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By Guest Nicole
A man walks in the flooded St. Mark's Square during the high-water (Acqua Alta) alert in Venice yesterday. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Three quarters of Venice was underwater yesterday as violent storms swept across Italy.
The first high water of the autumn hit Venice Monday and emergency sirens blared across the lagoon city yesterday as tourists were evacuated from the centre.
75% of the city centre was underwater, officials said, after high tides and stormy weatherÂ caused waters in theÂ canal-ringed city to reach historic high levels.
Yesterday visitors were barredÂ from an inundated St. Mark's Square and police carried children to safety as the "acqua alta" (high water) passed the 110 cm above sea level mark - at which citizens are alerted to potential danger Â– and then kept rising.
via .ORGWorld News
DISTURBING! Italian TV Reporter Violently Attcked On Live TV While Reporting On African Migrants
From exploring the wilds of Namibia to finding a new heaven in Nicaragua, the best outdoor adventure holidays to take in 2017By Guest Nicole
There's fresh impetus to explore Namibia's startling landscapes this year CREDIT:FOTOLIA
6 JANUARY 2017 • 12:31PM
If your ambition this year is to try new things and explore new places, you're in luck. From Nicaragua to Tajikistan, a number of hitherto "undiscovered" destinations are increasingly catering to discerning holidaymakers, with a host of new resorts opening and experiences launching over the year to come. Read below for more on the most exciting outdoor adventures to be enjoyed around the world in 2017, or for something more sedate see our guides to 2017's best wellness and fitness breaks; 2017's best luxury beach holidays; the year's best yachting and sailing holidays; and the best cities to visit over the next 12 months.
The Desert Circuit: Namibia Exclusive Lodges
The four new luxury lodges on the Namibia Exclusive circuit are located in some of the most remote and beautiful northern parts of the country, each designed by architect Greg Scott and built of local materials that reflect the region’s landscapes and cultural traditions.
Sorris Sorris Lodge in Damaraland has been built into huge granite boulders scattered across the desert landscape, its modern African rammed-earth structures and pool offering views over the Ugab River and the mountains of the Brandberg Massif.
Sorris Sorris Lodge
Omatandeka Lodge is surrounded by vast plains inhabited by the Himba people, table-top mountains and a vital wildlife corridor used by mountain zebra, oryx and endangered black rhino, while Sheya Shuushona Lodge, on the northern boundary of Etosha National Park, is surrounded by photogenic salt pans that change colour with the seasons and turn into a lake in the rainy season.
Finally, Xaudum Lodge, the most recent addition, is surrounded by the sand dunes of the Kalahari, home to some 3,000 elephants. All four lodges are located in areas with indigenous communities and contribute funds so these people can continue to live in traditional ways on their ancestors’ land.
The Explorations Company offers a nine-night safari, staying at three Namibia Exclusive lodges, from £8,985 per person including flights, air transfers, full board and guiding.
The Italian Castle: Castello di Ugento, Puglia
There are few buildings in Europe in which guests can stay above a Norman keep, dine beneath 17th-century Baroque frescoes and wander around a garden in which Bronze Age artefacts have been found. In April, on the southern heel of Italy, the (rather wonderfully named) d’Amore family will open their restored thousand-year-old Castello di Ugento to paying guests for the first time (doubles from £260).
Visitors can relax within walled gardens, in which more than 100 medicinal and aromatic plants are grown for the kitchen and spa; admire the frescoes painted in 1694 to portray the noble family’s history; sample local wines in an ancient cistern-turned-cellar; and take cookery lessons in a wing turned by the Culinary Institute of America into its first European school.
A maximum of 18 guests will sleep in stone-walled rooms with high, star-vaulted ceilings and views over Ugento’s rooftops, and they will feast on Puglian favourites cooked by Milanese chef Odette Fada, whose refined cuisine at the renowned Rex Il Ristorante in Los Angeles and San Domenico NY made her name as one of America’s finest Italian chefs. The nearest beaches are two miles away and Baroque towns such as Lecce are a short drive from the castle.
The Urban Forest: Aman Shanghai
Aman’s latest property in China (its fourth) must be one of its most anticipated to date. The Shanghai retreat (rates not yet available) is a picture of leafy tranquility – and full of surprises. If a visitor were to drop into the 100-acre property, planted with thousand-year-old camphor trees and interspersed with historic Ming- and Qing-dynasty houses, they’d never believe that they were within easy reach of buzzy downtown Shanghai. Neither the forest nor village are native to this area; both were moved here over the past 10 years from Jiangxi, some 500 miles southwest, by Ma Dadong, a pioneering businessman, when the building of a reservoir threatened their survival.
