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05.24.2017

Adjacent to the exact center of the peninsula, the province of Perugia is the largest one in Umbria, an amazing region that seems to sum up all the best of continental Italy. Perugia literally showcases the very quintessence of Umbria itself: the plains framed by gentle hills, the mountains, the thick and lush forests and the great Lake Trasimeno. Scattered through these beautiful landscapes is an incredible amount of historic towns and art cities - not to mention the sacred architecture that made these places an must-go-to destination for Catholic pilgrims looking to explore the hige inheritance left by St. Francis, who was born here. Perugia, the gorgeous capital, is a vibrant and international city where culture, thanks to the ancient university, the University for Foreigners and the Academy of Fine Arts, remains the at the center of the public and social scene, strengthened by history whose traces are jealously guarded in the five downtown districts. A major Etruscan settlement and later a powerful medieval town, Perugia can be explored starting from its 450 meters high ancient Etruscan acropolis, on which the old town lies and from which it spreads on the ridge of the surrounding hills. The entrance to the Acropolis is the Rocca Paolina enclosing the Medieval city and crossed by a pedestrian path. Strolling through the old town’s steep alleys lined with tower houses, stop to contemplate the beauty of Piazza IV Novembre with its 13th century fountain, the Cathedral of Saint Laurence and the palazzo dei Priori, as well as the Etruscan Arch, one of the seven gates of the Etruscan walls dating back to the 2nd century B.C. Like a crown studded with precious gems, lots of beautiful places surround the city of Perugia, beginning with Città di Castello, the main village of the Upper Tiber Valley and the hometown of artist Alberto Burri, one of the major exponents of Italian informal art, whose works are collected at Palazzo Albizzini and Ex Essicatoi del Tabacco. A little further south there is Gubbio, an ancient Medieval city-state at the foot of Monte Ingino whose heart lies in its hanging square, Piazza della Signoria, surrounded by the 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli, the remarkable XII century cathedral and the Convent of St. Francis, built on the site of the residence which hosted the Saint when he left his paternal home to devote himself to religious life. And speaking of St. Francis, the most important destination for his devotees certainly is Assisi, 26 km east of Perugia, hometown of the Saint and a UNESCO Heritage Site. Its stunning churches, and particularly the Saint Francis Basilica, represent an exceptional concentration of artistic and architectural masterpieces as well as a major spiritual destination. A little further south, the gaze is captured by the small hamlet of Spello, with its narrow streets lined with ancient churches, towers and old houses whose balconies brim with flowers. From here, the view of Mount Subasio and of the plain with Assisi in the distance is simply breathtaking. Galleria Nazionale dell’UmbriaHoused in Perugia’s Palazzo dei Priori, this gallery collects more than 3,000 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, fabrics and gold objects, including works by Beato Angelico, Piero della Francesca, Pinturicchio, Perugino, Orazio Gentileschi, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and more. Museo-laboratorio di tessitura a mano Giuditta Brozzetti Inside the 13th century church of San Francesco delle Donne, the first Franciscan settlement in Perugia, Giuditta Brozzetti founded her textile school back in 1921 with the aim of preserving the Medieval and Renaissance Umbrian textile traditions. Four generations later, Giuditta’s descendants continue to make art fabrics and reproductions of Medieval and Renaissance designs for tapestries, curtains, tablecloths, bedspreads, and lampshades on wooden handlooms dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. La Bottega di PerugiaA tiny and very popular place in the old town where you can taste authentic Umbrian products at more than affordable prices on the few available stools or at the counter. Sandwiches, salami platters, cheeses and of course wines and artisan beers, for casual dining or an aperitif with a local flavor. Basilica di San Francesco, AssisiBuilt starting from 1228 where the Saint had decided to be buried, the Basilica is the major monument in Assisi. It is actually made of two overlapping churches: the Gothic Upper Basilica, with its slender architectures, and the lower basilica, which has an almost Romanesque appearance. The latter houses the crypt and the relics of St. Francis, as well as works by the great masters of the Florentine and Senese school of 1300, particularly Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. Piazza della Signoria, GubbioGubbio’s main square has a very unique feature: it is an authentic hanging square, a sort of panoramic terrace overlooking the city and the countryside supported by a sturdy wall on which four large arcades open. On this spectacular square sit the 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli and the Neoclassical Palazzo Ranghiasci. 

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05.22.2017

Martin Scorsese’s Boardwalk Empire and Vinyl, David Fincher’s House of Cards, the Wachowski sisters’ Sense8. Everyone seems to be migrating from movies to the small screen: producing and directing TV series for major networks and streaming services is now considered a reason for pride and prestige, just as it is for movie stars to be part of the cast of these productions, whose level is often comparable to or superior to that of film productions. However, this also happened in the past, albeit with a different spirit: for a film director, directing for television could be a way of working between movies, for experimenting or for training before entering the film industry. Here is a tentative list of some of the greatest directors of the twentieth century who have lent themselves to television series. Alfred HitchcockHow could we forget the unmistakable silhouette of the thriller master that accompanied the opening credits of the CBS show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which aired from 1955 to 1962? At the time, Hitchcock was already a legend and had directed many of his most famous films. Among the most memorable episodes is Lamb to the Slaughter, taken from a short story by Roald Dahl, the author best known for his children’s books. Richard DonnerPrior to directing cult films such as The Goonies and Lethal Weapon and its many sequels, Richard Donner, has been working for television for quite a long time starting from the 1950s. Among the series he directed episodes from are Gillighan Island, The Six Million Dollar Man, and above all a famous 1963Twilight Zone episode called Nightmare at 20,000 feetRainer Werner FassbinderIt was 1980 when the film director who represented New German Cinema (JDF) with Herzog, Wenders and others decided to adapt Alfred Döblin’s novel Berlin Alexanderplatz for TV. The result was a monumental miniseries of 14 episodes starring by Fassbinder’s muse Anna Shygulla. Steven SpielbergPerhaps not everyone knows that the first proper episode of one of the world’s most loved TV crime series ever was directed by a 25-year-old Steven Spielberg. The series was Columbo, which was launched in 1971 after two pilot episodes with the episode Murder by the Book directed by Spielberg. Robert AltmanIn the late 1980s, when blockbuster movies were thriving in Hollywood, Altman was struggling a bit and so he turned to television, where he had long worked in the past by directing famous shows (including the Bonanza). In 1988 he directed the brilliant Tanner '88, a mockumentary in which a fake presidential candidate, played by Michael Murphy, competed in the 1988 Democratic Primaries (later won by Michael Dukakis, eventually defeated by Republican George Bush senior). David LynchThat of David Lynch is perhaps the most emblematic case of a film director who devoted himself to a new-generation TV show. With its two seasons (and 30 episodes), Twin Peaks (1990) was in fact the forerunner of today's thriller and mystery series, albeit with all the peculiarities that have always distinguished Lynch’s unique style. 26 years after the broadcasting of the last episode of the second season, the third season is debuting this month on Showtime.  

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05.19.2017

The maze of medieval streets crowded with restaurants, cafés and boutiques of the Marais, which culminate in the romantic Place des Vosges where Victor Hugo once lived, remains one of the most pleasant neighborhoods in Paris. On the Rive droite, between the third and the fourth arrondissement, this area is both timeless and rich in history and inevitably fashionable thanks to its many hip nightlife spots. Among the positive implications of its being trendy, the Marais offers a number of really good places to sip a great cocktail surrounded by the bohemian atmosphere of the neighborhood. As a matter of fact, the Marais in not immune to the global cocktail bar and speakeasy revival that sees bartenders and their creations as the protagonists. Here are some places you should definitely consider for your next visit. Sherry ButtExposed bricks, wooden floors and velvet chairs. And a large counter on top of which is a blackboard where you can read the list of the cocktails prepared by super-expert creative bartenders. In short, there are all the ingredients to make this venue really cool, including DJ sets on weekends. Mary CelesteIn this beautifully designed nautical-style bar hidden behind a rue Commines door, cocktails have been conceived of as the excellent accompaniment to the real protagonist: the freshly-prepared fish cuisine, including oysters. Everything is served around the crowded counter in small, beautifully crafted portions, along with plenty of crispy vegetables. Little Red DoorA small corner of New York City in the heart of the Marais marked by the little red door it owes its name to, loved for the perfect and sophisticated atmosphere, for the beauty of the place but especially for the excellent cocktails, prepared with fresh ingredients from local suppliers. CandelariaAn authentic taqueria and a cocktail bar of the highest level: with this unprecedented formula, in 2011 Candelaria won over the Marais and the whole city. And it continues to be considered one of the best bars in the world. Le Vieux Comptoir du Cap HornA much-loved Chilean bar just a stone's throw from Place de Vosges where you can drink the authentic pisco sour, one Ernest Hemingway's favorite drinks. The few outdoor tables and the baroque interiors make it really unique. 

