Tag Archives: New York City

Who said there is only one Mexico?

17 Jan

What is the first image you have when hearing the word ‘Mexico’?

“Beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters with summer temperatures almost all year-long”.

“Big sombreros and Mariachis”.

” The famous mouse Speedy Gonzales saying: andale, andale, arriba, arriba

Tulum ruins and beach

Tulum ruins and beach

Mariachis y sombreros

Mariachis y sombreros

 

“Mezcal and Tequila”. Right. (But probably you don’t know that it is actually considered the best cure for flu and other illnesses. Mexicans drink it at all times and with whatever excuse; it doesn’t matter if the day after they will have to go to work with the strongest hangover, which they call “cruda“).

A cactus might appear in your mind when someone says “Mexico”. And you might be right again, but you ignore that Mexican enjoy eating it with eggs, meat and tacos, and they call it “nopal“.

Cactus in Mexico City

Cactus in Mexico City

Cactus at sunset in Oaxaca

Cactus at sunset in Oaxaca

Guacamole with nachos is a combination loved all over the world; but don‚Äôt ask a local to get some for you, be aware that this is the North American translation for their beloved “totopos“.

You think you know Mexican cuisine until you arrive to Mexico and discover that its traditional flavours are kept hidden in the street markets.

I am not a burrito :-(

I am not a burrito ūüė¶

Love for Food. In mexico, for sure. Lunch at "Delirio" in Mexico City

Love for Food. In mexico, for sure. Lunch at “Delirio” in Mexico City

You might feel disappointed to find out that burritos are not Mexican but you will fall in love with a huge variety of tacos and tortillas: Mexicans cannot delight a meal without this round flatbread made of corn or flour.

I loved to walk to the supermarket and observe locals queuing outside Tortillerias – old shops for handmade tortillas to be filled at home with the most delicious ingredients, especially meat, onion, corn and tomatoes.

A “torta” in Mexico is not a cake as in its usual meaning in Spanish. It is a popular, often cheap sandwich you might find both at the street vendors and restaurants, filled with res (beef), chicken, vegetables and so on.

Mexicans don’t put lemon in a Corona bottle as most of Europeans think. This is just a way to detect gringos ‚Äď tourists. They would rather drink a michelada: a beer, which they call “chela” mixed with lime and tomato juice, salt and chili.

In Mexico they like to celebrate it all, even death. But I wrote an article dedicated to it, called Canta y no llores (on the day of the dead) , for if you want to know more about this peculiar celebration.

On 2nd November the most important woman in Mexico is actually the icon of death: an elegant female skeleton with a hat called “La Catrina”; here people “smile” at death with music and festivals, as no other culture might probably do.

La Catrina de Diego Rivera

La Catrina de Diego Rivera

Mexicans say “joven” – young – to a 70 years old waiter and “viejo” – old – to a 20 years old one.

But Mexico is in general a land of infinite contrasts, mysteries and surprises; between future and past, tradition and avant-garde, luxury and extreme poverty.

I took this picture in New Years Eve 2013, but the sign said Feliz 2012. I wish it was a better year for them

I took this picture in New Years Eve 2013, but the sign said Feliz 2012. I wish it was a better year for them

 

Different kind of landscape and environments meet in a 2 million square kilometres country of more than 110 million people spread out into 32 federal entities ( 31 states and a federal district ).

Chihuauan deserts, Yucatan and Chiapas jungles, stunning Caribbean beaches, beautiful colonial cities: Puebla, Oaxaca, Valladolid, Merida, San Cristobal de las Casas. Ancient Mayan and Aztecs pyramids. And so much more…

Me and Sandrine at Chichen Itza, Yucatan

Me and Sandrine at Chichen Itza, Yucatan

 

Playa de Mazunte, Oaxaca

Playa de Mazunte, Oaxaca

 

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You can never forget the first night sleeping in the jungle

Colonial house in Puebla

Colonial house in Puebla

When thinking about Mexico you might not associate it to “museums‚ÄĚ; but Mexico City hosts more museums than any other city in the world, above all the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the most visited in the whole country.

