Friday, December 31, 2010

Una canzone al giorno - L'ultima settimana!

It's the last day of 2010 and this's the last batch of songs I've listened to this year!


883 - Gli anni
Laura Pausini - Ascolta il tuo cuore
Club Dogo - Il mio mondo, le mie regole
Apres la classe - Vorrei sapere perchè
Tre allegri ragazzi morti - Puoi dirlo a tutti
Perturbazione - Del nostro tempo rubato

Every day of this year I've listened to an Italian song that I'd never heard before, and I think I've learnt a lot about Italian music by doing it. I'm very glad that I managed to stick to my mission of 2010!

I know I've already said it, but buon anno a tutti!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Favourite Italian Songs of 2010 - No. 5-1

Here's the second part of the list of my favourite Italian songs of 2010!


5. Fabri Fibra - VIP in trip





4. Cesare Cremonini feat. Jovanotti - Mondo





3. Irene Grandi - Alle porte del sogno





2. Perturbazione feat. Dente - Buongiorno buonafortuna





1. Jovanotti - Tutto l'amore che ho





Buon Anno a tutti!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Favourite Italian Songs of 2010 - No. 10-6

Partly because of my mission of listening to one Italian song a day that I hadn't down before, and partly because of the ridiculous amount of time I spend listening to the radio every day, my blog seems to have become quite music-orientated over the last year. And sort of in-keeping with that theme, I decided to put together a top 10 of my favourite Italian songs that were released this year. Here's the first half of my list, from numbers 10-6.


10. Max Gazze' - A cuore scalzo





9. Negramaro - Sing-hiozzo





8. Flaminio Maphia - Quelli che





7 .Crookers feat Fabri Fibra & Dargen D'Amico - Festa festa





6. Elisa - Anche se non trovi le parole


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bloccata

Blocked. Stuck.

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I haven't been able to make it home for Christmas. My flight did actually leave this afternoon, but getting that flight wouldn't have been much good as I would've wound up stuck in London. I'd arranged to phone my mam last night and the second she answered the phone I knew it wasn't good news. She'd been stuck at home for days, the M4 was a nightmare, and there were a lot of problems on the trains. Getting back from London, back home in the middle of the country, would be pretty much impossible.

So, as difficult as a decision it was, we decided to leave it.

It'll be my first Christmas in Italy, the first one away from home. Last year I made it home by the skin of my teeth, and the year before I went home too. I went food shopping for Christmas dinner today, and came back with lots of goodies. I'm not much of a cook, but I'm looking forward to making myself a big Christmas dinner.

I'll be sending my Christmas presents in the post, and there's a parcel on its way for me too. I'm planning to go back home in February - when the snow's all gone hopefully!!

Oh, and I made it on-air on Radio Deejay last night again - always seems to happen when I'm feeling sorry for myself!! - and I make an appearance at 26:50 http://www.deejay.it/dj/radio/programma/reloaded/35/2010-12-21/Solo-Tre-Minuti?idProgramma=166. Nothing like a good sob story at Christmas eh??

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Song of the Week

Actually, never mind song of the week, this is the Italian song of the YEAR! And the rest of Italy loves it too, it's No.1 in the singles chart! Jovanotti's back with a fantastic new single, Tutto l'amore che ho, and I can't get enough of it!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Una Canzone al Giorno - Settimana 49

Yes, I know I'm late this week!


Perturbazione - Se mi scrivi
Tre allegri ragazzi morti - La faccia della luna
Meg - Distante
Elisa - Una poesia anche per te

Tiromancino - Un altro mare
Après La Classe - Libero liberi libera
Fabri Fibra ft. Diego Mancino - Idee stupide


A Christmas Card...

I'm not going to write about today's political events because I'm already fed up of it all! Instead here's something bello!


It's the Christmas card I got from my mam in the post - even though I'm going home for Christmas, she still wanted to send me one, nice eh?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Milan at Christmas



Christmas 'Fiere' in Milan

 Part of the Fiera degli Obej Obej within Sempione park

On Sunday I did a full-on raid of Milan's two Christmas 'fiere', or markets - Well, ok, one of them isn't really a market, it's more of an exhibition.... First I trekked over to Rho, another 'comune' to the west of Milan, to go to the Artigiano in Fiera, and then in the afternoon I went to the Fiera degli Obej Obej in Milan city centre.

The Artigiano in Fiera is held every year at the beginning of December at the exhibition centre in Rho, and this year it runs from the 4th-12th of December. It features exhibitors from all over the world, with the halls ('padiglioni') divided into exhibitors from the various regions of Italy, Europe, and the rest of the world. You'll see a bit of everything there, from jewellery, clothes, ornaments; to even stands selling furniture, heaters and staircases! And of course, there's a lot of food from everywhere - meat, cheese, desserts, chocolates, sweets... I was wandering around one of the Europe halls when I my belly started rumbling, and I decided to head back to the Germany/Austria area to get some lunch, I didn't fancy a lot (though I was tempted by the idea of a Currywurst I saw at one of the food stands!) so I got an apple brezen - very nice! I didn't spend very long there, the crowds were a bit overwhelming, and early afternoon I got back onto the metro and headed back into Milan.

... and hit the Fiera degli Obej Obej. This is the traditional Christmas market of Milan, and this year it's held on part of Foro Buonaparte (which was partly closed off to traffic) in front of the Sforzesco Castle, and also within the Sempione park. The Obej Obej market's held around the date of Milan's patron saint, Sant Ambrogio, which falls on the 7th of December; and this year it runs from the 4th-8th of December.

