Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The 'humid' bin

There is now a grand total of five bins in my little studio flat.

Up until yesterday there were four I divided my rubbish into for the recycling - paper, pastic, glass, and everything else. Yesterday we got a delivery of new bins to my building, for the umido - which might literally translate to 'humid' or 'damp' - but it's for organic waste. The umido collection is far from a new thing in Italy, but it's currently being introduced to my area of Milan - with deliveries of little brown plastic bins for each flat and big shared bins for each building. Inside each little bin there were some leaflets explaining what exactly we should put in the umido bin - for example fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds, and meat and fish leftovers - and a free packet of biodegradable binbags. Now I've just got to find some space to put the new bin!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Weekend in Florence

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5.30am. I was off to Florence to celebrate my 5 year anniversary in Italy!

I caught a very early train with Italo, a new train company which is Trenitalia's only national competitor. For the journey down to Florence I'd decided to pay four Euro more for a seat in Prima classe. There are three classes, Smart (where I was on the way home as the price difference for the return journey was too much), Prima, and Club. The four euro extra got me a snack - orange juice and some tasty biscuits - a free newspaper, and so much legroom that my 5ft nought frame could practically lie down in the seat! And two hours later I was at Firenze Santa Maria Novella station, where it was time for a much needed cappuccino!

I dropped my case off at the left luggage on platform 16 (it's 5 euro for five hours) and off I went to explore!

I wanted my first stop to be Ponte Vecchio, so I worked my way down on foot from the station - mostly following the tourists! All the shops on the bridge are amazing, all jewellery, there was sparkling gold everywhere. Naturally the bridge was packed with mostly tourists, from all over the world. After crossing the river I stopped at Gelateria Santà Trinità (Piazza de' Frescobaldi, 11-12r) which had been recommended to me, and I wasn't let down! The dark chocolate was the most deliciously intense one I'd ever had. Not long after I'd sat down with my cone the gelatieria was invaded by a group of students and their guide!

After a lunch of a delicious slice of pizza back at the train station I went to check in to my hotel (Vasari Palace, Via Bernardo Cennini 11) which was a stone's throw away. I found a framed quote from Dante's Commedia in the lounge area and a unique touch upstairs - all the doors had paintings on them!

After a much-needed rest (I had been up since 5.30) I had a look around a nearby market and then onto Piazza del Duomo. It was just as amazing as it had been when I first saw it over 7 years ago. There I had a Chianti sorbet, no, really. It was as amazing as it sounds!

I must admit that my favourite thing about staying in hotels is the breakfast. And the morning after I refuled in style. A croissant, a piece of crostata, a bread roll with butter and jam, biscuits, a yogurt... On leaving the hotel I found the streets quieter than the previous day, it were as if Florence was still half-asleep... I stopped off in Caffè Sabatino (Via Faenza, 68r) for a second coffee after having had a lovely merenda (afternoon snack) there the day before. Lunch was a cheeky gelato - the best pistacchio ice cream I'd ever had!

After a couple of hours wandering around the streets near the river Arno I was peckish again. By chance I found a sandwich shop, Pane & Toscana (Borgo Albizi 31R). The menu outside caught my eye, a list of panini which included some named after areas and towns in Tuscany.

After following my feet I found myself back in Piazza del Duomo soaking up the atmosphere. It's fascinating tourist watching, and I was happy enough to rest my feet for a while and watch the world go by. The only problem was the Lindt shop which was calling my name...

During my weekend I'd read about the Piglet on Tripadvisor, which isn't actually a pig, but a wild boar. It's a fountain, and the legend is that rubbing its snout brings good luck - and putting money in its mouth even more! I couldn't resist!

Too soon it was time to go back to the hotel to pick my case up and go to the station to catch my train up to Milan. My exhausted phone was very happy to find electrical sockets at Casa Italo! My last meal was a McDonalds supper (I know...) sat in a slightly random green area by platform 16...

So to sum up my weekend in one of Italy's most beautiful cities, I walked a lot, ate a lot, and walked some more! And it was an amazing way to celebrate five years in Italy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happy Fifth Italianniversary to me!

Five years ago I packed my worldly possessions in a case and my battered old school backpack and boarded a plane from Bristol to Milan Malpensa. The original plan was to stay in Italy for a year or two to improve my language, and then return back to the UK to find a serious graduate job. But that never happened. The more time I stayed here the more I didn't want to leave, but I never imagined when I got on that plane that five years down the line I'd still be living in this crazy country.

And to celebrate my fifth Italianniversary, here is a list of 25 things I've learned during my time here so far!

If you're blonde, you're pretty. I've lost count of the amount of times I've been called 'bella bionda'.

Post Office workers are some of the rudest people you'll ever meet.

And if Dante were alive today one of his gironi would be an actual Post Office. Seriously.

People read books EVERYWHERE

The Italians don't know my country exists.

Never rely on the trains. Especially not on them being on time. Always have a backup plan.

Venice is quite possibly the most bonkers place on earth. And also one of the most beautiful.

Italian TV is full of people arguing or cooking. And sometimes doing both at the same time.

There are also half-naked women everywhere on TV for no apparent reason. And recently also half-naked men. (Bring them back Striscia!!)

Italians never end a phonecall with a simple ciao, it's always ciao ciaociaociao ciaociao ciao.

Milan's vintage trams are awesome.

Beware of cold drafts. They practically has the ability to kill you.

Italians are extremely supersitious.

The number 17 is the traditional unlucky number, not 13.

Italian cats have seven lives, not nine.

The fax is still very much alive and kicking.

Cake is a perfectly acceptable breakfast, especially if you're an old school mamma.

Italian clothes are tiny.

Real spreadable butter is like gold dust.

Electronic goods are so much more expensive here.

There's graffiti everywhere.

Swearing is generally much more accepted than in the UK. Blasphemy however is an absolute nono.

A lot of children go to school on Saturday. (Poor things)

Ferragosto is basically Christmas in August.

A lot of different dishes are eaten at Christmas, but everyone eats the same thing on New Year's Eve - lentils and cotecchino.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Classic

I'm amazed I haven't featured this song yet, as it's one of the most well-known Italian songs of all time. It's L'italiano by Toto Cutugno from 1983. The video's of a Sanremo performance of the song, where Toto finished fifth that year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Word of The Week

Leggere - to read (verb)

Last week I bought a shiny new Kindle Fire HD. The nerdy bookworm in me was a bit reluctant to give up physical libri, but after much thinking about it the reduced price of this particular Kindle helped me make my mind up. And now we're inseparable. Between the odd game of Candy Crush (Curse you level 125!!) I've been downloading and reading classic Italian novels, such as texts my friends studied at school.

And here's the language geek note of the week: the past participle of leggere - which is letto - is the exact same word as the Italian for bed!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Classic

This week's Sunday Classic is from 35 years ago, Ti avrò by Adriano Celentano.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Word of The Week

L'arancia - orange (noun)

I've still been feeling a bit sniffly this week after my raffredore last week so I've been upping my dosage of vitamin C. I don't actually like eating oranges, but instead I use them to make a spremuta - orange juice - every morning. And it seems to be working!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Song of The Week

Here's a gorgeous slice of summer to brighten up these grey summer days. It's comes courtesy of Kings of Convenience member Erlend Øye, and is called La prima estate (The first summer).