Monday, June 27, 2011

My over-used Italian Words Part 2

Recently I've noticed that the amount of filler words I've been using in Italian has increased substantially. The thing is with words like that in a foreign language, things you only use in informal spoken language, is that you've picked them up from someone or somewhere; they're not words you learn during lessons, or in my case at university. But most of the time, I can't pinpoint where I've heard them! The words I've found myself using the most recently are:

Tipo - literally 'type', but the equivalent in informal language would be 'like'. "Ho dormito tipo due ore" = 'I slept for like two hours".

Anche - also. But is used for emphasis, such as in "Ma anche no!" literally "But also no!".

Decisamente - not strictly a filler word; it can be translated into 'definitely', 'greately' or 'positively' amongst other things. "Oggi fa decisamente piĆ¹ caldo" could be translated as 'Today it's definitely hotter'.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Song of The Week

After last year's Due di Picche project with singer Neffa, rapper J.Ax is back with new solo stuff. His new single is called Domenica da coma:

Can I just disgree with what he says about nobody being on the radio on Sunday though??

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why am I still here?

The more time I spend in Italy the more often people seem to ask me the big question - why am I still here?

It's not something I find easy to answer though, especially as many Italians I know can't understand why I'm still here after nearly two years and eight months. I'll say it straight away, Italy isn't an easy country to live in, not even for Italians, and especially not for foreigners. The bureaucracy is unbelievable; I consider myself very lucky to be an EU citizen as it saved me so much stress. But things such as getting residency require so many documents and so much time, I felt exhausted afterwards! Then there's the politics. It saddens me so much that Italy's the laughing stock of much of the world. Not that Italy doesn't actually deserve to be laughed at after certain events that have happened recently... The extreme right-wing Lega Nord are part of the government (for you Brits, imagine what it'd be like if the BNP was part of a coalition government... Scary thought, right?), and during the recent administrative elections in Milan the right-wing used a lot of racist and scare tactics in their attempt to win votes from the Milanese.

But Italy's just like any other country - in Europe at least - there's the bad, but there's also the good. I feel very lucky to consider Milan as my home. Only yesterday I got asked by a tourist (I could only narrow the accent down to being Eastern European and no further) where I was from after he'd asked me to take a photo. "I'm British, but I live here." I replied proudly. And I am proud to live here. It's a country of breathtaking landscapes, beautiful cities full of history and traditions, and a welcoming people. The pace of life here's more relaxed and less stressful. And of course, you can't beat the food!

To me it isn't necessarily about where you were born or grew up, or not even where you fit in. Being blonde haired and blue-eyed people here know I'm not Italian before I've even opened my mouth. And as much as that can annoy me at times, I know being foreign and 'different' has made me a stronger person. It also gives me the excuse to be a little bit eccentric! It's given me much more confidence too. I'm happy here, and to me that's what counts. And that's how I usually answer the question - I'm still here because I'm happy here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Song of The Week

After a break of nearly a year and a half Giorgia is back. This is her new single, Il mio giorno migliore, which was released last Friday:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nerys's Guide to Italian Music - Caparezza

Caparezza is the alter ego of Puglian rapper Michele Salvemini. Michele started off his career as rapper Mikimix, but didn't have much success. He then transfored into Caparezza (which means 'Curly Hair' in his native dialect of Molfetta), growing his hair and beard long, and his first album as Caparezza, ?!, was released in 2000. He has since released four albums, including this year's critically acclaimed Il sogno eretico. The first single from the album was a Song of the Week for me, Goodbye Malinconia which features Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley.

One of his most well-known singles is 2004's Fuori dal tunnel:

I remember La mia parte intollerante being played on the radio in 2006, it also features singer Gennaro Cosmo Parlato:

Vieni a ballare in Puglia, is an example of something Caparezza does so well - treating serious subjects in what initially would seem a light-hearted song. The song actually deals with a subject which is all too often heard in the news, death in the workplace. In the song the word ballare - 'to dance' - actually has the meaning of morire - 'to die'.

