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    This video of the Florence, birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, gives just a tiny glimpse of the wonders of the city. Semper Firenze was taken on New Years' Eve by film maker Matt Benn, who beautifully captures the bustling atmosphere of the streets as well as the beauty of the buildings including the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Duomo, all basking the golden Tuscan light.

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    Chimps escape from Hanover Zoo in Germany

    A five-strong group of clever chimpanzees caused panic at a German zoo after escaping from their enclosure.

    The chimps found branches in the pen, which had been left from recent gardening work, and fashioned them into a makeshift ladder to escape their enclosure yesterday.

    Around 2,500 people were evacuated from the Hanover Adventure Zoo, and a five-year-old girl was hurt when she was knocked over by the chimpanzees in their bid for freedom.

    The little girl was taken to hospital with light head wounds, but was not seriously injured.

    Five clever chimps escape from zoo enclosure, 2,500 visitors evacuatedThe chimps at Hanover Adventure Zoo: Getty

    An elderly man also needed medical attention after being locked in the tropical house in 100-degree heat as the chimps roamed outside.

    Police surrounded the zoo with orders to shoot any of the chimpanzees if they tried to leave the compound.

    But, as zoo spokeswoman Simone Hagenmeyer told, four out of the five chimps "had a quick look around and then jumped pretty quickly back into their compound."

    According to the Daily Mail, she added: "The fifth and oldest chimp went off to visit the head gorilla.

    "He was a bit harder to coax back.

    "He's getting on a bit so we gave him a ladder to climb back into the enclosure."

    Meanwhile, over in Las Vegas, two chimpanzees went on a rampage through the streets after escaping from their owner's back garden.

    One was shot and killed, while one was tranquillised after they were said to have been displaying aggressive behaviour.

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    The UK at its most beautiful: Landscape Photographers of the YearAngus Cyne

    These delectable images have all won prizes at the Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards, which champions the beauty and diversity of the British countryside.

    Founded by UK landscape photographer Charlie Waite, the awards were created to encourage urbanites to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and rediscover the wonders of rural Britain. It offers everyone the opportunity to put their amateur photography skills to the test and even win the £10,000 top prize.

    If you fancy yourself as a winner, there's still time to enter, but you need to be quick - the closing date is 15 July. Visit to find out more.


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    Fancy a mini-break for two at a hotel in the gorgeous Dartmoor National Park? AOL Travel has teamed up with the Two Bridges Hotel to offer one lucky user a luxury stay, with dinners, wine and a visit to a brewery included.

    Enter now to win!


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    Shark spotted off Devon coast, basking shark, britain, uk shark sightingsRex

    A beach in Devon was evacuated after a shark fin was spotted by a member of the public around 20-30 metres offshore between the red and yellow flags.

    Swimmers and surfers were forced to abandon Croyde beach after it was put on red alert when the fin was seen at around 5.30pm on Thursday.

    RNLI lifeguards asked people to leave the water as a precaution as the fin was inside an area where it is safe to swim.

    With heavy rain and poor visibility, the lifeguards could not confirm what the sighting was.

    Surfing teacher Karma Worthington, who was on the beach at the time, told This is North Devon: 'I was teaching a surf lesson and I just saw something about 100 metres out. I thought it was a seal or dolphin, then I saw it again and it was pretty big and the lifeguards and a few people were saying it was a shark.'

    Conservation charity The Shark Trust told the Mirror it was 'highly likely' that it was a basking shark.

    An RNLI spokesman said: 'It's not unusual for there to be sightings of sharks or other large mammals off our coasts and while these species are harmless, RNLI lifeguards on the beach maintain a watchful eye for all aquatic hazards in the water.'

    The Cornwall Wildlife Trust recently said basking sharks were back in Cornish waters in higher numbers than last year, with 28 spotted in June alone. The sharks are known for being 'gentle giants' and are generally harmless filter feeders.

