May 31, 1962: the Voghera massacre

May 31, 1962: it is a warm but not sultry night when the fate of 64 people is about to be marked. Shortly after midnight, at 0.02 am, the 8151 freight train from Milan Rogoredo station leaves from Lecco and goes to Arquata Scrivia. The convoy consists of 33 wagons. In the meantime, at 0.45 am, from another Milan station, the Central Station, the fast train 1391 also leaves, expected in Genova Brignole at 5.22 am. The passenger convoy stops at Voghera where it arrives at the third platform 15…

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A short story of English Witchcraft Acts

From 1541 to 1951, England had laws strictly prohibiting the practice of witchcraft. During the early years it was a crime punishable by death and the forfeiture of goods and chattels. Put into effect on June 1, 1653, the laws mandated the outlawing of any kind of witchcraft-related activities. However, the 1653 Witchcraft Laws were not the first to appear in the English judicial system, as in 1542, King Henry VIII passed a piece of legislation that made witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Henry VIII’s Act was the first…

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North Carolina’s Can Opener Bridge: this too-low North Carolina railroad trestle is still a notorious truck executioner

At the corner of Gregson and Peabody streets in Durham, North Carolina lies what at first glance appears to be an innocent railroad trestle – but this is no ordinary railroad trestle. It is sinister and cunning and will mercilessly scalp any vehicle too high and mighty for its own good. Well, most bridges in North Carolina have a 15-foot clearance (about 4,5 meters), but this was designed in the 1920s and built in 1940, and so it has a clearance of 11 feet 8 inches (3,6 meters). This architectural…

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St. Stephen Bulgarian Church: the unique cast iron Church of Istanbul

We are in Istanbul, Turkey, a city that has no shortage of houses of worship, and the Bulgarian Church of St. Stephen set along the shore of the Golden Horn blends in with its holy brethren at first glance. Upon closer inspection, however, this cross-shaped basilica is like few others in the world. St. Stephen Church has the detailed ornaments of a regular Orthodox stone church, but it’s actually made of prefabricated cast iron elements. Sometimes referred to as “The Iron Church”, it is considered the largest prefabricated cast iron…

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Pine Cone Preserves: a sweet jam made from soft young cones believed to have health benefits in Russia and Georgia.

Aside from their decorating uses, especially in Christmas season, pinecones play an important role in nature and, like all plant parts, they have a very specific function in the plant world. Generally they serve as a protective cover for pine nuts, (a key ingredient in pesto!). Pine cones and pine trees belong to a group of plants called gymnosperms and date back to prehistoric times. There are a group of plants who have naked seeds, not enclosed in an ovary and the main function of a pine cone is to…

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Crackpot Hall: the dramatic remains of an abandoned farmhouse on the edge of a remote hillside in North Yorkshire, England~

On the slopes of Swaledale, near the village of Keld, North Yorkshire, England, stands the shell of a 300-year-old farmhouse. The building, curiously named Crackpot Hall, is an abandoned 18th-century farmhouse shrouded in its own myths and legends. Its name is said to be derived from the Old Norse words for ‘crow’ and ‘cave’ and, not by chance, many of the underground caverns in the area are also known as Pot, meaning a deep hole. An earlier 16th-century hunting lodge is thought to have stood on the site, when this…

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Visingsö Oak Forest: a forest of immensely tall and unusually straight trees planted nearly 200 years ago to build naval ships that never existed

Oak has traditionally been used in shipbuilding since centuries, as its wood is incredibly strong, and if tended just right, the grain is straight and true. Going back even to the Vikings, the slow-growth trees have been used in Sweden for vessels of all kinds, including naval ships. On the lake island of Visingsö, a narrow island in the middle of Vättern, Sweden’s second largest lake, there are hundreds of acres of tall and orderly oaks, all planted with an eye to the long term. As far back as the…

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May’s Full Flower Moon: Full Moon and Bonfire

