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Climate change bangladesh 02
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
30 Oct 2014

Waste chemicals and oil from factories are disposed of in the canals, polluting the river and the soil. Industrial processes are not only a factor in climate change, but also produce toxic waste that threatens Dhaka's natural resources.

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Climate change bangladesh 03
Dhaka, Bangladesh
By zakir hossain chowdhury
30 Oct 2014

A boy poses before a patch of cracked dry earth. Bangladesh has been particularly affected by climate change, where unpredictable heat waves and rainy seasons make life difficult for its people.

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The Lake Avernus Vineyards
Pozzuoli
By Piero Castellano
15 Oct 2014

Pozzuoli, Italy

October 15, 2014

While Italy is caught in a seemingly endless economic recession, some people are finding success by turning their backs to the disappointments of modern jobs and reverting to agriculture and traditional activities.

In Pozzuoli, near Naples, a crater lake that ancient Romans considered to be the gate to the Underworld has become the entryway to a new life for descendants of sharecropping farmers, turned producers of amazing wines.

Lake Avernus, one of the many craters of Phlegraean Fields (“Campi Flegrei”, “Burning Fields”) volcano, was so deadly in ancient times that birds flying over it were said to fall dead because of poisonous fumes. An oracle, the Cumaean Sybil, lived in a cave by the lake, and prophesized while intoxicated by exhalations. Later, the Romans used it as a training base for their warships, building temples and thermal baths on the hot springs, the ruins of which still dot the crater. In September 1538 CE a sudden eruption, lasting just one month, raised a new 133-meter tall crater, the Monte Nuovo (“New Mountain”) on the eastern side of the lake. Less than 4 kilometers away, the still active Solfatara crater is a tourist attraction, with its sulfurous fumaroles.

Today, the Lake Avernus area is a lavish green oasis that lies in amid a heavily urbanized area, although sometimes mysterious bubbling kills scores of fish. Joggers and cyclists trail around the lake and on holidays families from nearby Naples flock to the area, part of the natural park “Parco Regionale dei Campi Flegrei”.

Thanks to the fertile volcanic soil and Mediterranean climate, the region is famous for its varietal wines, produced under the Campi Flegrei D.O.C. appellation (“Denominazione di Origine Controllata”, Controlled Designation of Origin). Almost half of the surface inside the Avernus crater is covered with vineyards.

Like much of the Italian farmland, it was neglected and gradually abandoned for decades because farming was not lucrative enough.
For the larger part of the 20th century, Italian governments pursued an industrial development strategy in the region. All that remains of it are an abandoned steel mill that stretches over an enormous area near Naples and an empty information technology facility in Pozzuoli.

Emilio Mirabella and Umberto Guardascione were both children of unrelated families farming vineyards in Lake Avernus, the aristocratic owner of which lived far away and seldom visited it.

Predictably, both Umberto and Emilio chose jobs and ways of life different than those of their parents: while Emilio was fascinated by the sea and became a sailing yacht skipper, Umberto was an electronic technician.

They were doing well, but just before the economic crisis started to ravage the Italian economy, both of them received a call from their respective parents. The owner wanted to sell the land and they were asking for their children’s help to buy it and farm it on their own.

They faced a tough dilemma. Either they let their parents down by abandoning the town where they were born and raised or they had to give up their careers and everything they had done. Emilio had just gotten married and his wife had soon discovered she had seasickness. After a brief heart-wrenching discussion, they decided to sell the boat and buy his father’s share of the land.

“I miss the sea,” the sailor turned winemaker confides. “But this lake is like a small Mediterranean. Here is everything I could wish for.”

For Umberto the choice was easier: “I always loved farming the land and making wine – especially making wine. When I was a boy it wasn’t possible to make a living with it, but when my father called I saw a great opportunity.”

Times had changed indeed and Italian winemaking had gained worldwide appreciation, becoming lucrative and popular. In post-industrial times, the Phlegraean Fields area was trying to preserve what was left of its farming, winemaking and typical food traditions.

