Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Florence trends.

If you know me, you know I absolutely love, love, love fashion. So you can imagine how easy it is to drool over the shops here in Florence. Since I'm on a tight budget, all I can really do is window shop. It's also a great city to get inspiration, just by looking at the fashionable Italian women on the streets. They are so effortlessly well put together it just me? But why are most of them so damn gorgeous?

However....yes there's a however, there is ONE fashion trend I've been noticing here in the last week that I just can't seem to get over....

Yes, these are sneakers by Hogan. A luxury fashion designer who's outerwear I really admire, however I cannot stand the sight of these hideous things. It's really unfortunate because often, I see a beautiful model-like Italian woman in the street wearing such a beautiful outfit with the perfect accessories from head to...well ankle, I get to her footwear and I just cringe! And to make things worse, these eyesores go for a few hundred euro!

I know it's not just me. I know you're thinkin' what I'm thinkin'. These have a very disturbing resemblance to yes, the Sketchers Shape Ups. I'll let the picture speak for itself.

A presto tutti!


Monday, September 19, 2011

La Dolce Vita Series: Sweet nothings

My first day in Italia, I had this crazy craving for salty snack foods from back home. Pretty odd, since I was only in the country for probably 6 hours or so. I was so jet lagged that I took a long nap during the afternoon. When I woke up, I looked over at the pillow next to me and this is what I saw:

I immediately smiled to myself and thought, "I'm so happy to finally be here...". I know it sounds kind of corny, but if you're not in a long distance relationship, you can easily forget how to appreciate all the little things that happen in your relationship that can make you smile. These are the little things that I haven't yet had the chance to experience in my relationship with Emanuele since we were thousands of miles apart for two years. I really hope I continue to appreciate them.

To read other stories about la dolce vita, click the icon below.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Amalfi, Capri, Positano...oh my!

Ah, finally....internet! I'm sitting here in my new Florence apartment which I'll post about next....but for my friends & family back home, or any of you that have been following my journey, here's some photos of my trip to the Amalfi coast. It's quite long, but it's hard to condense when every single spot was gorgeous!

Four nights in Atrani, a tiny little town next to Amalfi. So close to Amalfi that all we had to do was walk up a few stairs, cross under a tunnel and voila! There was Amalfi. I was very pleased where we stayed because there weren't as many tourists (in fact I don't recall hearing any other language than Italian) and Atrani has so much character. Not to mention, the locals were very friendly. The beach was tiny, and super rocky (so if you have sensitive feet, beware), but the water was so refreshing and clear. To be honest, I have seen white sand beaches with turquoise waters in the Caribbean and Thailand, so it was a bit of an adjustment to the rocky beaches in the coast. Nevertheless, it was still a spectacular place to be. The restaurants were rustic and enjoyable. I even got to taste my first white wine loaded with fresh peaches. And how can you go wrong with fresh seafood every night?

view from our lovely hotel, Palazzo Ferraioli

view from the beach up to the streets, can you see our hotel?

my baby polpo!
Love seafood as much as I do? The best restaurant in Atrani (although we could only find maybe 5??) was A' Paranza. Great service, nice ambiance, and of course, the best scampi (prawn) risotto. I felt a little guilty eating a baby polpo (octopus), but it was super tasty (except I couldn't get over the fact that it was looking at me --its eyes stayed on the plate). 

As for desserts, everywhere in the coast seemed to have the delizia al limone on their menu. A wonderful little lemon cakelet in the shape of a dome, completely covered with the most refreshing lemon-cream icing. I assume because they grow the most enormous lemons in the south that lemon desserts are a specialty. This dolce was perfect after a huge seafood meal. Fluffy, lightly creamy and tart. If only I could learn how to bake!

romantic Amalfi at night (photo doesn't do it justice!)

Capri was as beautiful and luxurious as everyone told me it was. Definitely a place to splurge and stay if you have the funds to do so. For us, just a short day trip by boat. The boat gave us a quick tour of the famous grotti (caves) in the island. It even passed under a tiny arch in a rock that was part of the Faraglioni Rocks (famous in Capri) called the "kissing arch", where all couples were asked to kiss on the boat. Cheesy? Nah. Endearing to see couples of different ages and nationalities smooching!

Faraglioni Rocks: see the tiny arch our big boat went through?

Arriving on the island in the morning, we had the perfect amount of time to lay out our towels on a beach full of smooth white rocks and turquoise waters..... enjoy a mojito at a bar right beside La Piazzetta (Capri's main square) with the most spectacular view....

 window shop at the most luxurious boutiques and shops (or watch the rich people shop!)....

 discover the most amazing little pasticceria and enjoy our budget-conscious, yet freshly made lunch....

....and just to wander around the island getting lost in the pathways to homes of the locals and gorgeous gardens. No wonder we passed out so early that night! What a memorable little place.

We had to save the best for last. Positano, a quick half-hour drive from Amalfi. There were obviously more tourists there, but it was still as beautiful as every picture I had ever seen. Our hotel was right on the beach with the most amazing rooftop pool overlooking the famous Positano landscape and waters. I'm going to let the photos do most of the talking here.

mornings on the beach
view from the hotel pool, Covo dei Saraceni

sunset from our hotel terrazza

why is every church in Italia so incredibly beautiful?