As we already know, the full Moon names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. May’s Flower Moon name should be no surprise, because flowers spring forth in abundance this month. Its name has been attributed to Algonquin peoples, but also May’s Moon other names tend to speak to the arrival of spring and all that it entails. The Cree names “Budding Moon” and “Leaf Budding Moon” celebrate the awakening of local flora, which really begin to leaf out now in many areas…

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Swaledale Corpse Way: a winding medieval path used by mourners to carry their dead to the nearest church~

There was a time in England when commoners couldn’t afford to hire a horse or a cart to transport their dead, and so they were forced to carry the corpses themselves to the nearest church. This unpleasant situation led to the creation of paths like the Swaledale Corpse Way, now known simply as the Corpse Way or corpse road, a 16-mile medieval track linking the hamlet of Keld with Grinton, farther down the valley, a small village and civil parish in the Yorkshire Dales, in the Richmondshire district of North…

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Standing Rock Monument of Fort Yates, North Dakota: said to have once been a young woman, is sacred to the Sioux people.

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation covers more than two million acres of grass plains, rolling hills, and buttes running alongside the Missouri River. The reservation takes its name from a sacred rock formation that resembles a woman with a child on her back, that stands outside the Standing Rock Agency office in Fort Yates, North Dakota, and it is home to Lakota and Dakota Sioux people. The reservation was set up for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 1889. Before that, it was part of what was known as the…

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Devil’s Lake (and its stories): a remnant of the last Ice Age in Wisconsin, this lake is surrounded by fascinating rock formations.

Nestled near the small circus town of Baraboo, Wisconsin, is Devil’s Lake State Park, named for the large lake that sits at its center. The lake is located in the middle of a deep chasm, with no visible inlet or outlet. Its name comes from a misinterpretation of a term from the Ho-Chunk Nation, the region’s Indigenous inhabitants. In any case, on a cool foggy day, it’s not too hard to imagine why, and imagination probably had a lot to do with it. At the time when white trappers, then…

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Osteria Senz’Oste: the utopistic restaurant without waiters or chefs in Veneto, Italy

Italy is known as a gourmet country with a variety of foodie destination, and you can enjoy lots of different dining experiences, some conventional and others more unique and unusual. If you have decided a vacation in Veneto region and you are planning on enjoying some culinary experiences in the area, then you should visit the so-called Osteria senz’Oste. Its name literally means, “restaurant without hosts” and they aren’t kidding. This restaurant offers a very unique dining experience, as it does not have any chefs or waiters present. To get…

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Parkland Walk: a walk along an abandoned railway line

An abandoned railway line can be a creepy place to walk alone at night with its overgrown vines, a forgotten railway infrastructure and the smell of spray paint lingering in the air. Well, where once a railroad line crossed through the wilds of London’s Haringey and Islington, a scenic 5.0 km linear green pedestrian and cycle route has taken its place and the crumbling, abandoned stations and tunnels are now home to urban legends, graffiti, and some whimsically unsettling decoration. The route of the path between Finsbury Park and Highgate…

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The story of Dick Whittington and his faithful cat

Born in the 135Os, Dick Whittington was a poor boy even if, eventually, became a wealthy merchant and three-time Lord Mayor of London. According to legend, he made his fortune thanks to the extraordinary ratting abilities of his cat. The story of Dick Whittington and His Cat is the folk tale surrounding the real-life Richard Whittington (c. 1354–1423) and it is not just a fairy tale, but it is part of the folklore of London. Today, near the foot of Highgate Hill is the famous Whittington stone, which is supposed…

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How Blacksod lighthouse changed the course of the World War II

Blacksod Lighthouse, Fód Dubh in Gaelic, is a lighthouse at the southern end of the Mullet Peninsula, Erris, County Mayo, at the entrance to Blacksod Bay, Ireland, where the catch of the day will always include wild Atlantic lobster. The area also boasts jaw dropping scenery and offers sanctuary for Irish whales & dolphins under supervision of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group. The 150-year-old structure is made of local granite blocks, which are believed to have come from Termon Hill, a nearby isolated outcrop of high quality granite in…

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The curious London’s time-traveling tomb

Swinging open the gate of Brompton Cemetery is a bit like swinging open a little bit of London history. Here rests famous suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Beatrix Potter strolled its 39 acres, plucking names from tombstones to use in her work, including deceased Peter Rabbett and Mr. Nutkins. Moreover, here more than 35,000 monuments in all are present, rich and poor, known and unknown. In the middle of the grounds and shrouded by trees stands a fascinating mausoleum in Egyptian style made from granite, with a heavy bronze door secured…

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Hanami: the way Japanese enjoy the transient beauty of flowers

When cherry blossoms bloom in Japan, people of every age and occupation gather under the trees for hanami: a time to admire, ponder, and celebrate. Hanami (花見, literally “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers. Flowers (hana) in this case almost always refer to those of the cherry (sakura) or, less frequently, plum (ume) trees. From the end of March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan, and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa. The blossom forecast…

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Poggiodomo: the hamlet in Italy where COVID never arrived

In Italy there is a village that has never known COVID. It is Poggiodomo, located in the heart of Umbria, in central Italy. This small hamlet is living in its own world, and its ancient little houses and wild nature have kept Covid away, which, according to the local mayor, locals have only seen on TV. This village is now one of the few places in the world that has not known this virus, but how is it possible? The hamlet has just 96 inhabitants and this can certainly be…

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May 14, 1983: the forgotten history of massacre of the Eros cinema in the suburbs of Milan, Italy

Saturday, May 14, 1983: while about thirty spectators were watching the first half of the porn film “Lyla, profumo di femmina” (Lyla, scent of a female), two young people showed up at the Eros Sexy Center cinema in viale Monza 101, near the Rovereto metro stop, they bought tickets, entered the hall and sat in the back rows (after the subsequent arrests, the cinema cashier will recognize Marco Furlan and remember having sold him three tickets, one of the main elements in support of the thesis that Ludwig, the obscure…

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Want to take your pet fish for a walk? Soon it might be possible!

Dear pet fish owners, you don’t need to be envious of fellow pet owners who are able to walk their pets because you may be able to walk your fish too! Well, more or less. A Japanese company is working on a unusual container / bag for live fish, suitable both for pet owners wanting to take their favorite fish on walks, but also for fans of super-fresh sashimi. Ok. This creation is not quite designed for walking your pet, but with the goal of transporting fish that you have…

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The curious abandoned Sea Cable Car of Sidi Ifni (سيدي إفني), Morocco

Sidi Ifni is a city located on the west coast of Morocco, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, with a population of approximately 20,000 people. The economic base of the city is fishing. Not by chance, in 2000, an important fishing port was completed, which serves as a base for fish exports. Walking along the beach, toward the port at the southern end of town, you may spot a huge concrete structure a little ways off the shore, standing lonely in the middle of the sea. The huge abandoned…

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The princes in the Tower of London: one of the great mysteries of English history

In the White Tower, the old keep at the Tower of London, there is a small staircase tucked away near the entrance. Called the Two Princes Staircase, it’s where the skeletons of two young boys, one aged about 10 and the other 13 were found during renovations in 1674. It’s widely believed the skeletons are of the two princes who disappeared at the site in the late 15th century. And this is one of the great mysteries of English history. Though there has yet to be any scientific evidence to…

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The gray cat ghost at Fairport Harbor Lighthouse – Ohio

Even though the Fairport Harbor Light on Lake Erie, Ohio, was given the amazing nickname “The light that shone for 100 years”, it actually doesn’t live up to its name. The current lighthouse didn’t earn the nickname alone, because Its predecessor, which was built in the same site, shone for the first 46 years. The original lighthouse was built in 1825 and, when the population of the town reached 300, the Painesville Telegraph issued a notice asking for lighthouse bids. Collector of Customs, A. Walworth, signed the proposal but, unfortunately,…

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Jewett City Vampires: the graves of a Connecticut family thought to be plagued by a vampire ~

When people think of early New England, one of the many things that come to mind are the infamous witch trials of the late 17th century, of which Connecticut was quite an active participant with lot of people tried as witches and some of them even executed. During that dark time in state’s history the belief in and fear of supernatural creatures was quite strong: not only were witches a source of concern, so was the Devil himself. This general sense of apprehension in regard to the supernatural was so…

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Mao Mao, the feline car model that earns more than most humans

Mao Mao, a two-year-old British Shorthair from Chongqing, China, works as a professional cat model and earns between 5,000 yuan ($775) and 10,000 yuan (1,550) per appearance. Mao Mao’s rise to fame was somewhat of an accident: her owner, a man surnamed Zheng, works in the automotive industry, and during an auto show he had the brilliant idea of putting his pet cat into one of the cars. That immediately drew a crowd of people who couldn’t wait to take a photo of the cute feline and share it on…

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Gobodura Hill and the Lioness of Gobedra

We are a couple of kilometers west of the ancient city of Axum, Ethiopia, where stands the isolated hill of Gobodura, also known as Gobedra. The organizational and technological skills of the Aksumites were represented by the construction of elaborately carved stelae, monuments created in line of older African traditions and made of single pieces of local granite. They were cut out and transported from quarries located at least 4 km away (Gobedra Hill) to the location where they needed to be erected. The city is known also for an…

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Yin and Yang Fish: a controversial dish that’s both dead and alive

Yin and Yang Fish is a controversial dish where the body of a fish is cooked, while the head is kept fresh. From fish that smells like a public toilet, to a cheese as hard as rock, or a fish-head-stuffed pie, the world is full of weird foods, but few dishes can be described as truly disturbing. Reportedly, it was invented in the early 2000s by a restauranteur in Chiayi City, Taiwan. Yin and Yang fish, also known as “dead and alive fish”, is definitely not a dish for the…

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The impressive little Lourdes 30 km from Milan

It would take a miracle to save what should have been the little Lourdes of the Lombard Prealps. In Merate, a small town near Lecco, in Northern Italy, about 30 kilometers from Milan, locals call it “ex Oratorio San Luigi” because, before becoming a dark and decaying ruin, it was the parish meeting point in the city for about 30 years. Actually, this is the Basilica of the Santissima Immacolata, designed in 1906 by Spirito Monsignor Chiappetta, engineer and friend of Pope Pius XI on an area of 4 thousand…

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Zhiva: the Slavic Goddess of Life

Zhiva, Dziwa, Zywa, Siwa, or Sewa are all names for the Slavic Goddess of Life. Words that derive from here name are zhizn/zycie/zhyttya, meaning life, zhivotnoye/zywiola, meaning animal/animals, zhivnost – critters, zhivot – stomach, and zhivitsa, meaning tree pitch. Zhiva is an all-Slavic Goddess of life and fertility, although Her cult is more noticeable among Western and Southern Slavs that know her as Vida. Medieval Polish sources mention Her as a daughter of Sventovit and Noncena, respectively deities of day and night, while late Polish sources call Her Dzidzilia (Great)…

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North Island Lighthouse: the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina ~

Heralding the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean into the shipping channel between North Island and South Island stands the oldest lighthouse in South Carolina. For two centuries, mariners have passed this lighthouse on their way to or from Winyah Bay and the Seaport of Georgetown, located 10 miles away. On a sunny, clear day, the North Island Lighthouse (or Georgetown Light, as it has sometimes been called) is visible from Belle Isle Marina as a tiny iridescent white column while, at night, it is discernible from the same vantage point…

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