February 28, 2017

23 Things

Today it's my 23rd birthday, so I decided to write down a list of 23 things I did during the day:
  1. I woke up at quarter to nine
  2. I switched my Whatsapp to my British number
  3. I had a shower
  4. I checked out whether there were some birthday discounts in London (but in the end I didn't use any)
  5. I ate some chocolate cake from Sainsbury's
  6. I went for a walk in Oxford Street with Lorenzo
  7. I went to Veggie Pret for the first time
  8. I went to Starbucks without buying anything (Lorenzo had a coffee though)
  9. I had a random low moment, typical me. I luckily managed to feel better soon
  10. I bought a theatre ticket last minute
  11. I visited a guitar store in Denmark Street
  12. I went to Primark and bought some socks and a raincoat
  13. I bought a Naked 3 palette (I wanted it for soo long!)
  14. I ran from the Urban Decay store to Cambridge Theatre because I was scared I would be late for the show
  15. I saw Matilda the Musical (with the stunning Zaris-Angel Hator as Matilda)
  16. I bought a Matilda pin badge to remember this day
  17. I enjoyed walking in the West End at night
  18. I travelled all day with the Jubilee line and Piccadilly line
  19. I posted twice in a row on Instagram
  20. I ate pasta al pesto for dinner
  21. I wanted to ate pancakes at some point but I didn't
  22. I washed up plenty of dishes (even though I'd promised myself not to do house work on my birthday)
  23. I wrote two blog posts (and cheated posting one on February 27)

All in all I had a really nice day and I'm quite sad it's over. Today I felt pretty special and this has been my first birthday abroad ever.

Marti xx

February 27, 2017

The Diary of Anne Frank

This month I only read one book, but a great one. I read The Diary of Anne Frank.


I had learned about Anne, her life and her diary at school, but I'd never read the whole book before. I've always wanted to read it but never got round doing so. That's why some weeks ago I picked it up and started.

I really enjoyed it and learned many things about Anne that I didn't know before. I really like the style it's written and the deep thoughts that the girl expressed in her pages. I also like the less deep parts of it, I believe they help to contextualize the life of Anne and her family and create a mental picture of their secret annex and their life. I really wish I could read it in Dutch, but I don't speak that language. I wish I did because it sounds beautiful.

I wanted to quote some lines from the book but I left it in Italy and forgot to write them down.

Also, I've been to Amsterdam a couple of years ago but I haven't visited the secret annex because I didn't book the tickets in advance, silly me, and the queue was always incredibly long, but next time I visit Amsterdam it is going to be the first thing I do.


Book challenge 2017:
The Diary of Anne Frank: a book that's been on your TBR list for way too long

Marti xx

February 26, 2017

Leaving Home and Going Home

Today's the day I officially move out of my parent's home.

Today I'm moving to London.

Saying that out loud still feels like a dream, I cannot believe it's coming true. I've wanted to move to the UK since I was in primary school, as I've always felt a deep connection with the British culture and the English language. Growing up I kind of changed my dream destination a few times, but in the end London popped up again and again. I was lucky to find a boyfriend who also has a British heart (we actually first met in London, not too far from where we live now) and he made moving out a lot simpler for me.

Yesterday I had all of my relatives and some family friends over for a graduation/birthday/goodluckandgoodbye party. I was spoiled with gifts and was allowed to wear my laurel crown all day and eat plenty of nice food.

The sad part about leaving is not being able to see family and friends so much anymore, especially because I'm moving to a whole different country, and not exactly the cheapest one too. The person I will miss the most is my brother, I already know that. My parents have accepted this fact way better than him, I believe. Well, I guess growing up and moving out brings this kind of problems to everyone anyway, even when you're moving to the next city and not miles away. I'm not complaining anyway, if I moved to Australia it would be far harder for people to come and visit me.


I'd like to mention what my close family got me yesterday, because I really loved their creativity. Mum and dad got me a Tiffany Olive Leaf ring, because it reminded them of a laurel crown, and I love it to pieces and I'm so scared of losing it because I'm not used to wear rings, but I'll pay attention to it all the time until I'm sure I can trust my fingers. Mum also did a little watercolour of me sitting on a pile of books.

My brother gave me a huge red box with a yellow ribbon (which is my 'idea' of gift, it's the kind of gift I used to draw when I was little, and he knows it). He had written a long card and he made my eyes well up with tears, I won't lie. In the box I found a bamboo steamer and a set of bowls, ceramic spoons, chopsticks and all I might need for a handmade Chinese (or Japanese) dinner. He thought of getting me this because I learned Chinese at university and also because Chinese dumplings are my favourite asian food.