The trend led to a rediscovery of farming culture, which included traditional music and dances. Until the 19th century, croppers harvested grapes to the sound of improvising bands. As in many other agricultural societies around the world, the harvest season was also a time for courting. Musicians, who were mostly farmers or croppers themselves, played the romantic “Canti della Vendemmia” (“Harvest Songs”) and were paid with wine.

The winemakers of Lake Avernus are trying to revive these traditions, inviting folk music bands to perform in the vineyards, at the banquets they host and during the harvest.
Meanwhile, the former croppers, now neighbors, began a slow but successful improvement of the vineyard and the wines with the help of professional oenologists.
The vineyards of Lake Avernus have a rare distinction: they are some of the very few wines in the world that survived the devastating “Phylloxera Plague” of mid-19th century, which wiped out most of Europe’s vineyards. The sandy, sulfuric soil of the volcanic crater was too resistant for the vine-killing aphids.

“A few plants were affected, but most survived,” Emilio Mirabella explains.

Both the Mirabella and the Guardascione Vineyards can sport the appellative “historical,” and for a good reason.

“Unlike almost all the vineyards in Europe, we do not need to graft the plants on American vines, to make them resistant to Phylloxera,” he added. Ungrafted vines can live much longer.

“We have been visited by officials from the regional authority recently. They counted more than 1,900 historical plants, some of which are them 150 years old,” Umberto Guardascione, who owns the oldest surviving part of the original vineyard, said proudly.

Lake Avernus wine production is very small; Emilio only produces 4,000 bottles per year and Umberto sells his wine mostly to locals. But both have bigger plans. While Emilio is restoring one of the buildings to offer accommodation, like a real “agriturismo” destination, Umberto has finally accomplished his dream of obtaining a restaurant license to offer his homemade food to visitors.
But the fight through the quagmires of Italian bureaucracy has been exhausting.
“Bureaucracy is the real problem for economy in Italy,” Umberto complains. “After I worked hard to comply with thousands of regulations, an inspector claimed that I was disposing waste frying oil into the lake. In spite of contract and records with a disposal company, I had to pay for a report to prove my regularity.”

Umberto, however, will not give up.

“We will go on. We owe it to our ancestors; we owe it to the land,” he said. “After all, this place has produced wine for thousands of years, nothing could stop us - not even volcanoes.”

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Lake Avernus Vineyards 22
Rampa I Averno, 80078 Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy
By Piero Castellano
16 Sep 2014

Pozzuoli (Italy): The Lake Avernus crater with the vineyards visible in the foreground. The slope visible on the left is the Monte Nuovo, a volcanic cone that sprouted with a furious eruption in only one month, in 1538 CE. (Photo by Piero Castellano)

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Lake Avernus Vineyards 17
Rampa I Averno, 80078 Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy
By Piero Castellano
16 Sep 2014

Pozzuoli (Italy): An extremely old grapevine loaded with grapes of the Falanghina variety in one of the Lake Avernus vineyards. The volcanic soil on the lake's banks is sandy and very rich in sulfur, so the plants survived the "Phylloxera Plague" and do not need to be grafted on American vines, growing much older than the commonly grafted ones. The average age of Lake Avernus vineyards' plants is 50 years, but some are more than 150 years old. (Photo by Piero Castellano)

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Lake Avernus Vineyards 04
Rampa I Averno, 80078 Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy
By Piero Castellano
16 Sep 2014

Pozzuoli (Italy): Umberto Guardascione, owner of the Guardascione Historical Vineyard, in the Lake Avernus crater, in his ancient cellar. He sells a portion of his grapes to the Mirabellas, but he also makes his own wine that he sells unbottled to locals. His banqueting facility is called "Il Canneto dell'Averno", "The Avernus Rushes". (Photo by Piero Castellano)

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Lake Avernus Vineyards 21
Rampa I Averno, 80078 Pozzuoli, Naples, Italy
By Piero Castellano
15 Sep 2014

Pozzuoli (Italy): The vineyards on the banks of Lake Avernus, with the crater rim reflecting on the water surface. The crater is part of the natural park "Parco Regionale dei Campi Flegrei" and it's a very important green area for locals and wildlife. (Photo by Piero Castellano)

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North Korea in Black and White 002
By Ulrik Pedersen
11 Jun 2014

Mount Pakteu, in the state's official history as the birthplace of Kim Jong-il, is located at the border between China and North Korea. North Korea.

