Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Best country to be born in 2013

Which countries are the best to be born in? Where my children would have the best opportunities? These questions tease any prospective expat parent. The Economist tries to give an answer to these questions since many years.

Pregnant woman bouncing on a birth ball

The moment we consider relocating to another country we ask ourselves whether and how that will improve our life.

If you have children, you would probably think of an improvement in their quality of life first.

Therefore becoming an expat can often be a way to give a better future to our children. Hence the question of this article: in which country should I give birth and raise my children in order to give them a better life than the one I have?

The Economist answers this question since more than two decades, with the Lottery of Life, an annual list of the best countries in the world to be born.

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The porphyry disc in St. Peter where Charlemagne was crowned in the year 800 is still there

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe

A photo of the Red Porphyry Disk by Linda C. McCabe from Legends of Medieval France and Italy.

Charlemagne

Charlemagne

There is a place in Rome where you can walk over a floor that had Charlemagne on his knees on it.

The most amusing thing about it is that most people don’t even know that. In fact, if you’ve ever been inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you’ve probably already walked on it.

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Where to find the fastest trains in service in the world?

A French TGV in Europe

A French TGV in Europe – 200 mph

With bright announcements, governments and engineering companies let us know that they have the fastest trains in the world.

The Chinese told the world that they have a train that can reach 245 MPH; Italy has just presented one which will run at 250 MPH; the Japanese feature a futuristic magnetic levitation train topping at 361 MPH.

All these trains exist, they have actually reached such speeds, but they all also share the same downside: you can’t buy a ticket and enjoy a ride at their rated speed.

The reasons are that either their normal service speed is lower, or those trains are not in service at all (or at least not yet).

Therefore, if you are in Europe, you will hardly find a train with a normal service top speed higher than 200 mph (Italy will follow with 225 mph next year), with similar top speeds in China and Japan. China even reduced its fastest trains’ top speed from 220 mph to 186 mph after an accident in 2011.

The main reason behind such discrepancies between train top speed and service speed is given by railway networks, which set a limit for speed, regardless of the train going through them.

While running at 200 mph or faster is still awesome, one could wonder which the fastest train in normal service is.

Well, there is one which reaches 267 mph in normal service already.

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Hand-gesture language in Italy and in the world

Hand gestures and their meaning can be so varied that in some countries represent a parallel language, used along with vocal language. Why is hand-gesturing so important to some cultures? Why it is less important to others?

Hand gesture language

 

He is honking his car’s horn with frenzy. He is really mad at me.

Trying to decide whether I should be angry or amused, I look at him. He is a middle-aged Caucasian.

Then I look at his license plate. His car has a Zurich number, like mine.

I didn’t experience many of these encounters here in Switzerland. However, I experienced plenty of them in my native country, Italy. First clue.

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Saint Petersburg’s architectural beauty and attractions: a photo essay

The Bronze Horseman, 1782 equestrian statue of Peter the Great, Senate Square, Saint PetersburgWhat do you do when you are in St Petersburg for a short time?

I basically did two things. One is a must: visiting the Hermitage Museum.

The Hermitage is a huge, super-rich collection of pieces of art hosted in buildings which are pieces of art themselves. One of them, the main one, was the royal palace, the Tsar’s residence.
I haven’t seen anything similar to the Hermitage in my life, except for when I visited the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
How long you’ll stay in there depends on your resistance. I think it can be up to one whole day

But what else to do in St. Petersburg on a two-day stay?

Since its first stone was laid in 1703 by Peter the Great, the Tsars called the best European architects from all over Europe to build what is now known as the most Western-like city of Russia.
Mainly Italian and French architects, but also Russians, year after year, century after century, called by Tsar after Tsar, erected a wonderful historical center, made of several different styles: the Petrine Baroque, the Baroque, the Neoclassical, down to nineteenth century’s styles.
All that has produced a large downtown that is an open-air piece of art, and which was promoted UNESCO World Heritage site.

Therefore, I decided to take a bus tour. Below you can find a selection of the photos taken during that two-hour memorable bus ride.

If you’ve never been to St. Petersburg, by looking at the following pictures you can decide yourself whether I’m exaggerating in being so enthusiast about this Russia’s pearl.

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