Tag Archives: Italy

17 Places You Need To Visit In Italy

Cheer on the riders at the Palio di Siena bareback horse race, which takes place in Siena twice each year: on July 2nd and August 16th.

Cheer on the riders at the Palio di Siena bareback horse race, which takes place in Siena twice each year: on July 2nd and August 16th.

Paolo Lazzeroni/AP

Stroll through the peaceful Renaissance gardens of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli.

Stroll through the peaceful Renaissance gardens of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli.


Watch a performance at La Scala, Milan’s world-renowned opera house.

Sip a Super Tuscan wine straight from the sprawling vineyards of Tuscany.

Marvel at the enormous Colosseum in Rome.

Marvel at the enormous Colosseum in Rome.


Take a dip in the natural spas of Saturnia in Tuscany, where gorgeous hot springs flow freely.

Gaze up at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Although it’s technically in Vatican City, any trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without seeing this esteemed artwork.

Tour the gorgeous Palladian villas of the Veneto, which were designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.

Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and legend has it you’ll be sure to return to Rome again.

Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and legend has it you'll be sure to return to Rome again.


Explore the medieval city of San Gimignano, a walled city within Siena.

Explore the medieval city of San Gimignano, a walled city within Siena.


Bask in the sun at the beaches of Rimini.

Attend the Eurochocolate Festival to celebrate the city of Perugia’s world famous chocolate.

Attend the Eurochocolate Festival to celebrate the city of Perugia's world famous chocolate.

Chris Helgren/Reuters

Re-enact the famous Shakespearean scene on Juliet’s balcony in Verona.

Take a gondola ride through the magnificant canals in Venice.

Take a gondola ride through the magnificant canals in Venice.

Pablo Rogat/Shutterstock

Explore Cascata delle Marmore, a massive, man-made waterfall dating back to the ancient Romans.

Climb to the top of Florence’s iconic Duomo for spectacular views of the city.

Eat Gelato… everywhere.

Eat Gelato... everywhere.

Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

A Russia-backed Libyan warlord could start a “civil war” in Libya, increasing refugee flows to the EU, Malta has warned.

The danger comes as the Libyan commander, Khalifa Haftar, advances on Tripoli, the seat of the UN-recognised government, Malta’s foreign minister, George Vella, told press in Valletta on Friday (12 January).

Continue reading Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Several years ago, Munich-based photographer Bernhard Lang vacationed at a seaside resort in Adria, Italy and was struck by the perfectly uniform arrangements of colored umbrellas used by each hotel.

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Last month he returned, this time by air, and shot for several hours on the coastline between Ravenna and Rimini.

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

Lang is well known for his aerial photography of locations around Germany including coal mines, residential life, and industrial sites.

Aerial Adria: An Italian Beach Resort Photographed from Above by Bernhard Lang multiples Italy beach aerial

You can see more over on Behance, and all of his work is available as fine art prints. All photos courtesy the photographer

A guide to the world’s biggest drug cartels

Mexico Drugs Cartels 2012

The Sinaloa cartel, Mexico

The biggest gang in Mexico right now is the Sinaloa, whose leader, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo” or “Shorty”, is considered the most powerful drug lord in the world, perhaps ever. The Sinaloas smuggle cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin by land or through tunnels into the US, often via Arizona.

Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan

The largest of Japan’s Yakuza groups, the Yamaguchi has its base and origins in Kobe, but works on a global scale. With a membership running into tens of thousands, they deal in drugs, weapons, gambling, extortion rackets and prostitution.

Solntsevskaya Bratva, Russia

The term “Russian Mafia” describes a range of criminal bratvas, or brotherhoods, the largest of which is from Solntsevo district on the southern outskirts of Moscow. The group is known to have links to Semion MogilevichEurope‘s and perhaps the world’s, most powerful criminal.

The ‘Ndrangheta, Italy

The ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria has now eclipsed the nearby Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra syndicates to become one of the biggest drug gangs in the world. Its annual income from cocaine importation and other businesses is estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.

Abergil family, Israel

The imprisonment last year of brothers Itzhak and Meir Abergil has done little to curtail the activities of the huge organisation they led. IThe Abergils have been one of the world’s largest exporters of ecstasy, into the US and elsewhere, and prolific in gambling and embezzlement too.

via Guardian

Beautiful Aerial Photos Of Doomed Vacation Beaches, Captured Before They Disappear

Italy’s beach culture is not the most serious thing threatened by climate change.

But it would be sad to see this go. 

Fifty years ago, the umbrella-lined beaches along Italy’s Adriatric coast used to be a popular place for Europeans to go for summer vacations.

Then came cheap flights, and now the younger generation might be more likely to fly thousands of miles than take the train to the beach.

But even as the tourist crowd starts to dwindle to elderly Germans, the local beaches face a bigger threat than lost business: climate change washing them away.

