from UK/USA tourism articles 

US Credit downgrade – dark day

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded the United States’ credit rating for the first time in the history of the ratings.

The country’s top AAA rating – which it has held since 1917 – now stands one notch lower, at AA+.

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) said it made the move because the deficit reduction plan passed by Congress on Tuesday did not go far enough to stabilise the debt situation in the US.

To add to the US’ woes, the agency has also issued a negative outlook, meaning there is a chance it will lower the rating further within the next two years.

The downgrade could have several consequences for normal Americans.

If buyers are scared away from US debt, the interest rate paid on US bonds, notes and bills have to rise to attract buyers.

This in turn could trickle down to mortgage holders and those wanting to take out loans on big-ticket items like cars.

  Obama in Joplin: Updated 6h 4m ago

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Exactly a week after Joplin was nearly leveled by the deadliesttornado to strike the U.S in decades, President Obama visited the Missouri city to offer hope to survivors and promises of help.

  • President Obama views damage from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., with residents on Sunday.By J. Scott Applewhite, APPresident Obama views damage from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., with residents on Sunday.

By J. Scott Applewhite, AP

President Obama views damage from the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., with residents on Sunday.

Obama came face to face Sunday with the legions of homeless, consoling the community as it remembered the more than 130 people killed in the storm. The memorial service erupted in cheers when Obama said, “I promise you your country will be there with you every single step of the way,” a pledge he extended to all parts of the nation raked by violent storms this season.

The service punctuated a day of remembrance as authorities pressed on with the task of identifying the victims and volunteers combed through the apocalyptic landscape of wrecked neighborhoods where nothing was left whole.

Hundreds stood in Joplin’s Cunningham Park for a moment of silence at 5:41 p.m. — to mark the first report of the tornado — surrounded by wrecked cars and twisted poles. Many in the crowd wore white T-shirts emblazoned, “Joplin’s Heart Will Sing Again.”

“We will rebuild Joplin,” City Manager Mark Rohr told the crowd. “You have my word on it.”

Obama made the same vow hours earlier during the service, telling locals: “We’re not going to stop ’til Joplin’s back on its feet.”

The Joplin tornado was the worst to hit the United States in decades. Hundreds were injured, and 39 people remained unaccounted for as of late Sunday. There are four more people whom family members have reported as deceased, but those deaths haven’t been officially confirmed.

Air Force One flew over a massive swath of brown — a land of flattened houses and stripped trees — on its approach to Joplin. On the ground, the destruction was even more stark and complete. Obama confronted painful sights at every turn and said nothing in his life measured up to what he saw this day.

Yet he spoke, too, of redemptive moments, the stoicism of the community and tales of plain luck. He told a story of a man he talked to who had taken a chicken pot pie out of the oven, heard the storm was coming, hid in a closet and “came out without a scratch.” Obama celebrated the spirit of volunteers who have flocked to Joplin to help, the pickup truck owners who ferried people to the hospital and the citizens who lined up for hours to donate blood to people they don’t know.

“You’ve demonstrated a simple truth,” he told the service, “that amid heartbreak and tragedy no one is a stranger. Everybody is a brother. Everybody is a sister. We can all love one another.”

The crowd of hundreds at the service reflected a community in the midst of rebuilding: people in shorts and baseball caps, and plenty of babies who occasionally burst out crying. The president talked over the screeching until a baby was hurried out by the mother.

Obama got a notably warm reception in this conservative part of Missouri. His remarks were tailored for a religious service, with quotes from scripture, references to the love that binds people to each other, and comments on the essential goodness of humanity. The stories of the storm lead us to “put aside our petty grievances,” the president said. “There are heroes all around us, all the time. So, in the wake of this tragedy, let us live up to their example: to make each day count.”

Known for his cool, even-tempered demeanor, Obama offered his own brand of comforting: eloquent words, plentiful handshakes, some hugs, pats on the heads of children, offers of “God bless you.” Not for him the raw emotion Americans saw in his predecessors George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.

Before the service, Obama’s motorcade pulled into a neighborhood where downed trees cleaved open houses, roofs were stripped or blown off, cars were cratered and splintered wood was everywhere. He saw nothing intact, but rather small domestic sights — a view into a room with a TV still in place, a recliner sitting amid rubble, a washer-dryer standing next to a decimated house. American flags were planted here and there in the mess.

“Sorry for your loss,” Obama told an anguished woman, hugging her twice as they talked. Another woman told him that her uncle lives up the road — he survived but his house did not. “Tell your uncle we’re praying for him,” the president said.