It contains significant archeological and anthropological¬†artifacts from the ¬†pre-Columbian¬†heritage of Mexico, such as the Piedra del Sol (the “Stone of the Sun” or Aztec calendar stone)

Me and THE  Sun Stone

Me and THE Sun Stone

In this Museum there is also 16th-century Aztec statue of Xochipilli:  the god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec Mythology. As well as in modern times, bon-vivants, life lovers are usually more open minded to diversity and people with diverse tastes and way of seeing life; Xochipilli was actually also the patron of both homosexuals and male prostitutes , a role possibly resulting from his being absorbed from the Toltec civilization.

Going back to museums and Mexico City, I can tell that this city has fascinated me with its beautiful buildings from several centuries ago and the most avant-garde architecture, full of contemporary art galleries, theatres, large avenues, upscale stores, trendy restaurants, exclusive bars and nightclubs;

The statue of Angel of Indipendence, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City

The statue of Angel of Indipendence, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City

A lovely cafe in Polanco, Mexico City

A lovely cafe in Polanco, Mexico City

 

 

Mexico City downtown

Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

And Bosque de Chapultepec is right in the middle of the town, it is the largest urban park in Latin America, as big as some of the greatest in the world, such as Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Central Park in New York City.

There is just one thing you can’t do in Mexico and that is skiing; unfortunately this amazing country lacks of snow.

But you can’t have it all in life, in general. You have to make do with what you have. No one or nothing is perfect and believe me, you will still need many months to visit and experience the big variety of wonders that this country has to offer.

And through my travel experiences in Mexico, I hope I will let you discover the most hidden secrets and surprises of this mysterious country called MEXICO so that you can fall in love just like I did.

 

 

View from my 15 USD cabana in Mazunte, Oaxaca

View from my 15 USD cabana in Mazunte, Oaxaca

 

A walk in the jungle nearby Palenque ruins, Chiapas.

A walk in the jungle nearby Palenque ruins, Chiapas.

Gran cenote, Tulum

Gran cenote, Tulum

Street vendor at Oaxaca local market

Street vendor at Oaxaca local market

 

Canyon. Canon del Sumidero, Chiapas

Canyon. Canon del Sumidero, Chiapas

Guadalupe Church, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Guadalupe Church, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Making new friends in Cholula, Puebla

Making new friends in Cholula, Puebla

Afternoon laundry in Tulum

Afternoon laundry in Tulum

 

Cataratas de Agua Azul, Blue waterfalls in Chiapas

Cataratas de Agua Azul, Blue waterfalls in Chiapas

Chapulines and Chapultepec

16 Nov
I am not  trying to make your reading complicated. The two words I used for this article title are extremely important in the Mexican culture.
The name “Chapultepec” means ” grasshopper hill” in Nahuatl language and “Chapulin” stands for grasshopper.
To me, ¬†the word grasshopper, cricket, or grillo in¬†Spanish makes me just think of the musician Paco Fernandez’ marvellous song.
Listen to this beautiful flamenco s” grillos” whenever you want to chill out, specially at night.
I am not a big fan of this jumping animals and I had never imagined ¬†eating them as a snack, which in mexican slang ¬†is called “botanas”.
There is a record for spanish conquistadores to eat chapulines back in the 16th century but it is now really popular among young and old locals as well as curious and brave tourist, except for me.
 The idea of biting the insect and feeling its crunchy noise makes me not want to be opened, just on this occasion, to the mexican culture.
After being  cleaned and washed, chapulines are toasted on a comal (clay cooking surface) with garlic, lime juice and salt with extract of agave worms; sometimes they are also prepared  with chile,  lending a sour, spicy taste.
On my last day in Mexico City I woke up early in the morning to go and visit the Chapultepec park, one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Bosque de Chapultepec is considered the biggest green urban area in all Latin America: it has 40.000 trees of about 100 different kind, especially Ahueuetes, the national tree of Mexico known worldwide as Montezuma Cypress.
At the park main entrance I found a really cool art exhibition dedicated to hearts;
I enjoyed it very much especially one heart called “corazon frito“, in english fried heart. I think I¬†felt that feeling sometimes in my life.
In the park there are two big lakes, I saw just one and it reminded me of Hyde Park. Again, a big surprise from this city.
I have to admit that at very first sight I had not liked this city at all. I had committed the mistake of judging it too much at first sight. We should all give a second chance to things or people.
I crossed the park walking towards Polanco, listening to the XX’s Cohexist album and finding myself suddenly in¬†a beautiful area in the northern¬†part of Paseo de la Reforma.
In Polanco there are cool restaurants, embassies, boutiques, art galleries and corporate businesses. The streets look really tidy and clean with nice trees alongside.  I found it quite different from many other parts of the city.
Avenida president Masaryk is the street with¬†the most upscale boutiques in Latin America; a kind of Sloane Street in London,¬†via Montenapoleone in Milan¬†or New York City’s 5th Avenue with brands¬†like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Brunello Cucinelli, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co.,Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Burberry, Bulgari, Gucci, Herm√®s, Frette and Marc ¬†Jacobs.
I had a nice coffee in a cozy patio surrounded by white arches called Paseo Polanco, with smaller shops and cafes. I set a little bit there observing the people wandering through the  streets of Polanco.
It’s official: I’m in love with Mexico City!