By the end of the century, the narrow stretches of sand may slowly begin to disappear.

In a new series of photos, German photographer Bernhard Lang captures what the beaches near Rimini, Italy look like now.

Lang, an aerial photographer who has also documented a massive port in Germany and one of the largest coal pits in the world, was most interested in the patterns of each beach.

“A few years ago, I was on a short holiday in the area, and seeing these endless rows of sunshades from the ground, I started thinking this might look interesting from above,” he says.

“I preferred the distance and freedom of the aerial view, compared to lying in between the masses of geometrically arranged canvas chairs on the ground.”

If rising water starts to reclaim the sand decades from now, the photos will show the area as it once was.

“If these beaches eventually disappear, the images will be evidence of the Adriatic beach culture in Italy,” Lang says.

Of course, like other coastal regions, Italy faces more dire challenges than just lost vacation spots–seawater, for example, is likely to contaminate drinking water and water used to irrigate local farms.

And when nearby Venice eventually goes underwater–something that scientists now believe is inevitable, despite new barriers to block the water

that’s obviously a greater loss than some hotels and beach umbrellas. Still, it would be sad to see this go.

Breathtaking Photos of Odle, in the Dolomites Mountain Range of Italy

High in the Italian alps, within the famous mountain range called the Dolomites, separating the Funes valley from the Gardena valley, sit the breathtaking Odle mountains.

The Dolomites were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August 2009, and have been called some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes found anywhere in the world with its sheer cliffs, vertical walls and deep valleys.

One writer descriptively called the mountains, “flames frozen in stone.”

Walking the Dolomites is a unique experience in and of itself, as you get a 360-degree view of rocks that have been transformed over thousands of years.

There are a number of different trails, from the easy, well-graded paths to the more challenging ones. They cater to hikers of all abilities.

Here are some spectacular shots of the Odle mountain group taken by various photographers. Notice that spectacularly sheer cliff.

Reinhold Messner’s legacy project – six museums in the Alps

CGI of the Messner Mountain Museum at Plan de Corones in the South Tyrol in northern Italy

The Italian mountaineer’s vast project is a way of both sharing his passion for climbing and mountain life and boosting the economy of the region

High up in the Alps of the South Tyrol in northern Italy, there is a remarkable architectural project: a set of six museums dedicated to mountain culture. Four are in renovated historic buildings, one is purpose-built and the last is under construction.

This has been designed by Zaha Hadid Associates and is set to become one of the most distinctive new buildings in the Alps. Reinhold Messner, the Italian mountaineer behind the museums, is thrilled by what Hadid has done. “She has created a work of art.”

For Messner, a longtime collector of books and memorabilia, the museums are a legacy project, a way of both sharing his passion for climbing and mountain life and boosting the economy of the region. In his earlier career he climbed some of the world’s biggest mountains so the scale of this venture comes as no surprise.

Yet his first foray into museums was rather different. The Museum of Alpine Curiosities opened in 1993 in a small hut near to Mount Ortles. A former climbers’ refuge, known to locals as “the fleapit”, it is a typical piece of vernacular architecture, the kind of stone hut that you see all over the Alps.

Then, in the early 1980s, Messner bought a derelict fortress, Castel Juval, dating to the late 13th century and located in the Vinschgau valley, aiming to create a family home. But after years spent renovating the castle he realised that he only stayed there in the summer so decided to turn it into a museum for the remainder of the year. Adapting a large historic building was not so easy.

“Museums need toilets, fire escapes and ticket booths,” says Messner. “The problem was that I had already converted Juval into a private residence, so it was hard to remake it as a public space.”

In spite of the problems, the success of Juval as a tourist attraction convinced Messner that he could gradually expand his museum project. Over the next two decades he moved into two more historic buildings – a first world war fort at Monte Rite, and Castel Bruneck close to the Austrian border.

Ownership of the buildings remained with local government while Messner financed and ran the museum operation as a private venture.

His principal focus, though, was an ambitious scheme to renovate one of the most famous buildings in South Tyrol: Castel Sigmundskron, a huge rambling complex of fortifications and soaring towers with walls five metres thick. This, he decided, would be the central museum, with the others as satellites around it.

Each would have its own particular theme ranging from religion and mountain mythology at Castel Juval to the history of the Dolomites at Monte Rite. Sigmundskron would be the base camp, introducing visitors to the history of mountaineering and hosting temporary exhibitions.

Messner Mountain Museum by Zaha Hadid (4)

It took several years and a lot of negotiations with the regional government before work began. Though he’s proud that all his museums run without public funding, the conversion of Sigmundskron and the other buildings cost an estimated €30m, which was split between Messner and the province of South Tyrol.

