Saturday, August 31, 2013

Word of The Week

la fine - the end

The last day of August has finally arrived. It's been a trying month, as August usually is, and after putting a fine to a couple of other things on a personal level I'm glad to see the back of it. This weekend the last of the Italians who went away for the month are coming back to the city, and from Monday life will be getting back to normal. And it's about time!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Summer 'Torments': The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It's coming to the end of Summer which means having to decide on this year's tormentone dell'estate, or the song of the summer. Tormentone literally translates to torment, but it doesn't necessarily only have negative connotations. For example, two of the biggest English language tormentoni this summer have been Get lucky and Blurred Lines. Italy loves them. Me, after about the 1000th time of hearing each of them on the radio, not so much. Here are three songs which may not necessarily be some of the biggest songs of the summer, but will remind me of these hot summer months in years to come.

Good: Levante - Alfonso

My absolute favourite Italian song of the summer. It reminds me of a sunny Sunday in Turin at the end of June, singing along to it with my friend Monica. I loved it from the first time that I heard it, partly because of the line che vita di merda in the song - 'what a shit life'!

Bad: Serebro - Mi Mi Mi

There is nothing good about three women singing about how sexy they are, especially if it's in a language that isn't their first. Their first single was called Mama Lover. No, really. I think it should've translated to mummy's boy or something like that. Plus, it always reminds me of this.

Ugly: Claudia & Asu - Zalele

Every summer at least one awful foreign song reaches the shores of Italy. It's like an unwritten rule. The last couple of years it had been the Brazilians' fault (see here, and here), but this year the Romanians decided that they wanted a piece of the fun. It's not like I've got anything against foreign songs, Brazilian Maria Gadu's 
Shimbalaiê which was doing the rounds in Italy in 2011 is one of my favourite summer songs of all time. But for these awful ones after a summer of being played to death on the radio, it's like once September comes around it's like someone pulls out a Men In Black neuralyzer pen and destroys any memory of these songs. Strange that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Classic

As much as I wish it were, Summer isn't quite over yet. So here's another Summer classic, from 1992. It's Mare mare (Bologna-Riccione) [mare is the sea, and Riccione is a popular seaside town on the Adriatic coast] by bolognese singer-songwriter Luca Carboni.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Word of The Week

Il piccione - pigeon

I don't have much love for these rats with wings, but piccione is one of my all-time favourite Italian words. It's just so much fun to say! Every lunchtime over the last few days I've seen a group of piccioni congregating under a couple of trees near a supermarket. I'm not even convinced they gather there for the shade, as there are much bigger and shadier trees nearby. And there's never any sign of food being left for them at any time of day. If you ask me they're definitely plotting something...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Closed for Summer

Closed for holidays. Three weeks is pretty tame compared to some.

I'll admit it, I've got some major abandonment issues right now.

Even in a big, international, world-famous city like Milan, everything shuts down here over summer. Go into the city centre and yes, a lot of things will be operating as normal, but there are hardly any Italians at all around. They've all scarpered off to the beach or the mountains, or got on a plane and flown off to somewhere hot and sunny. August is the month that Italy closes for its precious holidays. There's a massive religious holiday here on the 15th, known in Italian as Ferragosto. It's almost bigger than Christmas. On the 15th of August the Catholic church celebrates the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Italians use it as an excuse to barbeque everything they can get their hands on and eat themselves silly.

My neighbourhood is absolutely deserted. This is my fifth year in Italy and it still freaks me out. There's barely any traffic and even less pedestrians. I can't even remember the last time I saw anyone around in my apartment building. Seriously.

I live in the eastern suburbs of Milan, and in the three years I've been living in my flat I haven't seen much of a change in the holiday habits of the shopowners in my neighbourhood. The pastry shop in the piazza that makes the most gorgeous pasticcini is always closed for the month, so is the trattoria next door to me (yay no drunkards!). In my neck of the woods, away from the touristy areas of the city centre, it's mostly the international shops that stay open, run by immigrants. The internet cafè, the butchers that sells halal meat, and the awesome little grocery shop run by a Chinese family. Luckily the supermarkets are also open all month, one was open even until lunch on Ferragosto! So there's no risk of me going hungry.

I always feel very excluded and left out in August. Everyone I know here's away on holiday, posting photos of the beach or the mountains on Instagram whilst I'm stuck sweating away in the city. The TV's full of repeats and the major national radios have set up camp in seaside resorts (No, really. They get to work at the beach for a month.), so even at home I'm constantly reminded that everyone's away. I try to see the positive side of it, a quieter, more relaxing Milan, but it just makes me feel very lonely.

The countdown to September is on.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Classic

Here's another classic from Summers gone by, Giuni Russo's Un'estate al mare (A Summer at the sea) from 1982.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Word of The Week

Sandali - sandals

With temperatures in Milan hitting over 30 degrees every day during August sandali are obviously the way to go. These are the comfiest ones I've bought this year, when I went back to the Old Country in July. Interestingly the word for shoes in general, scarpe, is feminine; wheras some specific types of shoes such as heels (commonly known as tacchi) and sandali are masculine.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Classic

I can't think of a more appropriate song for a summer in the city than Mina's Città vuota. The song title translates to 'empty city/town', which is exactly what Milan has become for August.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Word of The Week

Il tonno - tuna

No really, tuna. I've got a bit of a tonno obsession at the moment, I can't stop eating it. Raw, cooked, in sandwiches mixed with sweetcorn, with pasta, with rice and vegetables... I also found what I've been told is one of the best canned tuna brands on offer at half price at one of my local supermarkets (not the one in the photo, FYI), its normal selling price is over 9 euro! That made me much happier than it probably should have done...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Classic

Here's another classic of Italian summers past. It's Sapore di sale by Gino Paoli from 1963.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Word of The Week

La birra - beer

What's better in the summer than an ice-cold birra? One of the bottlecaps is from my favourite Italian beer, Sardinia's Ichnusa. The design with the quattro mori is from Sardinia's flag. I don't know about the rest of Europe but this summer a new kind of beer has arrived on the supermarket shelves in Italy, one of them being Beck's Green Lemon. It's beer-lemonade mix, which is also made by other breweries such as Dreher, and it's delicious. It has a lower alcohol content (around 2%) and is perfect for the hot summer days we experience here.