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The “Vecchia Signora” Back in the Fold of Elite Football

Turin has two football teams – Torino FC, and the more famous Juventus FC. Most Turinese are Torino FC fans, despite the fact that Juventus is far better known around the world. Witnessing either of them playing a home match is quite an experience. But, let’s focus on the latter, as it has now regained its place among the finest teams and because it’s playing style is dazzling.

The Juve or Vecchia Signora – “Old Lady”, as it is known among the Turinese, shuns the customary dictates of the catenaccio – the typically Italian, ironclad defensive system – instead engaging in a more flashy, attacking play more in keeping with Dutch or English football teams.

The 80s – Italy Sparkles; Turin Sets the Play

Juventus lived out its golden age in the nineteen eighties, when its lineup featured such figures as Michel Platini, who was awarded three Ballon d’Or in a row and captained his French national team to its first European title win in the 1984 European Cup. But, Platini was not the only major figure in that prodigious team. Also playing in that squadra were the likes of Stefano Tacconi, Cesare Prandelli, Zbigniew Boniek, Massimo Bonini, Gaetano Scirea, Sergio Brio and Antonio Cabrini. And, that in itself was nothing! Indeed, that squad of soccer wizards achieved what no other team had managed before – they won all possible international titles in a single year. In the 1985–1986 season, they lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup (against Oporto), the UEFA Super Cup (against Liverpool), the UEFA Champions League – then known as the European Cup – (also against Liverpool) and the Intercontinental Cup (against Argentinos Juniors), a feat that has only since been equalled by the Guardiola-era FC Barcelona. Italian football was then at the pinnacle, way ahead of the rest. On a national level, its team had won the World Cup at Spain ‘82 while, on a club level, with Juventus and, later, AC Milan, the Calcio’s hegemony of Europe lasted until well into the following decade. In those days of slick football, Italy was on the lips of everyone. The boot-shaped country became the favourite European holiday destination; its fashion, led by such brands as Versace, began to set global trends, while even its music, in the form of Italo-disco, crowded out the first positions on continental hit parades.

Tears, and Some Joy

The distinction of being the club that has lost most Champions League finals earns it a special place in our heart. While the eighties saw it rolling in celebrations and titles, the nineties were more of a torment. It wasn’t until eleven years later that the Bianconeri managed to win Europe’s major football competition, and that was after a penalty shoot-out against Ajax; but, it was all misery thereafter. They lost three finals in the space of seven years – against Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and AC Milan – while their supremacy in Europe fizzled out. That is, until this season, when they are again peerless Italian league leaders – they are more than ten points clear of the second placed team – and have once again classified for a Champions League semi-final, something they hadn’t achieved since 2003. What is this success down to? A combination of veterans –Buffon, Tévez, Pirlo– and new talent –Morata, Fereyra, Pogba. But, part of the reason lies with their coach, Massimiliano Allegri, who in his first season has set a seal of versatility on a team capable of attacking and defending at will.

The City of “Le Zebre”

Turin is a city that effectively revolves around its most international football team. The Calcio is still the favourite topic of conversation at any of its markets, cafés and restaurants. But, where you breathe the purest footballing atmosphere is of course at the Juventus Stadium. Located at 50 Corso Gaetano Scirea, this spectacular colosseum designed by the architect, Gino Zavanella, was unveiled in 2011 to replace the historical Stadio delle Alpi.

The stadium houses the J Museum, one of the most important soccer museums in the world. It was inaugurated on 16 May 2012 and comprises several rooms exhibiting trophies awarded to the club, as well as jerseys worn by the leading footballers in Juve’s history, and interactive areas full of historical photos of the Turinese club.

The area surrounding the stadium is traversed by a Walk of Fame featuring the names of the fifty most famous players inBianconerohistory, as elected by Juventus fans via the club’s website. Among the most illustrious names we find historical figures of world football such as Roberto Baggio, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, David Trezeguet, Alessio Tacchinardi, Dino Zoff, Alessando Del Piero and Pavel Nedvěd.

Come and discover one of the cities with the greatest footballing spirit on the planet. Check out our flights here.