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Getting there from UK

Ryanair – Flights from Milan

ryanairOne of the Europe’s biggest low-cost airlines, Ryanair is set to offer flights to Italyin and out of Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Currently, Ryanair flies in and out ofFiumicino in Rome, and there’s no word on whether the budget giant would continue to operate there as well. Italy’s national airline, Alitalia, has pulled the majority of its operations out of Malpensa in order to concentrate on Rome (and on trying to stop losing money hand over fist), and Ryanair sees the Alitalia pullout as the perfect opportunity.

In what it called the “Manifesto for Malpensa,” Ryanair said that Milan’s airport “has never achieved its full potential because it has always bet on the wrong horse: Alitalia.” Ryanair’s bid to establish operations in Milan was delivered a couple weeks ago, and the airline is apparently ready to spend over $1 billion between now and 2012 to:

  • Begin offering flights to/from Milan Malpensa Airport starting in 2008;
  • Greatly expand its current services from nearby Bergamo Orio al Serio airport;
  • Base 24 aircraft at Malpensa by 2012;
  • Offer 50 international routes and 10 domestic routes from Milan; and
  • Guarantee the lowest fares of any airline flying from any Milan airport.

A Ryanair spokesman said that Lombardy and Ireland, Ryanair’s home base, are similar “because we both have so many small and medium-sized enterprises which need cheap travel.” The airline is counting on the organization which oversees the Milan-area airports to make some concessions as part of the deal, so it remains to be seen exactly how much or how little will happen. One of the keys, according to Ryanair, is that the Milan airports would need to reduce their costs in order to allow them to offer their traditionally super-cheap fares.

Keep an eye on this Ryanair deal, because if it’s successful – even in part – it could mean flying to and from Milan and Bergamo from within Europe is about to get very, very cheap.

See here and here for more information.

By air

There are direct flights to 23 destinations in Italy, most from London, but there’s also a good choice from the Midlands, Liverpool and Scotland. All destinations listed are served by direct, non-stop flights. UK regional airports listed may not offer all routes.

Alitalia (0871 424 1424; London City and Heathrow to Milan Linate and Heathrow to Rome. Onward connections to 25 domestic airports.

Bmi (0844 8484 888; Heathrow to Milan Malpensa.

Bmibaby (0905 828 2828; East Midlands to Venice and Alghero.

British Airways (0844 493 0787; Heathrow and/or Gatwick to Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Genoa, Milan (both airports), Naples, Pisa, Rome, Turin, Venice, Verona.

EasyJet (0905 821 0905; From Gatwick, Stansted, Liverpool, Luton, Bristol, Newcastle, Edinburgh. Destinations: Venice, Milan (both airports), Rome, Olbia, Naples, Turin, Pisa, Palermo and Cagliari.

Flybe (0871 700 2000; Birmingham and Manchester to Milan; Southampton to Verona.

Jet2 (0871 226 1737; From Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds-Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle. Destinations: Milan, Venice, Pisa, Rome and Olbia in Sardinia.

Lufthansa (0871 945 9747; Flies non-stop from London Heathrow to Milan Malpensa.

Meridiana (0871 423 3711; Gatwick to Florence; onward connections to Sardinia and Sicily.

Monarch (0871 423 8642; Charters from Gatwick to Lamezia (Calabria) and Manchester to Cagliari (Sardinia).

Ryanair (0871 246 0000; Flies from 10 UK airports to: Alghero (Sardinia), Ancona, Bari, Bergamo (for Milan), Brescia (for the Lakes), Brindisi, Cagliari, Cuneo (for Piedmont region), Forli (for Bologna), Genoa, Lamezia, Palermo, Parma, Perugia, Pescara, Pisa, Rimini, Rome, Trapani (Sicily), Treviso (for Venice), Trieste, Turin, Verona.

Thomas Cook ( UK bases: Gatwick, East Midlands, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle. Destinations: Brescia (for the Lakes), Catania, Naples, Olbia, Rimini, Turin, Venice and Verona.

Thomson Airways (0871 231 4787; Biggest choice of summer services from Manchester and Gatwick; some flights from Bristol, Birmingham, East Midlands, Newcastle and Glasgow. Destinations: Catania, Naples, Venice, Verona, Pisa, Alghero.