His latest single is another one which has been a single of the week for me, Chi se ne frega della musica (which can be translated as 'Who cares about music'). Even though it's absolutely not to be taken seriously - only in Italy eh?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Milan Fashion - Summer

Although it seems more like monsoon season in Milan than summer, I decided to drag myself out of bed early this morning so I could go in search of some summer clothes. It never seems to be easy to find enough clothes to last me the summer though, and I can never figure out why. However there genuinely isn't as much choice here when it comes to affordable sandals - or any kind of shoes all year round in general I've found. But I did manage to find some things this morning, so it's a start at least!

Three vest tops from Pimkie on offer for 9.95 euro, 3 for the price of 2. Happy Nerys!

Pretty gold sandals from H&M for a barganious 9.95 euro!

And a pretty pair of shoes, also from H&M for 19.95.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to survive in Milan in the Summer

The weather's not being summery at all today, there's thunder rumbling in the distance and ominous black clouds overhead... But with it now being June it's supposed to be warm, sunny, and starting to feel humid in Milan. I've decided to put a list together my top five tips I have for people who might be coming to Milan this summer, or are looking forward to their first Milanese summer. They might be obvious, but I think they're worth repeating. These tips go for Italy in general too, but I've focused on Milan in the hope of putting together more specific advice.

1. Stay out of the sun

Obvious, no? There's siesta time in Italy for a reason. Early afternoon during summer the heat and humidity get unbearable. Try to arrange indoor activities if you want to be out and about at this time of day, such as going to the Museo del Novecento (Museum of the 20th Century, in Piazza Duomo), or the Triennale Design Museum (Viale Alemagna, 6, near Parco Sempione amd Cadorna train station). If you have to stay outside, aim for the shade.

2. Keep hydrated

Another obvious one, but it's something that can be neglected if you're sightseeing. Buy 500ml water bottles from the supermarket to save money on buying them from bars and street vendors, and when they get empty fill them up from one of the water fountains dotted around Milan. There's one in Piazza Duomo for example, it's dark green and next to the side of the church, the water's perfectly drinkable.

3. Sali minerali

Or in English: mineral salts. My first summer here I was prescribed supplements as I have low blood pressure, as I discovered from a visit to the doctor. And I swear by them. I highly recommend them if you have low blood pressure or suffer the heat, they replace minerals (specifically potassium and magnesium) lost through sweating. You can buy them in pharmacies (and some supermarkets), some of the best known brands are Polase, Sustenium and Mg K vis. They're not very cheap though, the last packet of Polase I bought was 20.50 euro for 30 packets, but they do the trick. Good replacements are Energade or Gatorade, or failing that, orangeade for the sugar.

4. Food

Try to eat light meals during the day. Eating a heavy meal such as pasta and pizza will cause blood to be diverted to your digestive system as it requires a lot of energy to break down the food, making it easier for you to feel light-headed. For snacks gelato is great, and so is a granita - a slush. In bars, gelaterie and food stalls you will find various flavours.

5. Stock up on mosquito repellent

Those pesky mozzies get everywhere, there's no escape. Before going out, especially at night, cover yourself in repellent. During the night if you have to leave any windows open I'd recommend that you use a plug-in or mosquito coil (you can find plenty of products in any supermarket) as I've found them to be much more effective. I use a plug-in myself and have rarely had any problems with mosquitos in my flat.

I hope I haven't put anyone off coming here??

Friday, June 3, 2011

Song of The Week

Yes, I know, I've neglected my blog recently. Again. But I'm back, with quite possibly the best Italian song I've heard this year. It's by the Milanese Casino Royale, and their latest single, Io e la mia ombra (Me and my shadow) is a bit different from their normal stuff. For me, it's the perfect song for lazy summer days. There doesn't seem to be an official video yet, but here's one I found on the tubo: