Friday, May 8, 2020

The Museum the Cinquecento Built

If you have impeccable taste and sufficient assets to create a world class museum in your home town, it would be a dream to follow the model of Gianni and Marcella Agnelli.

They acquired an amazing art collection. The Agnelli’s were a stylish power couple who were cultured and had impeccable taste. With a dozen homes on three continents, they cultivated a life of glamour and success. They epitomized the urbane Italian style. Their art collection includes Picasso, Renoir, Caraletto, Manet, Matisse, Modigliani and Canova masterpieces.

Pritzker award winning architect Renzo Piano designed the Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marcella Angelli on the roof of Turin's Lingotto, a former Fiat Factory. Reminiscent of his work at the Pompidou in Paris, Piano created a modern, industrial homage befitting the Fiat empire. The lift offers fabulous views of the sleek building and palm courtyard.

The roof, in addition to a test track made famous by the 1969 film "The Italian Job", sparkles with Turin and the Alp views. Visitors may explore the track during the gallery's opening hours. The film's chase scenes were filmed in Turin. The Quincy Jones soundtrack is hip.

Perhaps the greatest element to the success of the Pinacoteca is the leadership of Marcella Pralormo. She is the astute and dedicated curator who has been with the museum since its founding in 2002. Marcella has successfully built on the Agnelli’s vision and established a world class reputation. She describes the importance of trust and cooperation with other galleries around the world.

Marcella shares her thoughts on how the museum world may evolve as a result of a the global pandemic. She is open minded enough to consider new interactions and promotion venues. Perhaps there is a way of creating a smaller, more intimate viewing of the Agnelli Collection. Her recognition of the role of art to heal a troubled world and foment human connection echoes the words of the founder, Gianni Agnelli.

“If I’m nervous or keyed up or excited or any of those emotions it’s always extremely calming and extremely balancing if you have the opportunity to look at something beautiful.” - Gianni Agnelli

We hope you enjoy listening to this podcast. It’s also great fun to hear Marcella list her top 5 museum suggestions. And, don’t miss her a day in Turin recommendations.

May thoughts of Turin and the wonderful Pinacoteca generate calm in your life.

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Grand Stay on the Rio Douro

The best travel destinations make you feel instantly welcome and relaxed. The Guest House Douro is such a location near Ribeira Square along the Rio Douro in downtown Porto. More than the beautiful building, the proprietors, Hugo and Luisa Silva have the charisma, enthusiasm and energy to make each guest feel delighted to find themselves in their establishment.

Hugo and Luisa got into the hospitality business because they themselves are avid travelers. They appreciate that visitors want to get to know their city. The physical location of the inn is charming too. We found the experience of waking up to the amazing view of the river with rolling fog and morning light to be memorizing.

It is interesting that despite being in tourist guides including Trip Advisor, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet most of their business is generated by word of mouth recommendations. As Hugo noted, “ we receive guests who had a friend of a friend of a friend stay with us.”

Perhaps nothing demonstrates their approach to hospitality more than the manner in which they serve breakfast. A true work of art on a platter is the bountiful organic, local fruit tower. Luisa personality selects the fruit delicacies from the Mercado do Bolhao. Additional fruit may come from her Father’s farm in the countryside. The breakfast offering included cheese, meats and pastries. I remember the custard tarts fondly.

Perhaps one of the best amenities of the Guest House Douro is the personal service. Hugo and Luisa personally serve their guests in several ways. In addition to playing host in the breakfast room, they are available to answer questions and make reservations.

One could not ask for more informed tour guides to suggest the “perfect day” in Porto or the surrounding northern Portuguese cities. The location of the small inn is so central to Porto that one can cover most of the city on foot without issue.

We hope you will take this recommendation to visit Guest House Douro and tell Hugo we sent you!

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Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Lost Art of the Roadtrip

Exploring Japan (right hand drive) from Nara to Hakone and the Alps.

Emerging above the clouds in Portugal's Douro Valley.

Horace Dediu delights us with road trip memories from Dortmund to the Baltics, Florida’s Cape Canaveral and many places in between.

We reflect on Horatio Nelson Jackson’s seminal 1903 drive across America and the changing road trip culture in our time of social distancing.

