Saturday, June 27, 2015

Word of The Week

la marmellata - jam

Don't be fooled! Marmalade is very British, the vast majority of the time in Italy marmellata refers to jam. Every so often I go through a phase of craving random foods, in the past it's been tuna, orange juice, chips... Over the last couple of weeks it's been burro (butter) and marmellata - how very British of me. When I had my allergic reaction to more (blackberries) last year, the doctor advised me not to eat more fragole (strawberries) or lamponi (raspberries), and I'm playing it extra safe - no more delicious strawberry jam. Sob. I've settled on albicocche (apricots) which is a popular flavour in Italy, if you ask to have a croissant (or brioche as it's called in my part of Italy) alla marmellata in a bar, you'll be given a croissant with apricot filling.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Yes, that's my fridge.

I've been ranting and raving about the trouble of getting from Italy to Wales for years, but at the beginning of the month Cardiff airport finally started a route to Milan! For the first time in all the years I've been here there's now a direct flight. For now Flybe only have one flight a week to Milan Malpensa which will increase to three in the autumn.

The new route was announced a couple of weeks after I'd booked my last trip back to Wales, but as Flybe started operating from Cardiff on the 1st of June I wouldn't have been able to have my outbound flight with them, but I would have very much appreciated a direct return flight!

Previously the only way to get to Italy from Cardiff was via Amsterdam Schiphol, and I really would not recommend it to anyone. Apart from how I got stranded there for a day on my way back to Italy in March, the checks are excessive and time-wasting (I've just come off a plane, ran to the gate, and I now have to get my bag and everything scanned again to get back on the same airline?), it's always such a race to get from one gate to another, and there are always always problems. On my flight back at the beginning of the month we got told just as we were about to board that there were technical problems with the plane and that they had to find another one, which wouldn't be easy. I saw red. After my experience in March I got so angry I could've strangled someone (so much for curling up in a ball and crying that time). So if you wanted to avoid all that (and I really really did), you had to cross the border to go to an English airport.

When I moved to Italy in 2008 I flew from Bristol to Milan Malpensa, a route that now no longer exists. Ryanair only do summer flights to Milan Bergamo from Bristol three times a week, so that's no good any other time of year. For nearly the whole almost-seven-years I've been living in Milan I've had to fly to Heathrow. I've tried a few different options, Lufthansa (before they too scrapped that route), BA (until they threatened to go on strike at Christmas), but over the last few years it was Alitalia's Milan Linate-Heathrow. From Heathrow it's then around a five hour journey to get back to my mam's house, and we sometimes broke the journey up into two days as it got so late. Door to door would take around 10 hours on a good day. All this obviously didn't just make things difficult for me, but also anyone coming to visit me, and it put many off.

It's been almost 10 years since I first flew to Italy, for my Erasmus year, and even then I had to fly from Bristol. The rest of the year was spent connecting at Amsterdam, who managed to keep my luggage an extra day once. Oh, the fun I've had over the years. The idea of a direct flight seems like a luxury, and it will cut my travel time by about half. Hopefully this will also mean that more Welsh people will come and visit Italy, and hopefully my friends who have been saying for years that they want to visit my home country but have been put off by the complicated travel will take advantage of it!

Sunday Classic

25 years ago in 1990 (argh!) Gianna Nannini and Edoardo Bennato were at No.1 in Italy with Un'estate italiana (an Italian summer), which was the official song of the Italia 90 world cup.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Word of The Week

Il concerto - concert

Even with all the concerti I've been to over the years my photo skills are sadly lacking.

Wednesday evening Mika played in Milan, at Fabrique - where I'd been back in February for Radio Deejay's birthday party. It was the first proper concert in Italy since 2012, and he put on quite a show. With his success as an X Factor judge the average age of the audience had lowered by about 10 years, and I was really worried at the beginning that I'd be squashed by screaming teenage girls. But luckily I had some of my friends behind me, and we avoided most of the overenthusiastic adolescenti. And it was great seeing friends from all over Italy and beyond, it had been such a long time since I'd seen everyone.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Classic

Luna is from the summer of 1980, by Gianni Togni. It was the fourth-highest selling single in Italy that year.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

365 Days of Happy - Days 301 to 330

Yes, as always I'm behind, but the internets don't reach hilly West Wales!

Day 301: It was wine Wednesday again!

Day 302: I was packing my flowery dresses for my trip to Rome.

Day 303: A cheeky Friday treat.

Day 304: On my way to Rome!

Day 305: A visit to Laura and Rudy at Deejay's Roman studios.

Day 306: A beautiful morning at the Vatican.

Day 307: New Converse!

Day 308: Very happy to see my stella di Natale sprouting new leaves!

Day 309: Tasty radler beer.

Day 310: Relaxing in my pyjamas with a book.

Day 311: Some very special ice cream!

Day 312: Shiny new bedsheets.

Day 313: I was reading Stephen King's fantastic The Stand.

Day 314: A brand new book that was out that day.

Day 315: A new necklace.

Day 316: And a pretty new top.

Day 317: A nice cuppa in the office.

Day 318: Lunch with friends in Florence.

Day 319: Taking part in the Deejay Ten with friends in our own way...

Day 320: A crafty Monday night beer.

Day 321: A very un-Italian supper.

Day 322: Wine Wednesday again!

Day 323: A presentation by author Luca Bianchini for his new book, Dimmi che credi al destino.

Day 324: Relaxing on a Friday night.

Day 325: Eurovision!

Day 326: Spritz o'clock during a long weekend!

Day 327: A beautiful sunny morning in Piazza Duomo.

Day 328: Very decadent salame al cioccolato!

Day 329: Pre-flight second breakfast at Linate.

Day 330: A very tasty coffee and teacake back in my hometown.

Observations on a week in Wales

I've been back in a very hot Milan for a couple of days, the 30-odd degrees are quite a shock after my week back in Wales where the temperature didn't get any higher than 15 degrees! I was back for my brother's wedding, and with my aversion to all things wedding my usual blog where I recount my time back in the Old Country wouldn't have made for interesting writing or reading. However during my time there I started to make a list of differences I noted between Italy and the UK, things that before moving here didn't occur to me as maybe being a bit strange, or little things that have changed since I moved here. And here's what I put together!

How light the mornings and evenings are. It's something that didn't even cross my mind before, but I especially noticed how light it was even late in the evening. It was strange going to bed some nights with daylight outside!

All the adverts trying to get people to spend money they don't actually have. And all the adverts for those payday loan companies. And all the adverts for personal injury lawyers...

The bad weather. Actually, bad doesn't even come close. 11 degrees during the daytime in June??

The obsession with counting calories and displaying nutritional content of food, but it doesn't seem to be having any effect!

Italian food British style. A new arrival in Tesco was a piada, which is more commonly known at least in my neck of the woods as piadina.

Selfies. Selfies everywhere. And how vain the younger generations have become.

Smalles packs or portions of fatty/sugary foods. Walkers crisps in the 99p shop in my hometown have shrunk to four packs, and elsewhere they were five.

The variety of TV shows. I watched a fascinating BBC documentary about the ancient city below Rome. Even though it's an Italian city you'd never get anything like that here.

The free wifi everywhere!

Women on TV who were actually intelligent and had something useful to say, and wore appropriate clothing.

The sales assistants in shops. You might not greet them on entering the shop like you do here, but they'll quite happily chat with you at the till about anything and everything.

Politicians who seem to actually want to improve things (well, with the EU referendum that's debatable...), and not just argue with each other.

Brits walk around hotel rooms barefoot. Italians will bring flip flops or slippers. But then again, British hotels have carpet... 

Oh, and the price of coffee!!