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England 5 – Italy 1…banishing the Monday morning blues!

18 Feb

No, these are not the scores of some recent sporting victory for the UK, but just an in-joke with the boy that made me smile this morning, on a morning when it seemed impossible to smile. It’s Monday. And I’m back at work. After 2 weeks off. And yes, I have somehow managed to smile. MIRACLE.

Coming back to normality is horrible. Especially after 2 lovely weeks away with lovely friends. There was a certain feeling of ‘back down to Earth with a bang’ last night when I got home to my cold, empty house, and it’s hard to feel positive about things at those moments, especially when those you miss most are 1000 miles away. Sleep was hard last night; rather than feeling like I’d come home, it felt strange being back…familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. It was odd for me as I usually find great comfort in coming home – my bed, my house and the familiar sights and sounds, but it all felt odd. I can only look ta this in a positive way – it shows me that relocating to Italy is the right thing and when making a huge leap of faith like that, you need constant reassurance that you are making the right choice.

It would have been easy to wake up this morning and want to climb to the roof and jump off. Work – urgh. Monday morning – urgh. Back to normality urgh. NOT IN ROME – MAJOR URGH! But, rather than look at the downside, I find myself looking for the positives in things…

NewImage8So, as I sit back at my desk, feeling rather like the last amazing two weeks in Rome were a dream, I find myself looking forward to the positives that are coming, rather than looking behind and missing what has just been..here’s the list:

  • I’m visiting family in Cornwall the first weekend in March – probably the last time I’ll see them for a while before I leave
  • My bro and his lovely lady are coming down from Manchester for a long weekend mid-March
  • I can get back to the gym and start on getting the Spring/Summer figure worked on! Amen! It’s hard to explain just how much I missed the gym whilst I was away!
  • I have so much to plan re: the big move and its very exciting!
  • In April I plan to drive to Rome over two days when I make the move, and the boy has even offered to fly over and drive back with me! How lovely!

So, becoming the best version of me is the goal over the next month or so. It’s easy to sometimes look at the ‘not so positives’ that life can throw, but whats the point in being miserable? Life really is too short, and there are always going to be Monday mornings, so make something good out of them…make a change in your life, book a holiday, tell someone you love them…it’s all possible!

Happy Monday morning readers!

Ciao for now,

Nina x

Is there life in Rome? My thoughts on my habitation experiment…

13 Feb

I know that I don’t leave Rome for the UK for another 4 days, but with Valentine’s Day tomorrow and then the weekend, I may not have time to write this before I leave and I want to give my honest, real thoughts as I sit here in the comfort of the Eternal City.

There are so many thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis when I walk the streets, clean the apartment…they range from the obvious to the ridiculous but they all bring me back to the same thing – Rome is where I want to live. As I walked back from Termani today after a lovely day with a friend, I rattled 3, 50 cent coins I had saved for the Metro in my coat pocket and a lump formed in my throat. I never thought that the Euro would be my currency – besides all things, I’m loyal to my English roots…I’m proud to be English and always will be and I will miss my pennies and pounds! It’s a strange thought that I am sure only those who have walked in my shoes will understand. Missing a currency sounds ridiculous, but its another part of the whole process for me; it’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

People I have met here that I am proud to call my friends are very supportive and encouraging of my plans. Talking about it today it became obvious to me that I like to set myself challenges; I like to accomplish things I don’t believe I can. For example, I am taking my Dad’s advice and deciding to drive my little English Mini (cats included!) to Rome when I make the move. Why? Well, it saves me £1500 on flights and its not the easy option – it’s the challenging option. Me, two cats and as much of my life as I can squeeze into the Mini on a 17hour, two-day drive across 4 countries? Sure, easy! But, its something I would never get the opportunity to do…if this move wasn’t happening, I would never do it, and that makes it appealing.

So, back to Rome. This city bewitches me. I am head over heels in love with it. Today, as I walked to the Metro, I walked down Via dei Fori Imperiali, the main road that leads to the Coliseum, and in the bright winter sunshine, I couldn’t have been happier. I could drink in the view of my most favourite monument, surrounded by ancient history and I felt at home. OK, when I live here, I won’t be in such a central location…sure, I dream of living in one of the gorgeous, pastel coloured palazzos in the historic centre, so do most Romans (I’ll be north, in Nomentana!) but knowing I can get on the Metro, and a few stops later I can see the wonders of central Rome, makes me feel very happy inside.

Live here? Sure, in my dreams!

Live here? Sure, in my dreams!

The language is a challenge, but I will take it on! I have lessons booked right up until I leave and I think that living here and living the language will be the best way to learn! And I simply can’t wait!

So, I think the easiest way to rate my two weeks here and the effect its had on my plans to make Rome my home is a good, old-fashioned ‘out of 10’!

  • The city – 9/10
  • The people – 10/10
  • The food – 8/10 (I LOVE Italian food but pasta/pizza/gelato are not good for my waistline, hence a gym for my arrival has been found!
  • Shopping – 7/10 (Yes, Italy is the home of Prada, D+G and Zara, but sometimes a girl needs a one-stop Sainsburys shop!)

As I sit here and look forward to my last 4 days in this wonderful apartment in this city I will soon call home, I am a mix of emotions. Will I miss my family and friends back in the UK? Yes, more than I can imagine. Will it be scary to start a whole new life in another country? Scary, no…exciting, yes! Will I be devastated that I have to leave Rome again in 4 days? Yes! These past 2 weeks have meant a lot to me in a lot of different ways. It will be sad to say goodbye again, but I am comforted by the thought that the next time I return, it’s possibly forever! There is a lot to do between now and when I set off for Rome again and I am sure that the time will go too fast, but I feel an overwhelming excitement inside me when I think that the next time I write from Rome, I’ll be calling it home…

Terrified? Yes! Excited? Even more so!

Ciao for now,

Nina x

Popes, forbidden fruit and fitting in…Day 9 in Rome

11 Feb

Lighting at Vatican

So, this morning was an interesting one…Pope Benedict XVI resigned! The first Pope to do so in 600 years! As I have said before, I am not a bit religious, but even I can appreciate (and be part of!) the excitement on the streets of the Eternal City in the wake of the news. I doubt very much this will have super-dooper media attention, but there is a certain satisfaction from being in the same place as something pretty monumental happening. In a country where strong Catholic beliefs are only a generation away, I can one day start a story with ‘I was in Rome the day the Pope resigned’…although I am not sure who will be interested in that!

I did my weekly food shop today, at a great food market on  Via Cavour. I like it because it’s not like your usual Spar store here; it has beautiful frescoes on the ceiling and its never crazy busy. The boy called it ‘a market for rich people’ but the prices are the same as other markets I have been to. One thing that makes me chuckle on my grocery shop is the size of some of the fruit and veggies here…I bought 3 red apples that are ENORMOUS! One of them is about the same size as my head! I have also seen bell peppers the size of rugby balls! So my treat to myself today was 3, huge shiny red apples that I shall devour over the next few days. I was drawn to the forbidden fruit as I had a dream the other night about red apples, so they were on my mind. Curious to the meaning; I looked it up…to dream of a red apple means:

  • wisdom and great prosperity
  • promise of financial rewards
  • you are enjoying life and will be tasting the fruit of success, in your love life or even at your workplace

So, three big shiny red ones went in my shopping basket! Let’s hope for all of the above!

I had a lovely weekend. I went to stay the night at the boy’s in Arricia on Thursday, which was lovely as always. Lots of us went out for dinner and then he and I hopped a train back to Roma Friday lunchtime. Friday night was my little doo at the apartment which was fun – I spent 5 hours making some fine lasagna which went down a treat with the Italians. Saturday and Sunday were lazy days on the sofa, watching TV and films, only venturing out once or twice for the Lazio match and pizza.
I find myself getting more comfortable with the language…I can understand a lot more and watching some Italian TV is always a great help. I did worry that I would never ‘get it’ but some reassuring words from a fellow Englishman that lives here in Roma gives me faith that I will pick it up. I think that living the language will help me learn it faster; lessons back in the UK are great, but there’s noone to practice on!