Safari dentro la mia testa

24 Oct

How lucky I am! I was visiting Chicago just during ¬†Lorenzo Cherubini, aka Jovanotti’s concert in the “Windy City”, last 17th October at a very small theatre, “The Vic”.

I had met few days before a friend in New York who had been to ¬†Jovanotti’s sold out concert at the Teminal 5; he had told me it¬†had been incredible, and I was so looking forward to attend as well!

I would have gone on my own if my friend Dino living in Chicago offered himself to come with me. I really appreciated it since he told me he was not  a great fan, but he was sure we would have had a nice time, and actually so it was.

Jovanotti in Italy is a star, he normally plays in huge places with millions of fans. This time it was weird to understand he would play in a small theatre for  a small audience like he would be an emerging singer.

Natalie took to the venue by car, crossing the whole city during the rush hour traffic; we were getting a little stressed and afraid not to make it but it was nice to have a chat with her meanwhile.

I finally arrived on time;  Dino was stuck in the traffic as I had been, so I bought a quite bad beer and had a tour of the theatre on my own. I wandered through the little theatre full of Italians for one night. It was nice to feel a little bit at home so far away and surrounded by compatriots.

When Dino arrived we searched for the best spot where to enjoy the concert, we cheered up with our Corrs beer and suddenly Lorenzo appeared on the stage, flesh and blood, thinner than ever  in a flashy red suit.

He played quite a few ¬†songs, we¬†¬†danced so much wearing ¬†a cool hat that my twin sister Rubina had given me before to leave:¬†white with a big red written “JOVA”.¬†She he had bought ¬†it few months ago at Jovanotti’s concert in Rome.

I  enjoyed singing the songs I grow up with. Actually, Lorenzo 1994 was the first cd I bought in my life,  containing masterpieces like Serenata Rap , Penso Positivo, Piove and Io ti cerchero. Some of the songs that most reminds me of my adolescence.

After the concert, Dino and I went to a 24 hours dining room in perfect Pulp Fiction style called Clarke’s.¬†It reminded me of the first scene of Pulp Fiction, when Pumpkin and ¬†Honey Bunny ¬†decide to rob the diner where they were having breakfast.

I was glad that Dino did not think about saying: “Everybody be cool, this is a robbery”¬†like in the movie, but he just ordered pancakes with maple while I went for a delicious hot¬†dog and fries.

I went to sleep with “Safari”‘s lyrics on my mind: Safari dentro la mia testa¬†ci sono pi√Ļ bestie che nella foresta. From italian:¬†safari, inside my head there are more beasts than in the forest , and¬†probably it is just the truth.

I think in this trip I will have quite a few chances to make a chat with the “beasts” in my head. At least that’s the plan.