In the next few days I'll have to do all the grown up stuff: open a bank account, apply for a NIN, and so on. Scaaary! But exciting as well.

Marti xx

February 24, 2017

Wearing the Laurel Crown

Today I finally graduated from university!

[PICTURES COMING SOON]

I had a wonderful day and I wasn't expecting that. I expected to be worried, anxious and controlling. I expected the professors not to care about my dissertation and to feel awkward while I explained it.

But thankfully things took a completely different direction.

I wasn't feeling anxious at all. My only worry was the fact that I was almost voiceless (probably because of a flu or something like that) and talking was exhausting because I constantly had to make an effort to speak up.

I had a calm morning at home, I went out to have my hair done and then went back home to do my makeup. After lunch I went to the train station with my parents and we headed to Università Cattolica. Along the way we stopped to pick up my laurel crown (everyone wears one after graduating in Italy) and a bouquet. 

Then we entered my university and had to wait for hours before it was my turn. In the meantime some friends and family members got there and I chatted a bit with them.

When they called my name I entered the room with my friends and family and went to sit in front of the professors committee. They introduced me and my dissertation and then I started talking. I wasnt' feeling anxious at all, I was just happy and proud and couldn't wait for that moment to end because I wanted to spend the rest of the day with my beloved people in the sun (and get something to drink).

I felt happy and proud of myself for how I handled the situation, because I am one who usually panics for the smallest things but today I just felt happy and maybe relieved that my university career was over.

The professors asked me questions about my dissertation (titled: Sing, sing, sing! The translation of songs in Glee through professional subtitles and fansubs) and seemed really interested by the topic, the head of the committee even told me that I had taught her something she didn't knew.

I went out of the room and then got called back in to be officially called 'dottoressa' and be graded 109/110. I shook hands with all the professors and the head of the committee said she was sorry she couldn't give me more than 109 (which is more than enough for me anyway, but hearing her say so made me feel even happier).

As soon as we got out of the room, I lost control over the situation, but I decided not to panic and just let my parents guide me through the rest of the afternoon. They put the crown on my head, gave me flowers, hugged me, and took a million pictures on the main staircase (which looks like it belongs to an ancient museum or to Hogwarts) and in the courtyard.

Afterwards we went to Panini Durini to eat and drink something. I had a juice made of apple, pineapple, grapefruit and strawberries and a slice of apple plumcake. We chatted for a bit and then my parents, brother and relatives went home and I spent the rest of the evening with my best friends and boyfriend. 

At 8 o'clock we went to Risoelatte, a beautiful restaurants in the city centre, and had dinner there. I loved the place, the company and the food.

My friends gave me some presents. My university friends got me a Pandora owl graduate charm and my hometown friends got me a tiny, beautiful Lola and Grace necklace.

After dinner we parted ways and I went home with my boyfriend. Before going to sleep we hung out with some of his friends till late, and we lighted some sky lanterns, Tangled style.

I must say I couldn't be happier of how things went and I'm really impressed and proud of myself, not only for graduating but for being so brave all day long.

Oh, also, before I go: wearing a laurel crown is really satisfying and looks beautiful in pictures. It's also comfy on the head and not heavy at all. I kind of wish I could wear it on a daily basis and pretend I'm a woodland nymph.

Marti xx

February 21, 2017

Simple Parsnip Soup

Last night I was home alone for dinner so I decided to experiment with parsnips, since my boyfriend Lorenzo doesn't really like them. I went for a simple soup. As usual, I read a bunch of recipes online to get some inspiration before making up mine. 


Here's the list of ingredients:
4 parsnips
250 ml oat milk
500 ml vegetable stock
Pinch of salt
Spoonful of oil
Pinch of dried basil
Handful of walnuts
A slice of bread
I started with peeling and cutting the parsnips in small chunks. Then I put said chunks in a pot along with oat milk and vegetable stock. I added a pinch of salt, some dried basil and a spoonful of oil and mixed it well. 

Then I put the pot on the hob at a high temperature until it started boiling, then I turned the temperature down and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring it from time to time. 

After 30 minutes I took the pot away from the hob and blended it with a hand blender until it got as smooth as I wanted it.

I poured it in a bowl and topped it with chopped walnuts and croutons made out of a slice of toast.

I really enjoyed this soup and I think I'll try to make my boyfriend try it, sooner or later.

I would say this recipe serves three to four people. Since as I said I was eating on my own, I decided to freeze the rest of it in small boxes and save it for those days when I don't have time to put together a proper meal.

How do you like to eat your parsnips?

