturmThe TV tower overlooking the river is the tallest building of the city as well as one of its symbols. From its highest floor, 168 meters above the ground, the 360-degree view of the city is simply breathtaking, and there is also a revolving restaurant2) Visit the KITA.k.a. Kunst Im Tunnel, a unique museum housed inside a tunnel under the river, which is accessed via a glass pavilion along the Rhine Promenade, also housing a nice café. The gallery’s program focuses on exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art in all its forms, from painting to sculpture, photography and video art. 3) Admire St. Lambertus ChurchThe fifteenth-century church dedicated to patron and martyr St. Lambertus is thought to be the oldest building in Düsseldorf, and the twisted spire of its bell tower is a symbol of the city. Apparently, the shape of the spire is due to the fact that the wood used to build it was wet at the time of construction. 4) Shop at Carlsplatz MarketSouth of the old town, this traditional market is great especially in the early morning, when the stalls are still brimming with fresh local fruits and vegetables, exotic fruits, sweets and delicatessen. 5) Drink at Sir WalterThe latest enterprise of famous local chef and restaurateur Walid El Sheikh is the new Altstadt sensation, right next to the Kunsthalle and opposite the Opera. Sleek and charming, inspired by the 1960s and the films by Lars von Trier and Peter Brook, it offers sophisticated cocktails and a list of international wines to go with the gourmet snacks and background music. 6) Walk along the river in Rheinpark GolzheimThis long relaxing green strip that runs along the right bank of the Rhine from Pempelfort to Golzheim offers superb views over the gentle curve of the river and the city skyline. Walking on the meadows among poplars, birches and maple trees you will meet plenty of people jogging and playing football. 

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01.24.2017

Part restaurant, part whiskey bar, and part jazz club. Salon Beyrouth is a unique venue where you can experience the atmosphere of the golden jazz era, of the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition, seasoned with just the right touch of contemporaneity. The location is Clemenceau, in western Beirut, once the most vibrant and mixed area of the city, which is currently undergoing an authentic renaissance after years of decline following the war. Here, in the heart of the cosmopolitan city that Beirut used to be, brand new design shops and emerging designer boutiques are literally blooming. Just the perfect setting for this outstanding corner of beauty suspended among the Middle East, New York City and jazzy New Orleans, a brainchild of Raya Kazoun and Moustafa Makky. After finding a historic building in the district, the founder couple entrusted architect Anthony Maalouf with the renovation project, which resulted in a sophisticated and welcoming bar/restaurant featuring whiskey-inspired earth and amber colors, well-balanced lighting and material melange that mixes wood, metal, glass and white & black marble. Salon Beyrouth has that friendly and warm feel that invites you to come in and look a table, not before having wandered among the beautiful Art Déco furnishings, browsed the "whiskey library" with its precious bottles, or maybe stopped at the large travertine marble counter to order one of the original cocktails prepared with tempting ingredients like whiskey, champagne and absinthe. And for anyone willing to grab a bite, the menu masterfully mixes the repertoire of an old-school Parisian bistro with the classic New York style brunch