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05.18.2017

In 358 BC a group of Greek colonists chose a bull-shaped hill to build a new settlement: Taormina. It is impossible not to fall in love with this Sicilian town that clings to a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and which seems to be perfectly aware of its beauty and of the amazement aroused in anyone by the splendor of its nature and the harmonious overlapping of architectural styles witnessing the passage of Greeks and Romans, Normans and Spaniards, Savoys and Habsburgs. The spectacular main square houses the Baroque XVII century church of Saint Joseph, the Gothic church of Saint Augustine and the XII century clock tower: a thousand years of history at a glance, in the presence of an even more majestic nature which ranges from the sea to the Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano. Corso Umberto I is the town’s high street, lined with small artisan workshops and dotted with numerous aristocratic palaces including Palazzo Corvaja, whose Islamic-style cubic tower has been enriched over the centuries by the Gothic-Catalan-style double lancet windows and the 15th-century Norman hall. The fifteenth century St. Nicholas church with its austere stone facade and the Cathedral, featuring a decorated portal dating back to 1636, are the major artistic and architectural sights of Taormina, along with the 3rd century BC Roman Greek Theater, still used as an evocative backdrop for classical plays. Finally, do not leave the city without indulging in the delicious local cuisine, featuring the same mixed roots of the city and influenced by Spanish, Middle Eastern and Norman cuisine. Not to be missedTaormina’s Ancient TheaterSince the 1950s, this 3rd century BC theater has returned to its original function hosting various forms of entertainment ranging from plays to concerts and ceremonies. It is the major classical play theatre in Sicily after the Greek Theater in Syracuse. Corso Umberto IFormerly part of Via Valeria, which once connected Messina with Catania, Corso Umberto I is the old town’s high street, enriched by a large number of shops and artisan workshops, restaurants, cafes and beautiful squares and churches. Villa ComunaleThis pleasant and peaceful oasis in the heart the city owes its origin to Lady Florence Trevelyan, a Scottish noblewoman who married the mayor of Taormina Salvatore Cacciola in the late nineteenth century. The English garden, a maze of paths immersed in magnolias, ibisques and bougainvillea bushes, used to belong to their home, but it is now owned by the Municipality and anyone can explore it, also enjoying the marvelous landscapes of the Ionian coast and the Etna. FlavorsBam BarVia Giovanni di Giovanni, 45Decorated by artist Tino Giammona with reproductions of orange trees and Indian figs, this cafe offers some of the best granitas in SicilyCasa GiolìA family-run restaurant offering creative cuisine made with fresh and genuine ingredients. La CapineraEnjoy revisited Sicilian specialties prepared with catch-of-the-day fish, crispy vegetables, local olive oils and various delicatessen with a great sea view. All photos by Kirk Fisher  

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05.15.2017

When you think of New Yorkers' favorite destinations for a spring or summer weekend break, the first places that comes to your mind are probably the Hamptons and the beaches of Long Island. The truth, however, is that those areas can get annoyingly overcrowded this time of year. On the other hand, you just need to drive along the Hudson River to find yourself surrounded by the tranquility of the lush, varied and historically and culturally rich landscapes of the Hudson Valley, extending for about 150 miles north of Manhattan. These places, where the Dutch first landed in 1600, were subject to controversy with the British and then became the scenario of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, with the development of commercial and tourist steamboat travel along the Hudson, the Valley was the subject of a great industrial development, and at the same time it turned into a holiday and leasure resort for the families of New York aristocrats and tycoons - the Vanderbilt, the Roosevelt - whose magnificent Gilded Age villas can still be admired along the banks of the river.Today, the Hudson Valley, officially designated a National Heritage Area, is a renowned destination for the variety of experiences it can offer, from its magnificent natural landscapes to the amazing food & wine scene (it is the oldest wine-growing region of the country), as well as for its antique shops, museums, microbreweries, historic villages, castles and parks. Following the course of the river and making a few detours inland, the points of interest are so many that a weekend is certainly not enough to explore them all. So the best thing to do is choose the ones that best suit your taste. Here is a small selection of memorable experiences to try at least once in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Cruising down the riverThe easiest way to get a general idea of ​​the landscapes bordering the river is to embark on a small cruise on the Hudson, definitely a retro experience reminiscent of the golden age of steamboats. The two-hour tour aboard the luxurious Pride of the Hudson starts from Newburgh, 90 miles north of Upper Manhattan, and touches places of high historical and natural interest such as Washington's Headquarters, where George Washington settled during the Revolution, Mount Beacon, the highest point between the Catskill Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Bannerman Castle, Breakneck Ridge with its rocky peaks much loved by hikers, the pretty town of Cold Spring, known for its restaurants and antique stores, and the West Point Military Academy.In Kingston, the capital of Ulster county, you can board the Rip Van Winkle (named in honor of Washington Irving's homonymous character) to discover the lighthouses and the opulent villas along the river - including the Wyndcliff, Vanderbilt and Ogden Mills mansions - and the old Rosemont tavern, previously the Tank & Tummy, dating back to 1740. Going to museums In Nyack, the hometown of Edward Hopper, the nineteenth-century home of the great American painter has been turned into a beautiful museum where, besides enjoying  temporary exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists, you can visit Hopper's bedroom, discover his early works and various memorabilia and find out about the actual places depicted in his works thanks to the great research work of photographer Charles Sternaimolo.In Beacon, on the east bank of the river and opposite Newburgh, a former Nabisco factory now houses Dia: Beacon, a museum that collects contemporary artworks from the 1960s to today from the prestigious Dia Art Foundation collection.For a completely different museum experience, head to the other side of the Hudson and take a look at Newburgh’s Motorcyclopedia Museum, which as the name itself suggets is a place entirley dedicated to the history of motorcycles, told through an incredible collection of over 400 pieces owned by Gerald A. Doering and his son Ted, displayed across two floors in a former warehouse. Lanscapes & gardensAbout 130 km north of Manhattan is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, the famous Walkaway over the Hudson, which connects Poughkeepsie on the east bank to Highland on the west bank. Once a railroad bridge built in the late 19th century, this impressive 2-km long steelwork only became a pedestrian bridge in 2009 and it’s a magnificent viewpoint from which to admire the surrounding landscape. West of Highland is yet another iconic Hudson Valley sight, Mohonk Mountain House. This luxurious Spa hotel that seems to have come out of a Wes Anderson film is housed inside a Victorian castle overlooking the lake and nestled in the beautiful Mohonk Preserve, 8,000 acres of mountain cliffs, forests, fields, farmland, streams, ponds and marshland where you can go hiking and enjoy summer and winter sports. Finally, when exploring the east bank of the Hudson it is worth stopping at the luxuriant Innisfree Garden, a magnificent American 19th century garden designed by landscape architect Lester Collins where romantic and modernist style blends with Chinese and Japanese inspirations in a sublime composition of rock, water, wood, and sky. Food & drinkThe abundance of fresh produce, the farmers’ markets, the artisan producers and the great restaurants of the Hudson Valley make this area a top-notch food and wine destination. The city of Hyde Park, on the eastern bank of the river, hosts the headquarters of the Culinary Institute of America, one of the world's leading cooking schools, which also houses several restaurants where its brilliant students train. Among them is the prestigious Bocuse Restaurant, a sophisticated French restaurant dedicated to the legendary chef of the same name.But the Hudson Valley is also the oldest winemaking region in the United States, and there are plenty of wineries where you can enjoy a visit, a tasting and buy some great bottles. The Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville, south of Newburgh, boasts the title of America's oldest winery ; besides offering tastings, it hosts private dinners and other events is its historic spaces, including a beautiful and huge cellar. 

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05.10.2017

Walking along the banks of the River Thames in Twickenham, West London, you will spot a graceful pedestrian bridge that leads up to an islet in the middle of the river. Legend has it that Henry VIII used to come here to meet his lovers, but the name of the island, Eel Pie Island, is simply derived from the delicious eel-stuffed pies sold by locals to passing traders sailing along the river. Curiously, though, Eel Pie Island also has had a prominent role in the history of British music. Until 1967, on the island there was a famous nineteenth-century hotel, the Eel Pie Island Hotel, known since the 1920s for hosting great jazz musicians. In 1956, junk-shop owner Arthur Chisnall brought the Eel Pie Island Jazz Club back to life and turned it into the Eelpiland Club, and the venture had such a huge success that starting from 1963 the venue hosted The Rolling Stones and subsequently artists of the likes of David Bowie, Black Sabbath, The Who and Pink Floyd. In other words, this islet took a leading role on the map of British jazz, blues and rock music. However, that golden age was destined to end shortly: in 1967, not having enough money to take care of the necessary repair works, Chisnall closed down the club, which was later occupied first by a group of anarchists, and then by the largest hippie common in Britain. In 1970, a mysterious fire put an end to the glorious history of the Eel Pie Island Hotel, completely devastating the building. Yet the people of the island - a small and eclectic community of fewer than 150 people among which are many artists and craftsmen - and the Twickenham residents have not forgotten about this memorable past. One of them, Michele Whitby, launched the idea of ​​opening a proper museum dedicated to the island and to the events that made it famous, to be housed along the main street of the neighborhood. After collecting public funds and private contributions and gathering images, objects and memorabilia related to the Eelpiland Club music adventure and setting up a pop-up museum at the Twickenham Library in 2015, Whitby finally seems to have succeeded and in the coming summer the Eel Pie Island Museum will finally open its doors in its permanent location. The address is 1-3 Richmond Road, in the very heart of Twickenham. 

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05.08.2017

Although it is just 60 kilometers away from Milan, Bergamo is often inexplicably overlooked by international tourism - perhaps a little less since a busy airport has been built in its close vicinity - yet missing the chance to discover this beautiful city would be a real shame. Visiting Bergamo means starting from its intact Medieval plant, where history is readable in every corner, and growing to know its proverbially industrious soul (locals are traditionally believed to be very hard-working) and the many nuances of its tenacity and resilience in maintaining its own identity under many different foreign rules. The Venetians, the city's masters since 1428, erected the city's wall walls, built on a previous fortification with the aim of transforming Bergamo into an impenetrable fortress sheltered from the neighboring Spaniards, then the rulers of Milan. In this corner of piedmont Lombardy, history seems to be intact in spite of the many changes, just like the sacred site of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, reconstructed several times and yet located in the same spot ever since the VII century. The Basilica offers a synthesis of the historical and artistic heritage of the city, with paintings depicting Biblical scenes partly attributed to Lorenzo Lotto and the tomb of 18th century musician Gaetano Donizetti. To embrace the whole city from above, after hitting the winding cobbled streets or walking along via Colleoni - the locals’ favorite Sunday stroll – it is worth taking one of the funiculars, built precisely to facilitate trade between the two parts of the city, the Lower And the Upper one. At 10,00 pm every day, the Civic bell Tower still tolls a hundred times to evoke the Renaissance habit to mark the closure of the bridges on the Venetian walls. Bergamo also boasts a long tradition of generosity, civic sense and patronage, which is exercised with discretion and modesty. On the one hand, there is the Angelo Mai Civic Library, with its collection of volumes started back in the mid-eighteenth century, housed inside Palazzo Nuovo, in the heart of the Upper Town. On the other hand, Bergamo can count on an institution such as the Carrara Academy, a museum born out of a testamentary legacy and still able to attract top-notch private art collections entrusted to the Academy in order to be made available to the locals. Not to be missed The funicular to Bergamo Alta Via San VigilioThe Bergamo Alta funicular railway was built in 1887 to connect the Upper Town with the Lower Town. Over the years, several restorations and renovations took place: after WW1 two lifts were added, in the 1960s two further panoramic cars were installed, and by 1987 it finally gained its present appearance. Biblioteca Angelo MaiConsidered one of the richest Italian conservation libraries, it is located in the characteristic Upper Town, in a charming location in Old Town Square. It also functions as a Municipal Archives and music Library. Its archive comprises of about 700,000 volumes, including documentaries, paintings, busts, medals, and memorabilia. The Venetian WallsWalking around the Bergamo Walls is a fascinating experience. The walls enclose the Upper Town covering an overall length of over 5 kilometers, from which one can capture an exceptional view of the Lower City. Accademia CarraraEstablished in 1794 by local aristocrat Giacomo Carrara as a picture gallery and art school, to date the Carrara Academy is a major center for the conservation, study and exhibition of the artistic heritage. Originally including the Carrara Collection, the Academy has gradually been enriched by more than 2,000 private donations. La MariannaIf you are a fan of Stracciatella gelato, then you should definitely be paying tribute to this historic  cafe, restaurant and confectionery first opened in the 1950s. It was here that, in the year 1961, Enrico Panattoni invented Stracciatella after finding the right combination of cream and dark chocolate. The new gelato flavor was named after one of the most popular dishes among the restaurant’s patrons, namely Roman-style stracciatella, a simple soup of meat stock and eggs.  

