Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Red, the Fat and the Learned

My C2 Italian preparation hasn't got off to the best of starts. Last Thursday I got admitted to hospital for an emergency operation, and although I was back home on Saturday because the surgeons did a good job but I'm still out of it from the general anaesthtic. Today I managed a shower so I think I can just about manage to post some pictures from our trip to Bologna last weekend.

I had wanted to visit Bologna for some time because I had heard of it's culinary fame and was eager to try it first hand, so when our friend gave us a three course meal for two for Christmas, Bologna was the obvious choice of destination.

It was not for the faint of heart.

For first course we had a mix of
  • Lasagne with ragu
  • Tagliatelle with cream and beef mince
  • Tagliatelle with ragu
Followed by a Bolognese cotoletta which is similar to a Milanese cotoletta, but it is fried in lard, wrapped in ham and melted cheese and then covered in cream.  I managed about half of it. It is too much even for A.'s foody dad who eats everything.

It was all washed down with the local Lambrusco wine, which is one of my favourites as I am a total cheap date.

For dessert A. had the chocolate cake with marscapone. There was about four times as much Marscapone as cake on the plate.

In short, it was not hard to see why Bologna has the nickname Bologna La Grassa - Bologna the Fat.

Bologna is also known as the city of learning (Bologna la dotta - the learned) as it is home to the world's first university and it is also known for its red colour and its "red" politics (Bologna la rossa - the red).

We had a lot of fun hunting down all three nicknames in photo form.

The Universtity District

Bologna la Rossa

Bologna the red
The Learned

Bologna la grassa
Bologna the fat

A good choice of fruit for an orange-coloured city
If you ever get the chance do go. It's only an hour on the train from Milan so it makes the perfect day trip.

Taken by A as I couldn'tbring myself to  look down.
Although maybe don't climb the 90m torre dei asinelli  right after lunch.

It made me rather queasy!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Italy or England?

So I've been thinking lately, especially after my father got ill, about going to live in the UK again. It's been six and a half years now that I've been living in Italy (it doesn't seem possible!) and in many respects Italy is my home and I'm comfortable here, but in other ways I still miss England.

It's very hard to be objective about life in another country, so I googled "comparing Italy and the UK" which led me to a site called This site allows you to compare countries from the list by selecting two of them. I liked it so much I then did it in class.

The results were interesting if not very decisive. Earn more money in the UK but spend less on healthcare and live longer in Italy. Be less likely to be unemployed or get HIV in the UK but be 25% more likely to be murdered. My students were divided on which country was better but most opted for staying in Italy and living longer. Admittedly they are only teenagers so they haven't yet contemplated long term unemployment.

Since there was no mention of things like food, weather and education I've decided to write my own list. Perhaps you can help me add to it in the comments?

*Not all reasons are created equal*

Reasons to move to the UK
  1. earn higher wages
  2. a more dynamic job market and economy
  3. a more modern education system
  4. be nearer my family and friends
  5. cool summers with no need for mosquito nets
  6. walking in the English countryside with its footpaths and bridalways.
  7. driving on the left, and less scary motorways
  8. cheddar cheese, peanut butter, oat cakes, yorkshire puddings, gravy, proper tea, fish and chips
  9. cheaper medecines and beauty products
  10. not being told I'm so pale/I've put on weight/lost weight all the time
  11. cleaner air (at least with respect to Milan)
  12. seeing birds and wildlife in towns and villages. 
Reasons to stay in Italy
  1. easier and cheaper not to attempt to move house internationally 
  2. food is fresher and tastier.
  3. less rain
  4. be nearer A.'s family and our friends
  5. being able to choose or change your doctor easily, and getting more attention when you do go (in my experience).
  6. The Alps, the lakes, the riviera... all within a couple of hours drive.
  7. No longer be able to use the 'crazy foreigner' excuse
  8. Public transport costs less here
  9. Have to find myself a new career if I go back to England.
  10. Hairdressers are more talented at cutting curls in Italy 
  11. Houses cost less. Rents cost less.
  12. Ugh... London. 
In the meantime I'm going to study hard and see if I can pass my C2 Italian exam in June. It will be quite a challenge so wish me luck!