Labels and Love in NYC

17 Oct

 

While going for a ride on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty on a tranquil Sunday morning on my own, I  read on a paper that in 1626 a Dutch settler  bought Manhattan from the native americans for goods valued at 24 $.

The name Manhattan comes from the Lenape language  and means island of many hills.

But I like to believe another quite popular theory: that it comes from one of three Munsi words “Manahactanienk”, literally ¬†“place of inebriation“.

Who has been in NYC and did not feel this feeling? Is it not a place you all feel a little bewitched?

I wonder if it’s ¬†inebriation of those ¬†who love New York as the perfect city for singles, or those who have watched too many romantic movies where it is conceived as the city of love.

Woody Allen might believe that NYC is a romantic city, in quite a few of his movies people found  love in the Big Apple, such as Manhattan, When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall.

If you ever watched Sex and The City you might  think about NYC as the place for Love.

Actually, Carrie Bradshow, says that women go to NYC for two L’s: Labels and Love.

The large amount of advertisements and fashion label storefronts were just like you see in the movies.

Without wanting to spoil anything I decided to take this blog a different way, to the second part of Carrie’s tagline: Love.

There are some movie scenes which you would watch and imagine  thousand times.

For instance, if a stranger bumped into me and another stranger like Mr Big would help me pick my stuff up  from the ground that fell out from my bag.

Yes, I am talking about Carrie meeting Mr Big for the first time.

Every body has had or has a Mr Big in their life.  No matter if you are a loser or a winner in love, sometimes you have lived a relationship not with the same intensity of the other person.

Mr Big has been so far clearly emotionally unavailable, but sometimes you go with it anyway and deal with the emotions you may feel. Even when you know it will be automatically over when he kisses you goodbye.

No matter if you are in one of the coolest cities of the world, and the streets, lights and the people out here are calling you, the only thing you want is to  stop the world in four walls (either if you are in a basement or at the floor 50 something of an amazing building in Manhattan).

While planning my trip I had dreamed about the perfect night that consisted of hopping in a yellow cab with Mr. Big, ending up in a 30’s style restaurant, and enjoying a Sucker Punch cocktail before delighting in a delicious meal.

And of the perfect morning waking up with a Nespresso coffee in one hand and a heavenly Sausalito cookie in the other while viewing a private dance to a song like “Sex is on fire” by Kings of Leon.

I was fortunate enough that some of the things I dreamt of actually came true.

It’s an absolutely amazing feeling when your heart is beating. No matter for who, no matter with who nor where.

Living independently on how it goes afterwards is good.

It helps and it is worth making mistakes and risking, otherwise ¬†we probably wouldn’t¬†ever fall in love, we would¬†not grow up and learn in life.

We wouldn’t know what makes your heart beat ¬†and what leaves you indifferent. It can be a great discovery every time.

Ending my blog, I would like to quote some Carrie’s sacred words on relationships.

“Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far from where you started, and those that bring you back. But the most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the “YOU” you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

If I can make it there…

14 Oct

 

On the 11th October I took a train from Naples to Rome as the following day I had my  flight to New York from there. The first flight of my  upcoming three months adventurous trip.

Rome is usually for me an excuse to spend a night with my old beloved friends who moved there many years ago from our hometown Napoli.

This time I was able to meet just Valeria, Piera and Paola with Ursula, since Simona was away for work.

We don’t see each other very often since I live abroad, but they are definitely those kind of people I am sure I will have beside me all my life. And every time is such fun and great laughs. During the past 10-15 years we have grown up together and shared so many things that I would need another blog just to name them. They are just precious to me!

