Natale in Italia

December 23, 2015

I wasn't sure what to expect from Christmas in Italy - it's not a country like Sweden or Germany that one would expect to have heaps of festive spirit and besides, where could be better then London at Christmas? 

It's true that in Bologna there is no Winter Wonderland or overpriced ice-skating rinks... but it's pretty good just the same. Christmas lights have sprung up all over the city over the last month, and festive markets and mulled wine are pretty much everywhere. So I've been pretty happy. 

It's been a bittersweet kinda happiness though, because Christmas also means that anyone who's only doing Erasmus for a semester is going to be going home. Unfortunately, that's pretty much everyone apart from us five hardcore 'Irish girls' sticking it out for a year... so we had to have a little festive party to say goodbye!

Christmas in Belgium

December 18, 2015

So, finally, Christmas is here! 

Bologna has been looking more and more festive over the last couple of weeks, but I've been almost too busy to notice - December exams might mean I don't have to study over Christmas, but it's meant these last few weeks have been crazy. But I said arrivederci to Italy for a month and flew home last night, ready to relax for a while! 

This post is a little late, but a few weeks ago I went to visit my friend Meg for the weekend, who is studying abroad in Belgium. Belgium is pretty infamous for it's Christmas markets and chocolate - two things that I very much wanted to experience - and December was the perfect time to do that. I also hadn't seen Meg for July so it was time for a good catch up...

Firenze, Italy

December 01, 2015

It's been a while since I last wrote a post. November has been ridiculously busy - I popped to London for a few days and have been busy playing hostess to friends staying for the last couple of weekends. It's been really great to share all my new favourite places with all my old favourite people. 

So anyway, this weekend I had a little spontaneous trip to Firenze, somewhere I'd heard a LOT about and was very eager to visit. My friend Maeve was running the marathon there and since I know exactly how difficult that is, after running the London one in April, I was more than happy to go along and be standing at the sidelines this time instead!

San Luca, Bologna

November 08, 2015

This week the weather has been, for want of a better word, on point. 

London, I do not miss your grey, gloomy, rainy autumn weather. At all. Being able to sit outside in a t-shirt in November is a concept that is highly unfamiliar to me - but one that I could definitely get used to. 

However, it's probably unlikely to continue for much longer (alas) so, this week, we decided to make the most of it and do something I've been putting off for a while. 

Sat on top of the hill just outside Bologna is a basilica, with an arched passageway leading all the way up to it from the city. It's an infamously long, uphill climb to get there - hence why I've avoided it for so long - but once you reach the top, the view is pretty great. 

With another sunny day and a totally free afternoon (it's almost reassuring to know that in Italy classes are cancelled just as often as at home) we decided to make the trek and take a little picnic up to the top. 

dolce far niente

November 01, 2015

According to the Italian lifestyle bible that is Eat, Pray, Love, there's a saying in Italy: 
"Dolce far niente."

If Julia Roberts is to be believed, it literally means 'sweet doing nothing'. Whether Italians actually use this expression I don't know - I've made a mental note to ask next time I see one - but I kinda like it because it basically sums up my life in Italy. 

I think I've explained before that Italians don't really observe the concept of time like the rest of us do. I've learnt not to expect anything official to be done in less than two weeks, and a couple of hours must be added to every appointment time. Which is annoying if you're a control freak like me. 

But after a couple of months here, I've actually realised it's quite nice. It just means that Italians take life at a much slower pace - having a three hour lunch break means that instead of a quick sandwich at your desk, lunch can be a three course meal in the sun, with a bottle of wine. (And who could refuse that?) 

It also means that there's never a bad time for coffee with a friend, or an Aperol spritz and some aperitivi in the evenings. Unlike in England, there's no need to rush around anywhere - even I am now half an hour late for everything, meaning I am totally running on Italian time. 

So today, whilst I fully expected to be a hungover mess (in case you live under a rock, it was Halloween last night. More on that later), it was beautifully sunny and I decided that it would be quite nice to just go and and enjoy doing nothing. So I grabbed my book - Cinquanta Sfumature di Grigio (No judging please, it was €3 in the second hand shop) - and headed out for a coffee.  

Ferrara, Italy

October 24, 2015

So, I've now been here five weeks. 

I think I'm actually starting to get into the swing of Italian life - and by that I mean that I too am now at least fifteen minutes late for everything, and I eat a lot of pasta.

