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A few Sundays ago while zapping on TV I watched a documentary about the Regional Park of Sile in Treviso. I was so fascinated  by the images of the waterfront and old mills that I decided I absolutely had to visit the park. I  took contact with the  Oasis of Cervara and the director Emilio Ramponi immediately offered showing ans explaining me their work and environmental projects.

The Oasis , located in S. Christina di Treviso, is one of the main access points to the Regional Natural Park of the River Sile. It has the shape of an island laid between the course of two rivers, the Sile and the stream Piovega.
Upon arrival, just crossed the huge entrance gate,  a bucolic landscape greets me: an old, yet perfectly restored mill frames the course of the river, on which an elegant white swan lazily swims. Not bad as a start!
From the central courtryard depart wooden walkways running along a circular path, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning natural views all around.

I meet the Director Ramponi in front of the aviary of storks, where I spot a magnificent adult male walking free in the lawn. The project A Nest for Stork – Un nido per la cicogna was born in 2009 with the intention of helping this specie to return to nest along the river Sile. Inside the aviary are housed two beautiful pairs of white storks. Baldoni tells us about the first unsuccessful attempt in which one of the pairs bred in captivity has not proved capable of feeding their baby. Hence the decision of the staff, with the next nesting, to keep and nourish by hand four of the new born, leaving only the fifth in the nest: all the little ones, including that one remained with its parents, survived and four were placed in the aviary the second month of life. The Director leads me to see the new born: impossibile not to get touched at the sight of these tiny creatures, lovingly cared by the staff. It seems impossible that these small animals will in a short time become  the magnificent adults that can be seen in the aviary. The Director proudly explains how the aviary acts as a magnet for other storks and many wild storks keep coming and staying here for a while , some even for many weeks. The effort of the staff is creating an environment that stimulates more and more storks to stop here and reproduce.

The Oasis is populated by many other birds:  herons , special guests here, observable in flight and on the nests, as well as the kingfisher , the nightingale , the mallard , the swan , the green woodpecker and red and many others.
The oasis provides  photographic huts that allow to take pictures to birds at a close dinstance without being noticed, a great opportunity for those who loves nature photography!

In the ponds nearby lives a rich fauna including green frogs as well as a small colony of nice tortoises , that can be spot from a small wildlife observatory. Not far from the pond, a beautiful turtle inside fences area attracts the amused gaze of children, fascinated by its slow movements.

Another important project made ​​and developed by the oasis is  The forest of the Owls – La Selva dei Gufi , the first Italian center promoting the knowledge of these night birds using educational activities and through the close encounter with the animals that can be seen at the Flight of the Owls , held on weekends in the small arena located inside the oasis. 
Owls are fascinating creatures belonging to the imaginary of all of us as characters of fairy tales and stories; seeing them at close dinstance is quite a change! 
The Oasis gives the possibility to both children and adults to discover a world made of water, animals, flowers and plants, a quite secluded place of tranquillity. The ideal destination for a sprint and summer Sunday, away from the hustle and buzzle of the city, surrounded by a unique natural landscape!

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 Even though not as popular as other South East Asia destinations, Malaysia is the perfect place for those who long for a vacation in close contact with nature. Thanks to  an extraordinary flora e fauna, beautiful forests and of the most stunning and famous dive sites on the earth, Malaysia offers a five star vacation in true nature sanctuaries.

Every trip starts from Kuala Lumpur, the exotic yet modern main city that represents the futurist face of the country. Its skyline is marked by many high skyscrapers, beginning from the world famous Petronas Towers. KL, as it’s called by locals, is a pleasant place where to spend a couple of days hanging around visiting the many open air markets or beautiful and luxury malls with the most famous designers boutique.

After a visit to the main city, it’s easy to reach the many natural sites which are just with a short domestic flight away.

 For those who want to taste the atmosphere of old English colonization, Cameron Highlands are the perfect place to enjoy the tiny tea plantations, staying at one of the beautiful resort  on the hills, sipping a tea while admiring the landscape, in a perfect combination between the exotic atmosphere of the place and the English style.
For those who prefer to penetrate the rainforest, there’s a wide option. Besides Taman Negara National Park, in the Paninsular Malaysia, Borneo has many national parks where you can have different trekking tours, from beginners to advanced levels. In Sarawak, Bako National Park is one of the most famous; it’s very close to Kuching, the main city of the region and a very nice town where you can taste the atmosphere of old Indochine.

