Thursday, December 24, 2015

Buon Natale!

Whoever came up with this is a genius.

After blogging about Via Conte Rosso's urban knitting yesterday, I reached the top of the street on my way to work this morning and was delighted to see santa hats perched on top of the poles on each side of the street! It was one of the most original Christmas decorations I've ever seen, and certainly the most funny! Bravi!

Buon Natale a tutti!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The yarn bombing war of east Milan

A few weeks ago in my neighbourhood of Lambrate, some poles on Via Conte Rosso were yarn bombed. Way way back in the day, this street was the centre of the old comune of Lambrate, before it became part of the city of Milan in the 1920s. It's been revigorated during the last couple of years, with lots of work being done to the street itself and new busineses opening (it's all gone a bit too hipster-ish for my tastes, but that's another discussion). There's a shop on the street called RedRoom which sells hand-made goods, and as I discovered recently they also hold 'urban-knitting' lessons, which teach people how to decorate urban landscapes with wool instead of graffiti. As part of these lessons, students yarn bombed some of the poles outside the shop, knitting colourful socks for them. It provided some cheerful decorations during grey winter days.

However, the local police weren't a fan of it. About 10 days ago they arrived in the neighbourhood and cut the socks off the poles, to the disappointment of many residents. According to the polizia locale the yarn bombing was against the highway code, specifically the rules against damaging road signage. I was disappointed too the morning I walked down the road to get to work, and saw that the colourful socks were gone. I had no idea what had happened until an article about them being removed showed up in the online Milanese edition of national newspaper La Repubblica!

But... the yarn bombers haven't given up! New socks have appeared on of the street, a little way further up from the shop, outside a little park. Now it just remains to see how long they will survive over the Christmas holiday!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Classic

Cosa farai ('What will you do') by Pupo is from 1980.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Word of The Week

il liquore - liqueur/spirit

Tis the season to eat, drink, and err... drink some more. Yesterday I got a big pre-Christmas supermarket shop delivered, and taking advantage of not having to haul the lot home, it included a ridiculous amount of liquori and alcolici which were on offer. This very sexy bottle of Baileys had a sconto of two euro, and it wouldn't be Christmas in my house with at least one bottle of some kind of Irish cream!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Lights

Milan's still feeling the Expo effect, and has put more effort than usual into this year's Christmas decorations. For the first time there are lights up in my neighbourhood - and my street!

The tree in Piazza Duomo is as majestic as always!

The Galleria has been done up beautifully. There's a very fancy Swarovski tree, and the glass dome is decorated with blue lights.

Via Dante's also looking pretty.

I loved these Santa hat lights!

Over near Garibaldi train station, the multilingual Christmas tree is back in Piazza Gae Aulenti. The white lights spell out 'Merry Christmas' or a similar message in several different languages (Someone needs to explain the 'best wishes' in English, though.)

Nearby Corso Como has these very beautiful and very big stars.

Corso Garibaldi has butterflies.

The photo doesn't do it justice, but Via Sarpi (the heart of Milan's Chinatown) has a canopy made of lights over the street, the effect is beautiful.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Song of The Week

I heard an interview with Giusy Ferreri on the radio a couple of days ago. I was surprised to hear that she had a greatest hits album out, as she only took part in X Factor in 2008! One of the three new songs on the album is her current single Volevo te ('I wanted you').

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


I was at Spontini near Duomo having an early lunch on Saturday before going to the cinema when I realised - hold up, I love this pizza so much but I haven't actually blogged about it??

Spontini was founded in 1953 and is a Milanese institution. The first pizzeria was opened in Via Spontini (10 points for originality though) when the Tuscan Banti family decided to start selling pizza al trancio - pizza slices. Their version of pizza was (and still is) the pizza alta - literally 'high pizza', with a thick base - and using only a few ingredients.

Over the years seven pizzerie have opened in Milan, and even though two have opened in Japan (!), there are only three in Italy which exist outside of Spontini's city of origin. The variety of food on offer is basic, with three different types of pizza on offer - margherita, mediterranea (with anchovies and capers, and without mozzarella), and prosciutto (ham).There also three pizza & drink combinations, my go-to is il menĂ¹ tre (menu no.3) which gives me a beer to drink (can't have pizza without beer now, can we?). The prices do vary slightly from pizzeria to pizzeria though - a slice of Margherita costs around 3.50 euro a slice, with the exact price depending on the location, and my pizza & beer combo costs 6 euro in the pizzeria near Duomo.

There's no hanging around at Spontini though! At meal times there's always a long queue, and I try to go at more off-peak times when there's less of a rush. It's popular with locals of all ages (I've seen ladies of a certain age in fur coats enjoying the pizza) as well as tourists. Not all of the pizzerie have seats, the two near Duomo have high tables and you eat standing up. So it's not the place to go for a relaxing meal, but it's perfect if you want to grab something quick on the go.

So how is this pizza? It's the stuff of dreams. One of the absolute best pizzas I've ever eaten. Lots of melted mozzarella, delicious tomato sauce, a thick base which never dry, and is crispy at the bottom. Simple but oh so delicious. Just thinking about it now's making my mouth water!

The Milanese pizzerie are in:
Via Gaspare Spontini, near Corso Buenos Aires (M1/M2 Loreto, M1 Lima)
Via Santa Radegonda, near Duomo (M1/M3)
Via Dogana, also near Duomo
Viale Papiniano (M2 S, Agostino)
Via Marghera (M1 Wagner)
Via Cenisio (M5 Cenisio)
Piazza V Giornate (Tram 9,12, 23, 27. Bus 60, 73)
Piazza Duca d'Aosta (M2/M3 Centrale)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Classic

I was surprised that I hadn't featured this song before, as it's one of my favourites by Lucio Dalla. Attenti al lupo ('beware of the wolf') was in the Italian Top 10 in November and December 1990, and stayed there until the following March.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Word of The Week

la perlina - pearl

I love making my own jewellery, and have done since I was a teenager. I never make anything very complicated though, mostly elastic bracelets made with tiny little seed beads, which may not require a lot of skill but do require a lot of patience! Even though I'm up to my eyeballs in perline in my house I couldn't resist these pretty perline di vetro (glass beads) in Tiger this morning (I love me some Tiger!). I'm looking forward to making some creations with them!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Song of The Week

The first time I heard this song on the radio the presenter introduced it - to translate loosely from colloquial Italian - as a very energetic song. It's Negramaro's new single, Il posto dei Santi.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sunday Classic

Fifty years ago in 1965 Adriano Celentano was at No.1 in Italy with La festa (The Party).

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Word of The Week

La torta - cake

These definitely aren't what comes to mind when you think of an Italian torta! The massive Artigiano in Fiera Christmas fair started today in Rho (near the Expo site) and I got these beauties from the cupcake stand in the British part of the fair, which much to my joy was back for a second year. With an extra pavilion this year, many of the areas and countries represented had more room - including Britain! There was a new fudge stand (amazing), two craft beer stands, and an 'afternoon tea' stand where I bought a mince pie - I hadn't had one for years! Very happy!