Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More Earthquakes

At 9.03 yesterday morning Italy was hit by yet another earthquake. It registered at 5.8 on the Richter scale, and the epicentre was near Modena in Emilia-Romagna, not far from the area that was affected by the earthquake on the 20th of May. The strongest aftershock was at 12.55pm, which was 5.3 on the Richter scale. So far at least 17 people have been confirmed dead, and 8,000 people have been made homeless; which add to the 6,000 who were evacuated following the previous earthquake.

No damage has been reported here in Milan, but working on the 7th floor we were scared. The first earthquake was the strongest I'd ever felt and I was left feeling very shaken all morning. But the worst thing was feeling such a strong earthquake and knowing that the epicentre would have been hit hard. At lunchtime I saw images of crumbled buildings on the news, people in the streets and in tents.

The country has come together to help the affected communities. Useful phone numbers and ways to help have been tweeted and retweeted on twitter, and also on Facebook people have been posting useful information. A number was activated yesterday afternoon to raise money for the areas hit, by sending a text to 44550 2 euro is donated to those in need.

Even though we're far enough away from the epicentre to be unharmed, we're still on edge. The aftershocks will continue for some time yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Snaps from Milan: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, more commonly known as just the Galleria, is a shopping arcade in the centre of Milan, running from Piazza Duomo to Piazza alla Scala. It's covered by a beautiful glass roof, and is one of the most popular attractions in the city. In the centre of the Galleria, underneath the glass dome, there's a design in the mosaic of a bull. It's from the city of Turin's coat of arms, and tradition dictates that if you spin around on its testicles (yes, really) on your right heel three times it'll bring good luck. The bull's easy to spot - look out for the massive dent in the floor!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eurovision 2012

I love Eurovision. In all its cheesyness and randomness it's always so much fun. So of course, last night I was at home watching the coverage on Rai 2. I have to say that the Italian coverage this year was a big improvement on last year. It was much closer to what I'd been used to in the UK; last year there were presenters and a mini-audience in a studio in Rome, but this year two presenters from Rai Radio 2 were commenting the evening's proceedings. At times they were a bit too chatty for my liking, talking over the interval act for example, but generally speaking they did a good job. It was amusing to hear how bitter and sarcastic they became as the night went on, they were obviously expecting a result similar to last year's. But they seemed to get it though, or at least more than Raffaela Carrà did last year; one of my highlights was their ironic comments about Jedward, how they wanted viewers to round up everyone they knew to witness the performance!

Nina Zilli did Italy proud, even though the country's disappointed at finishing ninth. I guess it's only natural to be disappointed after finishing second last year, but for me it's still a respectable result. Italy received some interesting votes from its neighbours to say the least, including a shocking seven points from San Marino! Nina gave a fantastic performance of L'amore è femmina (Out of Love), a bilingual version of her song that's been on the radio here for a few weeks, so it was very strange for me to hear her singing in English!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A sad weekend

To put it lightly it's been a difficult weekend for my adopted country. Two completely different events have rocked the country. During a lazy Saturday morning whilst I was still in my pyjamas I read on twitter that a bomb had exploded outside a school in Brindisi, Puglia (the heel of the boot). A 16 year old girl, Melissa Bassi, was killed. Her funeral was held today. Other pupils were injured, five are still in hospital with one in a critical condition. The blame was immediately placed on the pugliese mafia, but their responsibility is now being played down by police. CCTV cameras have caught the person who police believe to be responsible for the bombing, a 50-55 year old caucasian man who appears to be pointing a remote control to detonate the bomb which was left outside the school gates. It shook the entire country, and many demonstrations were held in schools and in piazzas up and down the peninsula to show solidariety with the people of Brindisi.

Sunday morning around 4am I, and most of northern Italy, was woken up by an earthquake. It was the strongest one I'd ever felt. Somehow I managed to get back to sleep, and it wasn't until I woke up again at 8 and turned on the radio that I heard about the damage that it had done. The epicentre was down near Modena, around 135 miles from Milan, and was 6.0 on the Richter scale. To put that in perspective, the earthquake that devastated Aquila in April 2009 was 6.3 on the Richter scale. I was shaken, but unhurt. But many areas around Modena and Bologna were hit hard. I saw shocking images on the tv of crumbled buildings and churches, people who had been evacuated from their homes, and the sad news of the victims. Seven people were killed, four of which were factory workers doing the night shift. The factory fell down around them. The government's expected to declare a state of emergency tomorrow, and aftershocks continue to affect the area. We even feel them up here in Milan.