Mulu National Park is another nature sanctuary immersed in the rainforest, that can be reached only by air since there are no roads that connect the park to the costal city of Miri.
Sabah, the other region of Malaysian Borneo, offers many other possibilities to get in touch with its extraordinary flora e fauna, with parks rich of plants and animals, most of which can be found only here, as proboscis monkeys or Orangutans, that can be met in Sepilok Rehabilitation centre, close to Sandakan.
Sabah is very rich of rivers too, as Kinabatangan: on its shores a wide range of animals such as crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and many others can be easily spot just having a river cruise.
Malaysia is a paradise also for sun lovers and divers!
Among the islands in Peninsular Malaysia, on the eastern coast Perenthian Islands are tropical gems with wonderful white beaches and crystal water and a stunning marine life. Redang  is another beautiful island just south of Parenthian. Tioman is famous for its Polynesian style and for the beautiful dive sites, as well as the many islands just south of Tioman, as Sibu and Besar.
If you think that Malaysia has only budget accommodations, then you should stay in one of the beautiful resorts in Sabah, in the Semporna Archipelago, offering luxury bungalows on water for a perfect island retreat. Sipadan island is the queen of this site and is famous as one of the best diving sites of the planet. Here you may dive with turtles as well with many other colourful marine creatures!
Malaysia is a treasure to discover, what are you waiting for?
Travel guide
Trasport: All main airlines offer flight to KL. For domestic flights you may book Malaysia Airline or try one of the many low cost airlines. Air Asia is the best with connections with all main tourist destinations and Borneo at very affordable prices, especially if booked well in advance.
Accommodation: Malaysia offers every type of accommodation, from budget rooms to extra luxury resorts. Surf the web to find your best option or write me for any suggestion

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I chose to reach Cambodia by route, a long and dusty bus trip of almost ten hours to cover the 
approximately 400 kilometres that stand between Bangkok and Siem Reap, the small town just next to Ankor temples. A trip that goes beyond a border crossing and becomes a passage from the civilized world of Thailand, made of long highways to the wild world of Cambodia, where streets disappear and become dusty and uneven lanes that rain transforms into muddy rivers.

Arriving from Thailand the first taste of Cambodia is Poipet, the border town where you have to wait hours long for long custom clearances that are then nothing more than a stamp on your passport done by a drowsy employee that hardly looks at you.
While waiting I look at the scene that surrounds me, a universe made of yelling kinds hanging to tourists to get pens, bubble gums or anything else with a western look; men trailing loaded carts behind, women preparing supper at their threshold. A truck heavily loaded passes by and I notice some passengers at the top: I wonder how they reached over there!

In the end all passengers of my same bus have their passport stamped and we can proceed but soon our trip comes to a stop again: heavy rain got streets worsen so we have to wait for a smaller bus that can drive along these muddy and narrow lanes. The new bus arrives but drives so slowly I wonder if it would be better walking on our own! Cambodia stretches out of the window, huge fields with some farmers working on their plough pulled by oxen; it seems a schene taken from an old movie but it’s real Cambodia, a world apart from mine. Along the road we pass by many wooden huts from which a crowd of kinds come out and follow the bus asking for pens and candies. They’re so many that the bus is often forced to stop waiting for their enthusiasm to calm down.

A bunch of dark eyes look at me, eyes that have the same joy amazement I can read in western kids eyes, but there kinds belong to another world: I wonder if they will ever go to school, get a jog, see a big city, the ocean, the mountains. I wonder if this country will be able to give them a future.

When it gets darker it’s becomes more difficult to proceed. The bus stops and the driver informs us that the bridge in front of us has collapsed, we’ll have to cross it on foot and on the other side there’s another bus waiting for us.

I get the heavy backpack on my shoulders and look at our guide doubtful, I’m afraid I could slip and fall in the river below but I have no choice. I cross what is left of the bridge, which is nothing more than a wooden narrow board, when I reach the other side a guy reaches out to get my hand with a warm smile on his face; Cambodian people accept the unexpected with great calm. If you live in a country where there are no streets, a bridge that falls can’t drive you crazy!

Eventually we reach the guest house, I get into my room and immediately fall asleep, exhausted.

I wake up early, take breakfast and then visit the market on the other side of the road.