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Juventus FC, forzaq8

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In the Footsteps of Jack the Ripper

We have all heard about Jack The Ripper, surely the first media serial killer in history. His dark legacy has been an inexhaustible source of narrative material for over a century. Those mournful events have spawned both literary marvels and graphic novels such as From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, in addition to movies and TV series and even the odd opera. There may be a dose of morbidity involved in the interest aroused by anything relating to the subject. However, what stokes the flames is undoubtedly the fact that the perpetrator of those crimes has never been found, sparking a host of theories on the matter.

While the identity of the culprit remains unclear, what is known is the names of his victims and the spots where their bodies were found. Theme tours are based in Whitechapel, the scene of those atrocities. In the late-19th century, the district was a veritable hotbed of crooks and a limitless breeding ground for venereal diseases. Fortunately, it is now a salutary area and one of the major arty districts in London, with the Whitechapel Art Gallery at the forefront. In fact, it has become a must for day trippers, thanks to its second-hand market, which runs up to the Whitechapel Market, where you can pick up bargains from Monday to Saturday in over 80 street stalls, selling anything from fruit to electronics, rugs and jewellery. It is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Dark Route

Regarding the question, Who was Jack the Ripper?, you probably won’t find out after a tour of the area, but you will get an idea of what it was like there in the year 1888, when the deeds took place. Various tours can be joined in Whitechapel. Following are details of some of the areas you will visit if you dare to relive the horrific story.

Osborn Street

This is where the first body of the two under investigation was found, although it wasn’t among the “canonical five” – of all the cases related to the Ripper, five are considered to be canonical, as they have several traits in common. The victim in question was Emma Elizabeth Smith, a prostitute who was attacked and raped in the street on 3 April 1888. She was found dead, with her ears cut off. Currently sited on this street is one of the most fashionable basement spaces in London, Apples and Pears, a designer bar with Japanese decor which is a cocktail bar by day, and a club by night. It has been graced by the likes of Kate Moss and David Beckham.

The Old Truman Brewery

This is where the second victim, Annie Chapman, was found. Over the last fifteen years, the 10 acres of derelict buildings from the former Truman Brewery have been refurbished as offices, retail outlets and venues for leisure and events, as well as art hatcheries. It is now a thriving complex of creative businesses, independent stores, malls, markets, bars and restaurants. At weekends it becomes the nerve centre of flea markets and tapas bars. Business and leisure combine to perfection here.

Durward Street (formerly Buck’s Row)

This is where the body of the 43-year-old Mary Ann Nichols – the first of the canonical five – turned up. The bodies of these women had their throats slit and presented mutilations on the abdomen and genital area, with facial disfigurement or a missing organ. Such was the modus operandi of the macabre butcher.

Mitre Square

On 30 September 1888, the body of Catherine Eddowes, aged 46, was found. She had a slashed throat and a large, deep wound on the abdomen. Her left kidney was missing. The police found part of her bloodied apron at the entrance to a house on Goulston Street. Also murdered on the same day at Dutfield’s Yard – now Henriques Street – was the 44-year-old Elizabeth Strice. Death was caused by an incision on the left side of the throat, which severed her carotid artery. A postcard was received by the Central News Agency by the alleged culprit, who claimed responsibility for the crime.

The Ten Bells Pub

Jack the Ripper and some of his victims are thought to have frequented various pubs in the area, notably The Ten Bells (84 Commercial Street), which has remained open on the same premises since 1752. It lies just a few yards from the Liverpool Street Underground station.

And Also…

Other landmarks you will see include Tower Hill Underground Station, the place chosen by Scotland Yard and the City of London Police to start their beat in search of the culprit, and St Botolph’s Church, a favoured haunt where the prostitutes of the time touted for customers. More information about the tour.

Whitechapel now stands for an alternative setting in the heart of the city. It is both classical and avant-garde, an area with a large number of mosques and such historic buildings as the Royal London Hospital. We urge you to come and discover it, even if you’re not particularly interested in Jack the Ripper. It’s a good opportunity to explore the streets of London’s famous East End, a charismatic district full of history and stories, like the one about the celebrated “elephant man”, as well as the Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane street markets andthe world famous Brick Lane, a street with a marked Asian presence, full of Indian and Pakistani restaurants, at really affordable prices. (There are menus for six pounds which include two or three dishes to choose from, plus rice and a drink.)