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     Tourists flock to see shipwrecked Italian cruise liner Costa ConcordiaPA

    It may be an eyesore for the locals of Giglio, Italy who want their views of the Tuscan shore back, but six months after the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, the shipwreck is attracting tourists who see it as a perfect photo opportunity.

    Hundreds of holidaymakers fill the ferries that connect the island from Porto Santo Stefano every day and even with the hour-long journey and scorching hot roof deck, they still flock to see the Costa Concordia before reaching Giglio.

    The ferry sails past the stricken ship's bow and once they get to shore, the tourists head to the dock to take more photos. But the islanders are growing tired of the shipwreck being a tourist attraction.

    Celia Cavero, 87, who was born on the island, told 'Every day I come here and that thing is there.' She added: 'It's heartbreaking. And those tourists come here for the day, take a picture and then leave.'

    There are some residents that aren't bothered by the new attraction. Fisherman Italo Arienti said: 'It has now become a symbol of the island. But they forbid us to make souvenirs out of it.'

    Giglio was once a hangout for rich visitors who came with their luxury yachts but the wreckage is blocking the tiny port where they used to dock and they have now been replaced by holidaymakers who are looking for a quick photo and something to eat.

    On 1 July, a 1.50 euro entry fee was imposed by the Giglio authorities on tourists to reduce the number of day-trippers.

    Tourism expert and journalist at Italian travel magazine Guida Viaggi, Mariangela Traficante, told German news website Deutsche Welle: 'People do not stay overnight here, they spend no money, and the hoteliers are not happy.'

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    Huge Heathrow delays as border desks still unmanned at peak timesPA

    Despite the Border Force's promise to man all immigration desks at Heathrow Airport at peak times over the summer it has failed, causing huge delays, the Daily Telegraph reported.

    The newspaper says it saw internal BAA documents that revealed how the 'chaotic deployment' of staff in the past weeks adding more misery for travellers.

    Earlier in the year, immigration minister Damian Green promised that desks at key ports would be fully mans at peak times 'over the summer'.
    But only 12 desks were manned at Heathrow when the airport saw the longest queue of just over two hours at 7.30pm on 18 June.

    All 20 desks were covered throughout quieter times when the queues for non EU passengers were just 15 minutes.

    At Terminal 3 more than half the desks were unmanned on at least one of the busiest days last month but staffing levels increased later in the morning at the same time that there were less flights arriving.

    Lucy Moreton, deputy general secretary of the Immigration Service Union said: 'Most contingency staff are not sent to the desks until around 10am.'
    The Daily Telegraph discovered that the staff spend much of their time having tea breaks, waiting to be sent to terminals and being transported around the airport.

    It emerged that last month's queuing time of over two hours recorded by Heathrow's operator BAA is also an underestimate as the figures did not include the people waiting in corridors outside the arrival halls.

    BAA said there were occasions when it was unable to count everybody in the queue. A spokesman said: 'We measure from the last person in the queue, even if the queue stretches out of the immigration hall. On some occasions the queue has stretched to the point where non-EEA and EEA passengers become mixed.'

    'On these occasions we measure from the point at which the queues are separated into EEA and non-EEA passengers. We acknowledge that this means there may be occasions on which passengers wait longer than the measured time.'

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: 'These latest figures confirm what passengers already know - the immigration minister doesn't even know what is happening at our airports and the borders fiasco continues.'

    'Theresa May is in danger of turning the Borders Force into a borders farce. First the Home Secretary cut over 900 border officers then the Home Office re-employ them in a panic or put undertrained new recruits onto the front line wasting extra taxpayers money too.'

    A Home Office spokesman said: 'This is simply not true. The Immigration Minister said we would provide extra staff for busy periods this summer and ensure all desks are fully manned during the peak Olympic arrival period and during the Games. That's exactly what we're doing.'