Refueling on the Autobahn

Resurrection Bay, Alaska

Horace Dediu: twitter

Driving the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Horatio's Drive:

In the spring of 1903, on a whim and a fifty-dollar bet, Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson set off from San Francisco in a 20-horsepower Winton touring car hoping to become the first person to cross the United States in the new- fangled "horseless carriage." Most people doubted that the automobile had much of a future.

Chiloe Island, Chile

Prince of Wales Hotel; Waterton Alberta Canada

The Lost Art of the Road Trip is available on Apple Podcasts.

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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Mobile Exploration and Learning During our "Safer at Home" era

amuz is for explorers of all ages.

Tap, swipe and explore on your iPhone (soon full screen iPad, too) or Android device.

Privacy friendly, amuz requires no login and supports 10 languages.


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Monday, April 13, 2020

No Room for Complacency

“I warn you, you give this vineyard a little bit of your finger and it will eat up your whole arm!”

What a delight to listen to the mother/daughter dynamic duo Xaxa and Caryl Panman describe their family history and passion for Chateau Rives-Blanques. Their enthusiasm for this gorgeous Limoux property is matched only by their humility and gratitude in finding themselves stewards of a beautiful vineyard.

Twenty years ago Caryl and her husband, Jan, purchased the property in the shadow of the Pyrenees. The vineyard is situated in the Languedoc region in the south of France.

“The vineyard found us.”

Rives Blanques now produces “some of the top Languedoc whites in the world”.

It was a pleasure to visit the stunningly beautiful property on a sunny day five years ago. Caryl said, “Every single year is different. New challenges stretch and reward you every year.” One of their most popular wines is Odyssee’ whose name reflects the the many ways the wine grower responds to the mercurial nature of the harvest and wine making process.

The Panmans are passionate about the heritage Mauzac grape. The wine starts in the vineyard with 80 year old vines and features a strong aroma of green apple and pear. While largely supplanted by Chardonnay, Carlyl has seen it as a personal mission to promote Mauzac centric wines.

Caryl proudly states that the 100 percent Mauzac sparkling wine is the oldest, invented and enjoyed by the Benedictine monks in Limoux around 1500. That predates champagne by more than a century.

The vineyard’s other wines are also highly delectable. La Trilogie is a very special limited blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. This is the wine that transports us back to the tasting room and the warm memories of the vineyard. The sparkling Blanquette de Limoux is a delightful pre-dinner selection. The mouthwatering acidity and lip zinging effervescence work together to stimulate your palate. Xaxa mentioned eating kale crisps with sparkling wine, which sounds delicious.

We hope you enjoy listening to Caryl and Xaxa discuss pairings and learn more about the Rives-Blanques wines in this podcast.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Digital Experiences in 2020: "Focus needs to shift to alternative ways of showcasing products outside the store"

Strategy Analytics:
The pandemic will have long-term impacts on what consumers want to purchase as well as how they purchase them. In addition to the inevitable increased use of delivery services for grocery and food, alternative shopping experiences such as Amazon Go’s contactless shopping experience - where consumers do not have to proceed through a checkout experience - will also see a boost in popularity. For consumer electronics, where some devices such as smartphones are typically sold more on ‘in-hand’ experience, this pandemic presents a more challenging situation as consumers’ are less inclined to handle in-store displays.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Books That Take You Away

We are sympathetic to book store distractions.

A recent (crowded) walk through what some consider the world's most beautiful book store - Porto's Livraria Lello - adds to the allure.

Perhaps a few of these titles might be of interest during our "Safer at Home" time.

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart (Afghanistan)

The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of my Year in Iraq by Rory Stewart (Iraq)

Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (England)

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (Italy)

My Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (France)

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik (France)

My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme (France)

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigeria)

Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)

The Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (South Africa)

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Japan)

The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between by Hisham Matar (Libya)

The Quiet American by Graham Greene ( Vietnam)

The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come by John Bunyan

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Author), Eva M. Martin (Translator) ( Hungary )

Last Boat of Shanghai by Helen Zia (China)

The Food of Sichuan by Fuschia Dunlop (China)

The Anarchy by William Dalrymple ( India )

Homegoing: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi (Ghana)

Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City by John Henderson ( Florence )

Under Red Skies: Three Generations of Life, Loss and Hope in China by Karoline Kan (China)

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Japan)

Convenience Store Woman: A Novel by Sayaka Murata Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator) (Japan)

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (Ireland)

Drive your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland)

Stillwell and the American Experience in China by Barbara Tuchman

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