By rail

Fares for the 17-hour London-to- Florence journey start at £125 return including couchette berth. Rail Europe (0844 848 4070;, Italia Rail (0870 084 1414; and Ffestiniog Travel (01766 772957; sell international rail tickets, rail passes and reservations for fast internal ES trains. For excellent advice and tips on travel to and within Italy see The Man in Seat Sixty-One website:

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (0845 077 2222; The two-day journey from London to Venice through the Swiss Alps costs £1,690 full board (single-cabin supplement £290). There are good-value inclusive packages for longer stays in Venice.

Getting there

Car hire

Rental companies: Avis (0844 581 0147;, Budget(0844 544 3439;, Europcar (0871 384 1087;, Hertz (0870 844 8844;, Sixt(0844 248 6620;

Brokers (which contract their cars from a local or multinational company):Holiday Autos (0871 472 5229;, Holiday Cars Direct (01892 833 366; and Car Hire 3000(0800 368 5305; Nostalgic Cars (0845 686 8020; organises touring holidays in the Lakes, Tuscany and Sicily in classic Alfa Romeo Spiders.

When comparing rental quotes online, check that extras such as airport fees, out-of-hours fees and charges for a second driver and theft cover are included. Watch out for a high insurance excess hidden in the small print. Reduce this to zero with an annual policy sold Don’t use cheap car brokers that only take a deposit as the car may be given away by the rental agency at busy times. Always keep the fuel receipt after filling up before the airport return. Italian car rental companies sometimes make a post-rental refuelling charge but back down when a receipt is produced.

Many Italian city centres have Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL) areas, which allow access to residents and permitted vehicles only. The Italian police are zealous in pursuing infringements and obtain driver details from car rental companies. Fines are around £100 each time you enter a ZTL. Look out for overhead cameras and a sign with a red circle. If staying at a hotel inside a ZTL, make sure the hotel phones the police with the registration number and obtains a provisional transit permit. Keep the hotel bill in case you need to challenge a fine.

Two Starters, Two Mains, and Two Glasses of Wine

April 21, 2011

By RealCheap

Two Starters, Two Mains, and Two Glasses of Wine

Limited Time – York – Two Starters, Two Mains, and Two Glasses of Wine from the À La Carte Menu.

Welcome to LivingSocial, where living large and saving dosh go hand in hand. Are you concerned

that the excitement of dining out has begun to plateau? Do you feel increasingly reluctant to trek

to a restaurant for an overpriced smudge on your plate? Scale today’s deal from One19 The Mount

and reach a new peak in your culinary career. Two starters, two mains, and two glasses of wine from

the à la carte menu can be reached for just £25 — a £63 value. Set in the in the beautiful surroundings

of the Mount Royale Hotel, you can feast on imaginative and tantalising combinations of British and

Mediterranean food without seeing your bill reach dizzying heights — try the grilled goats cheese salad

with toasted pine nuts, mixed leaf, and balsamic dressing or the ravioli of lobster with king prawns in rich tomato and cream sauce. Don’t get stuck at base camp; navigate today’s deal before it disappears off a cliff.

More Info / Buy Now »

Raspberry Flapjacks with Parmigiano Reggiano!

Recipe courtesy of “The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook” by Sophie Grigson, copyright 2008. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.

Review now … welcome

Raspberry Flapjacks
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4 1/2 oz (125 g) raspberries 9 oz (250 g) porridge oats
9 oz (250 g) butter, diced, plus extra for greasing2 teaspoons of grated Parmesan 18-24 mths 7 oz (200 g) plain flour
1 tbsp golden syrup or Fairtrade honey 3 1/2 oz (100 g) desiccated coconut
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 3 1/2 oz (100 g) Fairtrade brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Yield: 1 Serving
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Prep: 10 min Total: 45 min
Try Kitchen View! Take your computer to the kitchen and view this recipe full-screen, with step-by-step directions.

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  • Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a deep baking tin measuring 16 x 25cm(6 x 10in) with butter. Line it with a strip of greaseproof paper and set it aside.
  • Crush the raspberries in a small bowl. Sprinkle in the Parmesan…. yummm, no nibbling!
  • Place the butter and syrup or honey in a small pan, and melt together slowly until runny.
  • Sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda and stir the mixture until it is frothy.
  • Place all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Pour the melted butter mixture into the centre and mix well.
  • Spread half of the mixture into the tin, spread the raspberries over the top, and then cover with the remaining mixture.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden. Allow the flapjacks to cool before turning them out and cutting them into squares.

