28 February 2007

Perchè Sanremo è _(fill in the blank)_.

If you are in Italy, you might be aware that last night was the opening night of Sanremo (you might also not care) Anyway, for those not in the know, it's an annual Italian music festival (but not festival in the Glastonbury sense).

There are a few good acts on, I heard that the Scissor Sisters were there last night. But if you think that it lasts a full week, around three hours each evening, you have to sit through quite a few other acts in order to see the good bits. Suffice to say I didn't make it to the Scissor Sisters last night.

The hosts this year were Pippo Baudo - think he's well respected on Italian tv, well he's on a lot anyway - think an Italian Terry Wogan. Funnily enough, the Eurovison song contest was the child of Sanremo. Now you're probably getting a better idea of what it's like.

Helping Pippo along with the presenting there was Michelle Hunziker. You know when someone just grates on you? I think the main reason I have a problem with her is that she smiles and laughs ALL the time. I hope that doesn't sound too miserable of me, but I find it annoying when people smile always - it kind of takes the impact away of a genuine smile or laugh. Last night she was sporting a bacofoil/Christmas cracker style dress topped off with an Ivana Trump 'do. Looked like she was going for the elegante look...Not sure what the armband tattoo had to do with that. I'll stop now. Basta.

It is good for a laugh anyway. I caught one act, a duet of which the name escapes me, one bloke (=man) looked like a Blues Brother, whilst the other like a Wham reject. Both completed their looks with permatans.

In fairness, I should add that a few big names started at Sanremo, for example Elisa, Eros Ramazzotti (ex ? of aforementioned Michelle) and Laura Pausini.

NB The title of this post refers to the catch phrase of the festival "Perchè Sanremo è Sanremo".

26 February 2007

It's (kind of) snowing!

Following my last post about a near silent Naples, I have to add yet another miracle occurrence in Napoli: Snow! Well ok, not really, the truth is there was an hailstorm this evening, but it kind of looks like snow! Hoorah!

Unfortunately it never snows here, :( so this is the best I'll ever get (here).

Photos from this evening.

25 February 2007

Domenica Ecologica

I've been out for a Sunday giro this morning. "Giro" is a very commonly used word here - I don't think there's an exact English translation, it means to go out for a walk really, normally round the shops or central city areas. It's an essential part of Italian life.

Anyway, I was going to just go out nearby, but then I realised it was an "Ecological Sunday" where vehicles aren't allowed to circulate from 9-13 in order to try and clear the air a bit. Consequently Naples was PEACEFUL this morning so I ventured a little further than initially intended. Yes, you read right, "peaceful" and "Naples" used in one sentence! How nice it was. No motorinos up your a**e, no risk taking when crossing the road...Bliss. Viva domenica Ecologica!

Of course though, the particularly *furbi* (sly?) people just have to take their cars out. I'm not sure if they just don't get the idea or didn't know about it (unlikely as it's normally the end of every month that it's done) or maybe they have some really really important thing to do.

A photo from this morning.

24 February 2007

Detto cosi...

They're a positive bunch the Napoletani, this can be seen in they way they create compensating phrases when things go wrong. I broke yet another glass yesterday - not my fault this time I should add, it was a domino effect when a glass bottle stopper fell off a shelf and onto the offending glass. Anyway, both my OH and I (-ormai I'm an expert too) said "Rompono i vetri, entrano monete." Meaning that the breaking of a glass means money is going to come into the house.

...I've broken so many, so if anyone is due for a pay out, I am.

The best saying for turning a situation around (that I've heard here) is "Donna baffuta, sempre piaciuta." How can I translate this one... "A woman with a mustache is always popular." ? Great. I wonder who coined that one?

22 February 2007

Question Time

1) Who is the Prime Minister of Italy?

2) If Britney wanted a shaved head, why is she wearing a blonde wig?


19 February 2007


I got back from Paris on Saturday. Here are some observations from my trip:

* Practically everyone was polite and friendly.

* Rosè wine is popular in Paris from what I saw. Here it's not very popular and is considered inferior to white or red wines. Personally, I like a rosè in summer.

* Good dress sense seen in Paris. Even though it was colder than here - about 3 degrees in the evening, people weren't buried under layers of clothing like they are here. They seemed braver towards the cold like the Inglesi are. I saw women with tights and heels and a winter coat (the just-left-the-office look) which is a look I like. In Naples, even though it's warmer in comparison, you usually see women in boots or trousers until Spring.

* People smoke in restaurants. In the places I went the whole restaurant seemed to be one big smoking section.

* Shop assistants didn't pounce on my entry as they do here. I did go in the bigger shops mainly, so I'm not sure about the smaller stores - that could be a different story, non saprei.

* Walkers crisps are called Lays en France. Potentially confusing.

18 February 2007

Buona Domenica

I got these gorgeous Spring flowers today. I love flowers!

Buona Domenica means Happy Sunday. I find it odd that people say this from Friday onwards. What about Saturday? Buon Saturday? Saturday is normally better than Sunday IMO but some seem to over look it and go straight to Sunday. I could understand it if it is said by someone who works on Saturday I suppose.

