Monday, 29 September 2014

An Autumn Wedding in Piedmont

Yes! Here it is - the last wedding of the year. I didn't know anyone except my husband and the sposi so I dedicated myself to photography and trying all the flavoured confetti (sugared almonds). The buffet/anti pasti were something else.

This wedding felt very Italian. I think I was the only foreigner there. I met the bride online when I arrived in Milan and we hit it off as she was another new arrival, only from the provinces. This year has been another milestone for both of us.

I got to hear lots of the accent from the North of Piedmont - very entertaining after a few years in Milan. The lunch lasted a total of seven hours, although thankfully we didn't have to sit down for all of it. There were quite a lot of dancing, chanting, shouting and napkin-waving intervals!

I think the bride and groom had a lot of fun and they certainly gave it their all whenever the cry 'BACIO! BACIO!" went up :)

The bride arrives
A very cute little girl pretending to read - with the order of service upside-down!

Then they threw A LOT of rice and gave the groom the bumps... but that was only the start!

The location was a children's farm - so cute!

The average age of the guests wasn't the youngest of the weddings I've been to but they made up for it by being the rowdiest and getting the groom very tiddly!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The best thing about Milan

I realise I did a similar post way way back in 2010. It was curious reading it four years on. It's here if you want it. I wrote it as a sort of self-pep talk on my arrival.

I still rate aperitivos, although lots of expats I know get sick of them (they clearly have too much free time - if I manage two a month I feel extra social) but I've also learnt to appreciate the shopping. I still rate the international side of Milan but I've learnt to appreciate the Milanese side too.
I still people watch but as I've learnt to integrate better I don't spend so much time studying the unwritten rules of Italian society and Italian habits. I still love the metro for efficiency, but alas it no longer costs a euro a trip.

The economic crisis is still biting hard, especially in the private school sector, but Milan is improving. It's on the up. No-one in the household has been pick-pocketed for, ooh, at least 6 months. It's Expo 2015 doncha know? My neighbourhood no longer part gypsy camp part building site. We have 5 bars and a pharmacy, a corner shop and a newsagents. The park is no longer toxic!  At this rate they might even do something about the air quality  - one day!

My favourite thing about Milan would still be it's location. As time passes, I realise that Milan's location is really excellent due to it's central positioning and abundance of train stations.

Rome - 3 hours - tick
Florence - 1.5 hours - tick
Venice - 3 hours - tick
Turin - 1 hour - tick
Cinque Terre and Liguria - 2-3 hours - tick
Bergamo - 30 mins - tick
Verona - 1.5 hours - tick
Bologna - 1 hour - not yet!

Got a car?

Monza and it's wonderful park - 20 mins - tick tick tick
Bellagio Lake Como - 1.5 hours - tick tick
Sirmione, Lake Garda - 1.75 hours- tick
Alba and the Langhe - 1.75 hours- tick
Bolzano and the Dolomites - 3 hours - tick
Cote d'azur - 3 hours - tick
Mantua - 2 hours - not yet!

And I'm sure there are many more great places to go. But I'll let you in on a little secret - il triangolo Lariano - my favourite Milanese weekend escape! Everytime I go I fall a little bit more in love with Lombardy.

Here are some pictures from our latest hike to the Corni di Canzo via the rifugio where we ate mushroom risotto, assorted cheeses and cured meats and a lovely slice of jam tart (crostata).

First signs of Autumn

So high!

From the Corni looking down on Lake Como

Il corno occidentale

Il corno centrale

Friday, 5 September 2014

Time to start a wedding blog?

Excuse me. I'm a bit tired. This post will be full of errors. This week I've had the re-entry at work. It's only mornings, but still, after getting up regularly at 10.30am local time, my week of 6.30am starts has taken it's toll on me. For the last days of the holiday I made myself get up at 7.30/8 but nothing can prepare you for regular early rising when you are a total slug in the bed like me.

Just a few more photos of another lovely English Wedding...
I feel slightly in awe of the Italians capacity to go without sleep. A and his family all function remarkably well on very little sleep. At Christmas we went to bed at 3am but were opening presents by 8.30 am. I'm not an evening person. They need to find a bird which likes being busy at 11am, because neith owl or lark am I. 

Women in England with grown up children seem to get an unstoppable desire to buy a large hat!
So yes, the Italians are up early and stay up so late... Bake Off Italia for example (I'm watching it now) doesn't start until 9pm despite being a family show.  The San Remo Song Festival always finishes after midnight. A and I have already argued about our hypothetical kids' bedtimes! 

And we had excellent weather!
 Actually I shuld have called this post Varie ed Eventuali which is what my boss finishes the agenda of our meetings with, (but somehow always seems to end up taking over everything else!). 

No choir, but some, er, unique hymn interpretations from our pew.
 This summer I got a chance to watch the original Bake Off show, and to my surpirse in the English one they make many savoury things too. The presenters were very funny. It was much more fun to watch than the Italian version... but is it just me, or are they copying the English format more this series? I've already got a few favourites and a few contestants who already, ahem, to use A's words mi stanno sulle palle.

Another stunning bride - love is the best beauty treatment!
Already the holidays seem weeks ago. The first day in meetings it was like we had all never been away (except of course the pupils aren't back yet). It's only now that I realise how much progress I've made with my Italian and knowledge of Italian school acronyms and jargon. No culture shock for me this year!

I felt this dress was decidely Italian in taste with the lacy sleeves, and sure enough my colleague chose something almost identical!
That said, I saw a lot of talk in a Newspaper interview with Italian chefs living in England saying that the English and the Italians have nothing in common except mutual respect. I was somewhat peturbed by that. I'm not sure I agree but then I'm not sure what I would say the two countries do have in common. At the end of the day we're all human and it's a damn sight easier than living in Russia was!

I would have loved to have taken the flowers home with me, but I don't think you're allowed to do that outside of Italy.
Ok that's it. I promise. After this post, no more wedding pictures!

Hah. Who am I kidding. I love taking photos at weddings! It has nothing to do with this blog but I'm sharing my photos anyway. I have my third Italian wedding coming up soon and my many of my younger colleagues are all either freshly married or planning their weddings, so the wedding talk is by no means finished even though school starts next week. Even more excitingly I've been asked to be the damigella d'onore (maid of honour?) for a close friend.

Finally! An English wedding where not only did we eat really well but also lots :) Italy has spoilt me.
I'm learning lots of things about weddings in Italy. Particularly with regards to weddings in the South of Italy, which are well known for being particularly lavish. I didn't know just how lavish though.
My colleague had to explain to me that her mother-in-law-to-be isn't very happy about her attempts to keep expenses down. She's worried their relatives will think they are poor. I can understand perhaps some of her fears but I still couldn't see what was wrong with creating your own invitations and getting them printed professionally. Then she told me something that blew my mind.

In the south of Italy they expect designer wedding cards. I didn't even know you could buy such things!