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01.23.2017

For a long time, the Douro River Valley has been considered an ideal day-trip destination from the stunning city of Porto, in northern Portugal. Lately, however, the beauty of the landscapes, the wineries and the many boutique hotels and restaurants of the valley have turned it into a main destination itself, a region offering plenty of opportunities for exploring nature and discovering the local wine culture. A World Heritage Site as well as a very ancient wine region - the first to be officially designated in the world - the Douro Valley is characterized by steep terraced hills covered in vineyards, dotted with pretty villages and the white washed buildings of the wineries. A picturesque landscape that you can explore by car as well as by train, embarking a cruise along the river and even by helicopter. Between the city of Porto, where the river reaches the sea, and Miranda do Douro, where its waters enter the Portuguese border, there are plenty of stops and sights to be included in the itinerary, on both banks of the waterway. Your starting point could be Vila Nova de Gaia, just south of the city center, where all the cellars where Port wine ages are located, and the opportunities of tasting this unique fortified wine, the absolute protagonist of the local production, are endless. To learn more about the area, stop at the Museu do Douro in Peso da Regua, focusing on the river and on wine production in the valley. Crossing the river and heading south you will reach Lamego, a wine town as well as one of the most fascinating cities in northern Portugal, whose most iconic sight is the monumental stairway leading up to the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios, embellished by a magnificent decoration of white and blue tiles. To enjoy the landscape of the valley, stop at the viewpoint in São Leonardo da Galafura, near Régua, overlooking the river and the hills and offering a breathtaking 360 degree view. Getting back to the river, in Pinhão, take a look at the lovely station along the Douro railway, which is also decorated with white and blue tile artworks celebrating the wine and the landscapes of the valley. A few kilometers away you will find what is perhaps the nicest viewpoint in the whole area, Casal de Loivos, an authentic natural balcony overlooking the city of Pinhao, set in the S-curve of the river. South of the Douro, the medieval castle of Numão, with its crenellated towers and walls bordering the hill, offers yet another postcard setting for your photographs, and if you decide to venture further east do not miss the Archaeological Park of Vale do Coa, an extraordinary open-air museum dedicated to rock art. From here it’s just a short step to Spain: in Barca de Alva you will enter the area of ​​the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, where the river becomes narrower and follows the boundary line up north to the small town of Miranda do Douro. When to goIn September, when it’s harvest time in the valley and you can take part in the production of some of the best Portuguese wines. Quintas (a.k.a. wineries)Quinta do NovalQuinta do Vale do MeãoQuinta da Roêda (Croft)Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman) Quinta de Terra Feita (Taylor's) SleepTaylor’s Vintage House HotelSix Senses Douro ValleyQuinta NovaCasa do RioCasa de Vilharino de San RomãoCasa de Casal de Loivos 

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01.23.2017

Oysters are a winter delicacy, rich in essential amino acids, minerals and glycogen, which earned them the nickname “sea’s milk”. The evidence found in ancient shell middens suggests that oyster were consumed as early as the Jōmon Era (14,000 – 300 BC). Most oyster farms are located in the prefecture of Hiroshima, which provides for about 63% of the national oyster market. The recipes featuring oysters are countless. However, the most exquisitely Japanese style is deep-fried. When you are shivering with cold, kaki-fry will make your stomach and your entire body warm. You will be surprised by how many restaurants are renowned for their deep-fried oysters. But do not take our word for it. Go ahead and try the restaurants listed below. RengateiEstablished in Ginza in 1895, Rengatei is a restaurant specialised in Western-style dishes. Since its opening, a plethora of literary figures have been overwhelmed by the deliciousness of Rengatei’s fried oysters, which starts with a crunch and then copiously expands in the mouth. They are served with the shop’s original sauce. OdayasuYou always have to stand in a long queue in order to be seated in this restaurant in Tsukij, but the “kaki mix” menu, limited to the winter period, will make the wait worthwhile. The size of the oysters itself is impressive. Since its opening, Odayasu has been extremely renowned for its perfectly crunchy deep-fried delicacies. SanyūYou can really feel at home at this family-run restaurant established in Ningyōchō in 1970. From October to April, the restaurant serves fried oysters are nearly as big as a fist, whose creamy deliciousness is enclosed in a perfectly crunchy batter. Katsuretsu Yotsuya TakedaLocated in Yotsuya, Katsuretsu is a restaurant specialised in katsuretsu, “cutlets”, and many other deep-fried delicacies. From October to March, the speciality is fried oysters from different origins according to the period. You can taste them with tartar sauce, in a casual and friendly ambience. LevanteLocated in Yūrakuchō, Levante is a pioneering restaurant in Western-style cuisine. It served as a setting for Seichō Matsumoto’s 1958 debut novel “Points and Lines”. The speciality is Matoya oysters from the prefecture of Mie, cooked in various styles, including the juicy fried oysters with a fine and crunchy batter. 