That night they took me to “Teatro Ambra Jovinelli”¬† to see a really cool and bizarre theatre concept called Dignit√† autonome di prostituzione, which in Italian means “autonomous dignities of prostitution” (http://www.dadp.it/it/):

A show/event with a very special format, where the public can interact with the actors by ‚Äúpurchasing” their performances with monopoly dollars. While holding those fake dollars in my hand I imagined myself few days later in New York spending the real ones in a yummy burger in Manhattan¬†or¬†while showing a barista my preference in coffee (“please very short, I don’t want a long nor a double espresso, yes, short, espresso. Please,¬†thank you, I am from Napoli, I am addicted to coffee, and I like it bitter. Thank you, yes, my name is Giordana, , no, not with J. It’s G-I- O-R-D-A-N-A”¬†)

That show  was in a pure Pirandello style: a great Italian dramatist also holding a Nobel Prize in Literature.

He was actually¬†the first writer to break the invisible curtain that separates the audience from the actors, the audience from the stage and where the spectators are better called “participants”. It was amazing to see such a show that night.

So, suddenly the theatre took the shape of a brothel, with red lights and a burlesque environment. I am glad it was just¬†an “art brothel” though.

Every artist was acting like a prostitute, offering a 20 minutes performance to enthusiast clients/ spectators in exchange for few (fake) dollars.

Artists were running up and down the stairs with eccentric dresses trying to gather as much clients as possible and performing in an assigned room.

They acted as prostitutes on the streets shouting¬† sentences to draw the clients’ attention and convince them to attend their personal show instead of other’s. It was pretty funny!

The biggest surprise was to spot Daniele Russo among the amazing artists; we were friends at the time of school, I had not seen him for ages but it was lovely to see him grown up and find out he is a great actor now.

It was about¬†1 a.m., I had been in that theatre ¬†for about four hours enjoying and laughing with old friends but I ¬†was also a ¬†little confused and excited¬†thinking a lot about my trip, my “jump”, my adventure; thinking about what I was leaving and what I was expecting. But all of those feelings were only positive to me!

At the grand finale the actors went on the scene and started to sing all together.They sang twice a song that in another moment would have not affected me too much. But this time felt like a nice coincidence. While I was lost in  thoughts and fantasies, they start singing

Start spreading the news I am leaving today I want to be a part of it New York, New York”

These vagabond shoes are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill top of the heap

If I can make it there I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you New York, New York

So, I also thought that if I made it to find a way to plan my trip, my dream as a child, I could probably make it anywhere. Listening to that song  was emotional, one of the  actors  even came to pick me up from the stage in the crowd and danced and sung with me.

I was full of euphoria, it felt like dreaming, I took a look at my beautiful girlfriends who were laughing and I felt so blessed. Blessed to have them there in that moment and hoping they will be forever. But also   lucky to be in that bizarre place just the night before such an important day. It was pure energy for me!

I was about to start a three months trip on my own, with New York as the first stop. The start of everything. Pure adventure, pure unconsciousness. Only me, few belongings and a cute mascotte.

I wish I could “make it” and stay away for at least the three months in my mind and so realizing my biggest dream ever.

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If you can dream it you can do it

7 Oct

Somebody said it’s not important the destination, but the journey. And somehow I agree.

The journey to my forthcoming trip so far has been amazing, and I can tell that it lasted nearly a life. Actually, it is my life. And that is exactly how I want to start with the first article of this blog.

My passion for traveling and getting to know new cultures influenced me every single choice in my life, from the academic, professional and personal point of view.

I will be glad to share with you the journey since the early beginning. The journey who made the person I am now.

I believe that regardless everybody’s roots, blood, habits and education there is an important factor that defines people: it is other people. People who inspire us and drive us towards what we like. Sometimes people let us discover what we don’t like. But still is good and helpful.

I always loved to discover and to learn. When you discover something for the first time, it is when you learn it. And it is when you understand whether you like it or not.

So, it is thanks to some things and some ( special ) people if I understood that my greatest passion ever was traveling.

Further on, I will tell you about the first steps in my life, the first inspirations and key factors that took me here, today, with few days left to the 12th October 2012: when I will take the first flight of this adventure: Rome ‚Äď New York.