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05.05.2017

While sightseeing the most scenic places throughout the country, it is also paramount that you find a memorable accommodation that will ease the daily fatigue immediately in a laidback ambience. A number of traditional inns that rely on the enchantment of the surrounding environment, history and culture have opened or are opening soon this year. Here is a tentative list. Hoshino Resort Kai Anjin (Itō, Shizuoka)It is a hotel built around a natural hot spring, which opened on 13 April. It is styled as the antique ship San Buena Ventura, the first Western ship ever built in Japan, under the supervision of William Adams, the famed 17th century English navigator. Tokugawa Ieyasu rewarded Adams for his contribution by giving him the Japanese name Miura Anjin, “the pilot of Miura”. All the rooms offer an ocean view and ocean-themed. An open-air bath overlooking sea will allow you to enjoy the spectacle of the sun rising and setting above the horizon. As for the meals, you will be served the most delicious seafood of Itō in a Japanese-style dining room with a British touchAshinoko Hanaori (Hakone, Kanagawa)It is an inn deeply immersed in the forest of Hakone where you can enjoy nature to the full, scheduled to open this summer. Hakone is one of the most popular hot spring destinations in Japan. Located on the banks of beautiful Lake Ashi, Hanaori is a sophisticated combination of Japanese and Western-style interiors, which create a relaxing space, completed by a hot spring, a terrace and a footbath café overlooking the lake. The wooden decorations contribute to the calm atmosphere of the guestrooms. The restaurant offers a rich buffet with the seasonal vegetables and seafood of the Hakone area. Attractions include the ropeway and the pleasure boat on Lake Ashi, as well as the Pola Museum exhibiting paintings and ceramic. Hotel Allamanda Kohamajima (Okinawa)It opened on 1 April 2017 on Kohamajima, in the middle of the Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa prefecture. The 17km-diameter island is known for its sugar cane plantations, its nostalgic nature, its white sandy beaches and its vast coral reef, called Japan's Great Barrier Reef. It is the ideal place to go if you want to get away from more touristy areas and perhaps practice water sports. It can be reached from Ishigaki Island on a thirty-minute boat ride. The spa overlooking the sea uses typical seabed clay. It is really worth a try. Yufuin Villa Zakuro (Ōita)It is a luxurious hideaway with two double rooms only, located in Yufuin, Yufu, Oita prefecture, one of the most famous hot spring districts in Japan. Both rooms are provided with an open-air bath where guests can soak while admiring the ravishing landscape of Mount Yufu laid out before you. From the hotel you can see the Seven Stars Cruise Train, the first luxury sleeper train in Japan. Villa Zakuro is operated by Relux, a membership based booking site, offering a careful selection of top quality luxury ryokans and hotels, throughout the country. True luxury does not lie in luxurious decorations but in a hospitable space where you can unwind in total privacy. Ubusuna-no-sato TOMIMOTO (Nara)It is an inn opened on 1 March in the remodelled premises of Kenkichi Tomimoto Memorial Hall, located in the town of Ando, a place of historical and cultural interest. Kenkichi Tomimoto was a famed Japanese potter born in Ando, who was named a Living National Treasure, in addition to be a recipient of the Order of Culture. Closed in 2012, the Memorial Hall has been converted into an inn, a pottery studio and a gallery oozing the history of Yamato. Takebayashi Tsukiyo is a Japanese style cottage room, with a living room ideally overlooking the “moonlit bamboo forest”, hence the name. Nisshin is a modern style room equipped with a ceramic bath where you can soak while enjoying the view of a traditional Japanese garden. The meals are prepared with a selection of the freshest ingredients of the area. Kamishichiken Oku (Kyoto)Opened on 1 March, the hotel is composed of six tatami-decorated suites, where you can experience Kyoto at its finest. In addition to taking a walk around the precious sites of Kitano Shrine and Kinkaku-ji, you can learn more about the tradition of tea. Within the hotel, Kurosuke Restaurant offers the best of kaiseki dishes with small portions of different types of tofu, made with the renowned water of Kyoto, accompanied by seasonal ingredients.  

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05.04.2017

The origin of Venice, the Western Los Angeles neighborhood overlooking the Pacific south of Santa Monica, is indissolubly tied to its canals, promoted and designed in 1905 by young entrepreneur Abbot Kinney to reclaim the wetlands behind the beach and make them habitable. However, the Venice of California, inspired by the Italian one, has not always been as enjoyable as we know it today: if until the 1920s it was a place for fun and tourism, around the 1950s it experienced a long decadence period that saw it transformed into some sort of a slum until the 1980s, when the renovation reworks finally started.Today, the clear waters and leafy banks of Venice’s canals are one of the main attractions in the gentrified neighborhood, along with the beach, the graffiti, the cafes, restaurants, galleries and boutiques lining Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Main Street. The atmosphere is cool and yet pleasant and extremely relaxed, and on the streets locals mingle with surfers, celebrities, cyclists, tourists, street musicians and young skaters. There is something for everyone, in Venice, although sometimes it can be difficult to get away from the tourist traps and spot the most authentic places, the ones where locals head to to chill and enjoy life. Here are a few ideas to begin with. Coffee at Abbot’s HabitA simple cafe overlooking the vibrant Abbot Kinney Boulevard and reflecting the casual and relaxed spirit of the neighborhood. Sitting here in the morning and watching Venice waking up is always a good idea - maybe with good coffee and a plate of eggs and bacon. A delicious snack at GjustaA bakery and a super stylish cafe where you can choose from a huge variety of sweet and savory baked goods, from homemade sourdough loafs to croissants, cakes, bialys, avocado and chocolate mousse and more. Lunch or dinner at French Market CaféParis meets California: sitting in the patio of this French-style restaurant and ordering something to eat is definitely one of the things to put in your Venice to-do list. The food is in bistro-style, yet what really counts is the atmosphere. Record shopping at Time Warp RecordsIf you love old vinyls, then this music store is the place to be. Besides browsing its selection of vintage albums, you might also be able to discover something new and equally interesting. Vintage shopping at Animal HouseThis much-loved Venice boutique combines an ever eclectic collection of vintage pieces with an interesting selection of new garments. There are also sneakers and books in the back. Discovering contemporary art at LA LouverAdmiring the work of emerging Californian and international artists basically on the Venice Boardwalk is priceless. This contemporary art gallery is definitely an unmissable stop for those who want to get acquainted with the neighborhood's art scene.Image credit: Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA

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05.03.2017

Beautiful Syracuse, the gem of Magna Grecia in south-eastern Sicily, was founded by a group of settlers from Corinth in the eighth century BC, only to be conquered by the Romans in 212 BC. The ancient heart of the city lies on the sea, and particularly on the island of Ortigia, whose peculiarity lies in having natural water springs such as the Fonte Aretusa or the Slave Fountain, which have made the small island an ideal place for settling ever since the Bronze Age. Connected to the mainland via the Umbertino Bridge, Ortigia is guarded by the Castle of Maniace, whose name derives from that of the Byzantine commander who erected it to defend the city. From its first foundation in the year 1038 to today, the structure has undergone many modifications, additions and collapses, yet it remains one of the symbols of the island and the city. The 6th century Temple of Apollo, surrounded by porticoes and columns, is the oldest Doric temple of its kind in Western Greece, yet the most important sacred place in the city is the Cathedral, whose facade is distinguished by Baroque and Rococo-style features, and whose interiors reveal a complex stratification of styles. The Cathedral was in fact built on the site of a major temple dedicated to Athens, whose remains are still visible and blend with those of the church. Where to eatLe Comari Piazza San Giuseppe, 8 Close to the Duomo, this unique restaurant offers a delicious and unexpected vegetarian version of traditional Sicilian cuisine, with an ever-changing menu based on a careful selection of genuine local products. Ristorante Don CamilloWithin a quiet former religious building in one of the most beautiful streets of Ortigia, this small Sicilian gastronomic temple has been here ever since 1985. Le Vin de l’AssassinA sophisticated and welcoming French-style bistro with a delightful courtyard where the flavors of French cuisine meet the scents of Sicily. 