The market's named after an expression in dialect that Milanese children said when visiting the first ever market which was held - 'Obej! Obej!' (also written 'oh bej oh obej' and 'oh bei oh bei') means 'O belli! O belli!". The roots of the current market can be traced back to 1510 when a papal envoy visited the city and gave gifts to the children, which are then said to have reacted to the presents by saying 'obej! obej!'.

There are over 400 stalls at this year's market, and you'll find all sorts of great ideas for Christmas gifts, retro decorations for the house, treats for pets, and toys - and nice things to eat of course!

The Artigiano in Fiera can be reached on the MM1 (red) line, direction Rho Fiera (so don't get on the Bisceglie train!), and you can buy a return ticket for the duration of the Fiera that costs 4 euro to/from any station within Milan's city limits, for a journey of a duration of max 105 minutes. Just follow the crowds as you leave the metro stop! Entrance is free. http://www.artigianoinfiera.it/eng/visit_home.php (English)

The Fiera degli Obej Obej is on part of Foro Buonaparte and within Parco Sempione, also going off some of the streets around the park. The nearest metro stops are Cairoli on the MM1 (red) line and Cadorna on the MM2 (green) line.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snaps from Milan - Inside a tram



Here's a photo I took on the no. 33 tram earlier today, which was unusually completely empty - except for me obviously!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas is coming...

The big ol' Christmas tree is back in Piazza Duomo!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nerys vs The Trattoria Next Door - Inter vs Twente

Considering Inter won what was an important game for them after a run of losses and with it qualified for the quarter finals (I don't want anyone thinking I don't like football, I do! I'm not a mad fan of it or anything, it's more of a curiosity in a strange way...) I would've expected the fans watching the game at The Trattoria Nex Door to be much more noisy than they were. I heard some chatter at half time, but nothing extremely noisy, and it pretty much got drowned out by my radio as I had my headphones in. I didn't hear anything at all after the final whistle!

Final score: Inter 1 - 0 Twente
Rowdyness score: 2
Sleepyness score: 0

Song of the Week

This is Sing-hiozzo, the first single from Negramaro's new album Casa 69. The song title's a bit of a play on words - il singhiozzo is the Italian for hiccup.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nerys vs The Trattoria Next Door - Auxerre vs Milan

I've got a feeling this will become a bit of a running feature.....

Ok, so a bit of background before we get started. My condiminio is next door to a pretty popular trattoria in my area, which always seems to show the football. And it can get very noisy out in the street after games and during half time. Which can be pretty annoying for me during the week as I have to get up early in the morning to go to work. I've always been someone who needs a lot of sleep, ideally 9-10 hours a night for me is perfect. And often when the football's on midweek I'm tucked up in bed only to be woken up by some rowdy tifosi...

And Milan fans, for some reason, seem to be the noisiest casinisti of the lot. Last night I got woken up by a pair of Milan fans after their victory in the Champions League, singing and chanting very loudly out in the street. Very amusing, I think not.....

Funny thing is where I lived before I heard the Inter fans much more, but around where I live now seems to be more Milan territory...

Final score: Auxerre 0 - 2 Milan
Rowdyness score: 8
Sleepyness score: 7

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Amazon hits Italy!

Happy Welshie!!

I read a few days ago on La Repubblica's XL mag's Twitter that Amazon was planning to launch an Italian site, and I thought it'd be a while until it was up and running. But today from the same Twitter account I discovered that it had been launched - perfect timing for Christmas!

Italy doesn't do online shopping in such a big way as the UK, for example you'll have a bit of a hard time if you want to buy something from Italian, and even international clothes shops online. But seeing as Italians seem to be a bit wary about using credit/debit cards (there was even a publicity campaign recently trying to encourage people to use their cards more!), it's not much of a surprise.

For me it mainly means saving on postage, and having the things I buy arrive quicker; but Amazon Italy also sells foreign language books, and from the look around the site that I've had, English language books are cheaper than they are in the shops in Milan. It doesn't yet have the full range of products that the UK site has (no clothes for example), but I'm hoping they'll branch out into that in the future.

I'm looking forward to my first order arriving in the post!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Song of the week

Here's the new song from a band I hadn't heard of until I heard this song for the first time a few weeks ago, it's Buongiorno buonafortuna by Perturbazione:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Posta!

I came home tonight to find a parcel addressed to me sitting on the letterboxes of my condominio.

The parcel contained a shoe box:


Which contained a rolled up pair of boots:


Posted to me by my mam after I'd told her I had my eye on a pair of grey boots at home after not finding any nice boots within my budget in Milan. Thanks mam!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Song of the Week

This is a song of the week with a bit of a difference, as the song's not actually in the Italian language, but the people behind it are Italian. It's Mr Brown for Haiti, a song which has been released in Italy for charity, more specifically all profits go to Fondazione Francesca Rava - N.P.H. Italia Onlus, to build a new orphanage for children who lost their parents in the earthquake.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Snaps from Milan - Arco della Pace

Arco della Pace (Ark of Peace) stands in Piazza Sempione, between Parco Sempione (when entering the park through the castle you'll see it ahead of you) and Corso Sempione. It's recently been restored after originally being completed in 1838.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

La spesa - The food shop


This is what nearly 30 euros worth of food can look like in Italy! It doesn't seem like much, but it took four carrier bags to carry everything home! This's the result of one of my 'big' shops, which I usually do once a month - big shops that always manage to be bigger than they should be!! I'm not much of a cook, so you won't find anything very interesting in my pile of food, I tend to make things that are quick or easy - or preferably both! - and this's pretty typical of what I eat; minus fruit as I'm pretty much stocked up at the moment, potatoes (I bought a 1.5 kg bag a few days ago, I love potatoes!), and cereal (I've currently got 3 boxes on the go and another unopened one!) oh, and coffee of course!