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Antonio LigabueLa Follia del genio

Antonio Ligabue - La Follia del genio

Italian version – English version scroll down

12/03-26/06 | Parma | Arte & Cultura | Giusto 50 anni fa, Antonio Ligabue (Zurigo, 1899 – Gualtieri, Reggio Emilia, 1965) viveva la sua consacrazione d’artista con una mostra a Roma alla galleria La Barcaccia, presentata da Giancarlo Vigorelli e alla quale Ligabue partecipò a patto che il governo gli desse una medaglia d’oro. Singhiozzava quando se la trovò tra le mani.

Poco dopo, ad ascoltare Dam un bes (Dammi un bacio), la celebre canzone di Augusto Daolio dei Nomadi, lo si ritrova a chiedere un “bacio per favore” alla Cesarina, la solare ostessa del paese. Era l’espressione di “un bisogno d’amore che spacca il cuore”.

Un sogno di normalità, dunque, che si concretizza nell’acquisto della Gilera. Ma El matt è ormai un artista se non consacrato almeno considerato.

Dopo la moto, ecco la macchina, altro inarrivabile sogno di una vita, con tanto di autista che si levasse il cappello aprendogli la portiera: una rivalsa su una esistenza terribile, fatta di rifiuto e marginalità, di abbandoni e di malattia. Presto arriva una paresi e, nel 1965, la morte.

Nel 1966 la Quadriennale di Roma ospita le sue opere e lo sdogana definitivamente al mondo dell’arte, mentre la grande antologica di Palazzo Reale a Milano e la più recente mostra alla Galleria d’arte moderna di Palazzo Pitti a Firenze lo hanno posto tra i grandi artisti del Novecento.

Curata da Augusto Agosta Tota, per iniziativa dellaFondazione Magnani Rocca presieduta da Manfredo Manfredi, in collaborazione con Comune di Parma, Comune di Traversetolo e Centro Studi & Archivio Antonio Ligabue, presieduto dallo stesso Augusto Agosta Tota, presentata da Marzio Dall’Acqua e Vittorio Sgarbi, col coordinamento di Stefano Roffi, una grande antologica celebra colui che semplicisticamente a lungo è stato definito “il buon selvaggio” della pittura italiana. La mostra, dal titolo Antonio Ligabue. La follia del genio”, è visitabile dal 12 marzo al 26 giugno proprio nella Villa dei Capolavori, la raffinata dimora che fu di Luigi Magnani. Vengono presentate circa centocinquanta opere, un esemplare excursus su tutte le diverse anime d’artista: una ampia selezione dei suoi celebri oli, un nucleo di disegni e di incisioni e alcune delle sue intense sculture realizzate dall’originale in argilla del suo amato Po che l’artista masticava a lungo per renderla duttile.

Ligabue è certamente uno dei protagonisti dell’arte del XX secolo, un grande espressionista, al pari di Van Gogh e Munch. Il talento e le tensioni, infatti, sono quelli di un maestro sicuro e ben si colgono dalla potenza visionaria, dalla stesura pittorica e dai rimandi continui – come contrappunti – nello sviluppo della sua opera. Dal primitivismo incerto della prima fase, più ingenua e conclusasi con gli anni Trenta, all’esplosione espressionista dal colore violento e dalla pennellata convulsa. Una vita vissuta come conflitto che non lascia tregua, un’esistenza trascorsa fuori e dentro il manicomio, dove l’arte era puro e semplice mestiere di vivere e andava a coincidere con la vita stessa, in un mondo a lui sempre ostile. Una vita passata a contatto con l’universo animale che amava tanto, che ritraeva con studio anatomico rigoroso, imitando i versi delle bestie mentre le dipingeva con colori frenetici, in una visionaria ricerca identitaria. Dagli animali domestici del primo periodo, alle tigri dalle fauci spalancate, i leoni mostruosi, i serpenti, i rapaci che ghermiscono la preda o lottano per la sopravvivenza: una vera e propria giungla che l’artista immagina con allucinata fantasia fra i boschi del Po.

E’ particolarmente negli autoritratti che Ligabue dipinge il proprio dolore esistenziale, gridandolo con l’urgenza di una sensibilità intensa e ferina; è il tormento di un’anima che grazie alla pittura trova la propria voce e il proprio riscatto.

ANTONIO LIGABUE. La follia del genio

Mostra e catalogo a cura di Augusto Agosta Tota con testi in catalogo di Pascal Bonafoux, Marzio Dall’Acqua e Vittorio Sgarbi.

