16 Jun Famous Landmarks that almost didn’t survive WWII

 When discussing World War II and its lasting impact on international populations and politics the focus is, rightly, on the human cost of the conflict. Six years of war claimed the lives of over 72,000,000 soldiers and civilians worldwide, and some regions have never regained the prosperity they enjoyed before the battles. Every aspect of society was altered by the massive conflict, which saw the birth America as a superpower, the fall of several empires, the rise of the Soviet Union, and the introduction of some of the most destructive weapons the world has ever seen. During the chaotic war years when the preservation of human life took precedence over all else, innumerable works of art and architecture fell victim to the astounding destruction. Mystery continues to surround the fate of some treasures, including Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, and the infamous lost Amber Room of the Czars. Though teams of historians and experts have devoted years to finding stolen works, repairing damaged décor, and protecting sites against future damage, it is an imperfect science. As ISIS’ recent destruction of irreplaceable historic sites across Iraq and Syria has taught us, sometimes the survival of iconic buildings and structures is left entirely to the whim of occupying forces. Though it may be easy to despair for the art and history of the Mideast during the current conflicts, it is important to remember that less than 100 years ago the treasures of...

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13 May Treat Yourself

One of my favorite things about traveling is the chance to try out foreign foods, specifically candy. Nothing can compare to the discovery of a new favorite sweet in a wrapper that is impossible to decipher. Foreign candies have also given me some of the more startling taste sensations I’ve experienced. You should never let a few bad tastes stop you from adventuring, though. To help further your quest for sweet sensations I’ve compiled some of the candies you absolutely must try. Some of these are so good the taste more than justifies the price of the plane ticket. Wine Gums – England Wine gums are chewy, gummy candies that are flavored after a variety of your favorite alcoholic beverages, with none of the hangover after-effects. In every bag you’ll be able sample burgundy, champagne, claret, gin, port, and sherry. Cheers! Kinder Country – Germany Purportedly a good source of your daily dairy, Kinder Country bars consist of a milky cream layered over puffed rice and then covered with some of the best milk chocolate you’ve ever had. Super delicious, but it melts fast, so eat quickly! Chimes Mango Ginger Chews – Indonesia Made with ginger grown in the volcanic soil of Java, these chews are spicy, sweet, and great for settling your stomach after a night out on the town. As a bonus they’re also gluten free and vegan, so feel free to share! Alfort – Japan Though many people don’t associate chocolate sweets with Japan, these cookies...

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29 Apr Manage Your Manners

During the 5 years I lived in Japan I committed my fair share of cultural faux pas. Dressing incorrectly, saying the wrong thing, exposing my misunderstanding of basic social rules… I unwittingly checked all of these missteps off my list. However none were more memorable, or more embarrassing, than those rules I broke at the dinner table. (Never stick your chopsticks point down in your rice. Trust me on this.) Table manners are a sign of civility and good character everywhere in the world. Unfortunately, “good” and “bad” etiquette is subjective dependent on culture, which can lead to unintentionally rude behavior. There are a few tried and true rules that transcend location (chew with your mouth closed, wash your hands, don’t throw things) but the rest are tricky. We’ve compiled five of the harder ones below. Read on to become a politer you! Italy – No cappuccino after 12pm Cappuccino is a morning drink. Indeed, for many Italians it can function as their entire breakfast. Therefore, anyone ordering it after noon is instantly identifiable as a tourist. Older Italians will admonish you for ruining your appetite and upsetting your tummy. Stay on the safe side and order espresso instead. Britain – Hold your fork in your left hand For most of mainland Europe, and particularly Britain, the approved way to hold your fork and knife is in the “Continental Style.” (Does that mean Americans use the “Colonial Style?” Need to look into this…) To be correctly...