Why wait to discover it all? Check out our flights here.


Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

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Birmingham and the Birth of Heavy Metal

Birmingham has long been characterised by its strong musical drive. In the sixties, it already had 600 pop and rock bands. Musically speaking, the Birmingham scene stood out for its fusion. Indeed, almost all the musicians in those groups also played in parallel bands. Even soloists eschewed being pigeon-holed and poured out a blend of styles in their live shows. The fact is that musical amalgamations have been part of the city’s DNA since the 18th century, when street musicians sounded out practically all the styles to be had. Diversity and the culture of experimentation have led Birmingham to engender several musical styles. In the sixties, it was the Spencer Davis Group super band that provided the finishing touches to British rhythm and blues through a combination of folk, jazz, blues and soul. Although Pink Floyd were the initiators, English psychodelics was consolidated in Birmingham by The Move. But, there is one style that became a mass, global phenomenon – heavy metal – which germinated in the early seventies and was captained by Black Sabbath.

Macho Rock

Heavy metal has always been regarded as the epitome of hard rock. Not for nothing did it emerge as a far more extreme form of rock than anything that went before it. But, why in Birmingham and not in London? For the simple reason that it emerged in the centre of the country where trade, information and trends were continually converging. In effect, this enclave lay halfway between the country’s two major musical poles. One was London, with its white, hard-blues bands, many of whom had conquered America in the previous years. The other, Liverpool, a veritable nursery of melodic pop. Aside from being a nexus between the two, Birmingham contributed its grain of sand by incorporating jazz as a condiment. But, that was not all – darkness, and the repetitive, mechanical component associated with a city smothered in factories since the Industrial Revolution, proved to be more than latent. All these components came together in the early records of Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath” (1970) and “Paranoid” (1972). While the former still rested on the solid springboard of unmitigated blues, the latter heralded the birth of a new style, with a far more polished sound, suited to a wider audience. The disc topped the charts in the UK, and reached number 8 in the USA. That recording hit a milestone beyond the reach of most, and its influence was decisive in the birth of punk (Sex Pistols), post-punk (Joy Division), stoner rock  (Kyuss), grunge (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains), and even rap (Ice-T, Cypress Hill).

The Father of the Child

Controversy is rife when it comes to asserting the paternity of the genre. There are two schools of thought – those who believe Led Zeppelin to be the pioneering band, and those who hold it to be the combo led by Ozzy Osbourne. At any rate, gestation clearly occurred in Birmingham and a large number of members of both groups hail from this city. All the members of Black Sabbath were nurtured on the local scene. Half of Led Zeppelin, too, as John Bohnam (drums) and Robert Plant (vocals) are local boys, having previously played in Band of Joy.

Conquering the World

Heavy metal managed to spread across the planet thanks to another Birmingham band – Judas Priest. Led by Rob Halford, they ratcheted the style up another notch, particularly with the release of “Stained Class” (1978), a disc that spearheaded what was known as the “new wave of British heavy metal”, which involved ditching the blues rock influence for good and focusing on other aspects of sound, such as power and speed. Their legacy sprouted ramifications in the form of speed metal, trash metal, death metal and black metal, and essential bands like Godflesh and Napalm Death. Their influence, however, was not only musical but also aesthetic, as it was they who ushered in prototypal heavy metal attire, based on leather, studs and the biker look.

A Heavy DNA Beyond Heavy

Many artificers of heavy metal music have sprung from the Birmingham scene, notably Blaze Bayley, Iron Maiden’s vocalist from 1994 to 1999. There are also those whose music, while not attributable to this genre, certainly influenced it in some way. Some of the most illustrious examples are Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer; Jeff Lynne, composer and singer with Electric Light Orchestra; Phil Lynott, the leader of Thin Lizzy – who was christened at St Edwards Church in Selly Park, very near Birmingham – and Marin Barre, the guitarist for Jethro Tull.