Marti xx

February 20, 2017

Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy

When I was little I visited Sirmione and loved it just because its name kind of reminded me of Hermione.


Sirmione is a small town on Lake Garda. It has three main peculiarities: the fact that it is located on a peninsula, that it has thermal springs, and that the famous ancient poet Catullus lived there.

Back when I was in high school, Catullus was one of my favourite latin poets. I loved his work because it was rather easy to translate and because the content of some poems was relatable and quite modern, which is weird, considering that he was born in 84 BC.


Here's one of Catullus' most famous poems:

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis.
Soles occidere et redire possunt;
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum;
dein, cum milia multa fecerīmus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us love,
and let us value all the rumors of
more severe old men at only a penny!
Suns are able to set and return:
when once the short light has set for us
one perpetual night must be slept by us.
Give me a thousand kisses, then a hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then immediately a thousand then a hundred.
then, when we will have made many thousand kisses,
we will throw them into confusion,
or lest we know anyone bad be able to envy
when he knows there to be so many of kisses.

      (Wikipedia's translation, not mine)


Browsing through Wikipedia, I also found out that Lord Alfred Tennyson has written a poem about Sirmione. This fact caught my eye because Tennyson's Ulysses is another favourite of mine. I used to quote it everywhere and I still feel like his lines talk to me on a deep level, but I'll save this topic for another time.

I always feel weird when I visit places where such famous and immortal authors have lived and walked just as I do right now. It will never stop surprising me.



Last week I spent a few days in Desenzano del Garda, a pretty town on Lake Garda (Italy) with Lorenzo. Since Desenzano is really close to Sirmione, we decided to pay a visit there as well. We were lucky because the weather was warm and sunny and the town was calm and quiet. We enjoyed our lunch and some ice cream and took some nice pictures, as you can see from this post.

One thing that really impressed me was how clear the water looked. You could definitely look through it and the colours were spectacular.

Lake Garda is a place I'd definitely recommend to anyone who wants to visit Italy. Along with beautiful lake towns like Sirmione there are some smaller, romantic places like Borghetto sul Mincio or some bigger towns like Verona, beautiful parks like Parco Sigurtà and fun places like Gardaland, one of the biggest Italian amusement parks.


Parka - Stradivarius | Trousers - Promod | Shoes - Marco Tozzi | Bag - Mango

Have you ever visited Sirmione?

Marti xx

February 15, 2017

Marco Mengoni: Ti ho voluto bene veramente

I'm back (quite soon) with my Italian Culture series and this time I've picked a more recent artist.

Marco Mengoni is a singer/songwriter. He was born in 1988 and in 2009 he won the third edition of X Factor Italia. Since then his popularity increased and he managed to keep it up without fading. In my personal opinion he is the only X Factor winner that truly managed to detach himself from the talent show and become an independent artist. Most X Factor Italia winners only last about a year and then get replaced, their fame fades, while Mengoni has been around for seven years without disappearing. During the past years he also managed to improve his songwriting skills, though not all of his songs are written by himself.

The song that I chose to present here is my personal favourite between all of his singles. I have never listened to his full albums so I don't know all of his music, but I've heard all of his singles and I've seen the videos and this song is the one that really spoke to me when I heard it, so much that some days I actually put it on replay.

Marco Mengoni - Ti ho voluto bene veramente (video screenshot, picture not mine)

I've decided to personally translate the lyrics and write them down here, so you can listen to the song and have an idea of what he's saying. The song is called Ti ho voluto bene veramente, which I roughly translated to "I really loved you". In Italian though there are two kinds of "I love you", there's "ti amo" that is very well known around the world and is usually said by couples, husbands and wives, people who are in love with each other. Then there is "ti voglio bene" - the one used by Mengoni in this song - that has a more general meaning and is used between relatives, friends, siblings, or partners that are not ready to say "ti amo" yet. It's a way to say that you really care about the other person and I personally only use it with people I really, really care about, but many other Italians use it more freely, almost as a form of salutation. 

I said enough for now. Open YouTube, search for Ti ho voluto bene veramente, close your eyes and listen. Or watch the video. Or read the lyrics. Whatever you like best. Three, two, one... Play.