Siam Reap is a village made of small houses, huts and dustry streets, full of tourists thanks to proximity to Ankor, the huge temple complex which has become one of the most important archaeological site of Asia.

The markets hosts many stalls with fruit, vegetable and artisan objects. I get struck by the people faces, serene and friendly; they have nothing yet they have the most important thing, a huge smile on their face.
An old woman smiles at me and shows me her stall, beautiful wooden and painted jewellery; she hands me out some bamboo bracelets, they’re so beautiful but what strucks me is the woman’s face, marked by wrinkles yet so gracious and tender. I  can’t ask her how much she wants since she doesn’t speak a word of English so I hand her some coins; with the skinny hands she takes one single coin, than she delicately closed my hand and smiles at me: the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen, I won’t ever forget her face.
I get back to the guest house and while crossing the street a bunch of bicycles comes towards me : these are the men and women going to their work on fields; in the dim morning light  they become dark shapes moving forward in the surreal silence where you can only hear tyres creaking on the road. This is one of the most vivid scene I remeber from Cambogia.
I get to the guest house and sit down to wait for my guide who will take me to Ankor, but this is another story and belongs to another post.

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Elegant and charming, Turin is an amazing city where every palace, building and street tells the story of Italy’s recent past, made of kings, queens and great statesmen. It’s a trip that starting from the Savoy Kingdom tells the hard and difficult story of Italy’s Union up to the country’s rebuilding after the Second World War, in which Turin big factories played an important role. A story often ignored giving more importance to the roman and Renaissance times but of which Turin, with its magnificent Royal Residences and its extraordinary cultural offer, keeps reminding us.

This trip starts from the Royal Palace, which stands in the heart of Turin next to Piazza Castello. Started in 1646 and used as royal Savoy  residence till the 1965, with its elaborate baroque interiors and furniture witnesses the splendour and magnificence of Savoy’s Court. The Dining room, with an elegant table set with beautiful potteries, and the stunning Ball Room, shining with gold  and crystals, are among the most remarkable rooms of the palace.
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A few steps from the Royal Palace, Madama Palace, named after the royal Madams, reigning at the beginning of the XV century, urged the renovation of the palace and its transformation into an elegant royal residence.
This palace tells a long story thanks to its two facades, one medieval and one baroque, the two souls of this beautiful building hosting the Senate’s room, where the first Italian Senate took place.

 Palazzo Carignano is another remarkable baroque palace where the Senate was moved after its first seat at Palazzo Madama.
Crossing its threshold you can walk on the footprints of Cavour, that would come here to take part to the Senate and then would dine at the Al Cambio Restaurant, on the same square, which still remains one of the most luxury restaurant in Turin.
Palazzo Carignano hosts The Risorgimento Museum which, starting from the French Revolution, through many documents, prints and objects tells the story of the reforming ideas which inflamed most of the European countries during the XVII century.
© silviaromio.altervista.org

For an even bigger leap in time back to more than five thousand years ago, the Egyptian Museum, close to Palazzo Carignano, is another outstanding cultural attraction, second of the world for the Egyptian History after El Cairo museum. In the first floor there’s a wide collection of objects, vases, papyrus, and jewels together with mummies and sarcophagus.

On the ground floor of lot of beautiful and huge statues seem to come of the half-light with their gracious and magnetic faces.

The stroll can continue through via Po to reach the Mole Antonelliana, which with its 167 mt is the highest building in the city.
The Mole hosts the National Cinema Museum; the exposition, that from the central Temple Room goes up through the helicoidally staircase, recreates the story of Cinema from its archeology to the born of television, explaining the various genres through an extraordinary path made of games, costumes and posters.

From the central hall, the panoramic lift, with glass walls, takes up to the top for a stunning view of the city.

In Turin is easy to get a taste of history even entering one of the many historical Cafés, with their marble tables, crystal pendants and tapestry, which in the XVII century used to be attended by the middle class and intellectuals. The most famous are the Baratti & Milano and Caffé Torino, with the “Martini” sign outside.
But Turin not only has given value to the past but has also looked at the future, requalifying old industrial buildings and transforming them into polyvalent spaces: the Lingotto, the historical FIAT plant, has become one of the most important exposition centre in Europe, hosting famous fairs as The International Book Fair and Salone del Gusto.