So, what have we got here? Well, you can see what I eat for breakfast (except for the coffee of course) - milk, biscuits (the light blue packet), and drinking yogurt. I've got a couple of sneaky treats, gelato and chocolate! The only meat I bought this time was mortadella, I don't eat much meat at all now that I'm living on my own. I've got a couple of sneaky treats, namely gelato and chocolate! There's some pasta (of course!) and sauce and grated cheese for supper. There's some wine, and a little dinky bottle of bellini - very nice! There's some Weetabix too, it's a bit expensive, but it's a little bit of home - and fantastic in the winter with hot milk!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy 2nd Italyversary to me!

On the 22nd of October I got on a plane from Bristol bound for Milan Malpensa, to start my adventure in Italy. At that point I always used to say that I would stay out in Italy for a year or two, even though I had no real idea of what I would do after that time had passed. Now I've reached the end of my first two years here, and I've got no intention of leaving Italy!

I'd just like to thank everyone I've met over the last year, especially those I've met in Italy who've always been so welcoming. I've lost count of the times both Italians and non- have mistaken me for an Italian over the last year (due to the amount of travelling I've done), and it's nice to know that people feel that I belong here.

And I'd also like to thank everyone who reads my blog, it's nice to know my ramblings entertain someone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autunno

Today the heating finally goes on!! There's actually a law which prohibits people turning the heating on before October 15th every year (and on April 15th it has to be switched off) - I could've done with it being switched on a good couple of weeks ago! It's got very cold recently; on Sunday I trekked to IKEA to buy a new duvet (the only duvets I have are back in Wales, it would've cost too much to get them sent out here), up until then I'd been surviving with a couple of sheets, brr! And this week I've been wearing a little coat every day, it's cold in the mornings now, though it doesn't seem to be too bad in the evenings yet. I'm looking forward to my flat being warm tonight!

Last weekend I started the mission of finding a new coat. Soon it'll be too cold to wear the little spring coat I wore in February, and my winter coat from last year is a good size too big for me now. I hit the shops of Corso Buenos Aires but unfortunately didn't find one I liked... So tomorrow I'll have a scout round the shops in the centre of town to see if I have any luck that way. And with the weather forecasting temperatures of around 15 degrees tomorrow I think I need to find a good coat quickly!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Song of the week

Here's Max Gazzé's new song, A cuore scalzo. When I first heard it I didn't recognise it as being him - even though it's more upbeat than their usual stuff, I thought it was Zero Assoluto!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day trips from Milan - Varenna

Varenna is one of my favourite places in Italy outside of Milan, It's one of the towns on Lake Como. It may sound funny, considering it's a tiny little place of only 859 inhabitants according to Wikipedia - so it's pretty much the complete opposite of Milan! And that's one of the reasons why I like it so much, the peace and calm of the place.



It takes just over an hour to get to Varenna on the train from Milan (no changes), and a single 2nd class ticket will cost you 5.10 euro. When you arrive walk down the hill to reach the lake, turn right and you will enter Varenna. Every time when I've got into Varenna there's been a few market stalls by the side of the lake as I walk into the town. There's a scenic path built around the side of the lake, above the water, that essentially takes you from one side of the town to the other.



There aren't many places to eat in Varenna, being so small. There are a few bars next to where the ferry stops not long after you've entered the town, and on the other side there are a few places to eat. There's also a gelateria with possibly the best seating arrangement I've ever seen in a place where you can eat - pillows scattered on stone steps next to the shop.



I love sitting by the side of the lake, soaking up the view - and the clean air! It's always so peaceful there. Even in the middle of summer, not many tourists seem to go there, though going on the train you do see a fair few people coming and going with cases and backpacks. I highly recommend it though, you only need a few hours to have a walk around the place, but for me it's an overlooked gem of the lake.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Una canzone al giorno - settimane 36, 37 & 38

And here's the second batch!

Gemelli Diversi - Tu Corri!
Jovanotti - Quando sarai lontana
J-Ax & Space One - Freedrink
Alex Britti - Prendere o lasciare
Velvet - Dovevo dirti molte cose
Fabrizio Moro - Libero
Inoki - Soltanto tu

Antonello Venditti - Mitico amore
Claudio Baglioni - Con tutto l'amore che posso
Elio e le Storie Tese - Tapparella
Sottotono - Mai più
Nesli - Slam
Huga Flame - Te l'avevo detto
Marco Masini - Voglio volare

Vasco Rossi - Siamo soli
Afterhours - Bye bye Bombay
Baustelle - Charlie fa surf
Divina - Molecole
Daniele Battaglia - Stai
Mario Venuti - L'officina del fantastico
883 - Ci sono anch'io

Una canzone al giorno - settimane 33, 34 & 35

Yes, I know, I've managed to get behind with blogging what I've been listening to over the last few weeks!! Here's the first of the two batches to get us up to date:

Baustelle - Un romantico a Milano
Tre allegri ragazzi morti - Occhi bassi
Afterhours - Riprendere Berlino
Tiromancino - L'alba di domani
Amalia Grè - Sogno
Antonello Venditti - Piove su Roma
La Scelta - Il nostro tempo

Elisa - Almeno tu nell'universo
Nina Zilli - Penelope
Negramaro - Scusa se non piango
99 Posse - L'anguilla
Frankie HI-NRG MC - Rap lamento 
C.S.I. - Allarme
Prozac+ - Prato

Caparezza - Ilaria condizionata
Tiromancino - I giorni migliori
Subsonica - Nuvole rapide
Zero Assoluto - Quello che mi davi tu
Bluvertigo - Autofraintendimento
Casino Royale - Sempre più vicino
2cento2 - Capire

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tu or Lei?