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05.02.2017

There is something really distinctive in SA13's creations: it is a delicate balance of lightness, irony and sophistication that makes their ceramics, objects and posters familiar and, at the same time, gifted with a unique touch of creativity. There are a magazine/toilet paper holder, a Last Tango in Paris butter tray, a poster whose bold characters read Fuck Minimalism making fun of the "less is more" dogma, a series of plate couples that tell a story, and they all manage to combine artistic extravagance with very obvious and concrete functional characters. Behind them are Silvia Montemitro, architect, and Antonio Guion, visual artist, both based in Padua, Italy. SA13 is their brainchild, a project halfway between art and design born in 2014 from the emotional need to create something that, in addition to having a practical function, would be the result of artistic creation, and thus able to trigger thoughts and evoke ideas and inspirationsSJ: What was your initial inspiration?S & A: We are influenced by anything, not just from the art and design world, but by everything amazing, exciting and passionate that comes our way. The project was born almost by chance, out of the simple idea of drawing a set of designs for posters and ceramic dishes. SJ: Speaking of ceramics, your plates are produced in Nove (Vicenza) by skilled craftsmen...S & A: Yes, we manufacture everything in Italy, according to a zero-mile design concept: we involve local suppliers and craftsmen of our area. While it is often used as a blank label, the so-called “made in Italy” quality will have no future if we do not contribute to making it real. SJ: What is your formula for balancing functionality and art when it comes to creating an object?S & A: We are not interested in creating eccentric, strange or original things at all costs. We just want to make you smile and think, to tell stories, to make things that you can both use and admire as art pieces. It's not a better approach than others, it is simply our own approach. SJ: What is your relationship with the design world?S & A: Although we are obviously curious to know what is happening on the scene and around us, we do not care to compete or to follow market trends. Our time is spent in researching, developing and experimenting new paths, which honestly is not easy at all, because it demands commitment, consistency and even a little bit of madness. Yet we are sure that all of this will in some way be conveyed to anyone owning one of our pieces. SJ: How would you define your company?S & A: Although we conceive, design and make most of our products here in the studio, we tend consider our business more of a contemporary "workshop". In this first phase, we deal with everything: we create, design, produce, manage relations with customers, stores and suppliers, and even take care of shipments and promotion. SJ: Can you give us a preview of your project for the next future?S & A: We would like SA13 to someday become a creative workshop where enthusiasts can come and learn about manufacturing and processing techniques such as welding, wood carving, prototyping, 3D printing, experience, discuss and put into practice what they have learnt. Speaking of which, we would like to invite everyone interested in our work to come and see us, exchange ideas or propose collaborations; our door is always open, there are freshly brewed coffee and a welcoming sign reading YOU ARE NOT HERE. 

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04.27.2017

Located at the very heart of Tokyo and commemorating Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Consort Shoken, Meiji Shrine is surrounded by the ravishing landscape of a vast forest. At Meiji Shrine two major festivals are held in spring and autumn, but the spring festival is the grander by far, occurring from April 29 to May 3, with the greenery at its freshest. Inside the shrine, the worshippers perform Shinto rites. In front of the shrine, on a temporary stage, the most highly regarded artists from all over Japan will perform in a variety of arts of different genres, such as Bugaku (Japanese traditional dance), Noh (musical drama) and Kyōgen (comic intermezzos), Sankyoku (instrumental trio), traditional music and Satsuma Biwa (a sort of lute). The azaleas and kerrias in full spring bloom will make a walk in the precincts even more remarkable. Bugaku performances will start on 29 April in the morning; on 2 May Noh and Kyōgen will be shown in the morning, whereas the afternoon will be devoted to traditional music. From the early morning of 3 May, the archery competition will be held at the Shiseikan Dōjō. Other highlights include a tanka convention held on May 7 to close the string of consecutive holidays. Here are a couple of Japanese sweet shops, where you can find some delicious wagashi to munch on, between an event and the other. MizuhoOne of the best daifuku shops in Tokyo, Mizuho is specialised in daifuku rice cakes exclusively. Mizuho’s daifuku are pleasingly sweet, with a slightly salty taste, with a perfect balance between the rice skin and the anko filling. Toraya Café Omotesandō HillsOriginally established in Kyoto five centuries ago, Toraya is café and sweetshop selling a wide array of specialities with sweet bean paste, renowned all over Japan. 

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04.26.2017

It takes a romantic mood to fully enjoy the beauty of the Riviera dei Fiori, the extreme edge of the Ligurian Riviera di Ponente that spans from the town of Andora to France, beyond the border from Ventimiglia. The hills here are covered with terraces and olive trees: such is the landscape in Taggia, a town devoted to olive oil and blending earth cuisine and seafood in its delicious local gastronomy. The Medieval villages, stately mansions and castles show how the lords of every age have chosen this place to settle or to spend the winters, otherwise too rigid in the city. The cities, from Ventimiglia to Sanremo and Bordighera, are all pretty small, definitely on a human scale, yet the glitz of some of their buildings betrays a certain vocation for entertainment, culture and lightness. The leisure opportunities are not lacking: the Riviera boasts not only the hugely popular Italian Song Festival, but also the Milano-Sanremo bicycle race, whose very first edition was held on April 14, 1907, and the Flower Battle of Ventimiglia, an off-season carnival which sees floats brimming with flowers and featuring allegorical Papier-mâché characters side through the streets on the second half of June. Bordighera is a town that sums up more than any other the soul of these places and that links its history to that of Queen Margherita di Savoia, whose presence attracted a colorful crowd of members of the Italian and international nobility, artists and intellectuals in the second half of the Nineteenth century. Among the legacies of that golden period are the iconic palm trees that adorn the whole town and the beautiful chandelier in the Chiesa della Maddalena, a gift from the Queen. But this is also the land where writer Italo Calvino grew up and trained, and which inspired local poet and Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale; to these wasters is dedicated the Cultural Park of the Flower Riviera and Maritime Alps, dedicated to the lives and the works of those who have been able to describe these lands and their multifaceted nature. Finally, the Riviera is a stunning coastline with a crystal-clear sea, offering wider beaches as compared with other parts of the region, so as to leave all the space to those who want to play sports on the sand or simply enjoy the sun. Everyone can build their own journey through ancient and contemporary history, art, nature, culture, gastronomy, music and sports, and choose which tone to give their holidays under the wing of an ideal climate all year roundPhotos: Archivio Agenzia Regionale "In Liguria" 

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04.24.2017

It may sound strange, but in Munich spring and summer can be pretty warm and pleasant, despite the rather harsh winters. And with the arrival of the first warm days locals love to spend more time outdoors at the markets, in the parks and at the many beer gardens scattered around the city - or even along the banks of the Isar River, where it is not unusual to see groups of people sunbathing or having a barbecue. And when the city limits feel just too tight, green Bavaria offers many pleasant destinations just a short car ride away from Munich for day trip or a short break. Here are some ideas. Rothenburg ob der TauerAlong the famous Romantic Road, the nearly 400 kilometers-long route that links Füssen to Würzburg running through many historic and scenic places in Bavaria, this Medieval town built in the tenth century around the Castle of Rotherburg is famous for its charming corners, narrow streets, towers and typical half-timbered houses. Enclosed within the ancient walls, it has its heart in the Marktplatz, the Market Square, dominated by the Gothic/Renaissance building of the City Hall. From here, the main street of the city (Herrngasse), lined with colorful houses, shops and flower-filled balconies, leads up to the Castle GardensNeuschwansteinA short drive from Munich is a beautiful castle that looks like it appeared right out of a fairy-tale. It is the Neuschwanstein Castle, nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace that served as the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria,the cousin of Duchess Elizabeth 'Sisi' (who later went on to become the Empress of Austria),  it is part of a series of elaborate castles on which the king spent all his personal funds.Also known as der Märchenkönig ("the Fairy Tale King"), Ludwig had the castle built as a retreat erected to pay homage to the famous German composer Richard Wagner, of whom he was a patron. Set on a rugged hill overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, this fabulous structure has been prominently showcased in many famous movies like The Great Escape and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Today, the palace is very popular, receiving approximately 6,000 visitors per day in summer. Regensburg126 km north of Munich, this little gem is the oldest city in Germany (with nearly 2,000 years of history), and also the best preserved one, so as to have earned the designation of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site for its magnificent center so intact that it looks like a movie set made of narrow streets, ancient squares and historic buildings.The city, which was rich and powerful until 1245 and then remained on the borders of German history and economy for many centuries, was spared by the bombs of World War II, only to flourish starting from the 1950s thanks to industry and to the founding of the local University. Among its most important sights are the Romanesque bridge Steinerne Brücke and the Gothic cathedral of St Peter, in addition to the many churches and ancient monasteries and the Town Hall. Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest)It takes nearly three hours to reach the Obersalzberg area from Munich, yet this pleasant Alpine resort on the border with Switzerland is worth the journey. Incidentally, the fame of these beautiful places is mostly associated with Adolf Hitler, who used to spend his summers here. And the chalet/fortress donated to the German dictator in 1939, built at an altitude of 1,834 meters on the peak of the Kehlstein (“Eagle's Nest”), is actually one of the major attractions of the area: turned into a restaurant with a very nice belvedere, it can be reached by climbing a 7 kilometer-long winding road, passing through a tunnel and finally taking a scenic elevator. 