I sporadically attend Italian language classes and can therefore actually order the coffee I want, rather than nodding vigorously, saying per favore a lot and seeing what I end up with. I still have a long way to go - last week I think I ordered a pizza with a church on top, instead of basil (basilico? basilica? easy mistake, right) - but I'm improving. So that's good. 

Anyway, despite the fact that I now have 18 hours of classes a week rather than the six I'm used to at home, I do have Fridays free for trips and activities. This week, we decided to take a little trip to Ferrara, just outside Bologna.

10,000 views - and some Parmigiana

October 12, 2015

Yesterday was kind of an exciting day. I hit 10,000 views!

Admittedly it's taken me two years and 60 posts - and most of the clicks are probably either mine or my mother's - but who am I to argue with official figures?

So, to celebrate, I did something really Italian... I made food. 
After finding out that this year doesn't actually count towards my degree, I decided my Monday afternoon should be filled with something more interesting than work: reading Fifty Shades of Grey in Italian - for educational purposes, of course - and cooking celebratory Parmigiana. I've tried to cook this before, several times, but it's always turned out watery and never had the sumptuous, cheesy taste it should. But apparently Italy is rubbing off on me, because I think I've cracked it. 

Life in Italy - Some Initial Thoughts

October 10, 2015

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life comes together, another falls spectacularly to pieces." 

This is a quote from my favourite movie of all time, Bridget Jones (no judging, please) and is also, unfortunately, true.

Washi Tape, Home Decor

September 03, 2015

As a kid, the start of a new school year meant only one thing: new stationary. 

I'd get to go and pick a new pencilcase, folders, pens and if I was good, a flexiruler too (the holy grail of all rulers, duh). Then, on the first day back, I'd eye up everyone else's purchases and come to the conclusion that, luckily, they weren't as cool as mine.

Anyway, I've grown up a little bit since then (honest...) and September doesn't mean new stationary anymore; but it does mean a new house. And, when it comes to buying new things, I feel almost exactly the same feeling of excitement. 

Fairy lights! Bunting! Polaroid photos! Oh my God, aren't the opportunities endless?

I've been on Pinterest religiously figuring out exactly what style I want to go for, and thought I had it figured out - and then I flicked through the new ASOS magazine and found something that totally changed the game. 


Dark Chocolate, Avocado and Chia Brownies

September 02, 2015

OK, I'm going to admit something that you're not supposed to admit.

I don't like clean eating. I think rye bread is disgusting, chia seeds are pointless and anyone that buys a Nutri-Bullet is an idiot. (They're just blenders. Really. Overpriced blenders.)

I think women have enough to deal with without feeling guilty for eating a burger every now and then.

But I do like avocados. With eggs, with salmon, for breakfast or a midnight feast; there is literally no  bad time to crack open an avocado. 

And, needless to say, I like chocolate. A lot. 

So, when I came across a recipe that involves both of those ingredients, that's 'clean' as well as tasty, I thought I'd better give it a go. Here's the recipe for some delicious, not-too-naughty chocolate brownies. 

Asos Edit, September

Bologna, Italy - The First Post

July 24, 2015

So, the big news is that I'm moving to Italy. The land of pizza, pasta, red wine and a guaranteed weight gain of approximately three stone; yep, very exciting.

The less fun part is the fact that I speak absolutely no Italian. Zilch. Nil. Nada. Actually, I can't even say that in Italian. 
So when Mum and I went last week to find me a flat, it was all rather interesting.

Fez, Morocco

June 21, 2015

Morocco is pretty much my favourite place ever.

Alright, one of them. It's dirty and smelly, but also overwhelming and different and totally magical. 

I booked this holiday totally on a whim - flights were £60 return with Ryanair, which is amazing. I mean, they might be shit, but how can you complain when they take you to a different continent for the same price as a train ticket to Manchester? 

The hotel was incredible, and also completely underpriced. It was little Moroccan paradise in the middle of the city, with courtyards and fountains and a roof terrace overlooking the whole city and mint tea on tap. 

Thoughts on running a marathon...

April 30, 2015

On Sunday, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone - including myself - I ran the London Marathon.

I entered last year on a bit of a whim - to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I even knew how far a marathon was. I saw that it was trending on Twitter and hopped right on that bandwagon, because I'd just started running a few times a week and, you know, how hard could it really be?