Italian has two different forms for ‘you’, the informal ‘tu’ and the formal ‘Lei’, and recently I’ve been observing the use of these two forms in spoken Italian in Milan. As a Welsh speaker I’ve always been used to having both a formal and informal ‘you’ in a language; and when speaking the language I’d never have to think about which form was the appropriate one to use in a particular situation - I just knew, I’d been brought up to know when to use which form. Italian, however, and especially in Milan, is not so clear cut!

To me, spoken language in Milan is surprisingly informal. Of course, in certain situations, for example when speaking to strangers in work environments, or older people when you first meet them, the Lei form will always be used. But I’ve been surprised at how much the ‘tu’ form is used on the street; for example, one woman in her 30s accidentally bumps into another woman of around the same age, and apologises by saying ‘scusa’, the informal ‘sorry’. And in some situations where I’d expect the ‘Lei’ form to be used, it isn’t. Today I had a washing machine delivered, and after an initial ‘Salve’ (a useful greeting, at least in Milan its’ formality lies somewhere between ‘Buongiorno’ and ‘Ciao’.) the two men instantly used the ‘tu’ form with me. I still find it difficult to judge when to use which form, it isn’t necessarily an indicator of how well you know someone, but from my experience I’ve found that the ‘tu’ form can be used to introduce a sense of equality and openness. Maybe being this young changes things too, I don’t look 24, and I think a lot of people use the ‘tu’ form because of my age. It’s something I’ll continue observing, and hopefully I’ll eventually crack the secret!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In diretta!

Anyone listening to Radio Deejay aroud 9.05pm last Wednesday would've heard a slightly shellshocked, nervous Welsh girl in Milan - namely me! It's taken me a week to get over the rather traumatic experience (!) and to blog about it! It wasn't a disaster, I was thrown on air unprepared (partly my fault), after sending a text to the presenters. After being in a festival in Switzerland in the rain, and camping in the cold, unsurprisingly I'd caught a cold. On Wednesday it was more like flu, I woke up with my muscles aching all over, my head spinning, a bad stomach and headache - there was no way I was going to work! So I decided to send a text to my favourite radio presenters, hoping they'd read it out and I'd get some sympathy (I may have a tiny little crush on the male presenter, and the temptation to send a text got the better of me...), but instead I got rang back by the assistant - asking if I wanted to go on air! How could I say no??

Unfortunately though, it didn't go to plan. At the last minute the assistant fed me a story, I had to pretend I was allergic to a plant (ragweed, ambrosia in Italian), hence my illness. And that was without the difficulty of trying to understand two slightly hyperactive Italian radio presenters who have a habit of speaking over each other, as well as speaking too quickly! It was an experience I could say - but not something I'll be planning on repeating any time soon!

My debut on national Italian radio can be heard here, I make an appearance at 53.20 I've been told - I can't bring myself to listen to it yet!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I tormentoni dell'estate

Italians LOVE their summer songs, and the big songs of each summer are called 'tormentoni' (literally: torments), they are the songs you hear everywhere wherever you go, and you can't escape from. For me, this summer's been a good one for Italian music, and here are some of the Italian 'tormentoni' from this summer:

Irene Grandi - Alle porte del sogno



Due di Picche - Faccia come il cuore





Cesare Cremonini feat. Jovanotti - Mondo





Not Italian in the purest sense as it's a new version of a song from 1957 by Renato Carosone... Yolanda Be Cool & D Cup - We No Speak Americano

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Il controesodo"

Also known as "il rientro", it's the Italians' return home after the holidays. I don't remember it starting so early last year, but last weekend was a "bollino nero" on the motorways of Italy, meaning that it was going to be a very very busy weekend for traffic. Milan's starting to wake up, even though a lot of shops around where I live are still closed, and won't be re-opening until the beginning of next week. I've been lucky that I haven't had any problems this summer with places being closed, luckily the supermarkets near me have been open, there's always been somewhere to have lunch, and I caught the hairdressers before they went away on their holidays.

I love Milan during August, it's so quiet! No traffic, no people, nothing. It's so much more relaxing, it's like a break from hectic city life without leaving the city! Yes, it was still strange to start off with, after that last weekend in July when so many people left the city, but it didn't take me long to get used to it. Now I wish it could stay this way - just without all the closed shops!!

My holidays aren't quite over, I'm leaving Milan for Switzerland tomorrow. First stop Zurich, then Saturday morning I'll be going to a festival on the German/Austrian border, in a little place called Arbon. And yes, the reason I'm going is to see Mika!! I'll be back in Milan on Sunday and then that'll officially be the end of my summer!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cibo!