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North Korea in Color 008
By Ulrik Pedersen
11 Jun 2014

Mount Pakteu with a clear view of the lake. Mount Pakteu is believed to be the birthplace of Korea, and has a holy place in the nation's history.

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Lake Malawi (10 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

The bridge in Mangochi marks the end of the lake and the beginning of Shire river, an affluent of Zambeze river. The bridge was made with donations from the Japanese Government. Malawi is one of the countries known for the good management of international funds given from donors.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
mangochi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Shire river starts in Mangochi and is the way for the waters of the lake go flow after the heavy rainy season that happens from December to May each year.

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Lake Malawi (11 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Typical landscape at the lake shore. Tourism is an important aspect of revenue for Malawi economy.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
salima
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Canoes made from tree trunks are everywhere in the lake shores. Even if there is a fishing industrial business at the lake, most of this activity is made in traditional boats like this.

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Lake Malawi (12 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fishing, bathing and washing clothes are constant activities at the lake.

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Lake Malawi (13 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Problems occur due to the oil reserves at the bottom of the Lake in Tanzania.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa with high HIV rates.

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Lake Malawi (14 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi is the 3rd biggest African Lake, with nearly over 13 million habitants, only on the Malawi side of the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fishing is the main activity at the lake and in the recent time there have been troubles, for both fisherman of Tanzania and Malawi, with maritime forces in both countries once they are accused of fishing in extra territorial waters.

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Lake Malawi (16 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi borders Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Between Malawi and Mozambique the relationship has been cordial, at least about the lake since the borders stand exactly in the middle of the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi hosts 90% of the fresh water fish species of all the world in this single lake. Exporting them and tourism related with snorkeling is other of the activities, apart of fishing, that provide some jobs to the population.

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Lake Malawi (17 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Due to the official low profile relationship between Tanzania and Malawi, the weekly boats that cross the lake from its south to the north just stop in Mozambique and Malawian shores, avoiding the Tanzanian side of the lake. People that need to cross to Tanzania must use traditional boats to cross the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fish eagle in Livingstonia. This eagle is the national symbol of Malawian Police

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fisherman over his canoe. The lake and all its wild and human life that live from its shores have seen international protection after UNESCO declared it World Heritage Patrimony

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Lake Malawi (1 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Cape Maclear is the center of a UNESCO world heritage site that encompasses all the Lake Malawi National Park.

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Lake Malawi (3 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

A simple way of life in one of the poorest countries in Africa.

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Lake Malawi (2 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Drying fish under the sun is the best way to keep it suitable to eat in a country where most of the households don´t have access to refrigerators or even electricity to keep the fish fresh.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

The water at the lake is, most of the year, calm but between June to August waves up to one meter or more can happen.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
mangochi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

the lake is the 3rd biggest in Africa and have unique landscapes as well wild life.

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Lake Malawi (4 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Cape Maclear is a paradise for backpacking tourists that spend their times under the Malawian sun with the people on the shores. This village, together with Nkhata Bay, Monkey Bay and Livingstonia are the main attractions for Malawi tourism and an important revenue for the country.

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Lake Malawi (8 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

In the waters of the lake, a collection of fresh water animals are fished out and sold worldwide for aquarium enthusiasts. Locals dive without oxygen up to 10 meters below the water surface to pick Cychlids fish with colors that range from deep blue, red, yellow or other colors. They are sold to some lodges that export them internationally.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Raining season make the water get more turbulent and bring to the shores rests of trees and others that are collected by the locals to do ropes, fences and have other uses.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Local musician wait for tourists outside of the lake shore lodges to try to get some extra money selling or playing instruments.

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Lake Malawi (6 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Children playing football on the fine sands of the lake in Senga Bay

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
monkey bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Local children in one of the poorest African countries but also considered one of the friendliest and peaceful countries in the world.

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Lake Malawi (5 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

The daily life at the lake revolves around fishing, taking baths and washing clothes on the shore.