Just to start from the very beginning, my mother always told me that the first song I sang when I was three or four years old was in a broken English – ‚ÄúI just called to say I love you‚ÄĚ – from Stevie Wonder. It is clear that I always loved music and singing but to me is more interesting the fact that even though I didn‚Äôt even understand the difference, I preferred speaking in my non native language

I started to like English language soon. I remember that whenever I listened to a new song I liked to find its lyrics in the back of cd. Music was always a great passion for me, and apparently it was also very helpful.

When I was 12 years old I joined an afterschool class of “Singing English“. Basically, we learnt English practicing and singing The Beatles, Queen’s lyrics and other British bands’. Still now, when I have a doubt on how to pronounce a certain word, I remember those lyrics perfectly. I am sure this influenced my love/also called obsession for Karaoke.

Since my early age, during my 3 months summer holidays at school I used to go to Ischia. I had cousins, brother, sisters to spend time with, but I enjoyed becoming friend with kids from other countries. I was so curious of understanding all the difference and similarities with them. I have lost the path of some of them but I am now still in contact with a lovely German girl called Carol, who also used to come often to Ischia with her family from Bonn in summertime. God bless Facebook for making it easier.

In 1995 I started to feel the need to have foreign friends also during the rest of the year, not only during summer. So I participated to a nice programme at school and started to have my first pen-pals from all over the world: Spain, Holland, England, France, Germany, Australia, Ghana and many others.IMG_3261Letter from Australia, 1996

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At that time, the postman had to come upstairs to knock at the door and give me by hand the mail since there was not space enough in the mailbox. Sometimes I even received 10 letters per day.

Most of my allowances were actually used to buy stamps and cards for my little friends, together with money for buying international music magazines such as Rolling Stones.

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Something that remained in my mind is that once I told my pen friend from Ghana that I had received a Walkman as a gift from my dad, and from that moment he kept telling me he really wanted to see one because he had never seen any. I don’t think I have never been a spoiled girl, I thank my parents for giving me a good education, but probably that was the first time I really realized that some people, especially in less developed countries were less fortunate than me. And I realized as well that I was a lucky girl.

Some of the pen pals even came to visit me, like Sabine, a lovely girl from Holland. She always gave me precious suggestions on what to do when I was facing some problem. Patty, another  beautiful typical Dutch girl became part of the family. She was  tall, blond with blue eyes. All my male friends were the happiest to accompany me and take her around, guess why.

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Patty used to come once or twice a year to spend some weeks with me and my twin sister Rubina. She taught me so much of English; we used to write each other letters even long 10 pages.

Patty and the other pen friends were talking about their lives. About their habits, their tastes in Music, their friends, their way of living.

I was so fascinated to see and realize that I was living in a country that was so different from all the others, where people ate differently and spoke differently. But some things like adolescence problems were the same everywhere.

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When fourteen I was a great fan of Take That, as most of the teenagers those years. Robbie Williams was my favorite, I adored his voice and tattoos, his naughty face and his rocker attitude. Tastes seem to be still similar nowadays. After many years I fell in love with his look alike, with Argentinian blood. I will talk about him later on.

Returning to my pen friend life, there is something I liked very much: Patty and I had a very cool way to get new pen pals.

With the excuse to swap Take That pictures, information etc., we used to start a chain where you first had to put your name, address and the name of the favourite of the band.

I would then send it to one of my pen pals; she would do the same with her pen pal and so on. In the end, the rule was sending it back to the person who had started it.

And that’s how we all got in touch with many new friends. Now Facebook and social networks might make it easier, but it was so amazing when those sheets came back to me after many months and after have travelled around the world.

Another important episode of  my life was in 1998, when at my school arrived a bunch of Belgian students for an interchange.

Being already opened towards people from other countries, I showed off my interpersonal skills and  immediately became friends with most of them even if they were not my direct temporary classmates.

I fell in love for the first time for a guy who was not Italian, Wouter. He had long blond hair and light blue eyes.  He looked a little bit like Kurt Cobain, a little bit beautiful and damned, but in the end he was extremely sweet. I used to write to him and to receive so long letters, we were sharing our lives through mail, pretty romantic. And I cannot forget one of his best friends Vincent, who became my bosom-buddy instead. He was so sweet and we are also still in contact nowadays.