It's funny how your eating habits can completely change in a different country... It's not just the availability of ethnic food, or not having certain things that you grew up with (oh chicken soup, how I miss you...), I've also started eating random things that I never used to want to eat when I was at home!
  • Lettuce
Last summer I was eyeing up the salads in a bar next to work, and one day I decided to go for it. I NEVER used to eat salad, in burgers I used to take the lettuce out even if it I'd have barely tasted it as was covered in sauce. I still don't like tomatoes, and just the smell of rocket makes me nauseous, but lettuce is all good (especially covered in aceto!!)

  • Olives
All the olives I'd ever tried outside Italy were too sour, not that I'd actually eaten a lot of them though I must admit - I'd figured out years ago that I didn't like them! I was wary of them when I first tried them here, but knowing that in general fruit and veg are nicer here, I decided to give them a go!

  • Dark chocolate
When it comes to Italian chocolate, their best, without a doubt, is dark chocolate. It's of a much better quality than anything I'd tried at home, and less bitter too. Baci (link), made with dark chocolate, are my favourite chocolates here! I've also grown to like white chocolate recently too.

  • Mayonnaise
This one I can't figure out for the life of me. I used to avoid mayonnaise at all costs at home, but here I'll gladly eat it! It only started a few weeks ago when I chose to have some mayonnaise with my chips and cotoletta (buonooooo!!), and today for lunch I had a panino with salame, mozarella and mayonnaise.

But this also seems to work in reverse - there are a few things that I ate during my first winter here that, for some reason, I no longer liked last winter. There's polenta, puré and kaki for a start... And the trouble with living on my own is the temptation to eat junk food - I really must learn how to cook properly!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Rain...

When it rains in Milan during the summer it rains. Proper full-blown thunderstorms that last for hours, in most cases it's worse than winter rain. It's rare that it rains during the day, most storms are during the evening or at night, so it's not very likely that you'll get caught out in a storm. I got woken up this morning around 5am by thunder, and I knew there wasn't much chance that the storm would calm down before I had to get up at 7.30. And I was right, when I left the house around 8.30 it was still raining heavily, but the thunder and lightning had stopped thankfully! But with a broken umbrella it wasn't much fun! I'd discovered at the beginning of last month, after taking my umbrella to a concert so I could get some shade from the sun, that it was broken, and I hadn't been able to find a new one. Finding umbrellas during spring and summer when it's not raining doesn't seem to be the easiest thing in Italy! When it is raining you can find street sellers in the underground stops and train stations selling umbrellas, but when it's not there are no umbrellas to be found! And this leaves me wondering, I may not have to go out in the rain again this month, but I've got another concert in 2 weeks and I need a brolly that isn't falling apart - when am I going to be able to find a much-needed new umbrella??

"Ciao bella!"

Apologies in advance if this turns out to be somewhat of a rant.....

The major disadvantage of being blonde in this country is not the stereotype of being stupid, but the unwanted attention that it attracts. Yes, to a degree I bring it on myself by dying my hair, but even before I started dying my hair blonde again my hair colour was still blonde for Italians. During a period of around 15 minutes during my lunch break yesterday not one, but two random men went "ciao bella" at me in the street. What amused me the most was that I had my big ol' sunglasses on - they pretty much cover half of my face, how can you tell if someone's bella if you can't see like half of their face?? Luckily for me I was listening to my iPod, so I could pretend that I hadn't heard the comments - definitely one of my tips when it comes to living in Milan, even if you're not listening to anything, put a pair of earphones in your ears! - and carried on walking.
The funny thing is, when I first came to Milan I used to get some unwanted attention, not much, but enough to keep me on my toes. And as soon as I had wised up to the game and the tricks that some blokes would pull, the attention stopped - completely during the daytime! It wasn't until recently that, for some reason, I started attracting unwanted comments again. I first started dying my hair again in February, but funnily enough the comments didn't re-start until pretty much when I'd finally reached my target weight of 50 kg nearly a month ago. Do one or two kilos really make that much difference??

It makes me feel uncomfortable. It hasn't caused any big problems yet, but I'm always worried that someone will turn nasty, you never know. It's just one of the things I have to put up with here, and unfortunately it's become more of a pain during the last few weeks. Hopefully in winter, all wrapped up in layers and layers of clothes I won't attract as much attention??

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Buone Vacanze!

The summer exodus has started, last weekend was the first BIG weekend for people going away on holiday in Italy. Milan - or my part of town at any rate! - has gone very empty very quickly! I was sure I remembered a more gradual process last year, maybe people's holiday habits are different in my new neighbourhood?? It was so much quieter over the weekend, less traffic, less people around. A lot of shops in my area have closed for the holidays, more will be following suit during this week or the beginning of next week. I've only done one full summer in Italy, and the idea of a big city like Milan being pretty much abandoned by the native population for a whole month is still a strange one to me! Last year I heard that around 500,000 Milanese were away at the height of the holiday season, so around a third of the population - but it felt like a lot more!! Soon practically the only people wandering around Piazza Duomo on the weekend will be tourists.....

... and me. I don't go away for another two weeks. I've already had a week off, but as three days involved travelling around Italy (Milan-Rome-the province of Udine-Milan in three days on the trot!!) to go to two Mika gigs, so it didn't feel like much of a holiday!! And the only reason I've got the week after Ferragosto off is for another concert..! It's Cattolica this time, in the province of Rimini, so it'll be nice to go down to the coast for a couple of days. No trip home for me this summer, luckily I'd actually decided to admit defeat before the news of the summer gigs were announced. The flights were too expensive, I'd have had to fly to London again, and I needed to save my money to move house. I'm hoping I'll be able to go home in Autumn, when the flights should be cheaper.

