Travel

Some things I found strange the first time I went to Italy

Last week Caterina, PocketCultures contributor from Italy, wrote about some things she found strange when she lived in England. As an English person who has spent a lot of time in Italy (I am married to an Italian!) I thought it would be fun to look at it the other way round – things I did not expect when I visited Italy.

Italian food is famous in many countries around the world, and one of the most famous Italian dishes in Britain is Spaghetti Bolognese. Or so I thought. It turns out in Italy each sauce is normally combined with a particular shape of pasta – spaghetti with clams, penne with arrabiata (spicy tomato), … Bolognese sauce, or ragu as it’s usually called in Italy, is rarely served with spaghetti.

Italian breakfast

And whilst we’re on the topic of food, let’s talk about breakfast. The typical Italian breakfast in a bar is a cappuccino with a ‘pasta’ – a croissant, doughnut or other pastry. As Caterina wrote, it’s very different to the traditional breakfast served in British cafes. At home Italians might eat biscuits, or even a piece of cake, to go with their coffee. I have to admit I was surprised – In England we might eat a couple of biscuits mid-afternoon, but only as a treat, and definitely not as a meal.

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January 30, 2013 Comments disabled

Tuscany: discover Valdichiana valley

In this post Caterina, our new contributor from Italy, shares some tips for discovering lesser known places in Tuscany and some secrets for getting to know the locals.

Is this how you think of Tuscany? There is more to discover

Castiglion Fiorentino

If you loved the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun” you will adore the village of Castiglion Fiorentino, a sort of little Cortona but not so well known: its graceful shaped hills, together with its buildings of Etrurian origins, are really unique; why not wander under the Tuscan sun while the perfumes of golden sunflowers tickle your senses? Its romantic paths, shaded by emerald pines, are the perfect set of a romantic walk hand in hand; Castiglion Fiorentino really is a little secret jewel in Tuscany!

But, on the other hand, Castiglion Fiorentino is not just a typical picturesque country village: all the young people in the area would more easily remember its name for the very nice and fashionable pubs (The Garden and the Velvet) than for its typically Tuscan surroundings. Personally, I am also fond of the “Carro Armato” ice-cream: there is no better way of enjoying Italian life than with a gelato in hand.

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November 2, 2012 6 comments

What buttons can tell you about Italian society

When I was a child, one of my favourite pastimes was playing with my grandma’s button tin. Over the years she had collected hundreds of buttons, and I used to tip them out onto the carpet and spend hours arranging and admiring them.

Giorgio Galavotti, founder, owner and curator of the Museo del Bottone (Button museum), has spent a lifetime playing with buttons. For years he ran a button shop, setting up the museum when he retired, so he could share his passion with others. The buttons on display are mostly from the shop, as well as buttons brought along by friends and locals who raided their own button tins after he opened the museum. When I ask Giorgio if he has favourites he looks a bit schocked. “They are all my children” he says.

I learn that my grandma’s button tin was not unique “every house had one, and it’s a classic childhood story, playing with the button tin”

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August 29, 2012 1 comment

My first trip

It’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, so probably many of you are thinking about holidays, or at least escaping outside now and again. So for this month’s collaborative post we’ve been thinking about travel. If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, well, maybe you will read this and dream of the summer that’s coming up.

Colombia, the USA, India, Bulgaria… PocketCultures contributors from around the world write about their first trip abroad (or – since we haven’t all had the chance to travel abroad – their first big trip). Read on to find out where they went and what they did!

Nuria (Costa Rica)

I took my first trip abroad when I turned 15 years old. My parents and sisters celebrated this special birthday, Quince Años in Spanish, with me in San Andres Island, Colombia. It was the first time I was ever on a plane, so the trip was really exciting although it was only about an hour! I remember the day before leaving, I did not feel so good and I had a rash, so I went to the drugstore but they told me it was only an allergy. So, I did not pay that much attention to it. But the next day when we were at the airport, I had a fever and did not feel that good the following days. Since I thought what I had was a simple allergy, once I noticed some itchy, red dots on my legs, I just scratched them all.

Getting my hair braided

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August 15, 2012 2 comments

Bucharest Seen From the Arch of Triumph

Tourists may not know, and its inhabitants may have forgotten, how beautiful Bucharest can be.

I’ve realized that, together with the people who lined patiently, last Sunday, waiting to get inside the Arch of Triumph, visited the small museum, got to the upper terrace and admired the panorama from 27 meters high.

The Arch of Triumph - Bucharest,Romania - May 2012 / People line waiting to visit the inside museum and upper terrace

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May 16, 2012 4 comments

The good, the bad and the ugali

Sitting at Malawi’s Kamuzu international airport in this year’s already singeing summer has me bored, constipated and wishing I was somewhere else. I’ve been dropped off an hour and half early and am finding it difficult to breathe. This has nothing to do with my premature arrival, but with a rather wild weekend in Nairobi a few days prior that will remain a story for another day. I’m on my way back home though, which is good.

The reason I’ve whipped my laptop out is really a mixture of envy, nostalgia and arrogance.

I’ve just been watching someone whom I think to be a Malawian on his way out of his country for the very first time.


Photo credit

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May 7, 2012 1 comment