A Storybook breakfast

After having a drink at the beautiful Le Stanze bar in Bologna, I was in search of a nice place to have breakfast on a Sunday morning. I love places that offer something different- whether it be the style, the menu, or surrounding atmosphere. Les Pupitres, in Bologna, Italy, is probably the most adorable little coffee shop you could imagine.

The prices are great (cappuccino €1.20, croissant €1.00) not to mention a series of delectable baked goods for under €5.00. They also serve lunch and alcoholic drinks.

The location is perfect (near the famous Due Torri) and they play Lucio Dalla in the background during breakfast.

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Bologna: A drink under frescoes

My new favourite bar in Bologna, Italy is Le Stanze. It is a bar located inside a former 16th century church that was later deconsecrated. You can enjoy cocktails, beer, wine, and the famous Italian Aperitivo(6-9pm), that is served with sandwiches, chips, and mini pizzas. The traditional Aperitivo drink is the “spritz” made with carbonated water, dry Italian wine, and either Aperol or Campari. The drinks cost around €3-8 euros. Le Stanze is also a restaurant where you can eat a good meal for €10-30. If you’re not too hungry, grab a cappuccino and stare at the beautiful frescoes surrounding you.

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Italian prose on porticos

In a previous post, I included a photograph of a poem that was painted onto a wall here in Bologna. The city is full of these short poems that can be spotted on signs, stone walls, and street corners. I’ve been collecting and translating them for the past few weeks, but I’ve edited this post to include a few. The poems are still a mystery to me, but they seem to have been placed around the city by the Movement for the Emancipation of Poetry.
The MVP (Movimento Emancipazione Poesia) has stated the following about their work in Bologna, Italy

“To this day, in the vulgar contemporary society, poetry does not hold the role that, for cultural and historical reasons, it is entitled to. This is not because it no longer carries the ability to communicate and elicit emotions, feelings and fantasies, but rather because although poetry continues to be written, it is no longer read, the preference being for cheap empty entertainment over the noble and difficult exercise of spirited thought. […]”

These photos and translations (done by me) will be edition number one of a series of posts I’d like to do. It seems that I’ve still got over 100 poems to discover in this city.

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Translation:
I swear on my own heart
I’ve never wanted it!
Can you hear it beating?
How do we surrender to the certainty of possessing one another?
It’s the fear
We’ll go in search of
other peaks
from which we can
tremble.

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Translation:
We still speak of
Faded memories
Of the days yet to arrive
Of bridges and boundaries
Of sunrises, sunsets
Of us.
It’s a fine line,
Tonight
The end.

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Translation:
We are the same verb,
declined* in different tenses.
Different windows on the same moon
Mismatched eyes crying the same tears

*a process used in Latin grammar [declension]

Finally, my personal favourite

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Translation:
I hate you.
I hate you because you came into my life way too early.
I’m nothing yet. I’m mud between the fingers of destiny.
An insane compass driving me.
I’m afraid.
I’m afraid that what I will be will destroy what we were, removing your eyes that watch me every morning, hanging on the ceiling of my bedroom.

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Italian Street Art

Bologna is a stunning ancient city (see post) that is also home to the oldest university in the world. Students are attracted from all over the globe to study behind its prestigious walls. The student neighbourhood has adopted a different flair than the rest of the old town, yet equally as beautiful.

Poetry – The “Emancipation of Poetry” society has posted these excerpts on the walls of the city.

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Translation:
I hate you.
I hate you because you came into my life way too early.
I’m nothing yet. I’m mud between the fingers of destiny.
An insane compass driving me.
I’m afraid.
I’m afraid that what I will be will destroy what we were, removing your eyes that watch me every morning, hanging on the ceiling of my bedroom.

Fly away.

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Looking for pizza?

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Long live the rebels!

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Red.

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Bologna, city of colour.

I’ve previously blogged about my new home in Italy. It’s a city called Bologna, famous for its tortellini and mortadella, but just about everything else is delicious as well.
Bologna isn’t as famous as Rome or Florence, but it has a spirit that can hold its own, and a burst of colour that speaks for itself.
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Pizza, cappuccinos, and calcio!

I haven’t blogged in a few days because I had a 9 hour flight to Rome, plus a four hour train ride. Add some jet-lag to that and you’ve got a lost-in-translation mindset for a few days. Once I’m cured of my temporary insomnia I’ll be able to write real paragraphs again.