You don't even have to leave the house to notice that something's up. The voices I'm used to hearing on the radio have slowly been disappearing, leaving one by one to go on holiday. New shows have been popping up, and my favourite radio station (Radio Deejay) has become more and more automated. TV schedules have changed, my favourite soap's slot's got chopped back even more, and the news seems to have become obsessed with showing images of tanned Italians (mostly women, surprise surprise!!) on the beach. There's no escaping it...

At least it's not been too hot here recently, makes summer in the city a bit more bearable..!

Friday, July 23, 2010

21 Random Facts

Now that I've got a more time to dedicate to my blog after moving house, I think it's about time everyone got to know me a bit better! Here are 21 random facts about me that you may or may not know:

1. I was born on March 27th, 1986 - which makes me an (unlikely, in my opinion!) Aries
2. I've been on Welsh, Italian, and Austrian TV!
3. I was brought up in a Welsh speaking family
4. I have a (very) sweet tooth
5. ... but I drink my espresso without sugar!
5. My favourite colour's pink
6. I've been teaching myself German since January last year...
7. ... which meant I was very happy to be spending my birthday this year in Munich
8. I went to Italian evening classes when I was in 6th form
9. This year I've travelled to five different countries to see Mika (obsessed, me??)
10. Since moving to Italy I've lost around 20 kg (around 44 pounds)
11. My favourite spot in Milan is Piazza Duomo (how tourist-like of me!)
12. I was 19 when I first came to Italy, to study for a year
13. Amongst my most-disliked foods are rocket salad and tomatoes
14. My favourite British programme is Casualty
15. I need a lot of sleep, anything even less than 9 hours and I feel tired
16. I've been to New York
17. I was in Turin during the Winter Paralympic Games in 2006
18. I dye my hair blonde
19. If I had more spare time I'd learn Japanese
20. My favourite course in university was on Dante's Commedia
21. I can't drive - and have no intention of learning how to any time soon!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Speak Like a milanese

Before coming to Milan, the only other two regions in Italy I'd spent a significant amount of time in were the Marches and Tuscany. So with a good knowledge of Italian you can pick up the difference in language from region to region, and city to city. The accents are obviously different too, but here are some of my observations on how the Milanese speak:

The use of 'figo' - this slang word's heard outside Milan, but the first time I'd heard it being used was here in Milan -  and is it used!! It comes from a very coarse swear word, but in slang it's used to mean 'cool' or 'excellent'. A bar you love going to can be called 'a posto figo'. The opposite version also exists - sfiga is slang for 'bad luck', and a 'sfigato/a' is a loser or someone who is unlucky.

Use a bit of dialect - Like a lot of places in Italy, you don't hear many conversations in dialect anymore. But in Milan the odd word in dialect can be heard sprinkled in with standard Italian. Probably the most commonly used Milanese word is 'sciura', which means 'signora', but can have a more negative meaning.

The feminine pronoun - 'La' is always used in front of feminine names, so I become "the Nerys". To say you are going to Clara's party you would say, "vado alla festa della Clara"

Uè - a true Milanese greeting! In the street, on the phone, everywhere!


'C'avere' - I didn't realise this was considered Milanese until I found a genius group on Facebook called 'Questa è Milano'. I don't even realise I use the c in front of the verb 'avere' (to have) anymore, I guess it's just easier to pronounce than plain 'avere'!


And if you want to hear some hardcore Milanese in action, here's a song that 'prende in giro' the SUVs in Milan - the very broad 'u' in SUV's very Milanese!




    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Una canzone al giorno - settimana 26

    Buongiorno from a hot & sticky Milan!!

    Laura Pausini - La Mia Risposta
    Studio 3 - Sto quasi bene
    Afterhours - Bianca
    Marlene Kuntz - Serrande alzate
    I Cosi - Domani
    Rezophonic - Nell'acqua
    Nomadi - Io vagabondo


    I've got a busy week in front of me - I'm going to Rome on Tuesday and then up to Codroipo (UD) to see Mika (VERY excited!!!), and then (even though I'm worried about tempting fate!!) I'm moving to my new flat on Friday!!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Adverts from Italy 1

    Every so often a genius little advert comes along, and when it does, you can help but smile when it comes on! Here's Acqua Lete's current tv ad:

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Una canzone al giorno - settimana 24

    Buona domenica from a rainy Milan! Summer's officially gone into hiding!! It does mean one good thing though - being able to get a decent night's sleep!

    Nesli - Riot
    Club Dogo - Incubo italiano
    Sottotono - Tranquillo
    Marracash - Tutto questo
    Fabri Fibra - Bugiardo
    Inoki - Se mi vedi
    Frankie Hi-NRG MC - Falso d'autore

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Una canzone al giorno - settimana 23

    After yesterday's muggyness, it's a sunny and quite fresh morning in Milan!

    Litfiba - Vivere il mio tempo
    Piero Pelù - Io ci sarò
    Franco Battiato - Voglio vederti danzare
    Casinò Royale - Royale sound
    Articolo 31 - Pifferaio magico
    Neffa- Guerra e pace
    Gemelli Diversi- Vivi per un miracolo

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Twitter

    For those who follow me on Twitter I've got a shiny new account! I know the Mika spam and chatter on my original one can get a bit excessive at times, so I've created a new one for my blog - you can now follow me @welshieinitaly.