I have always been a wordy. I used to talk a lot and used to write a lot. I have written so much since I was a teenager. But those I most enjoyed were the travel diaries. When I read them now, I remember of little details in such a vivid way and I absolutely love it!

Just before my last year at school I met a guy who was much older than me and became my boyfriend for about 2 years. I still think he was the Prince Charming for me.

He was very open minded, he taught me a lot. He was an entrepreneur and used to do business trips when I did not even understand their reason, when my greatest worries were probably studying homeworks and pass exams.

He used to send me often lovely postcards from the places he was visiting around the world and when returned back home he used to tell me about all the different things he had seen in those countries and bring me typical presents.  He was a GREAT inspiration for me. Maria Rosaria, his mother, is still a kind of a guru for me. She is smart, independent, passionate and intelligent and I look up to her as the greatest counsellor I could ever desire. She is always present in my life, and sometimes we agreed on the fact that she sees herself younger in me and I always thought I wanted to be like her when older. Of course she travelled a lot and you can tell she is very open-minded which is reflected in her house decorations and in her lifestyle.

As I was getting older and more independent, I finally decided what to study after the high school; I wanted to study modern languages at the University in Naples.

I did few exams, but then I felt I was not ready to just start to study; I applied for the EF Au pair programme in Boston, USA.

I filled all the forms, did all the interviews and when it was time to start the correspondence with the host family, things were getting a little complicated in US after the 9/11.

And after that, the first city I really wanted to make an experience in Europe was Barcelona. I had gone there just once with a school trip in 1999. So I bought a one-way ticket to Barcelona where I was supposed to stay 5 weeks. I came back home after 8 months. At the International School of Spanish ‚ÄúEnforex‚ÄĚ I had one of the best times of my life. My class was made up mostly of Swedish and German people. It was so fun, and it is then when I started to have a special interest towards North European cultures.

I liked the way they were, the way they dressed and their food. Kotbullar (Swedish meatballs) became my favourite food so far. When they told me for the first time that their government used to pay for studies and travels abroad in order to incentivize the youth discovering of the world, I thought it was amazing. In Italy that sounded like a dream: basically, in most of north European countries, young people would take a sabbatical year after school and would borrow money from the government and return it on the first job contract. I found it unbelievable! That was civilization to me!

When my teachers at the Spanish school told me that my level of Spanish at Enforex was too good and had reached the apotheosis (  modestly, hehe) , I dint have any more excuse to stay in Barcelona. But I really wanted to.

And I really wanted to show to my dad that I was not a kid, and that was not a joke for me. And also, I had a good example from my new north European friends that I could also work and pay for my trips, so I started to look for a temp job and worked as a waiter, baby-sitter as well as hostess at congresses and fairs.

Until I found a more stable job as Sales Assistant in Paseo de Gracia. It is there that I improved my ‚Äúespanol de la calle‚ÄĚ, Spanish from the road. It was just my first work contract abroad!

My boss was a lovely lady, she helped me to open a bank account and with all the logistics. I worked during all summer 2003, until October, when I went back to Italy to start a course at the university in Rome as Linguistic and Cultural Mediator, basically a degree for Interpreters and Translators.

It is taken for granted that Culture is the best way to open your mind and enjoy travelling. One day I was walking in Barcelona and I saw a book on a bench. I took it, opened it and found a flyer with a number and all the explanation for Book Crossing. Another cultural crossing. People who takes part of this programme leaves the book in a public place after have read it, maybe leaving it in a random place for the sage of lucky book lovers who would find it and enjoy it. The mission was that this book would travel around the world trough the hands of reading lovers. I was fascinated to imagine the faces and stories of people finding and leaving it in different corners of the planet.