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    Cheaper summer holidays for Brits as euro hits lowest rate for four yearsPA

    There's good news for Britons travelling to Europe this summer, as the euro has hit its lowest rate for four years.

    The exchange rate is 1.23 euros for every £1 meaning families will have an extra £52 to spend on holiday compared with last year.

    Britons changing £500 will see their money stretch further in holiday destinations like Spain, Majorca and Corfu.

    Last year the rate was 1.04 euros against £1 and this year's strong pound means Eastern European destinations are also looking attractive with more money for you to spend in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Head of Travel Money at Post Office Andrew Brown said: 'Sterling's growing strength is great news for families heading abroad during the school holidays to avoid the washout weather in the UK.

    'The sterling gain extends to other European currencies too, which means that families travelling to the Continent in the coming weeks can cash in on some great value.

    'However, while there are few places where the pound is not packing a stronger punch, our advice to people who have yet to book is to keep a close eye on exchange rates for all the destinations they are considering to see where they will get the most for their money.'

    Brits heading to America, Dubai and Egypt will lose out the most with nearly £40 lost on changing £500 in Dubai, £21 in the States and £8 in Egypt.

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    Avalanche rescuer tells of struggle to save British climbersPA

    A French mountain guide has spoken about the search for the three British climbers who died in an Avalanche in the French Alps last week.

    Yann Delevaux told the Daily Mail that he and his colleagues used 10ft steel probes to search for victims.

    He said: "I touched something with the probe. I shouted that I had found something and then the digging began. We got shovels, big shovels. The snow is heavy."

    He added: "The first thing we saw was a badge - we knew then that we had found a mountain guide. You wish they are going to move but you know really that there's no chance.

    "We saw that he was roped to someone. We dug and dug and followed the rope and found the second body. We saw the rope continued. We then found a third body.

    "It's a clash of emotions. You are happy that you have found them but they are dead. That's terrible."

    He explained: "You have such a range of emotions. They are someone's loved one, and as a guide you realise it could have been you."

    Mr Delevaux and the team of rescuers found guide Roger Payne, Steve Barber and John Taylor.

    They died along with three Germans, two Spaniards and one Swiss when the avalanche hit just after 5am on Thursday.

    The men were in a party of 28 climbers on Mont Maudit, on their way to the summit of Mont Blanc.

    Yesterday a memorial service was held for the victims at the church of St Michael in Chamonix.

    Mr Payne was one of Britain's most respected climbers and Mr Barber and Mr Taylor were best friends who lived in the Yorkshire village of Upper Poppleton, near York.

    Today, prayers wil be offered up for them and their families at All Saints Church in their home village.

    Click on the image below for some special places to stay in rural France...


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    CNN names the top sites to see before you diePA

    American news channel CNN has put together a list of 27 places to see before you die - and a starling murmuration above Brighton pier has been ranked at number two in the list.

    The starling murmuration beats the Northern Lights, the Taj Mahal, the Yosemite peaks and the city of Petra in Jordan, which is carved into the sheer rock face.

    CNN said: 'They're not exotic, and in the European case they're not even that pretty, but when you have thousands of starlings swooping and wheeling like some kind of hypnotic cloud, they become one of the most mesmerising sights in nature.

    "These murmurations happen just before the birds roost down for the night, and while starling numbers have crashed in the UK, you can still see up to a million birds coming together for these huge swarms in England's nature reserves or at certain piers such as Brighton Pier, just an hour's train journey from London.

    "The murmurations are most common in winter, November being the best month."

    A total of three places in Britain made the list: the Lake District lakes were ranked at number 24 and Cornwall's ruined tin mines just made it on to the list in 27th place.

    The ruins of the mines, which are dotted along the north Cornish coast, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

    CNN said: "The tin mines may be closed, but the ruins of the structures which once housed them near St Just make a thrillingly dramatic counterpoint to the rugged rocks and wild seas of Cornwall's north coast."