Another confusing phrase: "Buon lavoro" Good work? Happy work? mmmm A contradiction in terms? If you have a really fun job which isn't really like work it could be good perhaps...

12 February 2007

Relaxing Sunday Drive/Neapolitan driving course

I went out driving yesterday morning - nice and early before the traffic started. As a background I should tell you that I got my driving license in Naples a couple of years ago. Whenever I say that I make myself laugh: I GOT MY DRIVING LICENSE IN NAPLES!! You'll understand what I mean only if you've seen the driving here. Lawless is a good word to describe it at times. It was one of the most surreal things I've ever done here. Me and fifteen teenagers doing scuola guida. I felt quite the old lady.

Anyway, since I got my license I've driven very little. I've decided now though that I need to get practicing as there are times when it would be so useful just to be able to take the car and go out myself instead of having to be accompanied. So, yesterday morning we went out for a giro/drive, me in the driving seat. My OH came along as I don't feel ready to brave the Neapolitan traffic alone yet - and he guards the hand brake just in case.

I'm now learning the things which weren't fully covered in scuola guida such as:

1. Be always prepared to be overtaken by any vehicle type on both the left and right - sometimes simultaneously both on the left and right, and if you're lucky in front and behind you'll be passed too.

2. Be always prepared for pedestrians to step out at any moment.

3. Ignore the car beeping behind you, it's normal for all drivers to be very impatient and constantly beeping. I find this one difficult to get my head around so far. If they go into the back of you they'll surely be blamed and not you I'm told. So keep your distance and forget the frantic beeping from all sides. You'll see that few Neapolitans keep their distance, but you must not let that bother you. It sounds a bit of a contradiction, but Neapolitans do drive in a defensive style so they will try to avoid other drivers - I'm hoping this will help me.

4. When you stop at the traffic lights (yes, I do stop at red as I am still learning really and I'm not that napoletana) and the man (usually a man) wants to clean your windscreen, the way to avoid him is to stop about 5-6 metres behind the car in front. This way when the man approaches your car you drive forward so he can't catch you. If he doubles as a tissue seller be careful that he hasn't left a pack of tissues on you car whilst pulling away - I'd feel bad taking them without paying. Make sure also that your windows are closed when you spot a tissue seller as you could find yourself with merchandise which you didn't ask for.

5. In case of any accidents wave hands around a little (but not too much or that could start an argument) then say "Pigliat a' targ e vattenn!!" - roughly translated as "Note my number plate and be on your way" Hopefully I will never need to use this one.

6. Parking: Neapolitans will park anywhere they can fit into - or nearly fit into. I've seen more vigilie about lately, but a good Neapolitan knows the vigil's habits. For example, if it's raining they won't be out (probably they'll be in the bar), if it's Sunday lunch time they won't be around either.

Here's one motorist spotted yesterday. Non ho parole.

11 February 2007

Whilst the other napoletani were tucking into their Sunday ragù, my boyfriend ate Rudolph!

9 February 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!

It's my Dad's birthday today. Hope you're having a great birthday Babbo!

His card arrived a few days ago so full marks for the postal service on this occasion. Keep it up. Please.

Buon compleanno!!!!!!

6 February 2007

My Bella Napoli

Here are some photos taken on Saturday. It wasn't a very clear day, but I thought I'd take and post a few photos anyway.

Look how many people live here!!! *gasp!*

4 February 2007


Greetings cards are not big business here. Italians don't exchange cards like we do, for special occasions they either give a gift and/or call/visit/text etc to say auguri (best wishes).

In England instead there's a card for everything and a card shop on every high street. People give a card for every event - new house, belated birthday, new job, leaving job etc. I enjoy browsing through the cards in Clintons/Hallmark/WHSmiths etc and having a good chuckle at the cards. Some can be really funny.

Yesterday I went to buy my Dad a card for his approaching birthday. I went to the cartoleria (stationers) and browsed through the small collection whilst the shop assistant kept a careful eye on me, just in case I wanted to shove one in my bag without paying. It's not that I look like a criminal, this is normal behaviour in small shops here. Anyway, whereas in Clintons I'd have a laugh at the cards, here they just don't have that effect. It could be different senses of humour I suppose, I mean, I can understand the Italian, so the language is not the problem...Sometimes I wonder if maybe there is double meaning to what I've read which would make an Italian recipient laugh out loud.

The one I went for - ie, the best one in my opinion, read the following: "Buon compleanno" (so far so good), then inside "Goditi questo giorno e... attenzione al tuo equilbrium!" translated: "Enjoy today and... be careful you don't fall over" :| Does that make anyone laugh? Is it meant to I ask myself? I didn't bother to translate it for Dad as I don't think there's much point, he's not missing much by not understanding. He'll understand the "Buon Compleanno" which is the important bit.

Card in hand, I've completed half the battle of getting a card to England. The next hurdle is to find a postage stamp - the times I go to the tabacchi - who is supposed to sell stamps amongst other things - I ask for a stamp and he says "niente francobolli". Then finally to I have to go to a main post office (out of my way) to post it. If you post a card from a random box it will take from 2 weeks to forever to arrive, whereas if I post from a central post office it will take from 4 days to forever to arrive.