Travel literature soon became my favourite. My first travel book was from a guy called Dario Rucco, ‚ÄúDa Capo a Capo‚ÄĚ ‚Äď from Cape to Cape, from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska by bus – . Exciting. ¬†But many others followed, such as Bill Bryson‚Äôs ‚ÄúDown Under‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúNeither here nor there ‚Äď Travels in Europe‚ÄĚ, or Rolf Potts‚Äô ‚ÄúVagabonding‚ÄĚ. These books have certainly been a great inspiration and made me dream of possible future adventures all over the world.

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When I moved to Rome for studying I found a way to stay in touch with a different culture: I started to practice Capoeira and at the same time I started to study Portuguese from Brazil at the University. I loved ‚Äúthat kind of fight/dance‚ÄĚ accompanied by popular music from Brazil. I used to attend some ‚Äúrodas‚ÄĚ on Saturdays and some nights with Brazilian people, with the first caipirinhas hang overs on weekends.

In 2004 I had another great chance to be part of a world unique moment. I worked as hostess for the European Constitution Sign in Rome. During those days the city was blinded, but I was lucky enough to be at Campidoglio together with all the head of states witnessing an historic moment: the signage of Constitution, that will probably be one of the things I will be very proud to tell my kids.

And I will also tell them about my work experience in a resort in Maldives for few months in that year, as shore excursions manager, until the Tsunami on the 26th December interrupted what was for me among the best life experiences. I had to deal professionally for the first time with people from a very different background culture and religion.

Once back in Rome, I focused on studies since I had been missing for few months, and finally I had again a chance to move.

Next stop: Barcelona for the Erasmus. Again my lovely Catalan city. It was another endless memory. And when it was about to finish the 6 months of Erasmus exchange, I decided to request to stay another semester. It was quite tough as Barcelona was the preferred destinations for Erasmus students, but at the end I got it. The day I got the prolongation approved, I went out to celebrate it with one of my best friends who was just there those days visiting me: Piera. At that time, she was also studying in Paris for the Erasmus programme.  At that time we were the perfect symbol of the carefreeness, joie de vivre and the BLOOM. We took a bike and run through Barcelona off to a club who had been recommended to us, a gloomy and underground place behind Ramblas. Just on that night I met a nice Argentinean guy who became my boyfriend for many years. I mean the Argentian version of Robbie Williams, his look alike. As Walt Disney stated, if you can dream it you can do it. And so it was, I met an Argentinian rocker looking like Robbie Williams. With him I grow up, we gave each other so much, many laughes and many pain as well but I will love him forever. Through him I discovered so well the Argentinean culture, and I went to his country few times. Loving somebody with another culture is a great way to get involved in another culture 100%, and honestly, he has been the key for my modestly very good Spanish today. But good and bad things come to an end. Two years ago,  I left Barcelona for good, and try a new challenge: London.

I worked there for a cruise line until the end of my contract. Then I applied for a position for the Olympics and Paralympics games. This part is probably one of the most important of all.

I don’t remember to have enjoyed a job so much; I met the best people ever, from different ages, background and cultures. But all of them had in common the passion for travelling, languages and adventure.

Inspirations : London 2012 Olympic Games

A special thank goes to the London 2012 Iluka for EDF Energy Team. On the first days of training I was so inspired by all of them. I will never forget the day when we had to do team building and we were asked of saying some ordinary and extraordinary thing about ourselves. All their ordinary things were the most extraordinary ever. I thank them all because (not to minimize the other inspirations) is on those days that I effectively decided to leave, and in particular do  it just after the games. I had finally decided to jump instead of waiting for the perfect moment.

Working in such an epic event I had the chance to see the world meeting for sport, culture and leisure. I saw many games, including Phelps swimming, Bolt and Farah win their gold’s, to see Paralympic games, living unforgettable moments and even see amazing artists such as Coldplay at the extraordinary closing ceremony.

And now I am here, in Naples, packing for this adventure, and feeling so anxious. I think I have never been so nervous before a trip in my life.

I have done this ‚Äúlittle‚ÄĚ introduction before the start of this great trip just to remember myself and you that we can all achieve what we really want. Mick Jagger says: you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes..

That’s how I got what I always needed and wanted in my life. And I wish you all to do the same ..

Enjoy the reading!

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