First impressions of Bologna, Italy: Although I always go through a “sad” phase in my first few days in a new city, trying to adjust to my surroundings…Bologna is beautiful. It’s a photographer’s dream. However, for the artistically challenged like me, it’ll be hard to give it justice using my iPhone.

As for the blog, I can’t believe someone other than my mother reads it. I’ve even received a lot of questions about my travels, so I figured I’d answer them here.

Why did you leave Canada? – Canada is a fantastic country where you are guaranteed financial stability if you’ve graduated or have any form of educational training. You will get a job, and even if it’s waitressing at a local Italian eatery, you’ll be making double the wages offered in a real Italian restaurant in Italy. I originally moved to Spain, I loved it and I’m hoping to return. I was tired of being comfortable. I was born in Canada, raised in Canada, and if I hadn’t lived abroad- I wouldn’t have any stories to tell. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re stuck in sticky situations.

How can you afford this? – I live in a shared flat with another person (several people in the past). I work as an ESL teacher, and I make enough money to pay my rent, eat, travel using low cost airlines (yay Ryanair and Easyjet), and go out once in a while. An ESL teacher in Spain or Italy will make 1,100-1,300 euros for 25-30 hours a week. Private lessons (at home tutoring) pay about 25 euros an hour. This is a good option for some extra cash on the side.

Any advice for people who want to move abroad?- If you’re ok with making enough to live on, do it. You will learn a new language, meet new people, and grow in ways you never believed possible. These are experiences you cannot have living at home. Do it while you’re in your 20s and haven’t got a family or children to worry about. Just don’t fall in love here, it’s a bad idea 😉image

Countdown to A New Adventure

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My visit to Canada has come to an end, and on Thursday I’ll be heading back to Italy, and moving to a new city: Bologna. I moved from Spain to Italy this past February. The problem is, I chose Milan, and I haaated Milan. Seven months of arrogant wealthy people and snobby fashionistas in a concrete jungle left me feeling like I’d been living in a world where I would never belong.
So Bologna it is! It’s considered a student city (having one of the first universities in modern history) and more of a low-key alternative atmosphere.
A new city means a new job as well, although I don’t start until mid-September. I wanted a few weeks to adjust and get to know my surroundings without getting lost on the way to work. Moreover, it’s a condensed city so a car is unnecessary, I might get a bike at most.
There’s was famous Italian singer, called Lucio Dalla, who dedicated a song to Bologna. I figured, if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.
First stop, however, is Rome!
P.S – one of my posts is on Thought Catalog, check it out here.
Ciao.

Five Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy

In my previous posts, I talked about moving to Spain. But maybe you’ve chosen the land of well dressed and attractive men as your next destination. Since you’ve chosen Italy as your next nesting place, you should be aware of the following before you make your big move! (Don’t worry I’ll talk about pizza too).

1. Visas/permits
Once again, if you want to overstay the three month time limit and you do not belong to a Schengen country, particularly if you are Canadian or American – you must apply for a visa or permit in your country of origin. If you are studying abroad, you should probably be accepted within 4-8 weeks if the paperwork is done correctly. However, there’s a huge work crisis in Italy, so if you’re not going over to teach English, or transferring from a multinational, stay away (unless you’re aiming for a waitressing job).

When you arrive, you must go to the police station and show them your visa, and they will give you a little card called permesso di soggiorno, which you should keep on you, especially when travelling.

2) Avoid big cities
The rent in Milan or Rome will be twice as high as a smaller city, and you’ll probably be earning the same amount – give or take a hundred euros. Before opting for the overpriced obvious choices, why not try smaller, but beautiful cities like Bologna, Verona, or Lecce. The south of Italy operates like a third world country in terms of organization, but the towns are smaller, the food and weather are better, and the people are nicer.

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3) Lots of things are done illegally
Make sure that your boss and your company are offering you a real position with guaranteed pay. Many places offer work in cash without a contract, and I don’t think I need to specify why this is a bad idea. Also, ask for your contract in English, so you can take a better look at what you’re getting yourself into. Research the place beforehand to see if anyone has anything negative to say on the internet. If you’re teaching, look for big name franchises, not small, private schools.

