Monday, August 18, 2014

A cornfield in Milan

In the night between July 29th and 30th a cornfield showed up in the centre of Milan.

It's all to do with the Expo that's being held in the city next year, the theme of which is 'Feeding the planet, energy for life.' For the whole of August over 1500 corn plants are going to be living in the now pedestrianised Piazza Castello, inbetween the two new Expo Gate buildings.

The installation goes by the name of Quantomais and it reminds me of a maze, with the plants over 2 metres tall, but here the intention isn't to get lost. There are also other plants such as beautiful sunflowers living amongst the corn. It's quite a strange sight to see!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Classic

Now this is a song you just can't avoid getting to know when you live in Italy. It's Gloria by Umberto Tozzi, and on this day in 1979 it was No.2 in Italy.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The little (and not so little) things a Welsh expat in Italy misses

I was watching a British show when at one point two of the characters sat down to have one of those bowls of cappuccino you get back in the Old Country. I had a flashback of all the huge cappuccinos and big slabs of cake (mmmm chocolate fudge cake) I'd had in various different coffee shops over the years, and I started thinking of all the things I used to take for granted before I moved to Italy nearly six years ago. Maybe being on holiday (even though it hasn't even been 24 hours yet) makes me nostalgic? I put together a list of the first 25 things that came to my mind that every so often I think about, and miss.

1. Being able to walk into a shop and buy medicine off the shelf, and without paying a fortune for it. I used to swear by Tesco's 45p extra strength paracetamol, and pay about 10 times that now.

2. Supermarkets where you can buy everything. Yes, ipermercati exist here, but the Tesco in my hometown is huge.

3. And whilst I'm on the subject of supermarkets, 24 hour supermarkets and ones that are open every day of the year except Christmas.

4. Clothes shops that have better variety, sizes, and prices.

5. Buying ridiculous amounts of clothes at Primark. £10 jeans!! Sigh.

6. Always finding something to watch on tv at any time of day, even if you've just got Freeview.

7. Fish & chips. Battered sausage & chips. Pie & chips. Chips & curry sauce. Chippies in general.

8. 6pm being an acceptable time to have supper.

9. Pick & mix sweets. Especially toffee bonbons.

10. Dairy Milk and all its delicious varieties.

11. Salt & vinegar crisps. All the different crisp flavours (ok, not cheese & onion), but especially salt & vinegar. My weakness.

12. The Chinese restaurant my family has been going to for nearly all my life, and its amazing sweet & sour pork.

13. Going to the beach on sunny, breezy days. Not when it's 35+ degrees.

14. Knowing who the random 'celebrities' on TV are.

15. Proper spreadable butter. Having toast with proper spreadable butter and strawberry jam for breakfast.

16. Ribena. Lucozade. Orange squash.

17. One word for 'hello' and 'bye', and not having to have endless discussions in my head over which varient to use at any given time.

18. Being able to sleep with a duvet all year round. (Even though this year hasn't been far off with the rubbish summer Italy's had.)

19. Reliable post.

20. Chicken soup. The ultimate comfort food.

21. Pot Noodle. (Sorry not sorry)

22. Cider. Especially on a warm summer's day.

23. No random dialect words that I can't understand.

24. Humour I can understand.

25. And there's a pretty big one to end on: being anonymous in a crowd.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chiuso per ferie

Oh, I've wanted to write that for so long.

I'm now officially on holiday for the next two weeks, the first time I've had a holiday in August since before I moved to Italy so this is HUGE.

August in Italy means that the whole country pretty much closes down. If you've ever visited any major Italian city during August you probably would have lost count of the Chiuso per ferie signs on shop fronts. They've shut up shop and gone on holiday. And in most cases it's nearly for the entire month - if not a whole four weeks!

These are just the ones I saw on my short walk from work tonight, down streets that resembled a zombie film more than a bustling European city.

I was shocked that this tabaccheria was open for as long as it was!

Whoever came up with these 80s-tastic signs must have made themselves a fortune.

Yup, we haven't understood that you're going on holiday so you're going to have to draw that for us.

Oh yes, even pharmacies ladies and gentlemen! There's no escape!

Re-opening Saturday 30th August

Now that's cheating, I can't tell how long you've been closed for.

Opening Monday afternoon 01/09

And the late arriver award goes to...

And I have to smugly add that some of these businesses re-open whilst I'll still be sunning myself on the beach! The joy!!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Word of The Week

scaricare - to download

That's me trying desperately to take a photo of my beloved Kindle without the reflection of my camera and failing miserably.

A lot of words in Italian for technology, such as file, computer, and mouse (all three are masculine, by the way) have been directly borrowed from the English, but there are a few that the Italians have come up with themselves. Scaricare before the invention of the interwebz exclusively meant 'to unload'; and dropping the 's', caricare meant 'to load' whereas it now also means 'to upload'. Yesterday ho scaricato (I downloaded) three new books onto my Kindle - none of which are Italian I must admit, but my brain deserves to work a little bit less hard over the summer, right??