Ciao for now,

Nina x

My Roma routine

6 Feb

So I’m on day 5 here in the Eternal City, and already I feel very at home. I am getting familiar with my local area and look forward to my daily walks around Monti and beyond. Today, I took a long walk down Via del Corso and back in the Spring sunshine. My bank balance will thank me for not taking advantage of the saldi, which is everywhere at the moment!

So, I noticed today that I have already got myself into a routine. They days when I don’t have things to do, I wake up when I want to – my days at home in the UK are always started by an early (6.45am!) alarm; that’s not happening here! I make myself breakfast, usually fruit and yoghurt, and a coffee and read the news back home in the UK as I enjoy breakfast. I get ready and head out at 11am for the first walk of the day, be it to run errands or just for fresh air. Back to the apartment around 12.30pm for lunch and a relax, then out again in the afternoon for another walk/run errands/buy food around 2.30pm, back about 4pm. I have found a TV channel that shows English shows, so that usually goes on in the background in the evening whilst I sort dinner, which I have about 7pm. I’m also finding that watching Italian TV really helps me understand the language better. Last night I watched Titanic. In Italian! Sleep happens around 12-1am.

I like that I have found myself a routine here, it’s normal and normality is what I need to feel. This isn’t a holiday for me, it’s a trial run to see how I feel living in Rome. So far, so good.

Tomorrow I’ll take the train to Albano Laziale to meet the boy and join some others for dinner. I’ll then spend the night in Ariccia at his apartment before we come back to Rome Friday lunchtime to prepare for my little party Friday night.

Roma sta iniziando a sentire come potrebbe essere casa.

Ciao for now,

Nina x

Life in Roma – Day 3 (the start of my habitation experiment!)

4 Feb

I write this sat in my gorgeous apartment in Monti, an area of Rome that is capturing my heart more every second longer that I am here. It’s a beautiful spring morning here, and despite the temperature, you could be convinced that it was summer if you looked out the window! My apartment is…amazing! Set in a 16th Century palazzo, it’s a 2 minute walk from the Colleseum, my most favourite thing in the world! The views inside the apartment look over the internal courtyard of the palazzo, and within moments of arriving, we heard some guy singing his heart out in Italian…I have since established that this is my neighbour, who I walk past every time I am coming/going. I have called him ‘Piano man’ as he sits in the window of his apartment playing the piano, night and day.

I arrived in Rome on Saturday after a glorious flight which ended bumpy as we flew into the storm that was plaguing the Eternal  City…joy…rain! Welcome to Italy! Accompanied by the parents, we took our taxi to the apartment, met the owner, ran through the basics and buona, all was well! Our first night in Rome was spent having dinner with my lovely boy…perfetto!

So, this morning (Monday) the parents left early for Fiumicino, and here I remain, alone in Rome. One thing that I realised this morning as I was walking about taking in the fresh air, is just how at home I feel here…nothing feels strange or ‘holiday-ish’. But then it never has, not since my first visit here in June 2012.

Today for me has been about finding my feet…I know the area well, but it’s nice to walk about and not feel like a tourist. I must have avoided looking like one today as I had many “giornos” from locals I passed in the cobbled streets. Not that there is anything wrong with being a tourist in Rome, but I am passed that now. This city will become my home shortly and it needs to feel like that.

So, a round up of the last 48 hours in Roma:

  • Even in the rain, I love this city
  • Spending time with my parents here was wonderful and I’m glad they can see why I love this city as much as I do
  • Italians are charming, and I find myself especially comforted when I pass a priest or nun in the street (just to point out, I’m not remotely religious, but the abundance of Ava Maria in this city is hard to escape…in the end you find yourself comforted by her image or representatives!)
  • My first food shop was a success…wine, pasta, meats and cheeses! So much for a healthy diet!
  • Italy beat France in their first game of the Six Nations! Result!