    And a weather update seeing as I'm here, the sun's gone into hiding today, but it's a humid 33 degrees! Apparently thunderstorms are on their way on Monday, I hope they're right, it's so humid already!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Playing Tourist with la Mamma

    It's been a busy few days for me, I'm glad today's a holiday in Italy! Thursday evening my mam arrived in Milan (after a rather epic Cardiff-Amsterdam-Milan journey) to spend a few days here. And it meant putting on my tourist hat for the long weekend!

    We spent a couple of days in Milan, seeing the usual sights, doing some shopping in the centre of Milan and on Corso Buenos Aires, and a couple of days at the lakes. On Saturday we went back to a place we first went to almost two years ago, when we stayed in Bergamo for a week, Varenna on Lake Como. It's only a little place, but it's very pretty. And it's so peaceful! So quiet, so calm - the complete opposite of Milan! And the air's so clean!! There's a gelateria down by the lake, next to one of the stone staircases which leads up to the upper part of the town, decorated with colourful pillows so people can sit down to eat their gelato. This time we recreated a photo that was taken of me on those stairs, eating an icecream, almost two years on and over two stone lighter!


    On Sunday we went to Desenzano del Garda. I'd actually never been to Lake Garda before (I know, I know...), but I was impressed by Desenzano. It was more like being at the seaside than a lake, not being able to see the other side of the lake helped! Even though it was Sunday almost everywhere was open, and the weather was lovely - even though we'd left a pretty miserable Milan behind! Amusingly I ordered my lunch off a German menu, it was nice being able to use it and hear it being spoken around me again. It's always fun confusing people with my multilingualism, me and my mam would speak Welsh together, I'd come out with a milanese-influenced Italian when she couldn't speak the language, and then we'd understand the English that was spoken to us perfectly. Some times people didn't know what was going on!

    A rather hazy Desenzano harbour - before the sun came out!

    Then on Tuesday morning she went back home, and I went back to my trying-to-act-like-a-native thing. Today's a holiday in Italy, very good timing for me - playing tourist's very tiring!!

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    My Milanese Pet Hates - Part 5

    Again, one that won't be limited to just Milan - The queues in Italian supermarkets...

    Italians don't get the concept of queuing like us Brits do. We may not be the most patient of people - but we more patient than the average Italian in a queue if you ask me! - we queue in order, people rarely get away with pushing in, and we don't normally have to queue for very long. Especially not in supermarkets. It doesn't matter what time of day it is or how many people are queuing, at my local supermarket there are never enough check-outs open. Look out for the vicious old sciure* too, creeping up RIGHT behind you!! Standing in a queue back into one of the aisles, hungry, is the last thing I want to do after a day in the office...

    *sciure is milanese for 'signore' (as in the plural form of 'signora', the singular form in milanese being 'sciura')

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    My Milanese Pet Hates - Part 4

    From the series: The Dangerous Life of a Pedestrian in Milan

    People who park their cars on pedestrian crossings.

    I would say that there must be a law against this, but being in Italy it doesn't make a blind bit of difference... Friday morning for example, at a crossing there were cars parked at both ends, meaning I had to weave even more to get to the other side of the road. I seem to be risking my life every morning just by walking to work, and it's really starting to wear a bit thin now...

    Una canzone al giorno - settimane 17, 18, 19

    I've had a busy couple of weekends (last weekend I was in Luxembourg, the weekend before in Nice) and unfortunately the blog's been neglected... Let's sort that out now!!

    Here are the songs I've been listening to over the last three weeks:


    Lorella Cuccarini - Sugar Sugar
    Heather Parisi - Ancora tu
    Raffaella Carrà - Ballo Ballo
    Mina - Non Credere
    Gianni Morandi - In Ginocchio da Te
    Massimo Ranieri - Perdere l'amore
    Bobby Solo - Una Lacrima Sul Viso

    Giuliano Palma & The Bluebeaters - Semplice
    Roy Paci & Aretuska feat Pau - Giramundo
    Meganoidi - Meganoidi
    Povia - Mia Sorella
    Il Genio - Tutto E' Come Sei Tu
    Tiromancino feat. Elisa & Meg - Nessuna certezza
    Gino Paoli - Senza fine

    Paolo Meneguzzi - Vero Falso
    Jovanotti - C'è Bisogno di te
    Gemelli Diversi - Cosa Vuoi
    Daniele Silvestri - Strade di Francia
    Max Gazzè - L'amore pensato
    Riccardo Sinigallia - Il Nostro Fragile Equilibrio
    Io,Carlo - Per Caso

    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    The Joy of Reading

    Every few days I see a funny sight on my walk to work, someone - a female more often than not - walking down the street with their head in a book or a newspaper. Italians do seem quite determined to read sometimes, whether it's walking whilst reading like I see, or reading in a packed metro/train/bus when their nose is squashed under someone's armpit! This morning I even saw a lady reading a newspaper as she was crossing the road! It was a proper crossing with lights & all, but still, you never know in this country sometimes!

    The impression that I'd always got from being here was that Italians loved to read, but for newspapers at least that's not the case - I was surprised to find out the other day (from newsfromitaly on Twitter, who read the story here) that only 1 in 10 Italians actually reads one every day! I wish I had some statistics for the novels that Italians read, but I can only go by the impression of living here.