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25 Mar Party the Year Away

So you’ve decided to embrace your inner romantic with a season or two under the Tuscan sun? Contrary to what the movies would have you believe, you don’t have to come of age or have an illicit romance to appreciate the region’s extraordinary culture and countryside. But if illicit romances are your thing, go for it! However, we believe it’s semi-compulsory to get to one of the many festivals. They take place throughout the year in and around the rolling Tuscan hills and craggy Tuscan coastline. Some Tuscan festivals have traditions stretching back as far as the 6th century. And if you don’t think that’s cultural enough, you could always check out some local frescoes or architectural masterpieces after the festivities! Here are our picks of the major Tuscan festivals happening in each season. +++ Summer Luminara, Regatta of St. Ranieri and Battle of the Bridge - Pisa This two-day candlelit extravaganza of Luminara celebrates Saint Ranieri, the patron saint of Pisa. The city is best known for its structurally unsound tower, but Luminara beats that for pyrotechnic drama. It kicks off on the evening of June 16, with more than 70,000 candles lighting up the palaces along the Arno river, and a fireworks display. The following day, four boats representing the city’s oldest districts compete in the Regatta of Saint Ranieri along the Arno river. A week later, on the last Saturday of June, Pisa locals parade through the city in their best medieval costumes. Even better, some then join the Battle of...

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25 Feb Like a Local

Firenze! For anyone visiting Italy, it’s impossible to resist the appeal. You may even feel like you’re becoming Italian! To complete the immersion, why not hang with the locals in this iconic Renaissance capital? Here are our picks for the best local Florence haunts:   Le Cascine ParkOriginally owned by the Medici family (at one time the wealthiest family in Europe) Florence’s largest park was once used for game hunting and later, to grow fruit and vegetables. Today it’s a popular local spot for jogging, bike riding, bird watching, lazing around with friends or playing a friendly game of soccer. It’s also home to Le Pavoniere, an outdoor aquatic centre that transforms by night into a poolside bar and restaurant, serving up cocktails, pizzas and live music.   Crazy Bowling. So it doesn’t sound classically Italian, but you are sure to find lots of Fiorentini in this American-style bowling alley, just a short bus ride from Florence’s historic city centre. But’s it’s not just bowling - there are also arcade games, billiards, a casino and eateries. Catch tram 1 from outside Florence’s central train station, Firenze Santa Maria Novella, to the Nenni–Torregalli stop.   Dancing spots and discotecas Late night dancing is a popular pursuit in Florence and there are tons of great venues for discos and live music, many of them in ancient, underground cellars. Stalwarts for the younger crowd and lovers of house music include Tenax, Club TwentyOne and Space Electronic. Also check out Flò Lounge Bar, an...

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12 Feb Love Makes the World Go ‘Round

Here it comes…the day when couples are expected to shower each with love and expensive gifts, while their singleton friends gather together to get drunk, defiant and depressed. Well that’s what happens in the States, but there are many different Valentine’s Day traditions happening in different countries around the world. Here’s an insight into how different cultures celebrate February 14. Italy Long before Juliet was meant to be blowing kisses at Romeo from her balcony, Italians celebrated Valentine’s Day as the Spring Festival. The young and romantic would stroll arm-in-arm through gardens, resting beneath tree arbors to enjoy poetry readings and music. Today on Valentine’s Day, Italians are more likely to be exchanging gifts and chocolate over a romantic dinner. And when we say chocolate, we don’t mean a Hershey Bar. Italians believe the bigger and better the chocolate, the stronger the love you will have. France France has given the world its most romantic city, most seductive accents, and it’s sometimes claimed, its best lovers. It’s even said that the first Valentine’s Day card originated in France when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415. Today, you’re more likely to find French people wining and dining each other than exchanging heartfelt cards on February 14.   United Kingdom In the UK, Valentine’s Day is when you can discover your secret admirer, or confess your secret passions for another. Sending anonymous Valentine’s cards is a tradition...

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28 Jan Play With Your Food

Do you like to get creative with your food, or harbor a secret passion for a good food fight? If you answered "yes" to any of those queries, or if you have just started flinging food about at the very suggestion, then you’ll love these quirky, messy, no-holds-barred food festivals from around the world.   Ivrea Carnival and Orange Battle, Italy, February/March Prepare for a pummeling at this three-day food fight, held in the small northern Italian city of Ivrea in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Around 400 tons worth of over ripe oranges are brought in from southern Italy for the epic battle, which re-enacts a Middle Ages rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor known as Barbarossa (Red Beard). Thousands of people in medieval costumes gather in teams, with the king’s guards pelting foot soldiers and other carriage teams from their horse-drawn carts.   Copper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, UK, May Yes it could just be the cheesiest festival in the world. Held atop steep Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth near Gloucester, the event involves rolling an eight pound cheese wheel down the hill and racing down after it at death-defying speeds. The official event was cancelled in 2010 due to concerns around crowds and safety, but was quickly resurrected in an unofficial form. Last year, organizers replaced the Double Gloucester cheese wheel with a lightweight foam version, and a Colorado Springs estate agent and a Japanese contestant each won one...