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When it comes to healthy and health-conscious food, California is always at the forefront - just think of the rise of raw vegan haute cuisine, which has become so fashionable worldwide over the last years. It is therefore no coincidence that the latest reincarnation of the old fast food, an extremely innovative healthy & tech concept, comes from the San Francisco Bay Area. The name is Eatsa and it is the brainchild of designer Scott Drummond and developer Tim Young developer, two innovators whose goal was creating a completely new way of offering healthy and quality food at affordable prices, with a formula revolving around technology and a compelling image.So, how does it work? Eatsa offers a variety of salad bowls all made with quinoa, a highly sustainable food requiring few resources to be produced and widely used in vegetarian cuisine because of its high protein and amino acid content, which makes it a complete staple food, able to excellently absorb sauces and flavors. In each bowl, quinoa is accompanied by fresh vegetables, spices, eggs or cheese, and the manu also offers fruits, desserts, tea and coffee. But the most innovative aspect is the shopping experience, fully automated from purchase to payment, yet not impersonal thanks to a high degree of customization. Orders are made on the in-store iPad the store or with the App on your phone, by building your own with the fresh available ingredients, and you can pick it from a personalized cubby with your name. The system is also able to remember the customers’ tastes, saving previous orders and customizing the menu, and it accepts ingredient suggestions from the Eatsa customer community. A fast experience built around slow values such as health, quality, attention to details, sustainability and personalization. 

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Beer gardens on rooftops are quite the latest fad in Tokyo and Osaka, but in recent years the high-rise complexes in the city centre have benefited from some green trends in urban planning, accommodating eco-friendly oases, namely hanging gardens and bee yards. The so-called Green Project has brought about a number of improvements, first and foremost the reduction of CO2 emissions and of air temperature in the urban heat island, a decrease in the energy demands of cooling and heating systems, flood and fire prevention, purer air and a better environmental consciousness. So far, the Green Project has been cost-effective, too. Ark GardenCompleted in 1986, Ark Garden is the overall name of several gardens in Ark Hills and its surroundings, with about 40k plants scattered on the hanging garden of each building, each one differing in concept, and rows of cherry trees: the Four Seasons Garden, the Suntory Hall Roof Garden, the Back Garden and the Main Garden. In spring and autumn, from the surrounding buildings, it is possible to admire a beautiful garden with over 5,000 flowers of about 100 different species, laid out in a Union Jack pattern. Sorado Farm EbisuSorado Farm is a vegetable garden located atop Ebisu JR Station, Tokyo. Here the sky, sora, meets the soil, do, hence the name. Seeds and tools are available and customers can rent out plots to harvest their own vegetables and fruits. Plots for personal use are available in different sizes: 3x2m, 5x2m and 6x2m. In case you want to apply for an allotment, you still have time until 28 February. Osaka HoneyGreen urban planning is not exclusive to Tokyo. The NPO Umeda Honey Bee Project created bee yards in Umeda Chayamachi in 2010 and within the premises of Shitennō Temple in 2015. In the midst of the high-rise buildings, flowers thrive with very little pesticides. With high-quality nectar comes high-quality honey, rich in flavour and probably the sweetest in the world. The collaboration with some of the most famed food professionals has generated a number of Osaka Honey-based and branded sweets, such as kasutera sponge cake and Japanese sweets and kompeitō dragées. 

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01.17.2017

It is no secret that Munich owns an artistic and cultural heritage of great value, yet for some reason its museums are not as known and celebrated as the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London. Yet they are definitely worth a thorough visit - particularly the three Pinakotheken which, literally a stone's throw from each other in the central museum district, offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in over 7centuries of great art. Inaugurated in 1836, the Alte Pinakothek collects 700 masterpieces created between 1300 and 1700, commissioned and collected over the centuries by the Bavarian royal family. The collection includes major artists of the likes of Rubens, Dürer, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Leonardo, Titian, Raphael, Tiepolo, Giotto, Van Dyck and Velásquez. Partially damaged during the Second World War (the paintings had been previously moved to a safer location at the outbreak of the war, in 1939), the building was renovated and reopened to the public in 1957. Our journey continues with the nineteenth century masterpiece collection of the Neue Pinakothek, whose present building, just opposite the Alte Pinakothek, was designed in contemporary style by Alexander von Branca and opened in 1981. The original museum, built by Ludwig I of Bavaria, had in fact been badly damaged by the WW2 bombings. The collection includes paintings and sculptures from the end of the 18th century until the early 20th century, comprising works by Symbolist and Art Nouveau artists. From Delacroix and Courbet to the masters od Impressionism, from Van Gogh to Gauguin, from Klimt to Munch, the list of exhibits is truly impressive - and further enriched by magnificent works by Rodin, Canova and other major sculptors. Finally, modern and contemporary art, along with photography, sculpture design, graphics and architecture from the 20th century to present day are exhibited in the beautiful Pinakothek der Moderne, the most remarkable contemporary art museum in Germany. This huge museum complex, designed by Stephan Braunfels and opened in 2002, includes four independent but related museums: the Modern Art Gallery, the Neue Sammlung, focusing on design, the Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich and the State Graphic Collection. Kandinsky, Klee, Magritte, Dali, Picasso, Bacon, Baselitz, Warhol, Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico and Fontana are just a few of the artists whose works you can admire in this futuristic space literally bathed in light - especially in the famous glass Rotunda at the center of building. Photo creditsFacade of the Alte Pinakothek: photo by Gras-Ober under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 licenseNeue Pinakothek: photo by Nicholas Even under the CC-BY-SA-2.5 licensePinakothek der Moderne: photo by Rufus46 under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license 