Birmingham’s musical spirit remains intact. Two scenes can currently be identified, both in rock and electronic. The city also boasts some of the most exciting festivals in the West Midlands, such as the Moseley Folk Festival, held in September.

Heavy metal never dies! Why wait any longer to discover the birthplace of this genre? Check out our flights here.

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Cindy Frey, Rowan Peter

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A tour in Hamburg

The first thing that struck us at the Port of Hamburg and, apparently it’s really trendy at the moment, are the so-called beach parties. On the terraces and in the bars close to the port they have set up hammocks, palm trees and spread the floors with sand. All of thiswith a view to replicating, as far as the cold climate of this city will permit, the cafés of Ibiza and their sunsets. Chill-out lounges, mojitos and caipiriñas in bars such asHamburg del Mar (in St.-Pauli-Landungsbrücken/Parkdeck) or the HCBC.

One of Hamburg’s best attractions is its Fischmarkt, or the Hamburg Fish Market (at Große Elbstraße 137). This is a huge, bustling open-air market that is set up beside the historic covered fish market where they also hold concerts you can go to with the whole family. It will call for an early rise if you want to pick up the best produce, as it only opens on Sunday mornings between 0500 and 0900.

Wandering through the port you will come across the huge ‘City of Warehouses’ or Warehouse District of Hamburg, the Speicherstadt, with its cobbled streets, criss-crossed by canals and red brick buildings. It was built between 1883 and 1927 and in its early days it had one of the biggest warehouses in the world, where merchandise arriving from at the port was dealt with. Now you will find it home to restaurants and museums.

The Port of Hamburg is undergoing big changes. In one huge area still under development, a key urban planning programme has been designed to rebuild the zone, called HafenCity and where they are building homes and offices. Rising above all these buildings will be the Elbphilharmonie, the impressiveElba Philharmonic that is expected to be inaugurated in 2014. On top of one of the old port warehouses they are building what looks like a glass crown that will be home to a concert hall with room for more than 2,000 spectators.

We were told that Hamburg has two brands of beer made in the city. One of these is the Astra beer which is made in St Pauli and which is easily recognisable thanks to its logo of a red heart which is also a port symbol. The other beer made in the city is Holsten which is produced in the district of Altona-Nord.

We really liked these 3 places for eating out:

1. Bullerei with its pleasant terrace and a healthy mid-week menu.

2. Fischhandel with its high, shared tables in Colonnaden street offers one cheap, balanced plate of food which is what everyone asks for and only costs 6.50 €. You place your order inside and they let you know when it’s ready by ringing a bell. We had a huge bowl of fussini with vegetables, wild mushrooms and a good portion of fish that tasted heavenly. When you finish eating, everyone takes their plates back inside which means they save waiting at tables in order for them to keep the prices down.

3. Gröninger Privatbrauerei serves typical Bavarian dishes: huge ham knuckles, cold cuts such as leberkäse, the traditional sauerkraut (pickled cabbage salad) or bratkartoffeln (sautéed potatoes). Prepare to loosen your belt as their portions are enormous. And the place is very warm and picturesque with enormous wooden tables to rub shoulders with other diners.

Without a doubt, the most famous street in Hamburg is the Reeperbahn in Sankt Pauli with its sex shops, strip clubs and all sorts of bars. It was here that the Beatles launched their career in 1960. They played their first concert at the Indra Club but the place where they really started to make a name for themselves was at the Star Club. The place no longer exists but there is a plaque that commemorates their presence in the city. Here’s a link to the whole route that remembers the period the Liverpool boys spent in Hamburg.

Also very well-known for its football team, the FC St Pauli is much loved by all Hamburgers and has a pirate skull for its logo. You can buy t-shirts and all sorts of gadgets at the FC St Pauli shop beside the football stadium or at another, more central shop on the Reeperbahn itself at No. 63-65.

Außenalster is one of the man-made lakes that forms the River Alster in the heart of the city. It is one of the favourite places to enjoy a sunny day and the meeting place for residents of Hamburg where they go to do different sports and activities.

Why not take a trip to Hamburg? Have a look at our flights here!


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