I was almost glad to see Monday arrive, a new week which would end the horrific weekend Italy has experienced.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Yup, that's me with my drastic new hair colour.

I hadn't even been considering changing my hair colour for that long, I'd only seriously been thinking about it for a week. But once I got that idea in my head there was no turning back! I'd like to point out that I hadn't been planning on getting such a shocking colour, but when it got suggested to me I decided to trust the hairdresser and go for it.

And no, I'm definitely not used to it yet. I keep giving myself a fright every time I see my reflection!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nerys vs ATM

For those who have never been to Milan, ATM (which stands for Azienda Trasporti Milanesi) is the company that runs public transport in Milan. And in true Italian style public transport here isn't the most reliable.

Take last night for example. After going out for an aperitivo I decided to take the tram home instead of the metro. When I go out I almost always take the metro home, purely because normally where I go I can't get a tram straight home. And after a couple of drinks the logistics of figuring out where to change trams is just too much effort. Last night the metro stop was closer to the bar, but by taking the tram it meant that the stop I'd get off at would be much nearer to home, and I'd spare a 15-odd minute walk down streets that aren't exactly well-lit (and past prostitutes to boot...). It was only around 10pm, definitely not late by Italian standards, but I decided that walking that extra bit of distance down a busy main street - Corso Buenos Aires to be precise - was better than walking home through my neighbourhood. So off I went to the tram stop.

I started regretting making my decision when I looked at the timetable. I'd missed one tram by about six minutes and had nearly a quarter of an hour to wait until the next one. Still better than walking home from the metro stop I thought, so I got my iPod out and waited.

Then at one point during the journey everyone got off. I was still listening to my iPod and was completely oblivious to what was going on around me. I'd taken that tram countless amounts of times and knew the route like the back of my hand, so it seemed strange to me that everyone would get off at that stop. When I was the last person left on the tram I heard the driver ask me over my music.

"Where do you have to go?"
I said to the end of the line.
"Eh, it's not going there. You'll have to get off and get a bus."

I was too tired and slightly worse for wear to bother asking why. It was one of those situations where I decided that I'd be better off just accepting my fate, and I knew that even if I did ask for an explanation more than likely it wouldn't satisfy me. I got off the tram and made my way over to the pavement where all the other passengers were waiting. When another tram arrived for a different route the passengers also got off, and the driver helpfully pointed out that we were waiting in the wrong place for the replacement service, and pointed at the bus which was already waiting for us at the other side of the crossroads. So everyone from the two different trams trooped over, to the same bus. Luckily the two different tram routes are very similar from where we got thrown off, but the two capolinee (the ends of the respective lines) are about 15 minutes' walk from each other. Luckily for me it followed my tram home, and I got off at the same piazza that I would have done had the tram gone all the way to the end of the line.

For my own sanity I checked the ATM website this morning to see if there were any planned roadworks or anything that would have meant that the tram had to stop where it did. I follow a twitter account that gives updates from the website about changes in routes or schedules (amusingly it's not official, the official ATM account hasn't tweeted a word) so I was fairly sure I hadn't missed anything. No matter how much I looked I couldn't find any news that specifically mentioned my tram. So it remains a mystery. And it isn't the first time that something like this has happened to me at night either.

So the moral of the story is: don't take for granted that you'll get where you need to go when taking public transport in Milan.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Classic

There's a cover of this song doing the rounds, which made me think of the original. It's Figli delle stelle ('Children of the stars') by Alan Sorrenti from 1977. It's one of a small number of disco songs in the Italian language.

The cover is by Deproducers, four musicians who have formed the band with the aim of uniting music and science.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Song of The Week

Love love love this. It's Planet Funk's new single, which features Negramaro's Giuliano Sangiorgi on vocals. It's called Ora il mondo è perfetto ('now the world is perfect).