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Options and Attractions news continuedOn the Road issue 217Page 19Castle AmbrasWith its unique setting in snow-covered grounds Castle Ambras Innsbruck is a winter delight bringing visitors into the wonderful world of the Renaissance.Highlights include ceremonial suits of armour in the Armouries, local and exotic treasures of nature and the arts in the Chamber of Arts and Curiosities, portraits of princes in the Spanish Hall, the bath- ing room of Philippine Welser, and the stunning paintings of the inner courtyard. Visitors will also get to see the 17th cen- tury Ambras infant Jesus, which is only on show at the Chapel of St. Nicholas during the Christmas period, and get to hear the story of St. Nicholas. Then, at the end of the tour, we will invite visitors to a glass of punch.December to March reduced admissions:Groups of 10 or more: € 5 per personApril to October:• Groups of 10 or more: € 7 per person • Guided tour of the castle:€ 65 pergroup, duration• Group package: €15 per person, includes admission, guided tour and• 1 glass of punch, duration: 11⁄2 hours (min. 10 persons)• Daily from 10 am to 5 pm closed in NovemberSchloss Ambras Innsbruck, Schlossstrasse 20, 6020 Innsbruck - Austria T: +43 1 525 24 2500Tallinn balloonThe new balloon will be an all year attrac- tion. Balloon Tallinn, launched in July, has made over 2100 flights during the summer season. To make flying in winter pos- sible, the balloon will be equipped with a “winter hat” which will prevent snow from gathering on the top of the ball and help snow slip down to the ground.Balloon Tallinn is filled with helium and anchored to the ground. Its viewing plat- form, or gondola, can fly up to 30 people in the air at the same time on a windless day, allowing passengers to enjoy pano- ramic views from up to 120 metres above the ground. On clear days, visitors can see up to 40 kilometres from the balloon’s gondola. www.balloontallinn.eePorcelain in florenceRichard Ginori, the iconic fine china producer, has re-opened its historic Flor- entine flagship at n. 17/r Via de’ Rondinelll revealing the ultimate expression of Italian excellence in the finest artistic productionof porcelain. The fully renovated boutique, spanning nearly 600 square metres and representing the new Ginori “home”, is lo- cated in the centuries-old building Palazzo Ginori, in the Tornabuoni neighbourhood in the heart of Florence. The opening bears witness to the brand’s longstanding bond with the city, the building is a milestone in the Richard Ginori legacy, which dates back to 1802 when the Manifattura Ginori opened for the first time its shop in the Tuscan capital.150 years of the Ringstrasse - a Viennese open-air museumFrom military grounds to showpiece boulevard: Vienna’s Ringstrasse celebrates the 150th anniversary of its opening in 2015. Its magnificent late 19th century mansion houses and monumental public buildings have made it an impressive pro- cession of Vienna’s best sights.The Ringstrasse is a treasure trove of architectural details, from the sculptures and decoration on mansion façades to the design of entrances and stairwells. The planning concept was to create a single showcase composed of public and private buildings, intentionally placed alongside one another. Among the monumental administrative, government, cultural and commercial buildings on the Ring are the Vienna State Opera, the Burgtheater, the CityHallandtheParliament.TheKunsthis- torisches Museum and Natural History Museum, along with the Neue Burg – an expansion of the Hofburg – were parts of a wider project designed to express the might of the Habsburg monarchy in a grand architectural gesture.The Imperial Forum was intended to linkthe Hofburg with the twin museums hous- ing the imperial collections, extending all the way to the imperial stables. A second wing opposite the Neue Burg (at the site of what is now Heldenplatz) was ultimately never realised, meaning that the grand Imperial Forum was never completed. www.ringstrasse2015.infoExplore the Cognac HousesThe most famous Cognac houses (Camus, Otard, Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier, Remy Martin) all organise guided tours and provide a fascinating insight to the world of Cognac production, its history and of course a visit to old cellars followed by a tasting.It is also well worth visiting some of the smaller producers and family businesses such as Boutiers Brard Blanchard near Co- gnac or Breuil Domaine de Segonzac, both specialising in organic production.Each year from December to February the various houses hosts open weekends and invite the public to discover the secrets of brandy making. The weekend programmes include dinner at the distillery, concerts in the cellar and a Cognac tasting.The Cognac trails are made up from five different routes of ‘Les Etapes du Cognac’ and run from one village to the next, pro- viding an opportunity to meet local people and gain an insight into winegrowing traditions, gourmet food and the heritage linked to the vineyards of Charente that make up the Cognac area.And finally, to complete the stay visit the ‘Cognathèque’ in Cognac itself which has the largest display of cognacs in the world (450 cognacs and 50 pineaux des Charentes) and also offer tasting work- shops covering the history of cognac, grape varieties, production processes.Cognac and the Cognac Houses: The Cognactrails: Poitou-Charentes: http:// new War Museum for Peace “Diego deHenriquez”Located in Trieste, the Museum was in- augurated on the symbolic date of 28 July 2014, the 100th anniversary of Austria- Hungary’s war declaration against Serbia. The exceptional collection, patiently assembled by one of Trieste’s most prominent characters of the 20th century during his lifetime, Diego de Henriquez, a passionate and tenacious researcher of rare findings, consists of thousands of objects, such as weapons, pictures, diaries, books, papers, documents and an archive of 250 footage and film documents. www.museodiegodehenriquez.itThe Picasso MuseumOne of the most popular museums in Paris, the Picasso Museum has reopened after a five-year closure for a costly and contro- versial renovation, allowing access once again to perhaps the most important col- lection of Picasso paintings and sculptures in the world, it also is home to paintings of other artists that he collected and loved during his life.The museum’s home, the grandiose 17th Century Hotel Sale in the Marais district, has had its interior redesigned to create larger and lighter areas.There are two new storeys, a new recep- tion hall in the former stables, and the basement has been excavated to recreate the world of Picasso’s studios.The museum now boasts 40 rooms and 3,000 square metres of exhibition space. On display for the inaugural exhibition are some 400 pieces - just a fraction of the 5,000 artworks comprising the collection.The lay-out is roughly chronological, tak- ing the visitor from Picasso’s early blue period through the Cubist and Surrealist phases and on to his late re-interpretations of the masters.In the former attic are housed works by Matisse, Braque, Derain and Van Dongen - pieces personally collected by Picasso from artists who were his friends. Also here are African and Iberian artworks that strongly influenced his ideas.The Picasso museum was created in 1985 as a home for the thousands of art-works that remained in the artist’s possession - unsold in other words - when he died in the south of France. The artist’s family - a very complicated one - reached agreement with the French state to make over the art in lieu of taxes. (Controversially none of the works on display has a label)www.museepicassoparis.frState Opera House © WienTourismus - Christian StemperTallinn Balloon

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