Impossible not to get charmed by the elegance and the extraordinary cultural offer of Turin, with its beautiful palaces, cafés and squares which preserver a precious story to be remembered.

Turin Travel Guide

 – Before starting the tourist visit it’s usefull to buy the Torino + Piemonte Card (with validity 2 to 7 days) which gives access to most of the museums, palaces and monuments  (including the Egyptian Museum, the Cinema Museum and the Royal Residences) which helps saving up instead of buying the single tickets. All info in Turismotorino

– Where to stay: BW Hotel Genova is a nice hotel close to Porta Nuova Station and a few steps from the city center; close to the hotel there’s also the metro station and the Royal Bus (included in the Torino + Piemonte Card) that takes directly to the Royal Residences.
Recently renovated, Hotel Genova offers cosy and clean rooms, with every optional including free wi-fi; the staff is very friendly and the buffet breakfast, included in the price, is perfect.
A perfect choice to visit the city!

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An unspoilt paradise, Radang is a tropical island in Peninsular Malaysia still untouched by the mass tourism; most of the tourists come from Kuala Lumpur for a week-end escape to relax and enjoy its amazing nature and the beauty of the marine environment, which is part of a protected park. A few metres deep, a true paradise opens up to the lucky snorkelers, who can enjoy of countless multicolours fishes and an amaizing coral reef!
All resorts on the island offer guided snorkelling or diving trips as part of the vacation package, renting the equipment to safely experience the marine life and taking tourists to the most beautiful bays and sites around the island.

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Marine Park Centre is the most popular  snorkelling site on a close island; it can be overcrowded with tourists in the high season and week-ends, yet it offers an unforgettable snorkelling experience: this site has the largest concentration of  fishes of the area probably due to the fact that many visitors feed them; it’s amazing to stand still in the water surrounded by hundreds of fishes waiting for food handouts!
For those who prefer sunbathing, Redang offers incredible white beaches  where to rest enjoying the tropical view and, just a few steps from the main beach, there’s a delimited area dedicated to snorkelling. You just have to dive into the clear water to experience the incredible beauty of the marine life!
How to reach the island and where to stay
Redang is easy to reach thanks to the many connections possibilities from ferries to private boats to the daily flights of Berjaya Airlines from KL (the old airport close to the city).
There are 13 resorts at Redang to suit every budget and preference, ranging from budget resorts to 5 star resorts, for a complete list please have a look here.

Modern, exciting and neat, Singapore is a wonderful city as good as the most famous western metropolis, where futurist and stunning architecture coexists with colourful colonial buildings and elegant Victorian façades. A unique city, a world apart from other chaotic Asian metropolis,  definitely well worth a visit!

Walking around, it’s easy to move from business quarters full of managers hurrying up to their offices to the much more intimate and relaxed atmosphere of the Indian and Chinese quarters, where you can wander around   enjoying the sweet smells and colours coming from the many street stalls.


·         Old Times is the old quarter, commissioned by Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, who in 1819 bought Sultan Johore’s land and built a business English style city. All buildings here are in Victorian and Palladian style. Not to be missed The Raffles Hotel, the most ancient hotel in Singapore, whose nice patio and garden can be visited by tourists as well some the smart boutiques and souvenir shops. A nice place where to breath the old Victorian atmosphere, maybe tasting a good English tea at the garden bar.
Marina Bay Sands, an ultra modern complex made of three stunning skyscrapers hosting a luxury hotel, a mall, a congress center, theaters, museums and restaurants; on the top there’s a ship shaped platform anchored at the three skyscrapers hanging at 340 m height, called  Skypark, with a stunning swimming pool ,gardens and a panoramic terrace from which you can enjoy the most breath taking views on Singapore’s bay;  to reach the top you can use the elevator right in from of the complex reception. 
From the panoramic terrace it’s also possible to enter a free zone of the swimming pool (which otherwise is for hotel’s guests only ) to get a glance of this incredible pool overlooking Singapore skyline at this dizzy height!
Chinatown, with its nice and neat pastel colour houses, this  is the ethnic heart of the city, full of small restaurants and many shops where to bargain for many goods, from cameras to jewlery. Arab Street is famous for  batik shops, straw bags and goldsmith. 
Little India is a colourful and characteristic quarter where the smell of spices mixes with that of incense coming from the many temples; the main market is Zhujiao Centre. 
Orchard Road is Singapore’s Fifth Avenue on the nth degree, an amazing shopping street with smart designer boutiques and malls.  Singapore is considered Asia’s culinary capital and especially here on Orchard Road there are hundreds of restaurants serving any kind of cuisine, from asian to european to american.
 Sentosa Island,  connected to Singapore with a bridge and a dizzy cable car, is worth a visit for the many attractions for children and adults as the Underwater World Sentosa which recreates Malaysia and Austrialia undersea environment; on the island there are many hotels and luxury SPA for a relaxing escape.