I know Emanuele will be reading this, so I have to give him a million thank yous. Mille grazie tesoro mio! This was my dream trip for the last seven years and he made the entire thing come true. Ti amo tanto!

While the food was amazing, the views were breathtaking, the weather was be completely straight up, we were so exhausted! Lemme tell ya, 8 days of walking up and down those dang steps and crazy inclines on the streets wore us out! I don't even know how these Italian women strut their stuff in their 4-inch designer pumps without even flinching. Mine stayed in my luggage the entire vacation. So to reward ourselves? Take-out pizza and fries that were eaten yes, wearing our 'jammies in the hotel bed. Best meal so far, hands down.

Still missin' home!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Italia, I've arrived!

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the things I want to write about! Like most of my fellow ex-pats advised, all of the anxiety and nervousness went away as soon as I settled in. I'm sure I owe much of that to my amazing ragazzo, Emanuele who has gone above and beyond to make everything as easy as possible.

Some of the things I want to share about my first week here in Terni:

Finally met mamma Masci. I am relieved to say she quite adores me! I don't really know why, I can barely put together a full sentence in Italian. I guess it doesn't matter, because I feel happy when she pinches my cheeks or smiles at me. It's amazing that even with the language barrier, we can laugh and enjoy sitting together. She has been nothing but hospitable, kind and considerate. A huge wave of relief! Oh, and I can't forget...she cooks us lunch every day and dinner every evening that we stay in. It can't get better than that!

I've successfully applied for my permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) and I pick it up in 25 days!! The best part is that I will have it for 2 years. This is a BIG deal as I've read in many blogs that it is an extremely tedious process. I really owe this one to my Emanuele since he did all of the talking at the questura (police station). I didn't know that I would need to get a codice fiscale (like our SIN or SSN, you need it to work) at a different office first, or that I would need passport photos, and photocopies of my passport and visa. I also didn't know that I would need to go to the post office to pay for the permesso (side note: I'm still not sure why you need to go to the post office to do things like this. If you live in Italy, you know that it is NOT a fun place to go with the long lineups and horrible service, if you can even call it that). The best part of the whole process was probably when the administrator at the questura assumed I was from China, then realized my passport was Canadian. She didn't seem to understand how I could be Canadian, until my boyfriend explained that Canada is multicultural and that my parents are from S. Korea. We all shared a laugh about it, then carried on. After three visits to the questura, I finally got fingerprinted and now all I have to do is wait 25 days! If anyone reading this is planning on living in Italy, please don't be afraid to ask about this process. You will save a lot of time being way more prepared than I was!

View from our apartment in Terni
Checked out my new home in Terni. It was pretty interesting going to the realtor's office. At first I was hesitant since I didn't think I'd understand anything and wasn't really needed to sign anything. But I'm glad I went. Watching the process of going over the contracts and signing the agreement was a significant moment for me because it meant that this wasn't a vacation. This was real. We will be creating a home for ourselves, and I am going to begin a new life here in Italia. It's overwhelming, but gratifying at the same time. All that stress I was feeling the last few weeks literally vanished. I know my life won't be a fairy tale, but at least we're off to a good start!
Spending time with "my" Italian friends! This is one of the things that I love the most about being here. As my boyfriend puts it, his friends are now my friends. They have really embraced me without any hesitation. They are so easy to get along with and so much fun! I love that everyone makes time to hang out, even if they worked all day....and so what if it's a Monday night? They took me to a sagra my second night here--this is a place where everyone sits outside to eat, drink and listen to music. It kind of reminded me of a school yard, except there were rows of wooden tables and benches and it was dark out.
After a delicious dinner of tasty antipasti, supplì (stuffed rice balls), pappardelle with cinghiale (wild boar), people headed over to the stage where the band was playing to dance! I found it so entertaining to see that everyone was doing the same dance moves in a line. Maybe they're regulars?? When I thought the evening was over around midnight, we all headed to a local bar to meet some other friends on the patio. Even though some friends looked a little tired, no one complained, no one rushed the others. We just relaxed and chatted until every one of us was ready to get up and head home.

Another night, one of the girls hosted a dinner at her house where the table was full with grilled meats, pizza, fruit, desserts, wine...oh mio dio! It was great being outside on a summer night eating & laughing for hours. Surprisingly, I had more conversations in English that night than I ever expected. They love to learn more English and I am dying to speak more it works out! I really do appreciate how friendly every one has been here in Terni. Mille grazie tutti!

I have to admit, one of my main concerns was being stared at in a negative way as I obviously look different. Especially since I'm from a city as diverse as Toronto where everyone looks "different". But so far, I feel pretty comfortable, accepted and welcomed. I only hope I can learn more Italian and that my confidence gets stronger. I really want to establish a life here where I can be the independent woman that I was back home. Until then, I will continue to enjoy every new adventure and embrace any challenges. I know that I can only grow stronger and learn from all the experiences to come. 

Emanuele and I with "our" crazy friends!

Well, I'm off to the Amalfi Coast for our long awaited vacation! As soon as I get back, I'll be heading to Florence to start the next chapter of my life here in Italy. I hope I can write again soon! Miss everyone back home and please keep in touch! Until next time....


ps. Okay, if there was one complaint I had to make, it would be....DAMN these mosquitoes! They have been feasting on me the last week. 16 bites and counting....=(

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