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I have moved!

21 Feb

Hi all!

Just a very quick post to let you know that I have move my blog! You can now read it here

I relocated to Blogger as I wanted a bit more flexibility in my design and layout!

Please, please continue to follow me on my journey and thanks for all the kind words of support and encouragement!

Ciao for now,

Nina x

 

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.

Life…add wine and pasta

28 Jan

After what has felt like one of the most stressful weeks/weekends of my life, I woke this morning with a fresh perspective. I was very close to pulling the plug on the whole ‘la dolce vita’ dream…

Something inside must have snapped overnight, as I woke up feeling about 1million times better than I did 6 hours previously. Maybe it was the hours spent before bed watching Italian cookery shows before I slept, but I felt much more myself this morning. I can’t pinpoint the exact change, but there have been a few things this weekend that have cheered me right up (4am soppy text from my best friend included!).

Life itself is like a recipe; what you add changes the whole flavour of the final dish. If you add negativity, you get something that’s not pleasant and not enjoyable. Its pretty self explanatory.

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For me, my most favourite flavour of Italy is carbonara…its rich, comforting, and naughty (…insert ‘just how I like my men’ comment here!). Side that with a bottle of red wine and I am happy. If you look at the way Italians view life, they have it spot on. They don’t sweat the small stuff; they keep their calm (unless football is involved!) and I can’t ever recall seeing an Italian as stressed as us Brits get over the smallest of things!

I planned a while ago that the night before I fly out to Rome for my 2 weeks, I’d cook carbonara for the parents to get us in the mood for a few days together in Rome. So, its this that I am focusing on. The shut off point of the last few weeks of crap times and sleepless nights. That yummy dish will be the start of a fantastic two week holiday/trail where I plan to relax, eat, drink, see sights, eat gelato, and generally see how I feel living in the Eternal City.

So, thank you carbonara…you have saved my bacon, yet again!

The dark side of the move…

24 Jan

Whilst I’m all for a Pink Floyd pun, this post is all about the not-so-cheery side of moving…especially abroad! At the current moment I write this, I hope in a few months I look back and laugh! But, here’s my list of things that make a move (especially overseas) that teeny (MASSIVELY) more stressful!

1. Sleepless nights...when one is expected to come into work at 8am and work solidly for 8 hours in a Communications role, surviving on 4hours (or less) sleep pretty much renders you useless in the world of successful communication. This week alone I have spelt my OWN name wrong (twice!), walked away from my desk whilst still attached to my laptop headphones and survived on a working day diet of 90% caffeine. Add to the lack of sleep  the stress headaches/stomach aches and it doesn’t make for a pleasant time! I will be glad when this is all over!

2. Friends…whilst some people have been ridiculously supportive, there have been others that have really failed me in their support of this move. It seems as if I am simply no longer relevant seeing as I won’t be here much longer. Some simply and plainly act like they don’t care. And what makes it harder, is that it is the people I thought I could rely on most that have let me down the hardest. Well, I’m taking a stand on this one. You’ve had your chances. No one is *that* busy that they can’t find 2 minutes to reply to a text/FB message/email. I’m no longer making time for those that don’t make time for me. And yes, you know who you are, and all you have done is make my separation from the UK that little bit easier. And as a side-note, don’t bother contacting me a week before/a week after I go – it’s simply too late.
To everyone who has been like a rock to me and taken the time to talk to me about this/see how its going/how I am doing over the last month or so – THANK YOU!

3. Finances…never a cheery subject for me, but it feels like all I have done since I decided to move was pay for things I have seen little come-back from. The costs mount up and up and its impossible (especially a month after the expense of Christmas) to have spare cash for anything luxurious. Flying the cats out to Italy is costing roughly the same price as a first class ticket, and although TOTALLY worth it, I can’t explain that to my over-draft.

4. House sorting…getting the house in shape is always a sucky part of moving…boxing up belongings, going through EVERYTHING you own with ‘toss’, ‘keep’, ‘store’ labels at the ready is never an enjoyable task. Add onto the the decision of what you can move within your allowed 22kg baggage limit and it makes for even more head scratching!

Don’t think that any of the above is making me regret my decision, it isn’t one bit! This process was never going to be an easy one but I believe that the outcome will be more than worth it. I have found and secured an amazing place to live, in a cosmopolitan city, in a country I have loved for a decade. I consider myself SO fortunate that I have the means and backing behind me as lots of people in my age bracket don’t have that…this will be an amazing life change and I simply can’t wait to be living my new life in the sun! I am off for a trial run on Saturday 2nd February for two weeks and it simply can’t come quick enough!

Nina x

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When life hands you lemons….make Limoncello!

12 Jan

limoncello

As you may know, moving to Italy has been high on my ‘wish list’ for some time. It’s the main focus behind this blog and the one thing that keeps me awake at night!