And a final note on negative stereotypes…
Anyone that knows me well enough will know that one of my biggest hates is the Dolmio adverts you get on TV in the UK. Grotty, mass-produced “Italian” cooking sauces that are vile beyond beliefe, sold by an advertising campaign that sounds like ‘The Italian man who went to Malta’…yet without the humour. So, you can imagine my response when people speak negatively of Italians. I have spent a lot of time in Italy; not just Rome, but all over, and am yet to meet an Italian that makes me think less of them. Italians (all Italians!) are charming, interesting, stylish and polite…and they have the best attitude towards life. Italian men seem to get a particularly hard time…yes, granted, there are some mega sleazy Italian men out there (I hadn’t been out the house more that 15 minutes and had about 5 Italian men hissing, whistling and commenting as I walked by) but there are no more here than you would find in London. In fact, I have met far sleazier English men in London! – but that’s the culture here…its harmless!) Going on my own personal experience, Italian men are wonderful, traditiaonal guys. I’m yet to meet one that fills the role of this sleazy stereotype. And my Italian is the finest of them all! So, if you have a bad experience with an Italian guy, they do not represent the entire Italian male population.

Love in the Eternal City: Valentines Day in Rome

26 Nov

The clue really is in the name…’Roma’-nce. Is the Eternal City the most romantic place to spend Valentine’s Day?

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Look through some brief history and it will tell you that Saint Valentine is a third century Roman saint associated with the tradition of courtly love who died on February 14th. Traditionally, it was mid-February that was chosen by Romans to meet and ‘court’ new people. It was the handwritten gestures of admiration that built to the red-tinted craze we now know as St Valentine’s Day.

There is no doubt that Rome is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Steeped in ancient history, you are offered a heady cocktail of day-long (and accepted!) wine drinking, seductive food and a backdrop of basilicas, monuments and ruins to add just some more drama and intrigue to February 14th. And, not forgetting, the divine charm of the Roman males, (consider this English girl sold!) who’s old school wooing techniques will have your heart racing in no time.

So where in Rome is best to spend the most roman-tic of days?

The Trevi Fountain
As obvious as it may seem, this is one of the most romantic spots in the city. Visit at night when the fountain is looking its finest, and throw a coin in together, guaranteeing your return to the city.

The Trastevere Neighbourhood
One of my favourite neighborhoods in the city, the Trastevere holds its charm in the ancient cobbled streets that haven’t changed for generations. The unique character of the area attracts independent artists and famous people alike. Strolling through these streets hand in hand is one of the most romantic experiences in the city.

Piazza Navona
In the heart of the city, this famous Piazza features 2 amazing fountains and a wonderful buzz from all those that are there. It has long been a meeting place for the inhabitants of Rome. Full of acrobats and performers, it is guaranteed a great place to spend part of your Valentine’s Day.

Pincian Hill
Personally, I consider the Pincian Hill as one of the most romantic places in the city, offering a breathtaking view of the Piazza del Popolo and all of Rome.
Pack up a champagne picnic and spend the day watching the bustle of the city pass beneath you.

Rome is a city perfect for Valentine’s Day. If you want to escape the city, visit Castel Gandolfo, a small Italian town in Lazio overlooking Albano lake, about 15 miles south-east of Rome (take the train from Termani – about an hour).  It is most famous for being the summer residence of the Pope.The town was voted one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Walk the Albano lake, then walk up to the town to enjoy a great cappuccino or lunch, overlooking the tranquil beauty of the lake.

Roma-nce can be found within the city walls and beyond. I for one, cannot wait to experience a Roman Valentine’s Day in 2013.

Things that have rocked my world recently…in more ways than one…

7 Sep

Let’s start with something positive shall we?

Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

This superb foundation has become one of the newest loves of my life. I didn’t believe anything could make me cheat on my MAC foundations…we have been together many years but it was time to move on. At £31 a pop, it’s not the cheapest out there, but having used Chanel make-up since I was 14, I can safely say this is one of my favorite products to date. And let’s face it; no nail varnish will ever compete with Rouge Noir. Ever. Done. No arguments! A perfect foundation for ‘Summer’ (or the three days we had of it) it’s light to apply and gives a wonderful dewy look to your complexion. I will be hard pushed to find anything that will beat this as we head into the winter months! Thanks Chanel, another make-up triumph!