Monday, April 29, 2013

Still no Spring

Yo Italy, do you remember Spring? Yes, Spring, you know? The only really nice season of the year? The one after grey season, and before the ridonkulously hot one?

I guess not, eh?

Today's the 29th of April and I actually had to get my winter coat out because it was so cold and rainy this morning. In the four and a half years that I've been here I haven't seen such a bad Spring. Normally this time of year - and the same goes for Summer - if it rains there's a short heavy shower, and then it clears up straightaway. Last night an epic thunderstorm of monsoon porportions showed up in Milan around 6pm and it stuck around for most of today. It stopped raining in the afternoon and this evening a very shy sun has put in an appearance, but if the forecast is to be believed it's not going to last. The weather app on my phone is showing rain for every single day of the next two weeks.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Surreal Sunday Morning

The last thing you expect to hear about on the news on a lazy Sunday morning is a shooting.

I was watching the new government being sworn in on La7. I've never been someone who's been really interested in politics, but since moving to Italy I've followed things more closely, especially since Berlusconi's resignation in November 2011. I was interested in learning more about the formation of the new government, and who the new ministers were. After a handful of ministers had been sworn in news arrived of a shooting outside Palazzo Chigi in Rome, where the prime minister's office is. To use news director Enrico Mentana's own words, the coverage became increasingly schizophrenic, with coverage of the ceremony continuing with an increasingly concerned Mentana describing what had been happening in Palazzo Chigi.

I turned over to Rai's 24 hour news channel and saw a pretty surreal scene - a split screen covering the events in Rome. On the left there were smiling ministers, chatting and shaking hands; the ceremony hadn't been interrupted. On the right there was chaos, with police and ambulances arriving at the scene of the shooting.

Two Carabinieri, Giuseppe Giangrande and Francesco Negri, and a so-far unnamed pregnant passer-by, had been injured. Eventually the shooter was named as 46 year old Luigi Preiti, originally from the Calabria region in southern Italy, separated and unemployed. Media were also quick to point out that he had some sort of mental illness, but that he didn't have any previous criminal convictions. He seems to have acted alone, and doesn't have any links to terrorism or organised crime.

Many photos and images of the injured Carabinieri circulated quickly online, and were broadcast on TV, a move that was naturally criticised by many. Both are said to be in a stable condition, but Sergeant Giangrande has more serious injuries. Not much is known about the female's condition, but it seems that she's out of danger. I wish all three of them a full and speedy recovery.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Word of The Week

Do you recognise this famous ponte?

Il ponte - bridge

Thursday was a bank holiday in Italy. April 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate the the liberation of Italy from Nazi occupation and the end of Fascist rule. It was on the 25th of April 1945 that the cities of Milan and Turin were liberated, and the national holiday was established in 1946. This year April 25th fell on a Thursday, and many Italians took advantage of this to do what's called the ponte, by making a bridge from the bank holiday to the weekend by having Friday off as well, giving them a four day weekend.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snaps From Milan: Castello Sforzesco

Not many people connect Milan with a castle, but it's one of the most popular sights in the city.

The original construction dates back to the 14th century, but the castle takes its' name from the Sforza family. It was Francesco Sforza who started reconstructing it in 1450 and made it his residence. Over the years the castle has been rebuilt several times, and in the 15th and 16th centuries it was one of the biggest citadels in Europe. After World War II the castle was reconstructed, and today it houses museums and exhibitions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Nerys's Guide to Italian Music: Negramaro

Negramaro are from the Salento area in south-eastern Puglia, right down in the heel of Italy. Their name is taken from negroamaro, a red wine grape variety native to Salento. The band is made up of six members, Giulio Sangiorgi (voice, guitar, piano), Emanuele Spedicato (guitar), Ermanno Carlà (bass), Danilo Tasco (drums), Andrea Mariano (piano and keyboard), and Andrea De Rocco (sampler). This year they are celebrating ten years since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2003.

Mainstream success started to arrive in 2004 with the release of their second album, 000577, but it wasn't until 2005 and the title track from their third album Mentre tutto scorre that they broke into the single charts. It was also the song the band took to that year's Sanremo festival, which won them the Premio della Critica Radio & TV (The radio & TV critics' prize). The album also reached number 3 on the album charts and sold over 600.000 copies.

During my Erasmus year from 2005-2006 three of the band's songs were being played on the radio, Estate, Solo 3 min. and Nuvole e lenzuola. It was Nuvole and lenzuola that was the biggest hit of the three at the time, reaching number 10 in the singles chart, and staying in the Top 40 for 16 weeks.

The summer after their next single Parlami d'amore was everywhere, after having been released at the end of May. It peaked at number 2 in the charts and was one of the summer's biggest hits.

Negramaro's highest charting single is 2008's Meraviglioso, a cover of Domenico Modugno's 1968 song. Their version reached number one, after they had performed it during their concert at San Siro stadium in Milan on the 31st of May of that year.

Recently their biggest hit has been Ti è mai successo which was released in September 2012. It was the first single taken from their greatest hits collection, Una storia semplice.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Classic

Number One in Italy 50 years ago in 1963 was Come te non c'è nessuno by Rita Pavone.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Word of The Week

Il temporale - thunderstorm

This is the forecast for the next few days in Milan. Lovely eh?? This week we've had plenty of sole (sun) and temperatures in the low 20s, but when Friday evening came around a temporale decided to show up... And it's been raining ever since!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Song of The Week

Il bisogno di te is the new single from Roman singer-songwriter Daniele Silvestri. It's one of the two songs he he performed at this year's Sanremo festival, but for reasons unknown to me it got knocked out of the festival on the first night.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Classic

Cuccurucucù is another one of my favourite songs by Franco Battiato. It's taken from his 1981 album La voce del padrone, which was the first Italian album to sell over a million copies.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Word of The Week

Il cielo - sky

It looks like Spring has finally sprung in Milan! The cielo's a beautiful shade of azzurro today, with only a few fluffy clouds. And the warmer temperatures mean I can finally put my winter coat away! Yay!

Saturday Morning in Piazza del Duomo

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Song of The Week

Alle anime perse is Tre allegri ragazzi morti's new single. The band was formed in 1994 in Pordenone in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in north-eastern Italy, and their name translates as 'Three happy dead boys'.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Classic

I'd like to thank my friend Dadà for reminding me of this song. It's Maledetta primavera by Roman singer, actress, and TV presenter Loretta Goggi. It's her most well-known song, and was an entry in the 1981 edition of the Sanremo festival, where it came second. As with many other parts of Europe, the primavera (or Spring) has been very slow in arriving this year in Italy...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Word of The Week

Lo smalto (per unghie) - Nail varnish

I'm not someone who wears smalto very often, purely because I'm too lazy to sit there and patiently put it on. These two were birthday presents, so I feel obliged to use them! The definite article for the word smalto is lo. In most cases the masculine definite article is il (l' is used before a vowel), but for words that start with certain letters, lo is used for ease of pronounciation. The 's+ consonant' combination at the beginning of the word is one of these, another example of this is the 'sh' sound in champagne, or sci.