Now that the painstaking replanting (which took three years) and the building of the hotel are complete, the 37 villas in the new sanctuary are being decorated with original beams, floors, sculptures and carvings from the uplifted village homes. Kerry Hill, the project’s architect, has taken care to reflect traditional Chinese culture while blending in contemporary comforts and natural tones of earth, moss and creamy whites. Guests can take day trips to Shanghai, walk in the forest, sample Eastern cuisine, or relax in the spa, beside the two pools or in the Nan Shu Fang contemplation garden.
The South American Sleeper: The Belmond Andean Explorer, Peru
For the first time in May 2017, travellers will be able not only to traverse the Andes in one of the most luxurious trains on earth, but to sleep overnight on one. The Belmond Andean Explorer has been built to carry up to 68 passengers in en-suite cabins decorated by the South African designer Inge Moore in contemporary light woods and comforting alpaca-wool colours.
Each of the train’s cars is fitted with expansive windows to frame views of the Andean plains, mountains and grand architecture, including the Unesco World Heritage Site of Arequipa. Although another two trains already operate in this area – Belmond’s Hiram Bingham, which offers day trips to Machu Picchu, and the more traditional Inca Princess – this is the first modern luxury train to offer trips from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa, on one- and two-night journeys. Chefs from the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco will serve modern Peruvian cuisine in two dining cars; guests can also enjoy spacious lounge and observation cars, and an open deck. Doubles from £738 , all-inclusive, for one night.
The Gorilla Camp: Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
One of the key trends in Africa in 2017 is the growth of camps that offer both sustainable luxury and adventure. Hence Wilderness Safaris’ decision to open Bisate Lodge in June as a luxury base for tracking the 10 habituated gorilla groups in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park (doubles from £1,762 full board, excluding gorilla permits).
The lodge, raised high above the forest floor in the amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, has been designed by architect Nick Plewman to echo the spherical, thatched structures that dot the hills, as well as the layout of traditional Rwandan palaces. The interiors by Caline Williams-Wynn have been inspired by the rich detail of Rwandan textiles, many of which are made using a technique called imigongo, an ancient art form incorporating geometric shapes.
When the first guests arrive, they will be able not only to track gorillas, but to hike to Dian Fossey’s grave and her former research station at Karisoke, to trek to the top of a nearby volcano, and then to relax in the extensively reforested gardens.
The Jungle Retreat: Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s first luxe mountain resort sits in the lush landscape of Nandaime, just 40 minutes’ drive from the pretty colonial city of Granada. Nekupe – or heaven, in the indigenous Chorotega language – was designed with the help of a feng shui architect to have the highest energy flow and least environmental impact possible, and the four freestanding villas and four expansive suites, with king-sized beds, made-for-sharing bathtubs and alfresco showers, are decorated in earth tones and warm woods that echo the serene setting (doubles from £720, full board). Floor-to-ceiling windows frame views over Mombacho volcano’s perfect cone, and wraparound terraces are perfect for sipping daiquiris, before farm-to-table feasts of nuevo-Nicaraguan cuisine.
Nekupe will provide access to Nicaragua's underexplored nature reserves
The surrounding nature reserve, which echoes with the sounds of primates and toucans, can be explored on ATVs, as well as on paths created for hikers, bikers and horseback riders, or on zip wires, which soar above the forest canopy. For those not expending energy on target-shooting, tennis and yoga, there is an infinity pool and a spa.
The Cook Ski Spot: Lech, Austria
Size matters to ski resorts, so the hotly anticipated coronation of Ski Arlberg as Austria’s largest contiguous ski area is big news indeed. Encompassing eight villages, including big hitters St Anton, Lechand Zürs, Ski Arlberg is already one of the best-known ski areas in the Alps. But now its four new lifts are open, linking the entire area to deliver 109 miles of pistes (three more than Val d’Isère), Ski Arlberg will join the ranks of the world’s über resorts.
New developments have given Lech a leg up
The four connected lifts, known as the Flexenbahn, will place Lech at the epicentre of the ski area (stealing some thunder from St Anton). While expanding its lifts, Lech has also been consolidating its position as Austria’s leading town for luxury ski chalets. In December – hot on the heels of properties like the Aurelio Clubhouse, Chalet N, Chalet 1597 and Überhaus, which have raised the luxury bar in recent years – Severin’s Alpine Retreat will open its doors. The nine-suite hotel will be fitted with only the best: Minotti furnishings, a spa with an indoor infinity pool and hypoxic chamber for altitude training, and a ski room with bespoke Indigo kit.