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04.20.2017

Who said aquariums are for children only? In recent years, aquariums have become an attraction for adults, too, with cutting edge-technologies, shows and spaces that create the illusion of a deep-sea immersion. If you are as fond of marine life as the Japanese are, you will certainly enjoy the amenities listed below, nationwide. Aqua Park Shinagawa, TokyoRenewed and re-opened in the summer of 2015, Aqua Park is one of the most representative aquariums in Tokyo and its location within the premises of Shinagawa Prince Hotel, near Shinagawa Station, makes it also one of the most accessible. It is a large-scale facility, divided into 11 areas, including Magical Ground, with a water tank equipped with a touch panel and mapping scenarios creating a fascinating world of digital flowers interweaving with the aquatic life in the tank, Dolphin Party, a 12m-tall merry-go-round equipped with LED lights and music, and Port of Pirates, which offers visitors the experience of a gigantic weightless pirate ship. Other must-see spots include the Jungle Zone, the square, where you can take a close-up look at the sea creatures, the Stadium with the dolphin shows, the 20m long tunnel illuminated by a skylight and the Jellyfish Ramble, a mesmerizing jellyfish display. Sumida Aquarium, TokyoThe aquarium, located on the 5th and 6th floor of the West Yard in Skytree Town, uses exclusively artificial seawater, which reduces CO2 emissions released when seawater is transported in large water tankers, and allows the aquarium to maintain a consistent water quality throughout the year, ensuring a comfortable environment for the aquatic creatures living in its tanks. One of the main attractions is a 50 meters-long slope with eight jellyfish tanks aligned and about 5,000 square and triangular mirrors placed on the walls and the ceiling, transporting the viewer into the submarine scene. Sumida Aquarium also houses one of Japan's largest indoor, open pool-type tanks, holding approximately 350 tons of water, LED-illuminated and inhabited by a large crowd of Magellan penguins. Kamo Aquarium and Jellyfish Dream Theatre, Tsuruoka City, YamagataKamo Aquarium ranks top in the world by number of jellyfish varieties and it participates in the Palau Project with the Faculty of Science of Yamagata University, housing and displaying rare Palauan jellyfishes. The Jellyfish Dream Theatre is a 5m-diameter water tank with approximately two thousand common jellyfish, tempting the viewer into a fantastic worldKaiyūkan, OsakaOpened in 1990, this is one of the most famous aquariums in Japan. The main concept is the earth and all the living creatures interacting with each other, participating in the same organism. Here you can experience a trip through various areas of the Pacific Ocean.Highlights include Aqua Gate, where you’ll be able to experience an underwater stroll inside a transparent submarine tunnel surrounded by colourful tropical fish, a space dedicated to the Forest of Japan and the Aleutian Islands area, where you can see the sea otters living in a scrupulous reproduction of North American natural rock. Monterey Bay is the home of sea lions and seals. Panama Bay recreates the ecosystem of the Tropical Rain Forest that used to cover the area almost entirely. The Ecuadorian Forest provides the habitat to animals and plants of the Amazon River. You will be amused by the view of the penguins marching rapidly in the Antarctica space or the dolphins swimming in the Tasman Sea, and amazed by the corals and colourful fish of the Great Barrier Reef or the world’s largest crab in the sea of JapanEchizen Matsushima Aquarium, FukuiOpened in 1959, the aquarium is located near the scenic Tōjinbō, within the boundaries of Echizen-Kaga Kaigan Quasi-National Park, housing dolphins, sea turtles, and deep-sea fish. The see-through glass flooring in the Coral Sea zone will give you the illusion of floating in the sea, amongst creatures such as sunfish. After closing, it is also possible for you to rent out the aquarium for 10,000 yen and experience the enchanting marine world by yourselfShimonoseki Marine Science Museum “Kaikyokan”The aquarium is located in Shimonoseki in the banks of the Kanmon Straits. One of its unique features is the Kanmon Strait Tidal Water Tank that reproduces a 2m-high vortices and tides of Kanmon Strait. When you walk in the underwater tunnel, you can observe how the wave front crushes with the splashing of the water above the head. The unique charm of the aquarium consists in the over 100 different species of fugu blowfish on display. Other rare varieties include the tiger puffer, the porcupine fish and the sunfish. 

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The best way to learn more about Finnish hospitality is sleeping in a Finnish cottage, yet until May 5, if you live in Paris or nearby, you won’t need to go to Finland. Just head to the Institut Finlandais on the Rive Gauche, instead, where Finnish designer Linda Bergroth has created a living installation to show the best in Finnish hospitality and to create a complete immersion in the spirit of Finland. The place is called KOTI, which quite consistently means ‘home’ in Finnish, and it consists of six sleeping cabins, sleeping twelve people, open onto a shared space, where there is a communal dining table and benches designed by architects Mattila & Merz. And everything at KOTI is naturally Finnish-themed: on arrival for a sleepover, guests will be given specially designed robes and slippers by Lapuan Kankurit. The in-cabin entertainment package includes short films, documentaries, animations and Finnish travel guides by Visit Finland. The lamps are from Innolux, the piippu pots from Kaksikko, the breakfast of traditional specialties such as rye bread, salted butter and Finnish berries is provided by Food from Finland and the custom-made ceramic tableware has been designed by Nathalie Lahdenmäki. Whether staying overnight or visiting for the day, Finnish design lovers will enjoy a different kind of encounter that celebrates a sense of togetherness, the beauty of unique interiors, and a peaceful simplicity. In addition to the sleepover experience, KOTI is also playing host to a series of inspiring events throughout the 100 days, such as concerts and talks, film screenings and pop-up restaurant nights. “The KOTI installation highlights the experience of a common, shared home” designer Linda Bergroth says. “It is a bit crazy and experimental experience that requires the guest to engage in something completely new”. If you are willing to try it, be sure to book your room immediately, since the experiment will end on May 5. The booking for sleepovers is hosted by Airbnb. And in case it is fully booked, you’ve still got a chance to experience KOTI in Helsinki at the end of the summer, where it will take over the White Hall building in the city's historic center. 

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04.12.2017

In a sense, volcanoes are small yet sometimes frightful glimpses into what’s happening below our feet. As the most spectacular surface manifestations of the processes acting in the Earth interior, despite representing an actual and unforseeable threat – as history has tragically taught us - volcanoes have always fascinated humankind. To make things even more complicated, volcanologists cannot agree on how to define an "active" volcano, mainly because the lifespan of a volcano can be so long (up to millions of years) that such a distinction appears meaningless when compared to the human lifespan. Most volcanoes live many thousands of years and erupt many times - however, most don't erupt even once in a human lifespan, so while given their long lifespan they could be considered very active, they are not by human lifespan. Today there are over 1,500 potentially active volcanoes, and approximately 500 million people live near them. This may sound scary, and yet being lucky enough to enjoy a magnificent view on these natural wonders – even if just for a few moments - can be a unique and desirable experience. Hence, hre are four volcanoes that are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime. Eyjafjöll, IcelandBetter known as Eyjafjallajökull – which is actually the impossible-to-pronounce name of the glacier covering it – this volcano 76 miles southeast of Reykjavik hit the world news in 2010 when a huge ash cloud raised cause plenty of international flights to be delayed and cancelled. The volcano can be visited by foot, on skis or riding in a jeep, yet always accompanied by a guide as the crevasses can be dangerous.www.visiticeland.com Popocatépetl, Mexico43 miles southeast of Mexico City, at 61,507 feet this stunning active volcano with a snowy peak known as “El Popo” is Mexico’s second-highest peak (after the Ixtaccíhuatl  or “Pico de Orizaba”). Quite consistently with its name – which is Atzec for “Smoking Mountain” - only last year it spewed ashes and rocks over the capital, so climbing is currently not an option. To enjoy the best view on both volcanoes, head to the Izta-Popo National Park and reach Paso de Cortés, the saddle between the two peaks.www.visitmexico.com Krakatoa, IndonesiaThis volcanic island and its archipelago located between Java and Sumatra in the Sunda Strait are the result of a massive eruption which destroyed the pre-existing island and its 3 volcanic peaks back in 1883. The eruptive activity is now limited to constantly smoking peak of Anak Krakatau island, which emerged in 1927 from the 1883 caldera. The island of Anak Krakatoa is a National Park, so to land on it and hike tourists need an official permit (usually included in the guided tours). You may also sail around the archipelago, enjoy the view and a snorkeling session in the coral reefs.www.indonesia.travel Mauna Loa, HawaiiThe name means “Long Mountain” in Hawaiian, and this is actually not only the largest volcano on our planet, but also the highest mountain in the world; although it rises only about 13,448 feet above sea level, its long submarine flanks descend to the sea floor an additional 16,400 feet, which makes the volcano's summit about 56,000 feet above its base. Covering half of the Big Island, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843, the most recent one being in 1984. There is a 17-mile scenic drive that can be done in any car taking you up to the Weather Observatory on the side of the volcano. From there you can start your hike to the summit.www.gohawaii.com

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04.10.2017

Soho, or South of Houston Street, is a synonym for shopping and dining. This exciting corner of Lower Manhattan, a former manufacturing area whose perfectly preserved industrial buildings now house fashion boutiques, restaurants and galleries, has been riding high ever since the 1970s, and although it has changed a lot through the years it does not seem to have lost its primal vibe. Hanging out in Soho means having the opportunity to take your pick among some of the city’s best places to eat & drink, yet with such a vibrant restaurant and bar scene it would be almost impossible to make a list of the very best addresses. So we’ll just follow our heart and recommend some of our favorite places in the neighborhood. Fanelli CafeA Prince Street institution dating back to the mid-1800s that truly captures the vibe of the "old" Soho. Patrons here vary from well-dressed tourists to locals who work in the neighborhood and artists who haven't left Soho since the '70s. Sit at the bar and have a beer on-draft (or a whiskey - neat, of course) and, if you're hungry, the pub fare here is excellent.  EmporioIn the heart of Nolita among a collection of solid yet low-key Italian restaurants lies Emporio, a neighborhood favorite for an after-work drink, a Roman-style dinner or, if you can make it, weekend brunch. Their wood-oven pizzas are among the best in Manhattan but it's the atmosphere (think "trendy" yet quintessentially Rome) that can't be replicated. If you're unable to grab a table for dinner, sit at the bar and have a glass of wine or a classic cocktail (hint: their Aperol spritz is fantastic) - you may even catch one of their daily happy hour deals. Fantastic gluten-free options as well.(foto chiesta) The DailyA hidden yet not-so-hidden gem connected to Michelin star-winner Public, this cocktail bar has the atmosphere of a 1920s speakeasy that many others try and fail to capture. The cocktail menu here is small and changes daily, so just sit at the bar and give the bartender an idea of what you're into: they're guaranteed to whip up an incredible cocktail served properly. Watching the craftsmen at work behind the bar is half the fun. (foto chiesta) Sanctuary THealthy contemporary American cuisine, artisanal tea blends and signature cocktails: here’s the basic formula behid this sleek and cozy restaurant in the heart of Soho whose name was inspired by owner Dawn Cameron’s goal to provide customers with a brief retreat from the clamor of city life, centered around the rituals and sensuousness of tea. And tea is king indeed, with 50+ different brews to choose among. Thanks to Chris Chavez for the recommendations 