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01.17.2017

A town situated northeast of Paris, on the outskirts of the city, beyond the physical and symbolic boundary of the Péripherique. Pantin, where Paris meets the countryside, has been crossed by Canal de l'Ourcq ever since the 19th century, and characterized by large green areas and several examples of industrial archeology. In recent years, this area that used to be considered suburban, despite being well connected with Paris, is undergoing a gradual transformation which in some way "threatens" to suck it inside the city's urban fabric because of gentrification, which might lead to the usual increase in rents and house-purchase prices. Of course, this happens in Paris just like in London or New York City, yet in the case of Pantin this phenomenon appears to be bringing plenty of positive effects, at least so far. Gallery owners, fashion firms, design companies, advertising agencies and even banks – the renovated industrial building of the Grands Moulins de Pantin is now the new BNP-Paribas headquarters - have landed in this long forgotten area promoting its renewal and helping to attract more Parisians, who already loved to walk along the canal and admire the graffiti-daubed grain and flour warehouse overlooking the waterway known as magasins généraux. Only a few months ago, the magasins généraux have been given a new life by the French advertising giant BETC, which moved here part of its activities and started engaging actively in the cultural life of Pantin, in collaboration with the Major. Of the 22,000 square meters of this huge building, 1,800 are now reserved for an area called The Garage dedicated to musicians, artists, directors and producers. The entire ground floor of the magasins has been open to the public; it offers a creative space (La Grande Salle), organic food halls and a concert hall/restaurant called Les Docks de la Bellevilloise, whose opening is scheduled for next spring. At the same time, BETC is committed to preserving the heritage of graffiti which have been adorning the building for years through the Graffiti Général project, which involves the construction of a website and a book, as well as a large exhibition including thirty selected pieces. Finally, the agency constantly promotes the activities of the other Pantin cultural institutions, which include the renowned Ropac art gallery, the Centre National de la Danse, the Banlieues Blues Jazz Festival, the Gallia brewery, the production and development centers of Hermès and Chanel, and of course the Théâtre du Fil de L’Eau, housed inside a converted factory overlooking the channel. So chances are that in the coming months and years will hear a lot about Pantin. Meanwhile, to stay up to date on what is happening along the Canal de l'Ourcq, take a look at the BETC webpage devoted to the area’s cultural events.Photo creditsLes Grands Moulins de Pantin: photo by Benh LIEU SONG under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license 

