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FLORENCE     Florence –  the capital of the Tuscany region and the cradle of Renaissance   We opted for Flix Bus while traveling from Venice to Florence. The road journey takes about three and a half-hour. In Florence, it terminates at the rear end of Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station. One of Italy’s busiest stations, it got its name from Santa Maria Novella Church just across the plaza from the main entrance. We debarked at the station and refreshed ourselves at McDonald's before hiring a cab for our hotel. Florence, popularly known as ‘Firenze’ by the Italians, is located in central Italy. This dreamy city with a romantic name is the regional capital of the lovely Tuscany region.   Columbus Hotel, where we stayed, is located in Lugarno District. We always prefer to book our hotels through as we always land up getting good hotels at good locations. Despite being a little away from the heart of the city and Santa Maria Novella station

Journey to the formidable Antarctica plateau

Indian Expedition to South Pole  One hundred years ago, on December 14 1911 a Norwegian explorer Amundsen and his team achieved a historical feat by becoming the first humans to set foot on the formidable South Pole. After about a month Robert Scott the famous British explorer also made it to the dreaded Pole, after having failed in his earlier attempts from 1901 to 1909. But tragedy struck Scott and his four companions during their return journey. They perished after getting trapped in a fearsome blizzard. This typical Antarctica phenomenon strikes without warning and is so blinding that even objects at a distance of three feet become invisible. Unlike any other storm, a severe blizzard may last for a week at a time with winds blasting at over 100 miles per hour. Antarctica is the coldest, highest, windiest, driest and iciest continent on earth. South Pole is a table top at a height of 2500 M on this icy continent of Antarctica. The continent remains dark, without sunlight for alm

food - great tastes

IN SEARCH OF TASTE - A TALE OF FOUR CITIES A food aficionado’s mouthwatering journey over the years in cities he lived. Read  Rana's memoir with food. Cooking has been regarded as one of the greatest arts right from the time of Julius Caesar. Although elements of the art of cooking are easy to define, I have discovered over the years that the tastes which still linger on my tongue are the tastes that mattered. In that respect, my nanny still remains unbeatable as the greatest cook in my life. We called her ‘nannabhai’ derived from the Bengali word ‘ranna’ for cooking. Be it a simple Hilsa egg fry or peas pulao or stuffed chicken or quail (bater) roast, mutton, or chicken stew the food always used to be a gastronomical delight. My mother inherited some of her skills and tickled our senses with dishes like Tomato fish, Mutton kofta curry, and Pudding. Now it's my wife who has mastered the art of tickling my senses. Her talent for improvisation has created a


The name GRAND PRIX conjures in my mind the classic 1966 movie I saw as a youngster on 70 mm screen.The film which follows the fate of four Formula One drivers through a fictionalized version of the 1966 Formula One season went on to win three Academy Awards for its technical achievement in showing speed and spectacle with unique racing cinematography.Some famous Hollywood actors of yesteryear like James Garner, Yves Montand and Eva Marie Saint starred in this movie. I still remember the concluding scene. The game is over, the stands empty and one of the drivers walks on the track kicking dust.Suddenly he is engulfed with onrush of events which had taken place - cheers from the spectators as the cars whizzed past the stands, the thundering roar of the attractive looking speed machines all creating wonderfully nostalgic waves of crescendo which finally die down to swirls of dust blowing silently over the empty track. On October 30 2011 I got the opportunity to watch a Grand Prix agai


Risotto with Nettles by Anna Del Conte (Published by VINTAGE BOOKS , London) RISOTTO Born in Milan in 1925, the author grew up in Italy. When world war II came to Italy her family had to abandon  their  spacious house in Milan and move to the countryside to avoid the ravages of war. Though this book, as the title suggests, is about Italian food, Anna takes the reader on a narrative that begins from her early childhood and schooling in fascist Italy under Mussolini's reign all the way till her family settles in in England at the end of the war. Along the way, there are breathtaking stories of near-death experiences during the war, vivid descriptions of war-ravaged towns and cities, and bombing raids. Through it all, she still manages to pull your focus towards the food - from her childhood memories of delicious home-cooked meals, to her own coming-of-age as a culinary expert. The end of each chapter features a recipe that comes out of the story preceding it. Anyone w