4) Beauty, and damn good food
I don’t have to tell you that Italy is a beautiful country, because that’s what it’s famous for. If you have the opportunity to travel around Italy for an extensive period of time, or you’ve decided to move here, there are a ton of beautiful and unique towns to check out, and they may not be the obvious big city gems. My personal favourites are Porto Venere (picture above) Sirmione – Lago di Garda, Lecce, and Otranto (see below)

imageSpeaking about the food would be redundant because it’s food you’ve already dreamt about. Fun fact: fettuccine Alfredo doesn’t exist. It’s an American invention. If you mention Alfredo, people will think you are referring to their uncle/brother/friend with the same name.

5. Level of patience required = Buddhism
You will have to accept things that would be considered unacceptable in North America or other parts of the world. Yes, your train was scheduled for 5pm, and no, it won’t arrive before 5:45, or later. TrenItalia is the real mafia of Italy (yes, sue me). They offer horrible customer service (see my post: Is This Train on Fire?!). Moreover, if they are over 50min late, sometimes they just cancel the train so they won’t have to exercise their refund policy.

If you need paperwork done for any reason, make room for a 6 hour block in your day, as you will be greeted with long lines, and unhappy people waiting to serve you. Better yet, take two days off – just in case.

Honestly I would suggest getting into some type of hypnotic meditation when you arrive in order to avoid pulling out your own hair. Or you could drown your frustrations with some great wine and pizza. Fun fact: pepperoni means pepper. If you ask for a pepperoni pizza, you will get a pizza with peppers on it. Another American invention. Our version of pepperoni is simply called salami.

The one about the roadtrip

I don’t want you to become a story, a memory I recall about my crazy twenties.

You’re in the driver’s seat next to me and the windows are open. You have a sly grin on your face because you know you’re annoying me with your singing. Your dark hair has recently been cut, exposing the tanned skin on your neck that I notice when I slide my palm around it. It’s August in northern Italy, so the streets are completely empty, as everyone has made a mad dash for the sea. No one will notice if you drive a little faster – since the road ahead of us is completely empty.

We’re on our way to some small town 200km away on the coast. I convinced you to go after I read about it last week. I convince you to do a lot of things, it seems. Maybe it’s because you know that a few weeks from now, you might never see me again – so you’re trying to memorize every detail of my face, every reaction, every moment that we spend together in this hot car – or maybe it’s just me.

We stop at a ice cream shop, gelateria, because thanks to you, I’ve also developed an addiction to the myriad of flavors begging us to have a taste. We always choose the same. I’ve memorized your order, and you know mine. If we always choose what we’re comfortable with, why did we choose one another?

I don’t want to find a photo album 20 years from now, with this trip documented on the inside of it. I don’t want you to be a story I tell my kids one day…”when I was your age, I was in love with this incredibly handsome guy…”

I don’t want this to fade into nothing.

I’m at a crossroads between a career and love, and the two things happen to have a body of water in between. Unfortunately that body of water is the Atlantic Ocean.

So what if I choose the irrational option?  The stupid girl who stayed for love. The one that gives us one more road trip, one more ice cream, and one more horrible rendition of your favorite song on the radio.

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Is this train on fire?!

Nothing has placed me in as much trouble as my procrastination habit has. From leaving important deadlines to the last minute, to spending hundreds on plane tickets due to lack of planning, it reached its peak last August.  I caught the 13:30 train to Genova from a small seaside town in Italy called Loano. I missed the 12:30 train because sleeping in and having a 2 hour breakfast was more important to me. The problem was, the 13:30 train broke down in the middle of nowhere due to an electrical fire, which resulted in crowds of people rushing off the train. Since the concept of customer service is unknown in Italy, the Tren Italia representative  didn’t seem to be concerned with the fact that all of the passengers (mainly the foreigners like me) were stranded in the countryside since there was an overall interruption in rail travel. So what did I do? I did exactly what they tell you NOT to do. I paid a passerby in a car to take me to the following train station in the next town over, risking the possibility of being attacked by a serial killer, or an escaped criminal, or whatever. He didn’t look like one though… (I know I’m not making a strong case). I finally made it to Genova, alive, and was able to take the overnight train to Milan, without obviously receiving any compensation from Tren Italia because you would have to lose a limb in order for that to happen. As for the procrastination part, this kind of event serves as a wake up call for most people – unfortunately, in my case, it seems to be an incurable disease.

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