Bologna, Italy is one of my favorite Italian cities. It’s an inspiring place that is often overlooked. Located in Italy’s picturesque Emilia-Romagna region, it’s just 25 minutes by high speed train from Florence. It’s a must-see city for art lovers and gourmets. Here you’ll find plenty of great inexpensive fresh food and a bounty of great art. One of my favorite sights in the city is the Museo Morandi, which houses a large collection dedicated to the inspired still lives of Bolognese artist Giorgio Morandi. The city is also home to one of Italy’s oldest and largest universities, Università di Bologna (UNIBO), and has the undeniable vibe of a student city. Because of its central location between Tuscany and Venice, and the plethora of high speed trains connecting through the city, it also makes a perfect home base from which to explore the region.
What do you get when you give street art a cozy knit twist? That would be yarn bombing, aka yarnstorming, graffiti knitting, or grandma graffiti. Found here and there around the globe in the most random places, this knitted graffiti art softens the most urban of concrete jungles and just makes everything cozier. First spotted in the Netherlands, the idea has since spread across the globe, as witnessed in the following striking images.
Japan is filled with all kinds of interesting shrines and temples, but Gotokuji Temple (豪徳寺) in Tokyo caught our eye for its devotion to the “Maneki Neko” (招き猫) or beckoning cat. Found everywhere in Japan, this classic Japanese icon is thought to bring good luck, with its waving hand which beckons luck to come its way. Visitors will find an endless ocean of white maneki neko cats stacked everywhere around the grounds.
It’s that time of year again — sakura, or cherry blossom viewing season in Japan. There’s no experience like walking through a park filled with cherry blossom trees and watching the tiny floral petals float down softly like fragrant snow as they blanket the ground with color. The locals throw hanami parties, festive picnic gatherings that take place under the blooming trees, which by the way are cultivated for their flowers rather than for their cherries (they don’t bear fruit). Here are some spellbinding spring images out of Japan…
Fashionable dresses made of paper? How fun is that? These adorable creations were designed by one talented little 4 year old girl and her mother. Created out of construction paper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and gift bags as well as silk scarves, tulle, aluminum foil and whatever else is lying around the house, the dresses are then put together with clear packing tape or glue. This mini fashion designer, who goes by the name “Mayhem,” also likes to re-create red carpet dresses, giving them her own unique paper spin.
York is one of England’s most picturesque and historically rich cities. Situated halfway between London and Edinburgh in Yorkshire, York has more miles of intact medieval city walls than anywhere else in England and also boasts what is said to be the oldest shopping street in Europe. The Romans, the Saxons, and the Vikings all left their mark on York, and now it’s also one of England’s biggest university towns with a plethora of pubs as well. Budget two days to delve in and explore this dynamic city.
Zurich is a really cool city. This was my second time here, although the last time was 15 years ago, and only for a day. (Definitely not enough time to do the city justice.) Not surprisingly, this time around I found the city to be completely different from what I remembered. Grand and bustling, Zurich has all the trimmings of a financial powerhouse capital for sure, but also has quiet old town streets that feel a million miles away from all that. The train station is one of Europe’s grandest, filled with modern art on the inside and classical European architecture on the outside. Leading off from the station is Bahnhoff Straße, the grand street that runs into the heart of town.
Napa wines are famous the wold over—and for good reason. Having recently moved to San Francisco, I was dying to head over and check out what all the hype is about.
Napa valley consists of a string of tiny towns located along Hwy 29, with Napa, California at the southern end and Calistoga towards the northern end. This glamorous stretch of farmland just an hour from San Francisco is famous for cabernet sauvignon, star chefs, and volcanic mud baths. Compared to California’s other wine regions, Napa Valley embraces an almost disneyland-like commercialism, catering to tourism on a grand scale. This means more wineries and more fantastic eateries, but it also means more people. Most wineries also require reservations (due to strict zoning laws that prohibit drop-in visitors), so the best way to go about wine tasting is to book one wine tasting and plan your entire day around it, keeping your winery count to 3 or less per day. Those seeking a quieter experience will also want to check out neighboring Sonoma Valley, or Southern California’s wine jewels: Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley wine country.
The Dorchester is in a class of its own. One of the best hotels in all of Europe, this five-star hotel in the heart of London’s Mayfair district overlooks Hyde Park, and is the perfect destination for an extra special occasion, or just an ultra luxury retreat. Read on to find out why The Dorchester has earned our vote as 2013’s #1 hotel in the world.