Anyone who has contemplated a move abroad will understand the thoughts that run through your mind, day and night, and how you can go from positive and excited to scared witless in a matter of hours! The journey you take (emotionally!) when deciding to make a move like this is incredibly personal, and everyone has their own personal reasons to take the leap! I have thought about moving to Italy (albeit dreamily!) since I first visited, but the time wasn’t right. That was 8 years ago, and I believe that now is the time. The circumstances behind each move can change the thought process completely, and as I said, it’s incredibly personal!

The decision has been made…I’m making the move. There is a magical draw to Italy, and as I reach the 30th year of being, I think this pocket of time is the best for me to take the plunge! So, what do I do now?

1. Rome is the place for me…I have visited many parts of Italy, but Rome captivates me. I have friends there, and that makes the process and logistics of moving a lot easier – having people you can turn to when you can’t/don’t understand something in a country where you don’t speak the language! I have found a potential place to live; a great 2 bed apartment in the Nomentana area of Rome.

2. My house will be going on the market in a matter of weeks…not an easy decision, but I have dedicated the last 8 years to renovating, maintaining and running my home, and that has been tough at times. Now is the time to make the house work for me.

3. I need to sort pet passports for the cats, and arrange their travel to Rome. The decision to take them has had me going back and forth in my mind. But I realised that there will be moments when I am in Rome that I will crave something from home, some comfort and a reminder, and they can do that perfectly! And they deserve la dolce vita too! Anyone in the UK planning a similar move can find out more information about pet passports here

4. Plan, pack, sort and throw out all of my belongings! I have a bit of a self-imposed deadline as my parents leave the UK on April 25th for up to 5 months, and there is no way I can do all this without them being here. I will need their emotional and physical support! My leaving has to coincide with theirs and likewise, I don’t want to wait until they return, as that could be as late in the year as September, and if I wait 8 months to make this move I will a) go mad and b) probably talk myself out of it! The time is now!

5. Save, save, save all I can fund-age wise to help build up some cash to have behind me. It makes no sense to waste money on boozy nights out between now and when I go and that’s a sacrifice worth making in my opinion! It costs more that you can imagine to relocate, and there are costs (pet passports/travel/vaccinations, storage for the things at home you may ship out later, added baggage when flying out for the first time etc) that some people may over-look, so it does help to be careful with what ‘luxuries’ you may spend out on pre-move!

So, in 4 months time, I hope to be living the dream…follow me on my journey!

Nina

Goodbye 2012 and hello 2013! A wrap up of 2012

8 Jan

Wow, I can’t quite believe that I am at the beginning of yet another year, looking back over my shoulder at 2012, which was one of the happiest, challenging and interesting years so far! I made some amazing friends, met some wonderful people and went to some stunning places.
January saw me confirming and planning my holiday in Tuscany for late June
February gave us some snow, and evenings having playfights in playgrounds
March started painfully with a broken coccyx, cue 6 weeks of no moving
April I was guestlist again to see my beloved Ryan Adams at the Palladium
May I changed my holiday plans and added a 3 night stay in Rome to my week in Tuscany
June was spent counting the days until I flew to Tuscany on 23rd for an amazing holiday
July I turned 29, and was treated to a night in a 5* hotel by my best friend Naomi
August my Mum turned 60, and the whole family celebrated together at hers for Afternoon Tea!
September I started my Italian language course
October I was rushed to hospital with appendicitis, had an operation!
November I had some of my writing published, something I could tick off my bucket list
December I spent Christmas with my family and my New Year in Rome

As for 2013, there are a lot of things I want to achieve. A psychic told me (cue spooky music) many years ago that 2013 would be the biggest year of my life and I hope they are right. There are many reasons people give for wanting to change their lives…whether those reasons are justified or not, is not for anyone else to decide. When I look at what I want to achieve this year, I find that people’s opinions fall into two categories…the ‘do it, life’s too short-ers’ and the ‘have you thought this all through-ers?’. Luckily, the vast majority of people who matter  to me are in the first group.

I found myself thinking a lot of about my plans for 2013…it’s a big year for me; I turn 30 and that brings with it its own issues…its a real turning point in life (and 10 years in your twenties is too many!) and time to start making plans about the future. I don’t want to rush anything, but I feel that now is the time to start making plans and laying down the path to a new life.

It was 2005 when I first visited Italy and I fell instantly in love. It was returning from that trip that I vowed to one day make Italy my home. This year, I hope to make that dream a reality. It will take a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of day-dreaming thinky time, but I know that it’s where I want to be and I hope, where I shall be living by Christmas 2013. I’m in a very fortunate position and have the backing to make this move…now, it’s just a case of getting the wheels in motion.