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Taking old or discarded objects and materials and turning them into something new and exciting without breaking anything down: this is what we have learnt to know as ‘upcycling’ - as opposed to ‘recycling’, which involves breaking down the original materials. This virtuous process often gives birth to some truly amazing results, and thus it has happily become quite a widespread technique and almost a trend among designers and artisans, tracing a new possible path for the future of the industry. Which leads us all the way to Vienna’s lively Gumperdorfer Strasse, a once nondescript side street between Mariahilfer Straße and Naschmarkt that has been experiencing an authentic renaissance thanks to its closeness to the MuseumQuartier. Here, among trendy restaurants, cozy cafes and cocktail bars, Sascha Johannik and Romana Fürst, a couple of interior designers and skilled carpenters, have established their workshop and store, a 140 square meters space where objects and pieces of furniture officially pronounced dead come back to a new life in the form of lamps, tables, cabinets and more. Sascha first came into contact with creative upcycling and recycling in West Africa, where he spent 2 years from 2006 in Mauritania and Burkina Faso. “It was there, where every item available needed repairs or rebuilding, that the real idea of upcycling was born”, he tells us. “People who have next to nothing create new items by rebuilding old and used products”. Back in Austria, after a short adaptation phase, Sascha had the idea to implement his own ideas with furniture and everyday objects. “But while in Africa upcycling was the only possibility to create new things, here in Vienna buying upcycled products seems more like a lifestyle choice”, he says. “Still, it would be great if sustainability came more into people’s minds as a right choice to lessen consumption of resources in the long run”.  So what distinguishes Kellerwerk’s pieces from the other upcycled pieces? First of all, every Kellerwerk piece is handmade. “As skilled carpenters”, Sascha explains, “we have a good education as a basis. We try to make each of our pieces in such a way that we would like to take it home with us. We try to focus on each piece of furniture with its individual character and bring it to the next level. All our items are one of a kind not only because of their uniqueness but because we put a little bit of us into every piece we make”.  Among the very first pieces created by Sascha and Romana are some garden gnomes that they were given and decided to paint in bright colors. Five of them are still in the store and were used as the template for the company logo.  Sascha’s favorite pieces include a huge dining table made from an old barn door, ceiling lamps from oil barrels or bicycle spokes and side tables from old tube radios. Yet their bestsellers are refurnished armchairs. “Whenever one piece is finished it is almost immediately sold. This shows us that our high level of quality and keen eye for restyle and redesign for furniture items meets our customers’ wishes”, Sascha admits.  As for the Gumpendorfer Strasse district, which besides having become a vibrant nightlife destination seems to have a lively creative scene, Sascha tells us that the neighborhood has a pleasant village feel to it. “It is filled with different shops” he tells us. “Ranging from sustainable clothing places to upscale lighting stores, a bakery, a few restaurants and a typical Viennese Café. The vibe is great, neighbors are friendly and the postman stops by to bring us our daily mail. After almost three years in this space we still feel comfortable and content”.   

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04.05.2017

Ten-don is rice topped with a gorgeous tempura mix of deep-fried shrimps and seasonal vegetables, which add a touch of colour. No wonder ten-don is considered the King of rice-bowl dishes. There are various theories around its origin. Ten-don may have been first served at San-Sada, a restaurant established in Asakusa, close to Kaminarimon in 1837. Another story has it that the dish made its first appearance on a food stand in Shimbashi in 1831. Either way, ten-don is an extant expression of the Edo culture. Nowadays, it is rather common to find ten-don at soba or tempura shops inTokyo. It may be difficult to make a reservation in any of the most renowned restaurants. However, lunchtime may be a good time for you to savour a juicy bowl of rice and tempura. San-Sada (Asakusa)Established more than 180 years ago not far from Kaminarimon, it is believed to have been the birthplace of ten-don and used to be a popular stop-over amongst the people of Edo, on their way back from Sensō-ji, the temple located nearby. The founder Sadakichi came from the old Mikawa province (today’s Aichi prefecture), set up a tempura shop opposite his home in Nigyōchō and named it Mikawa-ya Sadakichi, which was later abbreviated into San-sada, being “san” another reading of the character “mi” in Mikawa. At present, you can taste Edo-style ten-don served with sesame oil in three sizes. San-Sanda is famous for its seafood and vegetable mixed tempura. Tempura Masa (Ginza)It is an extremely exclusive restaurant with only ten dishes on the menu, but the place itself is good value for the money. The speciality is crispy tempura of shrimps and seasonal ingredients served on a bowl of rice, freshly prepared across the open counter. Ten-don Kaneko-Hannosuke (Nihombashi)The restaurant serves ten-don only, consisting in hearty portions of boiled rice, with conger eel tempura sticking out and topped with deep-fried squid, surf clams, shrimps and small green peppers, soft-boiled eggs and dried nori seaweed. All the seafood comes from fresh from Tsukiji market every morning. The secret of the excellence is the Edo-style tare sauce, attracting crowds. Since the shop is not very big, it is not unusual to encounter queues outside. Yama no Ue Hotel (Surugadai, Kanda)It is located near the area in Kanda formerly known for its concentration of publishing houses. For this reason the hotel was a haven for a number of great writers, such as Yasunari Kawabata, Yukio Mishima and Shōtarō Ikenami. Ten-don used to be one of the great writers’ favourite dishes, with carefully selected ingredients of the season, cooked in two pans different in temperature. The seafood is fried at a higher temperature, to make it nice and crunchy, whereas the vegetables acquire a pleasantly crispy texture at a lower temperature. 

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03.30.2017

Crispy rolls (Semmel) stuffed with butter and jam or ham and cheese, a slice of marble cake donut (Gugelhupf) or a Kipfel, the ancestor of the croissant, all of it accompanied by a nice steaming coffee. The classic Austrian breakfast is huge and hearty, yet for those who prefer something lighter or more international, the best cafes in Vienna, just like in all the other great capitals of the world, have much more to offer; you can choose a sweet breakfast of tasty pastries, a salty one with eggs, bacon and all, or maybe a whole brunch. Here are some of our favorite addresses in town. Haas & HaasIt is practically impossible not to find your own favorite breakfast among the over 30 options offered by this legendary and sophisticated Stephansplatz cafe, which takes you on a journey around the world exploring the breakfast traditions of different countries. To accompany the food, go for tea, coffee or their delicious hot chocolate. No shortage of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options as well. Das AugustinThis charming little place slightly off the beaten track, not far from the U-Bahn Johnstrasse station, is a foodie's paradise. Wheather permitting, it is great to have breakfast or brunch alfresco in their beautiful ‘secret’ courtyard, choosing among the classic Austrian menu, the American one or the most exotic international dishes. Including, of course, coffee (espresso, American, au lait) or maybe a chai, a lassi, a Sencha... UlrichWithin walking distance of the Museum District, Ulrich is a contemporary and laid-back cafe-restaurant where breakfast ranges from eggs & bacon to the the vegan platter. Their Viennese breakfast is called Tabula Rasa and it is super rich (Semmel, salami, cheese, eggs, yoghurt, granola and everything else). The drink list includes some very nice smoothies and fresh juices too. Motto am FlussIf what you want is a breakfast with a view, then this is the right place. Motto is housed inside the futuristic ferry terminal on the Danube Canal. The beautiful cafe on the terrace offers a great all-day breakfast ranging from croissant with café au lait  to the breakfast sandwich and proper brunch - plus homemade bread, jams and lemonade and smoothies. Cafe AnsariNot far from Motto, at the quietest end of Praterstrasse, this cafe owned by Georgian artist  Nana Ansari and her husband Nasser offers a decidedly original cuisine that mixes Georgian tradition and Oriental inspirations. All of this is obviously reflected on the breakfast, available in the Russian, Oriental or Viennese variation. In summer, make your best to grab an outdoor table.  

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03.29.2017

Yet another restaurant in Trastevere? Well, actually yes. While the opening of a new place to eat or drink on the cobbled streets of Rome’s most vibrant nightlife destination is certainly no sensational news, occasionally someone comes up with an idea that manages to stand out from the crowd. The latest notable and unusual business that appeared in the neighborhood is called Eggs and it is a bistro that opened its doors just this month in vicolo del Cedro with a uniquely ‘themed’ offer. Here's why, in our humble opinion, it is definitely worth a try. 1. Because there is not only one kind of Carbonara.At Eggs the classic Roman dish based on pasta, eggs and bacon is available in 10 different color & taste variations, from the ‘violet’ one with vitelotte potatoes to the ‘green’ with crispy artichokes and the ‘orange carbonara’ with zucchini flowers. And altough purists might wrinkle their nose, by ‘eggs’ they quail, ostrich and sea urchin eggs as well – and of course caviar. 2. Because their chicken eggs are top notch.The local and organic chicken eggs used in the restaurant all come from small local farmers, namely Paolo Parisi, Peppovo and L'Uovo e la Canapa3. Because the Zum girls are behind it.Chef Barbara Agosti and her partners in crime Laura Iucci and Dominika Kosik, who created the very first cafe in Rome room entirely dedicated to artisan tiramisu. A close-knit group which is very keen to create unusual and original concepts. 4. Because the furniture is special.Or rather created by a special person, Simona Iucci, the Lisbon-based architect who involved a group of inmates from the Lisbon penitentiary in the production of customized furniture made from construction materials. 5. Because Puntarella Rossa is a partner.And judging by the frankness of the opinions expressed by the famous Italian restaurant review website, we bet that in embracing this partnership they kept an eye on quality. Puntarella is also responsible for the selection of natural and artisan wines served at Eggs and the presentations and conferences chefs and with local producers held at the restaurant.  