    The Lake District is described as, "the glory of northwestern England" and the CNN guide says: "There's something mystical about the quiet bodies of still water ringed by majestic fells that feature in the new movie 'Snow White and the Huntsman'.

    The most popular sight is Borobudur at sunrise, Java, Indonesia; the Northern Lights in Scandinavia come in third place; followed by the great migration in East Africa and the star-filled sky, Mackenzie Basin, New Zealand.

    Click on the image below for some silly walks around the UK...


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    Newlywed dies in honeymoon cliff fallPA

    A British man has fallen to his death from a cliff in Portugal, six days into his honeymoon.

    The Sun reports that Brian Orton, 45, stumbled and fell from a cliffside path while out walking near his hotel in Albufeira.

    His wife, Catherine, was walking ahead of him and didn't realise what had happened until she turned around and saw that he had vanished.

    Hotel staff found Mr Orton at the bottom of a 100ft cliff with serious head injuries.

    Catherine, 40, from Coundon, Co Durham, said: "We were walking up a path next to an open-air escalator.

    "When I turned around he'd disappeared. I didn't want to see what had happened, so I rushed to the hotel and told them. It has come as a massive shock. I still expect him to walk through the door."

    The couple had known each other since their schooldays, but only started dating last year. They married on June 21 - Brian's birthday - and flew to Portugal six days later.

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    Eva Longoria makes a splash when paddle boardingWireImage/AP

    Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria couldn't stop smiling as had a go at paddle boarding in the Malibu surf.

    The actress was spotted balancing on a surf board wearing a wetsuit top and white bikini bottoms as she paddled in the ocean.

    It's obviously wasn't Eva's first attempt, as she showed off her perfect balance and looked happy and relaxed in the water.

    An onlooker told The Sun: "She looked incredible."

    Eva was in Malibu filming for her new reality dating show, Ready for Love.

    Click on the image below to find out where to spot celebrities in Britain...


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    Harper Beckham clocks up 110,403 air miles in a yearPA

    Harper Seven Beckham has only just celebrated her first birthday, but she's already one of the most well-travelled children in the world.

    The Mirror reports that the junior jet-setter has already flown the equivalent of more than four times around the world, clocking up 110,403 air miles in the process.

    Harper, who is seldom apart from her mum, Victoria, has travelled with the pop singer-turned-fashion-designer as she's travelled the world to promote her fashion labels.

    Most of her trips have involved flying back and forth between LA and New York, but she has also travelled to London, Paris, Milan, Beijing, Hong Kong and Vancouver.

    Earlier this month, Harper was voted Britain's most stylish tot, which is exactly what we'd expect from a little girl who spends her time jetting to and from the fashion capitals of the world with her stylish mum.

    Click on the image below for 20 hotels that kids will love...


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    Hundreds of penguins wash up dead on beaches in BrazilPA

    More than 500 dead penguins have washed up on beaches in southern Brazil in the last week, and experts are not yet sure why.

    The Daily Mail reports that biologists and veterinarians are now investigating what killed the birds, which appeared to be healthy and unhurt.

    Scientists counted a total of 512 penguins washed up on beaches on the southern state of Rio Grande de Sul, between the towns of Tramandai and Cidreira.

    The Magellanic Penguins were migrating north from Argentina in search of food. They normally make the journey between March and September. Their diet consists mostly of small fish and crustaceans and their main enemy is the sea lion.

    The BBC reports that early findings indicate that the penguins could have starved to death, as their stomachs were completely empty.

    Thiago do Nascimento of the Peruibe Aquarium says that cooler temperatures off the coast could have driven away the fish and squid that the penguins feed on.

    He also said that overfishing could have decimated their food sources.

    He added that between 100 and 150 penguins arrived on the beaches each year, but they were usually alive with an average of around ten per year found dead.

    Last week, dozens of young penguins were rescued from beaches in Rio de Janeiro after straying from their normal route. Brazil's environment agency is now preparing to fly these back to the south.