So I set off on a long journey,
Far from all the mistakes that I've made.
I visited places so I could avoid seeing you
And the farther I went, the better I felt.
It was snowing heavily but I kept walking,
Sometimes I lit a fire in the cold and I thought of you.
Daydreaming on the deck of a ferry,
I thought I could see your reflection in the sea. 
The lights in the harbour seemed so far away
And I felt happy when we landed.
And my face was changing, my beard was growing.
I spent entire days without saying a word. 
And you can't imagine how much I wanted to be with you. 
Because I really love you
And there is no place in the world where you don't come to my mind.
I really wanted to have you
And I didn't want to hear
That I couldn't do much about it.
I would have found many more answers
If I had asked you,
But it doesn't matter.
I cannot do that now because you're too far away. 
I feel I need to tell you that travelling changes you as a person,
And the starting point now seems so distant.
The destination is not a place, it's a feeling
And we don't know where or when we'll reach it. 
I spent entire days without saying a word,
I thought you were really far away.
Wish I only knew before I left
That the meaning of a journey is the destination, the calling. 
Because I really love you
And there is no place in the world where you do not come to my mind.
I really wanted to have you
And I didn't want to hear
That I couldn't do much about it.
I would have found many more answers
If I had asked you,
But it doesn't matter.
I cannot do that now because you're too far away.
I cannot do that now.

I tried to translate the lyrics as faithfully as possible but I am aware that they are not perfect, and other Italians might argue that for them the lyrics maybe meant something different. I'm fine with that, just let me know what you'd change and we can talk about it. In my head I have a personal vision of the meaning of this song but I don't want to influence anyone so I'm not going to write it there. You can let me know yours in the comments if you like.

Don't forget to let me know if you liked this song and if you'd like any other song recommendation or translation.

Marti xx

February 12, 2017

A short note and an old picture

Hello!

This month my posts are going to be all over the place. I've messed up a bit with the days but I'm going to make up for the posts I missed later on. 

I'm about to see my boyfriend, we haven't seen each other in two weeks, and we are going to spend three or four days near lake Garda as a treat. My next post will be another Italian Culture one, and the next one will be about our Valentine holiday, I think. We'll see.

I don't even know if I can call this short note a proper post, maybe I should think of something more clever to add.

***

Oh, okay, I have found something.

Here. have a picture of baby Martina doing some kind of weird hand sign, with a bib on her head. Cool since '94.


I just love this picture, and now that I think of it, I should probably scan more of my old pictures so I can always have them with me. Let's hope I manage to do that sometimes.

Have a nice Sunday,
Marti xx

February 11, 2017

Italo Calvino: Invisible Cities

I've decided to begin my Italian Culture series with an author that is praised all over the world. A safe start, if you want. I could have picked a brand new celebrity but I thought I should start big and then proceed to alternate classics and recent things, just to prove that my knowledge goes a bit further than the latest talent show's winner and to describe as many sides of the Italian culture as possible.


Italo Calvino is a journalist and writer. He was born in 1923 and died in 1985. 

His name is really well known, there are streets and schools named after him and most students read one or more of his books. The most famous titles (as far as I know) are The Path to the Nest of Spiders, The Cloven Viscount, The Baron in the Trees, Marcovaldo and If on a winter's night a traveler.

I've personally read three of his books, and I really like his style and stories, both the more lyrical ones and the historical ones. I wouldn't mind reading the others and I think I'd start from If on a winter's night a traveler because I love the title and the plot sounds interesting.

However, the book I wanted to talk about here is one that's a little less known, at least among the people that I know. It's called Invisible Cities. I read it about four years ago, because I was writing my high school "tesina" (short essay/dissertation) about imaginary cities. My main topic was John Green's Paper Towns, but a teacher suggested me to read Calvino's book as well.


I tuoi passi rincorrono ciò che non si trova fuori dagli occhi ma dentro
Your footsteps follow not what is outside the eyes, but what is within 
(William Weaver's translation, not mine)

I really really loved it, and I still have it on my bookshelf. It survived all of my decluttering sessions and I still remember it quite well after all this time. 

The main plot revolves around Marco Polo and his explorations of Asia and the whole book is supposed to represent a conversation between Polo and Kublai Kahn, but the book itself sounds more like poetry than like the novel it's supposed to be.

Cities also believe they are the work of the mind or of chance, but neither the one nor the other suffices to hold up their walls. You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.    (William Weaver's translation, not mine)

There are nine parts and each of them contains a narrative bit followed by a series of descriptions of the fictitious cities Marco Polo has visited, and all of them have a different name and different, specific features that describe them. All of them make you think about something: death, dreams, travelling, the past, and so on.

I've only read the Italian version, not the translated one, but I know that this book (and Calvino in general) is pretty famous around the world therefore I believe that the English version should be good enough to let you appreciate the meaning of this novel and all of its shades.
 
The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.    (William Weaver's translation, not mine)

Have you ever read anything written by Calvino? Also, what's your favourite classic novel?

Marti xx

February 09, 2017

So...

...I said I'd upload my next post on Sunday and then I disappeared for days. Um. Sorry.