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03.27.2017

The route known as Milano-Laghi is supposedly the oldest highway in the world, but what makes it truly unique is mainly the landscape it crosses: right past the Milan Malpensa airport, the urban fabric finally gives way to a warm and slightly surreal scenery - we are right in the heart of one of the most industrialized areas in Europe, and yet surrounded by woods. This is the Po valley gradually becomes hilly, and the lakes of Lombardy, born from the erosion of the glaciers occurred millions of years ago, seem to slip from the Alps onto the morainal hills. Among these, the best known is perhaps the Lario or Lake Como, with its two distinctive branches whose ends are, in fact, Como and Lecco. Como is a beautiful town with many different souls which welcomes the visitor to its streets and architecture with a certain of shyness, as if not to challenge the unsurpassed beauty of the lake and its surrounding mountains, including the Sacro Monte (Holy Mountain), a UNESCO Heritage Site since 2003. At the heart of the city is the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, deemed as the last Gothic cathedral in Italy, next to which sit Palazzo Broletto and the Civic Tower, belonging to the same era. Porta Torre is the symbol of Medieval Como, as well as the last standing ancient gate from a time when huge walls which surrounded the entire city, whereas the neoclassical Volta Temple from 1928 and the Gattoni Tower, turned into a physics lab back in 1783, are linked to the memory of Alessandro Volta, the great scientist who invented batteries as well as the first electric generator, who was born in Como in 1745. Finally, there is the Futurist and Rationalist face of the city, represented by the work of architect Giuseppe Terragni, who designed several buildings in the first half of the 20th century. It seems in fact that every century has left a mark on this city, which ideally extends to the natural landscapes on the shores of the lake dotted with the beauty of some truly majestic villas surrounded by huge Italian and botanical gardens, most of them open to visitors: Villa D'Este in Cernobbio - a luxury hotel since 1873 - Villa Serbelloni and Villa Melzi in Bellagio, Villa Lucini Passalacqua in Moltrasio and Villa Carlotta in Varenna, just to name a few. Located at the junction of the two branches of the lake, these villas tell the story of the ancient splendor of the Lombard nobility from the 17th to the 20th century, offering a relaxing atmosphere aristocratic in nature that has seduced celebrities from around the world. Not to be missedA boat trip to CernobbioExploring the Lario by boat is the best way to become familiar with these wonderful places. Thanks to the efficient navigation service that connects all locations on Lake Como, you can travel comfortably on boats and ferries. For a short but intense journey, we recommend a trip from the port of Como to pictoresque Cernobbio, where you can spend the whole day surrounded by pure beautyComacina IslandThe only island of Lake Como, Comacina used to be an important diocesan center in Roman and medieval times, before being razed to the ground in 1169, when it rapidly declined ending up in a state of disrepair. Only since 1900, thanks to the construction of a small ‘artists’ village’, did the island finally get back to life; today, thanks to the beauty of these buildings and to the breathtaking views it offers, it is definitely worth visiting, Also, Comacina is one of the most prominent archaeological areas in northern Italy with regard to the Middle Ages. BellagioRight on the tip of the promontory that separates the two branches of Lake Como lies the small town of Bellagio, known as the "Pearl of Lake Como" or the "City of Gardens", due to the presence of numerous oak, fir, beech and chestnut tree woods. The town center is a small and charming succession of narrow streets that climb the promontory among colorful homes, long stairways and old churches, up to the tip of the Spartivento Cape. Between the 18th and 19th centuries, sumptuous villas were built here by aristocratic and wealthy bourgeois families with the aim of hosting illustrious personalities including Napoleon Bonaparte, Franz Liszt and Alessandro Manzoni, who wrote several chapters of The Betrothed during his stay at Villa Serbelloni. Domaso and Gera LarioDomaso is an old fishing village located in an extraordinary location in the western Lario, at the mouth of river Livo, and characterized by important historic buildings such as St. Bartholomew's Church, housing a famous painting by Giulio Cesare Procaccini. Heading north east along the banks of the lake, you will get to Gera Lario, a favorite destination for water sport and trekking lovers, which counts among its attractions the Romanesque church of St Vincent, famous for its Roman and early Christian ruins. The Como – Brunate funicularBuilt in 1894 to connect the two towns quickly, this funicular railway departs from the lakefront in central Como and rides all the way up to the mountain resort of Brunate, sitting at 720 meters above sea level. Over the years, the funicular has been restored several times, but its current look dates back to 1951 and so it feels pretty vintage. The journey only takes seven minutes, but the view from up there, stretching from the lake to the plains and on to the western Alps, is really breathtaking. Photo credits:Villa Bernasconi a Cernobbio: photo by Dario Crespi under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licenseFunicolare Como-Brunate: photo by Nicolago under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license  

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03.23.2017

Around the 1920s, the New York Public Library began documenting the changing face of New York City by collecting old historic photographs and taking new pictures with a particular emphasis on new building construction. The collection continued to grow systematically through commissioned photographs, purchases, and gifts into the early 1970s, turning into an outstanding resource of over 80,000 original photographs of New York City from around the 1870s to 1970. Today, thanks so the digitization of those images, the Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection is available for everyone to see on the NYPL website, but since the number of pictures is truly overwhelming, browsing through the archive to find a specific location can be  pretty hard. And this is where Old NYC comes into the picture: in order to provide an alternative way of browsing the collection, software developer Dan Vanderkam, who formerly worked at Google, associated latitudes and longitudes to the images in the collection. Known as geocoding, this process, carried out in collaboration with the Library, allowed the images to be placed at points on a map, so that if you wish to discover the history behind the places you see every day you just need to click on the location to get an idea of what it looked like in the past. We just love this! 

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03.22.2017

Swimming, sailing, water sports and even diving a stone’s throw away from Amsterdam. Who would have thought that this was even possible? And yet it is: when the warm weather comes, all you need to do is drive 18 kilometers southwards from the Dutch capital to the pretty village of Vinkeveen, overlooking an area known as Vinkeveen Plassen, characterized by the presence of artificial lakes born from massive peat extraction activities. Easily accessible and close both to the Amstel River and the highway, the lakes of Vinkeveen Plassen are a favorite among the capital’s residents, and they can be the ideal base for visiting Amsterdam or a good starting point for a cruise through its canals. Not surprisingly, many VIPs and prominent figures of the Dutch society moved here over the years, to enjoy the tranquility, the privacy and the nature of the place, while remaining very close to Amsterdam. For those who decide to spend a summer weekend on the lakes, there are endless opportunities for recreation: from water sports - surfing, sailing, canoeing, diving, water skiing and flyboarding - to the bike paths and trails running along the shores. There are some very pretty classic houseboats available for a romantic stay on the water, and boats for rent to sail among the sand islands. As a matter of fact, besides the typical flora and fauna of the wetlands (before the extractions this area was essentially a swamp), one of the peculiarities of these water basins is the presence of 44 small islands that are actually thin strips of sand, where you can stop to relax or have a picnic while exploring the lakes by boat. Because they are subject to constant erosion from water, the islands are likely to disappear, and it is precisely for this reason that the local Municipality has recently decided to put them on sale. Starting April, it will be possible to purchase them for a price between 10,000 and 50,000 euro each, and of course prospective owners will have to carry out repair works as part of the deal. At the end of a relaxing day on the lakes, it is a must to enjoy the sunset while sipping a drink in one of the many cafes and marinas overlooking the water, and to experience the local cuisine at one of the nice restaurant of the area. In particular, we recommend Villa Lokeend, a hotel and restaurant housed inside an old traditional building in Scandinavian style once devoted to wild duck hunting, and restaurant Bowen Water, which offers a tasting menu composed of sophisticated dishes based on local ingredients. 

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03.21.2017

Often portrayed in films, paintings and literary works, Ferrara has been discovered by mass tourism only in recent times, and this makes it a city as fascinating as it is still authentic. Its undoubtedly unique charm, made of misty narrow cobbled streets and gorgeous squares looking like open-air living rooms, is the result of an ancient miracle - that of the transformation of a small village on the river Po into a Renaissance jewel full of nobility and splendor performed by the Este dynasty. A gradual process indeed, whose traces remain in the clear separation between the Medieval city and the Renaissance addition. The first one, in the southern part of the old city, includes the beautiful and narrow Via delle Volte, Trento-Trieste Square, the Cathedral with its Romanesque-Gothic façade and the imposing and perfectly intact castle, complete with a moat, towers and drawbridges. The second one, the result of a huge and pioneering 15th century project, includes airier architectures such as that of Piazza Ariostea and of the wide Corso Ercole I d'Este which reaches from the city center to the ancient walls, lined with historic landmarks such as the ‘Diamond Palace’ and the monumental Certosa cemetery. And it is precisely along the nine-kilometer-long border of the walls surrounding the old town that runs one of the most fascinating discovery routes through the city, to be covered either on the top of the embankment or down in the sottomura, either on foot or by bicycle - one of the symbols of this city still living on a human scale. Built in the Middle Ages and rebuilt between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the walls feature a number of ramparts, gates, steps and towers which were built in different ages to defend the city. Today, these ancient barriers lined with ancient trees are the green lung of Ferrara, beloved in equal manner by joggers and pedestrians, and bordered by a huge urban park. Not to be missedVia delle VolteYou just can’t help being charmed by this Middle Ages corner the old city where time seems to have literally stopped. The ancient cobblestone street crossed by arches and suspended passages (the Volte) that once used to followed the course of river Po must have looked dark and almost hostile in a very distant past, but today it is simply picturesque. Palazzo Schifanoia23, Via Scandiana "To avoid boredom": faithful to this motto, in the late fourteenth century Borso d'Este commissioned Palazzo Schifanoia specifically for the entertainment and leisure time of the court. Its most famous feature is the Hall of the Months, characterized by a Renaissance cycle of frescoes by different Ferrarese painters from the Cosme Tura school depicting pagan deities, scenes from daily life, and astrology symbolsMura degli AngeliImmortalized in the famous novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by local writer Giorgio Bassani, this peaceful, green and charming section of the city walls north of the center definitely has some magic to it. The nickname is a reference to Porta degli Angeli, a lookout tower built in the sixteenth century, and to the former name of Corso Ercole I d'Este, formerly Via degli Angeli, that reaches here from the old city. The Jewish cemeteryVia delle VigneSheltered by the walls, this old Jewish cemetery is a small and quiet corner of countryside in the city, very close but separate from the Christian burial ground, the Certosa. In the shade of its huge trees, popular writer Giorgio Bassani rests among other eminent personalities of the local Jewish community. To enter, you must ring the bell of the gatekeeper, who will escort you through the great portal and to the bare old gravestones adorned with stones left by visitors in memory of the deceased. Comacchio and its lagoonsA 50 km ride from Ferrara, Comacchio is a picturesque lagoon town looking like a small-scale Venice, crossed by canals lined with ancient pastel-colored houses. Its hallmark is the Pallotta Bridge, better known as Trepponti, built in the seventeenth century as a fortified gate for those entering the city from the sea along the waterway. The beautiful nearby Comacchio Lagoons, in the Po Delta Natural Park, can be explored by boat on a guided tour that reveals the history and the natural features of the place, stopping at two old fishing stations where you can visit the fishermen's huts and see their traditional fishing equipment. These areas are also home to a huge variety of aquatic birds, including flamingos