    Scientists are examining the bodies of 30 of the dead penguins, and expect to get the results of the autopsies within the next month.

    This isn't the first time this type of incident has occurred and it has previously been blamed on shifting ocean currents and colder temperatures.

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    British powerboat racer killed in 120mph crashPA

    British powerboat racer William Nocker has died after his boat flipped and rolled during the first race of the inaugural Gabon Grand Prix in west Africa.

    The Daily Mail reports that Mr Nocker's boat hit two waves and turned over.

    Mr Nocker was rushed to a military hospital in Gabon's capital city Libreville, but doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

    His co-driver, Norwegian Kurt Olsen, was also badly hurt and is in a critical condition in intensive care.

    Mr Nocker, 47, originally from Tiverton, Devon, was racing for the Welmax Offshore Racing team. He had just returned to the sport after a five-year ban for tampering with a competitor's fuel supply.

    Friday's race, which was the second round of the Class 1 world offshore championship, was stopped following the accident.

    The next day's second round was also postponed, before the event was cancelled completely as a mark of respect.

    The sport's governing body, Union Internationale Motoautique (UIM) has launched an investigation into the cause of the crash.

    Today, racing teams returned to the crash site to pay tribute. They held a minute's silence and laid a wreath on the water, while competitors and team members scattered flowers.

    Nicolo di San Germano, president of H20 Racing, said: "We are all extremely saddened by this tragic racing accident. There are very few suitable words at a time such as this but we all send out heartfelt condolences to William's family."

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    If throwing tomatoes, tossing tuna or, erm, jumping over babies, all sound appealing, then cast your eyes on our gallery of the world's wackiest festivals - they make Glastonbury look positively hum-drum...


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    Ryanair's latest move? To fly with no broken toiletsAFP/Getty

    Ryanair reportedly plans to allow flights to go ahead - even if there is not a working toilet on the plane.

    If the toilets on an aircraft are found to be out of order, staff will instead make a departure gate announcement advising passengers to go in the terminal before apologising for any "inconvenience" caused.

    According to the Daily Record, a "leaked" internal memo revealed: "In the rare event there is a technical problem with all toilets on board, permission may be granted for the flight to depart with no serviceable toilets. Any passenger not wishing to travel can apply for a refund."

    But, for passengers on some flights, this would mean a lot of leg-crossing; Ryanair's longest UK route is from Stansted to Rhodes, Greece, and takes four hours.

    According to the Mirror, one airline worker said: "It's incredible they think 189 people on board could last out. Imagine the disruption it will cause to children, the elderly or hen and stag groups - and an announcement at the gate could easily be missed.

    "It's odd they'd let a flight go with no toilets rather than delay it for repairs. It could be due to them cutting back on engineers by spreading them over several airports."

    The news comes after Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary's plan for coin-operated toilets on his fleet of 737s were ditched following a public backlash last year.

    His other bizarre money-saving schemes? Scrapping the role of co-pilot, letting passengers stand on shorter flights, and removing two of the three on-board loos to make room for more passengers.

    Back in April, Ryanair also came up with a number of new initiatives aimed at saving money in the face of rising fuel prices - including advising cabin crew to "watch their weight".

    The heavier an aircraft, the more expensive the flight, so a number of airlines are devising ways to make their planes lighter.

    As well as encouraging flight staff to battle the bulge, Ryanair intends to cut the amount of ice on board, and reduce the weight of trollies and seats.

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    Passenger plane makes emergency landing at Norwich Airport after bird strikeStock photo, Norwich Airport: Rex

    A passenger plane made an emergency landing at Norwich Airport on Saturday after the aircraft struck a bird shortly after take-off.

    The 1pm BMI service to Aberdeen was carrying 19 passengers and three crew when a swallow flew into one of the engines.