I had too much on my plate (is that how they say it?) and I messed up a lot, but thankfully I'm feeling better (physically and mentally) and now I'm ready to post again.

I'm going to split this post in three sections.

Part ONE

I printed my dissertation. Now it's on my desk and it's looking even better than I ever imagined it and I feel quite proud of myself. I'm going to graduate on February 24, wish me luck!

I've also completed my graduation outfit. I've got the dress, cardigan, shoes and even some new tights (woo, living the luxe life).

I only need to put together my tiny teeny speech for the day.

Part TWO

I'd like to share with you two blogs that I really like and that are run by fellow Italians (and  fellow #TheGirlGang members):

ireisapenguin.com - Irene is a wise, strong woman who loves to talk about makeup and mental health. Her posts are always really deep and full of information.

aishettina.blogspot.it - Aisha is a lover of beauty, fashion and cats. Her pictures and colour scheme are always eye catching and she writes her posts both in English and Italian, which is brilliant.

They both use (mainly) English so wherever you come from you have no excuses, just go and check them out! 

Part THREE

I actually forgot what I wanted to say here, but Masterchef is about to start so I'm leaving this here and going in the living room to watch the new episode. Bye.

Marti

February 03, 2017

Italian Culture

As you might now, I'm Italian. Therefore, I speak and understand Italian. 

Having said that, I've always felt British at heart, and I love the English language deeply. Every single accent and peculiarity. I'm glad I speak Italian but I'm not a big fan of Italian music, films, contemporary literature. I tend to stick to English most of the time.

Despite what I just said, there are some Italian authors and people that I really appreciate. I thought I might start a tiny series on this blog about some of my favourites. I'm going to pick films, books, poems and songs that I really like and translate some bits, while explaining why I love them.

Let me know if you might be interested in this and if you know some Italian novels, singers and celebrities and if you're interested in any specific translation (I really enjoy translating stuff).

Today I'm going to work on a list of famous pieces, on Sunday I'll upload the first post of the series.

Marti xx

February 01, 2017

A Little Musical Throwback

Do you remember 5 Seconds of Summer? Do people even listen to them anymore? I don't know.

I stopped following them a couple of years ago, right after they became more popular around the world. I didn't like the direction that their music was taking, and I stopped listening to their new music right after they released their first studio album.

Before that, though, I used to love them like brothers. I would listen to their music everyday. I had a Twitter account just to follow them and socialise with other fans. I was part of a closed group of hardcore fans. I read all existing Wattpad fanfictions (at the time there weren't too many). I started loving them right after seeing them live for the first time when they opened for One Direction in London, April 2, 2013. At first I wasn't too impressed or interested but at some point they played a song called "Over and Over" and from that moment I was sold. I went home and in the next few days I started listening to their music and I reached a point where I was actually more interested in them than in One Direction, because their music felt more spontaneous. I feel like they've lost that feature when they recorded that first album, but I guess that's a natural consequence after all.

I did this one day while I was at school, put it on the Internet and they posted it on their Tumblr!

There are many, many songs that they did or covered that I still love and listen to, and many of them were recorded in a studio or released at some point, but the one that caught me that first time, "Over and Over", has never been released in any way. You can only find a few videos that people filmed at their gigs - thank you, strangers. I'm really sad about this thing because, even though I don't listen to their new music and I've never been to any of their concerts again, I still listen to their old music and I really wish there was a quality recording of my favourite song.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound rude here, I'm not judging them as people or anything like that, I'm just saying that I disagree with some choices that have been made by them or their managers, or the people that mixed their music, or whatever. I'm sure they're still pretty much the same goofs as before, just a bit more grown up, maybe, and they definitely deserve the success they earned.

Centre: The day I saw them perform. Left + right: That's how dedicated I was.

If you still listen to them, or you just used to, I'd like to hear your opinion here. Also, do you have a favourite 5 Seconds of Summer song? Let me know, I'm curious.

Apart from Over and Over, my other favourites were the following (in no particular order):
  • Good Girls are Bad Girls (not the studio version but the one they played at the O2 Academy London May 12, 2013 aka the first night they ever played it live <3)
  • Heartbreak Girl
  • Out of My Limit
  • Gotta Get Out
  • Try Hard (when the video came out I watched it every morning while having breakfast)
  • Beside You
  • Unpredictable
Also, from the covers (which are too precious and helped me discover new songs that now I love):
  • Jersey (Mayday Parade)
  • Jasey Rae (All Time Low)
  • I Miss You (Blink 182)
  • Check Yes Juliet (We the Kings)
  • Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus)
Marti xx