    There do seem to be more bookshops here than the UK, and I love having a look through what's on offer here. There was this one bookshop in the centre of Urbino (I say was, it's probably still there now, seeing as Urbino's a university town, there's plenty of students there that need to buy books) that I loved - it was beneath street level, dug underneath the main piazza. To me it was how a bookshop should be, slightly dark, yet cosy at the same time, and it had this almost mysterious atmosphere, like you never quite knew what you might find. It had a good selection of discounted books, I could never tell if some were second hand or if they were just old. The copy of Dante's Inferno that I had for the course on the Commedia was one like that, it was a hardback copy from 1986 (the year I was born!), still had prices in Lira on it, and the price in euro was around 20 less than the original price. To me that book had more character than the new copies of Puragtorio and Paradiso I bought when I studied Dante again during the last year of my degree.

    In Milan my favourite bookshop is the complete opposite of that little one in Urbino, it's the big Montadori (a publishing house) on Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, in the centre of Milan. I could wander around there for hours, especially as they sell things other than books (CDs, DVDs, and stationary for example). And the selection of international books is great, I bought an English one a couple of weeks ago (Juliet, Naked by Nick Horby, if anyone's interested; fantastic book, I'd devoured it by Sunday evening!) and the German translation of a book I've got in English (it was a bit of an impulsive decision, but I decided that my German's now as good as my Italian was when I first started buying novels in Italian. Or thereabouts...). I was wondering around the shop for what felt like ages on Tuesday night, having a good old mooch around the CDs, books, and magazines.

    Thing is though, as much as I love reading, I don't think I could trust myself to be walking around Milan reading, I'm far too accident prone for that - and I think reading whilst crossing the road would be asking for trouble!!

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Quiz Time!

    Walking past a certain shop (I won't name what kind of shop as that'd be too big a clue!) at lunch I saw some new things on sale, labelled as "Maffi" (plural) - can anyone guess what these new things were?

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Only in Italy - adverts

    This's how a certain type of yogurt is advertised on Italian TV:



    And the tagline 'fate l'amore con il sapore'? - "make love with taste".

    It's. Yogurt.

    Sigh.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    Mika @ Mediolanum Forum, Assago (MI), April 21st 2010

    If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that the Welshie in Italy has an alter ego as a Mika fangurl who enjoys following him around Europe as much as she can! So far this year I've been to seen him in London, Munich and Vienna, and on Wednesday it was finally time for my home gig!! Ok, so Assago isn't Milan Milan, but compared to all the travelling I'd done for the other three, this was a breeze!! It was very amusing crossing Milan on the morning of the gig, I have quite a particular outfit I've been wearing on this tour - I'm head to toe in pink, with white tights/socks, a feather boa & feathery mask! I didn't wear the boa or mask until I got to the venue, but the looks on the faces of the commuters were hilarious!

    Yes, commuters. I got to the venue that early. You have to if you want to be in front row, and I was hell-bent of being right at the front for this concert!! I got to the Forum around 8.30, and was no.13 in the queue. We always have a numbered system, and every concert I've been to the system works fantastically. There was a bit of a scary moment on Wednesday though, the security types weren't having any of it, and sent us from our nice sheltered spot over to the main entrance around lunchtime. We were in the direct sun, it was awful. But eventually it got resolved, and we went back to where we were before, out of the sun, and in a single-line queue in numerical order. And we got to enter around 15 minutes before the un-numbered crowd.

    I was front row next to four of my friends! When we first entered the venue I couldn't believe how big it was!! And it was sold out! And then we heard and saw the rest of the audience arrived, and saw the massive venue slowly fill up!

    The view of the Forum from front row

    The support act was randomly a rapper, Nesli. I thought I'd only heard about him, but it turned out that I'd heard one of his songs, Non tornerò indietro, on the radio a few weeks ago. He didn't go down very well - the biggest cheer he got was when he said that he'd reached the last song!!
     Mika's entrance - suspended on wires!



    Mika always puts on an amazing show. This one was different to the last three I'd seen, and better too! The 'story' of the show starts off with him going into space, the first civilian to do so, but the rocket explodes, and he dies. It sounds quite strange for a concert doesn't it? It's one of the things I like so much about his music and shows, the darkness of it all that you don't always instantly pick up. So about half of the show was set in space, with a backdrop of a moon & stars, and planets painted with UV paints. The other half was set on earth, including one part in a graveyard; with fans who had volunteered to dress up as characters from his songs doing a funeral march across the stage. I'd volunteered in Munich, and it was an amazing experience to be on stage in front of so many people!!


    Part of the graveyard section of the show

    I had so much fun, by the end I had completely lost my voice and could barely stand anymore! It was made even better by being next to some of my friends. But it wasn't time to go home yet! We went on a mission to find where Mika would be leaving the venue - as we always do - so we could get autographs. Security, as usual, weren't giving us any clues, but eventually they organised us into a single line. Mika came out around 1.45 - yes, THAT late!! And signed autographs and chatted with everyone. I'm still not exactly sure how - possibly because I'd stepped in and done a bit of translation for a friend, but another friend did much more than I did - put he'd picked up that I spoke both English and Italian, and the first thing he said to me was that I spoke both English and Italian perfectly, and asked how come. Such a nice compliment, I was over the moon!!

    I eventually got home around 3.30, absolutely exhausted, but buzzing! The day after I was back in work, after only a couple of hours' decent sleep! Oh, and the next concert? Nice - a week today!!