Dal 12 marzo al 26 giugno 2011

La mostra è realizzata grazie al contributo di



12/03-26/06 | Parma | Arts & Culture | Just 50 years ago, Antonio Ligabue (Zurich, 1899 – Gualtieri, Reggio Emilia, 1965) lived his consecration an artist with an exhibition in Rome at the Galleria La Barcaccia, by Giancarlo Ligabue Vigorelli and to which he participated on condition that the government would give him a gold medal. She sobbed as if he found it in his hands.Soon after, listening to a bes Dam (Kiss me), the famous song by Augustus Daolio of Nomads, you find yourself asking a kiss please “at the Cesar, the landlady of the solar village. It was the expression of “a need for love that breaks your heart.”A dream of normality, therefore, embodied in the purchase of Gilera. But El matt is now a dedicated artist if not at least considered.After the bike, here’s the car, another unattainable dream of a lifetime, complete with a driver that he heard the hat aprendogli the door: a revenge on a terrible existence, subject to rejection and marginalization, of abandonment and illness. Soon comes a paralysis and, in 1965, death.

In 1966, the Quadrennial in Rome hosted his works and the final clearance to the art world, while the major retrospective of the Palazzo Reale in Milan and the most recent exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Palazzo Pitti in Florence, placed him among the great artists of the twentieth century.Curated by Augusto Agosta Tota, Magnani Rocca dellaFondazione initiative led by Manfredo Manfredi, in collaboration with the City of Parma, City of Traversetolo and Research Center & Archives Antonio Ligabue, chaired by the same Augusto Agosta Tota, by Marzio water and Vittorio Sgarbi , coordinated by Stefano Roffi, a major retrospective celebrating the one who simplistically has long been called the “noble savage” of Italian painting. The exhibition, titled “Antonio Ligabue. The insanity of genius, “is open from March 12 to June 26 in the Villa of his masterpieces, the exquisite mansion that once belonged to Luigi Magnani. Are presented one hundred and fifty works, an exemplary overview on all the different anime artist: a wide selection of his famous oil, a group of drawings and engravings and some of his intense sculptures made from the original clay of his beloved Po the artist to make it pliable chewy.Ligabue is certainly one of the leading figures of the twentieth century, a great expressionist, like van Gogh and Munch. The talent and tensions are in fact those of a master safe and well you grasp the visionary power, the pictorial and the continuous references – as counterpoint – in the development of his work. Primitivism uncertain of the first phase, more naive and ended with the Thirties, expressionist explosion by violent color and brushwork whooping. A life lived as a conflict that leaves no respite, a life spent in and out of the asylum, where the art was pure and simple business of living and went to coincide with life itself, in a world increasingly hostile to him. A life spent in contact with the animal world he loved so much, that showed with rigorous anatomical study, imitating the ways of the beasts while the paint colors frenetic, visionary in a research identity. Pets of the first period, the Tigers from the jaws gaping, monstrous lions, snakes, birds of prey grabs the prey or fighting for survival: a real jungle with the artist imagines hallucinatory fantasy in the woods of the Po .

E ‘particularly in the portraits that he painted Ligabue their existential pain, crying out with an intense feeling of urgency and feral, it is the torment of a soul through painting finds its voice and its future.Antonio Ligabue. The insanity of geniusThe exhibition and catalog by Augusto Agosta Tota catalog with texts by Pascal Bonafoux, Marzio water and Vittorio Sgarbi.From March 12 to June 26, 2011 The exhibition is made possible thanks to the contribution of

Cariparma Foundation

Cariparma Crédit Agricole Group

Parma Golosa Online shopping



Food feature:  The Independent UK


Extract from

1st Day

• Arrival at Tabiano Castello. Check-in and free time (SPA and swimming pool available);

• typical dinner at the “trattoria” of the castle (drinks excluded), overnight.

2nd Day

• Visit to a cheese producer to see the famous “Parmigiano Reggiano”;

• stop at Torrechiara castle, a medieval castle still perfectly preserved;

• visit to a “Prosciutto di Parma” factory to learn how this other important product is made;

• lunch/tasting session at the “Prosciuttificio” itself or at a winery;

• in the afternoon, along the way back, stop for discounted shopping of Italian brands at the Fidenza Village Outlet Center;

• typical dinner in a restaurant of the area (drinks excluded), overnight.

not include: transport and everything not mentioned in “The price includes”.

Similar tours offered with

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