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01.16.2017

Naples, the third largest city in Italy, is a place of breathtaking beauty and indomitable character: either you love it or you hate it, and when you love it, you love it madly. Lying at the heart of what Horace called Campania Felix, a ‘happy’ land blessed by a mild Mediterranean climate, an unrivaled variety of landscapes and fertile volcanic soil, Naples is one with its Gulf, whose postcard splendor still cannot conquer the fear of the active volcano, the Vesuvius, disguised as a placid mountain soaring on the horizon. Visiting Naples takes time and willingness: slowly is the only way to truly savor its multifaceted soul, travel among its different eras and landscapes, between its large squares and narrow lanes - beginning with the treasure trove that is its historic center, the largest in Europe, rightly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two most ancient areas of the city date back to the greek town of Partenope, on the hill of Pizzofalcone (in today's San Ferdinando area), and to the Roman city of Neapolis ( "new city"). Both are still somewhat visible in the so-called Decumani district, and particularly in Spaccanapoli, the street that goes from the Spanish Quarter to Forcella, cutting the city in a straight line. Yet the real spirit of Naples does not merely lie in its historical remains and monuments – to get to know the real city, you will need to explore the neighborhoods: Chiaja, with the promenade of Via Caracciolo, Mergellina and the many shopping streets; the wonderful hill of Posillipo, which owes its name to one of the sumptuous Roman villas which used to sit here, overlooking the sea. San Ferdinando’s Via Toledo, the most famous and vibrant street of Naples, home to 19th century opulent palaces, boutiques and literary cafes. Montecalvario, with its beloved and notorious Spanish Quarter, a maze of steep narrow streets where artisan shops and trattorias alternate with dark and grimy corners. And finally Vomero, a veritable city within the city. Whatever your itinerary, here are a few places you should not miss. SeeMuseo di CapodimonteThe Royal Palace of Capodimonte and its park have always been a magical place to the Neapolitans. The palace’s museum features several amazing collections historically owned by the House of Bourbon and the House of Farnese, as well as works by major Italian and European painters from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, masterpieces from the churches of Naples and the Borgia collection with its Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Etruscan antiquities. There is also a section dedicated to contemporary art, including Andy Warhol’s famous Vesuvius. Toledo underground stationAlthough it may seem unusual to visit a metro station, this incredible stop along Line 1 of Naples’ underground train network in the San Giuseppe neighborhood is a true masterpiece. Designed by Spanish architect Óscar Tusquets and inaugurated in 2012, it was designated "Europe's finest underground station" by the Daily Telegraph and CNN. Napoli SotterraneaHiding 40 meters under the city is a unique route running through 2,400 years of history from ancient Greece to modern times, and descending into burrows where you’ll bump into old tanks, ancient aqueducts, bomb shelters, seismic stations and even underground gardens. Cristo Velato The 17th century Chapel of Sansevero, a former church close to Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, houses one of the most famous sculptures in the world, the Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sammartino (1753), a representation of dead Jeusus Christ covered by a transparent shroud made from the same block of the statue. A work of extraordinary beauty, charm and skill, characterized by unsurpassed dramatic force and hyper realistic details. Parco VirgilianoOn the Posillipo promontory, this nice park offers truly fine views, embracing all of Naples and its gulf, the islands and Vesuvius on a clear day. A wide avenue lined with pine trees leads to the monumental Fascist era entrance, opening on a large square enriched by a fountain. From here, you can get lost in its 92,000 square meters of greenery, among olive, myrtle, and pine trees and rosemary plants. MarechiaroA symbol of the Neapolitan “Dolce Vita” of the 1960s, this quaint suburb in Posillipo has become legendary thanks to a famous song by Neapolitan poet and writer Salvatore Di Giacomo, inspired by a window (fenestrella) overlooking the sea. With its magnificent views of the Gulf, the panoramic restaurants and the beach overlooking the famous Scoglione, Marechiaro is an undoubtedly romantic place where you can savor the quintessential postcard Naples. EatGran Caffè GambrinusWilling to try the authentic Neapolitan coffee? Stop at this historic literary café and enjoy it surrounded by Art Nouveau splendor. Pintauro275, Via Toledo If sfogliatella is the queen of Neapolitan patisserie, then Pintauro is without doubts the king of sfogliatella, which was created right here back in 1818 by Pasquale Pintauro by revisiting an 18th century recipe. Antica Pizzeria da MicheleThe secret to the extraordinary pizza baked at this authentic pizza temple is all in the know-how that has been passed on from one generation to the next ever since 1870, when Salvatore Condurro and his son Michele first opened the family business. Osteria della Mattonella13, Via Giovanni NicoteraThis simple home cooking restaurant is a great place for sampling the authentic Neapolitan cuisine of Antonietta Imperatore, “Empress” of the classic Genovese, a dish of pasta, meat and onion which is very popular in town.                                                                                                      Pizzeria De’ Figliole39, Via Giudecca Vecchia Fried pizza is one of the main cornerstones of Naples’ street food offer: here you will find it in its most genuine and authentic version, with super rich fillings according to the local tradition. Photo creditsCapodimonte Photo by Mentnafunangann under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licenseCristo velatoPhoto by David Sivyer under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseMarechiaroPhoto by Antonio Picascia under the CC BY-SA 2.0 licenseGambrinusPhoto by Michele Sergio under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licensePizza napoletanaPhoto by Valerio Capello under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license