Guests can take over the chalet, for free rein over the suites, restaurant, capacious spa and fire-lit lounges, or plump for The Residence: a sleek four-bedroom private apartment spanning two floors with a professional kitchen, cinema, bar and outdoor hot tub. The Oxford Ski Company offers a week for two people at Severin’s Alpine Retreat from £6,440, including transfers and flights.
The Rugged Destination: Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
Tajikistan was the second-fastest growing tourist destination in the world in 2015, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Which is why in 2017 Edge Expeditions will be running a two-week Luxury Tajikistan tour of the country’s spectacular Pamir Mountains: one the most diverse, wild, exhilarating and least-explored corners of the planet.
With a team of expert guides, a maximum of eight guests will traverse the raw wilderness by either four-wheel-drive vehicles, with a driver, or motorbikes. Journeying along the legendary Pamir Highway, travellers will spend days exploring azure mountain lakes, hidden valleys, ancient ruins and high mountain passes that very few outsiders ever get to see.
The trip starts off at a five-star hotel in the capital, Dushanbe, while on the road the ground crew will prepare yurt camps with hot showers, comfortable beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and gourmet meals prepared by the expedition’s private chef. Along the way, both British and Tajik guides will interpret the layered history of the region, while astronomers with telescopes will also be on hand to explore some of the least light-polluted night skies in the world.
Edge Expeditions is offering a 14-day Luxury Tajikistan journey by four-wheel-drive or motorcycle, from £9,495 full board, starting and ending at Dushanbe, including transfers, motorcycle rental or vehicle (with driver), back-up vehicles, guides and medic, but excluding international flights.
By Guest Nicole
Kesia Rodriguez Merino
Hello my brothers / sisters
I am living in Italy in the north, by now we have received news that no brother / sister is dead, it is true that many have lost their homes and properties but are well and are all together ... in the village of Amatrice that has been destroyed, there is living one family of brothers but they are well thanks to Jehovah!
Pamela Esposito brothers
Hello ... I live about 100km from the quake and here they have warned us much … The circuit overseer (which was in my congregation a year ago) said that no brother has been damaged ... only homes .... even some lived there ... thank Jehovah and pray for them.
By Guest Nicole
Italy may witness a bank run.
By Guest Nicole
Adele wants concertgoers to look at her with their own eyes instead of through a camera lens.
A video posted by a fan on Twitter shows the 28-year-old British singer singling out a woman at a concert, asking her: "Could you stop filming me with that video camera? Because I'm really here in real life, you can enjoy it in real life rather than through your camera."
Adele added: "This isn't a DVD, this is a real show." She said she'd really like those in the crowd to enjoy it "because there's lots of people outside that couldn't come in." She then rolled her eyes and turned around.
ABC News reports the video was taken Sunday night at Adele's show in Verona, Italy.
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By Guest Nicole
Members of the LGBT community and supporters filled Rome's Piazza Montecitorio on Thursday to celebrate the vote on same-sex civil unions by the Chamber of Deputies.
Italy has passed legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions. It's the last country in Western Europe to do so.
The measure was approved despite "strong opposition from the Catholic Church and conservative politicians," NPR's Sylvia Poggioli tells our Newscast unit. She adds:
"The legislation grants same-sex couples many of the same rights as married couples — the possibility to have the same last name, inheritance, hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights. But it stops short of same-sex marriage.
"Originally presented in 2013, [the bill faced strong opposition, which] forced the government to drop the stepchild-adoption clause. Social conservatives and Catholics saw that as a step toward legalizing surrogate motherhood, which is illegal in Italy."
The New York Times reports that Wednesday's vote (372 to 51, with 99 abstentions) was met with "long applause in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament." The legislation passed the Senate earlier this year.
The Associated Press notes that Italy is "the last of the European Union's 28 nations to grant legal recognition to civil unions." Gay-rights advocates emphasized the historic nature of the vote.
"The wall erected mostly by the Vatican against civil rights in this country has fallen, so it is a historically and politically important moment," Franco Grillini, honorary leader of the advocacy group Arcigay, said according to the Times.
Still, many were hoping the law would go further. "It is lacking full equality, which is what we were asking for," Gabriele Piazzoni, national secretary for Arcigay, tells the AP. "But still, this is a crucial moment."
Italian lawmakers first proposed legalizing civil unions some 30 years ago, the Times reports.
Reuters says the bill also grants further rights to unmarried heterosexual couples — they "get the right to be treated as each other's next of kin if one partner is taken ill, dies or is imprisoned. They also get some rights to a shared home."
Sylvia adds that conservative lawmakers have vowed to "call for a referendum to repeal the law."