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03.20.2017

Martini, Negroni, Cosmo: for anyone who’s into cocktails and the mixology scene, these names are so familiar that it is as if they had always existed. Yet most of the drinks that are still hot today were born around the late nineteenth century - not such a remote time - and some even more recently. However, it rarely occurs to us to ask ourselves why they are called like that and who invented them - which is why we decided to retrace the stories that led to the birth of five of the most famous cocktails of all time. Here is what we found out. Dry Martini: American or Italian?The famous gin and dry vermouth aperitif served with an olive, much loved by the Americans and featured in so many memorable scenes from popular movies and TV series, has a rather debated origin. According to some, its name derives from Martinez, a nineteenth-century cocktail, yet others argue that it was actually invented by an Italian bartender working at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, who specially created it for John D. Rockefeller. Finally, a less elaborate version of the story suggests its name might simply refer to Martini&Rossi, a famous Italian brand of alcoholic beverages founded in the nineteenth century. Manhattan, it all started with a partyWhiskey, sweet red vermouth and angostura bitters. The origin of the world’s most famous red aperitif (actually, given the ingredients, it would also be perfect as a digestive) must also be traced back to nineteenth-century New York. According to a fascinating theory, it was created in 1874 for a reception at the Manhattan Club (hence the name) thrown by Jennie Churchill, the soon-to-be mother of Winston Churchill, in honor of Samuel J. Tilden, the new governor of the State of New York. Cosmopolitan, sleek & feminineAfter the planetary success of Sex & The City, this popular cocktail is often referred to as fictional fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink. But the fame of the ‘Cosmo’ – a mix of vodka, cointreau, lime and cranberry juice - actually dates back to the 1970s, when it became popular in the cocktail bars of Miami and New York City, although its origins are probably to be found further back, around the 1930s. Because of its fruity flavor and its red-rosy color, it is generally considered a ladies’ drink. Negroni, a revisitation of the Americano It was the year 1920 in Florence when Count Camillo Negroni, a regular at Caffè Casoni, asked his bartender to add a dash of gin to his Americano to replace the usual dash of soda. What he probably could not imagine is that this idea would give birth to the most famous Italian cocktail ever, which soon quite fairly took his name. Ever since then, red vermouth, Campari bitters and gin have been the basic ingredients of this robust drink - also known in its lighter version, the Sbagliato, with dry sparkling wine replacing the gin. Daiquiri, from Cuba to the worldA favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, who sipped it in large quantities at the counter of the El Floridita bar in Havana, this mix of white rum, lime juice, and cane sugar syrup is the object of many legends related to its origin. The most imaginative one involves a US marine who supposedly landed in Playa Daiquiri so thirsty and craving for a drink that he invented a cocktail right there on the spot. A slightly more credible story is that of the Italian engineer working in Cuba who, faced with the challenge of offering a drink to an unexpected guest, improvised a recipe with whatever he had at home, accidentally creating a legendary mixed drink. What we know for sure, though, is that the Daiquiri became officially popular around 1914 thanks to the skilled Catalan bartender of the Floridita, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert

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03.20.2017

Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, flourished as the capital of Kaga Domain during the Edo period. After Toshiie Maeda’s takeover, the city was never affected by any war or earthquake. For this reason, the earthen walls and cobbled roads still retain the charm and the beauty of the old downtown. Kanazawa was built around the castle, in the area flanked by the Sai and Asano rivers. In the 16th century, the population of Kanazawa was the fourth largest after Edo, Osaka and Kyoto. The Kaga domain was the wealthiest in the whole nation. The eight Maeda families of the Kaga clan and their entourage took up residence in the castle and the neighbouring estate. Nowadays, the area has become an artistic promenade with a museum and a memorial house. In addition to the samurai residence, the Kaga clan left a number of famous gardens. The Maeda-Kaga clan promoted culture and collected an enormous amount of books and written material, and, decades later, Meiji literature prospered with the work of the Three Greatest Writers from Kanazawa: Kyōka Izumi, Murō Saisei and Shusei Tokuda. Furthermore, a number of contemporary writers was born or is based in Kanazawa, like Hiroyuki Itsuki and Kei Yuikawa. One of Kanazawa’s major attractions is the food, prepared with the freshest and highest-quality ingredients, both from the sea and the mountains. Every season offers different tastes of the refined Kaga culinary tradition.Here is a list of sceneries and eating establishment where you can enjoy the beauty of Kanazawa to its fullest, in the cherry blossom season. Nagamachi Bukeyashiki DistrictIn this district, which is still inhabited and used as a shooting location for photo-calls, films and television dramas, you’ll be able to see the ancient residence of the samurai supported by the Kaga-Maeda clan. You can also visit the museum and the original houses for a small fee. Oyama ShrineBuilt in 1873 in memory of Tohiie Maeda, who died in 159, this shrine has a beautiful main gate completed in 1875 and distinguished by an interesting mix of traditional Japanese, Chinese, and European architectural elements, currently designated one of Japan’s Important Cultural Properties. The glasswork fitted in the third layer is a must-see both during the day when the sunlight is shining through it and with the evening illumination, until ten. The garden is characterised by a pond with island and bridges shaped like a koto and other instruments of the ancient Japanese court music. The East Gate connects the shrine grounds to the ones of Kanazawa Castle. Maedatosanokamike MuseumThe museum displays several collections belonging the Maeda Tosanokamike family line, inaugurate by Toshiie Maeda’s second son Toshimasa. In the initial stages of the Kaga-Maeda clan, eight families who had distinguished themselves for their deeds were elevated to the status of Elders. Among these was the Maeda Tosanokamike. You can still admire the black-lacquered armour and helmet used by Toshimasa Maeda, as well as books and other precious memorabilia. Kenroku-enBuilt for the House of Maeda, Kenroku-en is one of Japan’s three greatest landscape gardens, along with Okayama’s Kōraku-en and Mito’s Kairaku-en. The name stands for the six attributes of a perfect landscape: spaciousness, silence, artifice, antiquity, waterways and natural scenery. It is also known as Kanazawa’s best cherry blossom viewing spot. Nagamachi YuzenkanYuzen is name of the traditional technique of hand-painting kimonos, devised by and named after Yuzen Miyazaki, which flourished in the Kaga Domain in the middle of the Edo period. Kaga Yuzen has distinctive features, such as the painting style with motifs of nature and the classics, and the use of colour, which is based on Kaga Five Colours (deep blue, dark brown, ochre, grass green, Tyrian purple). There are dyeing workshops and also kimonos available for rental. Crafts HirozakaIt is an atelier gathering the twenty traditional crafts that constitute Kanazawa’s inestimable heritage. At Crafts Hirozaka you can find exhibits, workshops and a gift shop. Kutaniyaki Art MuseumThe timeline of Kutani ware can be roughly divided into the four periods: the early Edo period, late Edo period, Meiji to early Showa period, and late Showa to the present. The craft of Kutani porcelain was devised in 1655 under the supervision of Toshiharu Maeda, the first Lord. Kutani ware made in that era is called “old Kutani”, and it is regarded as a special masterpiece among porcelain craftsmen and intellectuals for the Aote and Iroe decorative styles. This museum exhibits Kutaniyaki works with a history of about 360 years. The museum is located in the city of Kaga, not too far from Kanazawa. The Delicacies of KagaBecause it is close to the sea and the mountains, Kanazawa is a trove of fresh ingredients throughout the year. Spring is the season of bamboo shoots and a number of recipes featuring the small Japanese fluvial sculpin. Ohmicho Ichiba – nicknamed “Kanazawa’s kitchen” – is a market where you can find fresh foods and other general merchandise. The tea ceremony has been in vogue since the days of the Maeda clan and the wagashi (“Japanese sweets”) created for it are just countless and are still made and sold in a great deal of shops. At the Ishikawa Prefectural Tourism Hall, you can even experience wagashi making.Last but not least, sake is one of Kaga’s jewels in the crown, prepared with the rice from the Kaga Plain and the fresh spring water from Mount Haku. If you go to the Higashi Chaya District, you may want to pay a visit to Higashiyama Shuraku, taste about 120 types of local sake and buy the ones that you like the best. 

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03.16.2017

The succession of repetitive gestures performed by the main character from Alike, a bank employee named Copi, is a bit of a cinematic cliché, evoking the famous assembly line scene from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. In a way, it seems to suggest that, in spite of the epoch-making change from industrial to knowledge economy, alienation as an aspect of the working life seems is far from extinct - and indeed in the digital world the isolation and loneliness of the employee appears even more obvious, along with the increasing amount of time that we devote to working and thus subtract from our personal and emotional lives in a world where we are constantly connected. The eight-minute Alike short film draws inspiration from this simple observation, so naive an yet so illuminating, depicting the latent absurdity of our way of life through the eyes of a child, Paste, on which father Copi - as the name itself suggests - is gradually and inexorably "pasting" his own resignation to the rules of a literally gray existence, deprived of alla curiosity and distractions. But there is hope, of course - and it appears in the form of a musical epiphany that results in an embrace restoring color to the existence.Alike has been directed by Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez and produced by Daniel Martínez Lara and La Fiesta P.C. with the support of Pepe-School-Land.