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12 Jan Wish, Kiss, and Touch

The new year is here! 2015 is the year for travel and discovery, and all the personal wealth that comes with it. We’ve put together a list of places for you to go this year that are not only beautiful and entrenched in history, they will bring you good fortune. 1. Edinburgh, Scotland- Grayfriar Bobby Statue Meet the most famous and beloved terrier of Scotland, Grayfriars Bobby. His life-size statue stands near the main entrance of Greyfriar Kirkyard, a cemetery in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The statue was erected to memorialize the Skye Terrier who kept faithful watch over his master’s grave for 14 years until his own death in 1872. A tombstone marks his actual burial site in Kirkyard, where he rests eternally near the grave of his owner John Gray. The story has unfortunately been discredited by recent research, but tourists still enjoy rubbing the nose of the loyal pup for good fortune. City officials encourage you to pet gently, not because he bites, but because his nose has undergone some damage over the years from repeated touching. [caption id="attachment_1340" align="alignnone" width="189"] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greyfriars_Bobby_statue,_Edinburgh.JPG[/caption] So sweet. 2. Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland- Blarney Castle Kiss it, it’s Irish! When you’re in Ireland, be sure to visit the Blarney Castle and kiss the Blarney Stone for the “gift of the gab.” According to legend, proprietor of the castle Cormac MacCarthy was being denied his land owning rights by Queen Elizabeth I. Feeling helpless to argue his case, he...

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07 Jan Raise a Glass

Think Italy, think wine. Or should that be think Italy, drink wine? The country is home to some of the world’s oldest wine regions - Etruscans and Greeks were making wine here even before the famously hedonistic Romans got into large-scale wine production in 200 BC. Today Italy is the world’s largest wine producer after France. Grapes are grown in almost every Italian region of the country and around one in fifty Italians take part in the annual grape harvest. To truly appreciate Italy’s winemaking traditions, you really need to tour of one of the countries many vineyards. There are more than a million vineyards, so lucky for you, we’ve narrowed it down to three of the best. Remember to call ahead to book a tour.   Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole, Alba, Piedmont The Ceretto family have been making wine for over three generations. With a vineyard that spans 140 hectares across four villages of the Piedmont’s Langhe, the family have made a name for themselves for their unique mix of wine cultivation and contemporary art. As well as the grapevines, the property features historic chapels and statues restored by notable artists and architects. Villa Vignamaggio, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany This 14th century villa was first built by the Gherardini family in the late Middle Ages. Brimming with luscious cypress trees, the villa features views of the Tuscan countryside e worthy of a coming-of-age love story. Sample the exquisite variety of Sangiovese wine, and stay overnight in some very luxurious, old-world accommodation. Planeta’s Cantina dell’Ulmo,...

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19 Aug Oodles of Noodles

Not all pastas are created equal. Variations in size, shape, serving methods, and cooking time all combine to create the intricacies that define this hallmark ingredient of Italian cuisine. Among other identifying characteristics, some are infinitely more adorable than others. (Spaghetti? Please, too basic.) Though we definitely can’t claim to have mastered all of them, below you’ll find our guide to Panrimo’s Top 7 Cutest Italian Pastas. 7) Barbina A long, thin noodle similar to angel’s hair pasta, Barbina is cute mostly for it’s name, which translates to ‘little beards’. Often twisted into a shape resembling a bird’s nest or a ‘little beard’, this pasta is great for a charming, pre-portioned appetizer. 6) Orecchiette A pasta traditionally made in the southern part of Italy, orecchiette or ‘little ear’, is a small thumb-sized noodle made in an oval shape that looks just like it’s namesake (cute!). Though the signature orecchiette dish is made with the rapine leaf, this pasta can be cooked with a variety of vegetable based sauces and is often paired well with broccoli or ricotta cheese. 5) Fusilli Bucati These tightly spiraled pieces of pasta add cuteness to any dish! Translated as ‘holed rifles’, they are surprisingly long (about 2 inches) and uniquely suited for consumption with any kind of chunky sauce (the pieces of vegetables or meat get caught in the twirls). Most cooks recommend serving this pasta with an artichoke heart cream sauce. 4) Radiatore Designed in the 1960s by an industrial engineer who...

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