    The captain decided to turn the plane straight around, and made a safe landing at 1.11pm - but not before an emergency plan, including police, ambulance and fire crews was put into action.

    Richard Pace, operations director at Norwich International Airport, told the Norwich Evening News: "The captain reported that the bird had gone down one of the engines and decided to come back as a precaution. At 1.11pm the aircraft landed safely, taxied as normal and the passengers disembarked safely.

    "We declared a full emergency and it activated an emergency plan which included the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk Constabulary and the East of England Ambulance Service. All my reports say everyone reacted in accordance with the plan.

    "Bird strikes are not common, but they are something we have to take account of. It is infrequent that an aircraft has to come back and make a forced landing. We have a robust bird control policy, using a multitude of tools to make sure the risk is kept to a minimum.

    "Clearly in this case, the captain felt a forced landing was in order."

    He added that passengers were delayed by about five-and-a-half hours before they eventually flew on another plane.

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    Downpours 'almost apocalyptic' for UK wildlife, says National TrustPA

    The deluge of rain hitting the UK over the last few months has been "almost apocalyptic" for some wildlife in 2012, according to the National Trust.

    The terrible weather conditions in Britain have left bees, bats, birds, butterflies and wildflowers struggling to survive.

    According to the BBC, the breeding season has been described as "catastrophic" with sea birds being blown off cliffs by strong winds, and garden birds unable to provide food for their chicks.

    The wet weather has devastated puffin colonies on the Farne Islands - managed by the National Trust - with 90 per cent of burrow on Brownsman Island lost, and around half of puffins drowning in floods on other islands.

    Thanks to the downpours, many bats have not been able to fund enough insects to feed their pups.

    Th only things that are thriving in this weather are slugs and snails, while midges and mosquitos are breeding faster in puddles left by rain.

    According to the Telegraph, Matthew Oates, the National Trust's conservation adviser, said the UK desperately needs a sunshine boost - not just to help wildlife but to boost tourism during the Olympics.

    "He said: This is turning out to be an almost apocalyptic summer for most of our much-loved wildlife - birds, butterflies, bees.

    "So much so that the prospects for many of these in 2013 are bleak.

    "Our wildlife desperately needs some sustained sunshine, particularly beneficial insects.

    "Surely the Olympic three weeks will generate a wonderful heatwave - because we will all be glued to our TV sets?"

    Mr Oates even warned the wet weather could lead to local extinctions of rare or isolated species, including butterflies.

    According to the BBC, he added: "Insects have also been in decline after two years of poor weather, and a better summer next year is important to rebuild populations.

    "We desperately need the sun on our backs."

    However, the weather forecast is rather bleak, predicting unsettled conditions for the rest of the month.

    Time to make a great escape? Try one of these top beach destinations for 2012:

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    Forest fire raging near major Tenerife tourist parkAFP/Getty

    A raging forest fire on the Spanish island of Tenerife came perilously close to the edge of a large tourist park on Monday.

    Around 50 villagers were evacuated after the fire broke out on Sunday, and the flames have since spread over 2,700 acres.

    Forest fire raging near major Tenerife tourist parkAFP/Getty

    According to the Telegraph, the blaze reached the edge of the Teide National Park, a famous beauty spot surrounding the Teide volcano - Spain's highest peak and a Unesco world heritage site.

    Holiday coaches and tourists' cars were evacuated from the grounds of the park as a precaution.

    The regional government of the Canary Islands said 70 firefighters and seven helicopters were currently battling the blaze.

    Forest fire raging near major Tenerife tourist parkAFP/Getty

    According to, Spain is at a higher risk of forest fires than ever this summer after suffering its driest winter in 70 years.

    At the beginning of this month, more than three thousand people had to be evacuated from one of Spain's most popular holiday areas as two forest fires wreaked havoc.

    Around 50,000 hectares of land around Valencia on the east coast were destroyed in a blaze that was labelled the worst forest fire in more than 20 years.

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