At the time, there was some opposition to spending such a large amount of public money, but Messner was a shrewd and tenacious campaigner, and as South Tyrol’s former MEP and by far its most famous son, had the contacts and the charisma to get his way eventually.

To help him achieve his architectural vision for Sigmundskron, Messner turned to Werner Tscholl, an architect from Bolzano. “The main problem for me,” says Tscholl, “was the sheer scale of the castle and my desire to minimise the impact on this ancient building.”

The challenge with Sigmundskron and all the castles and forts was to turn buildings designed to keep invaders out into museums that would pull in tourists, while complying with stringent rules about what could and could not be done to historic property.

Reinhold Messner won international fame when he and Peter Habeler made the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen in 1978. He went on to become the first man to climb all 14 of the 8,000m peaks and returned to Everest to make the first solo ascent.

Between 1999 and 2004 he served as an MEP for Italy’s Green party. He has written over 63 books and spent much of his time on his museums.

“I didn’t actually rebuild anything,” he says, “or change the architecture of the castle. All the new elements – spiral staircases inside the towers, walkways along the castle walls, the floors and ceilings of the gallery spaces – were designed to be removable. We made them from black steel, everything was screwed in, nothing welded, so that at some point in the future it can all be removed. We deliberately left the metal untreated, so the exterior elements would rust and blend into the castle walls.”

Work finished in 2006. “Just before it opened,” says Tscholl, “someone asked me, ‘When are you going to start?’ I took it as a compliment. Good architecture is by its nature adaptable for different purposes. These castles were built for war, but a thousand years later they work as museums.”

Messner Mountain Museum by Zaha Hadid (2)

In the three years that it took for Tscholl to finish the “mother” museum, Messner commissioned another satellite, near the Ortles glacier. It was his first purpose-built structure, located on land that he owned and its style was entirely different.

“For me this landscape is holy. I didn’t want a single cubic metre above ground,” says Messner. A local architect, Arnold Gapp, designed a subterranean chamber that was excavated into a low hill.

Messner Mountain Museum by Zaha Hadid (1)

Apart from a discreet entrance, the only element visible on the outside is a narrow strip of glass cut into the hillside above. “The museum at Ortles is dedicated to the world of ice so we wanted visitors to feel like they were inside a glacier,” says Messner. “The window at the top is like a crevasse, a break in the ice that allows the light to come in.”

For the sixth and final mountain museum, currently under construction at Plan de Corones, Hadid has taken an even bolder approach, creating a building that is both within and without the mountainside. Her company already has a record for innovative Alpine architecture with four futuristic train stations in nearby Innsbruck as well as the soaring Bergisel ski jump.

The latest venture has been commissioned and financed by Skirama, the company that owns the ski infrastructure in Plan de Corones; as with the other museums Messner will be in charge of all the day-to-day operations.

“We have always enjoyed the challenge of working in extreme environments,” says Patrik Schumacher, Hadid’s principle collaborator on the new building. “Opportunities like this don’t come up very often.”

In Hadid and Schumacher’s design, most of the museum space is underground but the layout is much more sophisticated than at Ortles. After passing through a raw concrete entrance, a long curved walkway takes visitors into the heart of the museum.

There’s no attempt to follow the traditional rules of symmetry and proportion. At the bottom there are three large balconies, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Messner wholeheartedly approves, though he admits that he was worried initially about displaying artwork and artefacts on such irregular surfaces. “I like the fact that it is so hidden, that it doesn’t destroy the landscape but works with it,” says Messner.

Schumacher is equally proud of what they have done. “It is obvious how castles dominate the landscape around them,” he says. “We wanted to have the same impact but to stake our claim in a different way, with the mystery and intrigue of the outside, the drama of the interior and then the sheer thrill of walking out on to those balconies with their amazing views.”

There’s a long tradition of modernist architecture in extreme locations. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, Villa Malaparte on the eastern tip of Capri, Richard Neutra’s dramatic Kaufmann House in Palm Springs are today revered as 20th-century classics.

“There’s something exciting about working on slopes, designing buildings with cantilevered elements. Modernism has always loved the horizontal,” says Schumacher.

It is never easy though to work in mountainous areas. Construction costs are high, transport is difficult and the unpredictability of the weather can wreak havoc with schedules. This summer was one of the wettest in memory, with flooding and disruption all over northern Italy.

The sixth museum was due to open this year to mark Messner’s 70th birthday, but though well under way current estimates are that it will not open until summer 2015.

For the industrious Messner, the delays are frustrating but a lifetime spent living and climbing in the world’s mountains has taught him patience. “Every week someone rings me up wanting to open a new Messner museum, but I’m not interested.

This is my last one and I want to finish it, to give visitors somewhere that is quiet, tranquil, not aggressive, something that will promote calm and reflection.” Harking back to the 18th century, he quotes William Blake, the Romantic poet: “Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

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