Urban Trasport
Singapore has an excellent transport net but it’s nice  to discover the city on foot moving from one quarter to another to see how atmosphere changes from formal business blocks to relaxed chinese quarters up to the amazing and sparkling Orchard Road. 
Singapore has the perfect weather with an average annual temperature between 25 – 27°; the European summer corresponds to their rain period but , even though rain showers are pretty heavy, they usually last not more than half an hour! It’s always the right moment to visit Singapore!

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Waiting for a trip is a trip itself, when you look for inspiration and start imagining the places you’re soon going to visit.
In this cold yet sunny December morning, I think about my next trip to Turin and surf around Natale a Torino website taking notes of the most appealing Christmas events I can’t miss.
Reading the headlines I find out the every year this time Turin is lit up by the Luci D’artista(Artists’ Lights), an open air exposition with many works made of lights realized by famous artists, alongside with two new creations of this year: Ancora una volta (Once again) by Valerio Berruti and Luci in Bici (Lights on Bikes) by Martino Gamper. 
I see myself walking around the city with my trusted reflex camera and tripod trying to catch the magic of the lights.

I’m also intrigued by The Presepe (nativity Scene) by Emanuele Luzzati, set in Piazza Carlo Felice up to the 13thof January : a colourful combination of themes and sacred figures from the Christmas story and fairy tale characters.

And then the Ice Route, along which many ice sculptors will create shapes and profiles inspired by the symbols of Turin: The Turin Coat of Arms in Piazza Castello on the 5thof December, the Mole Antonelliana in Piazza Emanuele Filiberto on the 12thof December , up to two large Father Christmas sculptures realized by the Chinese Artists from the twin town of  Harbin on the 29th and 30th of December in Piazza Carlo Alberto. 

And if ice reminds you of skating, then the Ice Skating Ring in Piazza Carlo Alberto open during Christmas Holiday is what you’re looking for!

For more traditional Christmas atmospheres,
Piazza Castello will host the Cirque Carillon show, a lively merry-go-round played by Cirko Vertigo whose artists will amaze and thrill spectators with their acrobatic performances. Shows will go on stage every Saturday and on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and Epiphany and each one  will have a different theme – clowns, angels, fairies, aviators, Christmas, burlesque, dragons and, finally, a mix  of all seven previous shows.
These are only some of the many events during Christmas time, which seem the perfect background and soundtrack  to the many tourist and cultural attractions the Turin offers.

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Colourful , enchanting and inspiring, Barcelona offers countless possibilities and turist attractions. Here you may find both wide metropolitan avenues and narrow medieval alleys, magnificent palaces and old buildings, the modern and eccentric Gaudì art and the sober elegance  of gothic cathedrals, everything melted in a perfect mix.

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In Barcelona there’s the sea, a beautiful beach, the harbour, the hills; it’s a large city with a small town soul, where you soon feel at ease, maybe thanks to the mild weather, to the bright colours of Gaudi’s mosaics, the movida of the seafront lounge bars. You may visit it thousand times and at every visit it takes you aback with something new.

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It’s hard to squeeze it into a single definition, even harder to tell about it in just one article, because every single aspect is a world apart to explore: elegant, casual, trendy and still easy, Barcelona has a style for every mood!

In a single day you can get lost in the tranquillity of the Gothic Quarter, walk along the smart Paseo de Gracia looking at the shop windows of the most famous designers, get enchanted by the smart eccentricity of Gaudì façades, sit down to contemplate the sober beauty of the magnificent gothic cathedral, look at the dressed up street artists along the Ramblas, enjoy a coffee in one of the smart seafront lounge bars , walk along the beach or climb up the the Montjuic hill for a stunning city view. And for the night, just get started tasting some tapas and then dive yourself into Barcelona’s movida.

Everything is possible in Barcelona, you just have to choose which city style you want to wear!

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