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Nicot, Thevet, Tobacco: Parallel lives

Part I

Who knows what was in the Franciscan friar’s mind while strolling along the streets of Angoulême, or in the surrounding countryside. André Thevet was born of humble origins in 1504, whose father is said to have worked for the Rochefoucauld family, and whose sumptuous castle was situated six leagues from the city. Thanks to the family’s support, Andrè had had some basic education, displaying intelligence and great curiosity....

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The Fratelli Rossi Company

The Biggest Pipe Factory in the World

The page two headline of the local news section in the newspaper, La Prealpina from the province of Varese, announced: “The Fratelli Rossi Company quits. It is the oldest pipe factory”, with the subheading: “Barasso’s company in dire financial distress calls for agreement with creditors”. The lead stated: “Founded in 1886, its history is a mixture of legend and industrial pioneering – The owners of the company...

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Sir Walter Raleigh: Not just pipe dreams - II

Part II

Four ships under the command of Sir Walter left Plymouth on February 6th, 1595. Stocking up with water in the Azores, they captured two vessels near the Canary Islands:  one was Spanish loaded with arms, and the other was Flemish with a cargo of wine. In the Caribbean they should have joined other ships, but a few that had already set sail before Raleigh were already heading home after making several successful raids. Others, who had left later...

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Sir Walter Raleigh: Not Just Pipe Dreams

Part I

The besiegers advanced and slowly seized all weapons. Then the signal was given to start the massacre.  Around six hundred Italian and Spanish men had landed a few days earlier at Ard na Caithne, in South-West Ireland, bringing arms and munitions for the rebels in the mountains. However, English ships had trapped the small Spanish fleet at sea, and troops had blocked access to the rebels in the mountains, so forcing the new arrivals to head...

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the magic of a gourd

Above, sky and stars; below, earth and sea, and where the two meet, the horizon: the universe is an enormous, round gourd according to the Hausa tribe in Nigeria. In Burkina Faso, the Gurunsi people scrutinise the round shape of gourds to predict seasonal variations and to divine destiny. The evocative fascination of the slightly sinister, carved, lit Halloween pumpkin appeals to everyone, and the elegant pumpkin that turns into Cinderella’s...

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Smoking like a Pasha: Al Pascià

  In the Ottoman Empire during the early 1900s existed the figure of the Pasha. This was the title given to the highest rank of military or civil officials in Istanbul and was placed after the person’s name.  They were extremely affluent and lived a life of outrageous luxury that in the West became synonymous of living like a Lord.  To live like a Pasha was the dream and a fashionable, playful wish also in Milan in 1905, where...

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