[Video] Lumiere London 2018: second edition for this exciting light-art festival!

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Hello Wanderers!

A new year has started and I’ve been searching for ways to try and beat the winter blues (I’m a summer child and I haven’t decided to live in the sunniest city in the world, let’s say it), until I discovered that Lumiere London, the festival of art installations where the creative use of light is the key element, was due to return for a thrilling second edition!

For four nights (18-21 January), artists from all over the world have reimagined London’s architecture and streets, creating an open-air modern art gallery. I’ve defied the glacial temperatures (believe me, my forehead was frozen and I couldn’t raise my eyebrows anymore at some point, like after a botox procedure done in a butcher’s stockroom in Pattaya), and I’ve put together a little three-minute video that collects some of the highlights of this year’s edition!

I did my best to give you an overview of all the six areas where the event took place, but unfortunately I couldn’t explore the King’s Cross locations properly, due to shortage of time and hallucinations of polar bears dancing on pink strawberry jelly, product of the hypothermia I was going through. I hope you forgive me.

So, here’s the video, sit back and enjoy!

 

[Video] London Xmas 2017: a view on this year’s lights and decorations!

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Hi everyone!

Here I am, with too-much-mulled-wine hiccups to show you a little 5 minute video I made just for you Wanderers: I’ve been walking and walking and walking around London, putting together some images of the most lovely Christmas decorations that this city prepared for the year 2017! Street lights, window settings, hanging props, glitter and sparkles… a feast for the eyes and a warm hug for the heart! Because yes, we can be grown ups, cynical and disenchanted as much as we like, but there will always be a part of us that gets excited for the approaching of this time of the year. That’s why I decided to give you a little glimpse of London’s Xmas and I really hope you will like it for what it is, me walking around with my nose up and starry eyes like Macaulay Kulkin in New York in “Home Alone 2”, enjoying the spirit of the festive season along the city streets. Enjoy!

Oxford Street has been covered with 1778 golden and silver baubles, and the lights have been switched on by popstar Rita Ora. The street teamed up once again with NSPCC and Sky Cinema for the campaign “Light up Christmas for Children”, raising money to give a brighter future to children in need. Covent Garden went for the traditional display of giant golden baubles and mistletoe, and Regent Street organised a beautiful promenade of angels and canopies of lights, symbolising the “Spirit of Christmas” (even though my favourite Regent Street Xmas lights remain the ones from 2015, with suspended metal cogs and wheels changing colour, thanks to a continuous animated projection system).

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After all the walking and the videoing it’s time for me to give my personal Awards!

The winner in the category Street Decoration goes undoubtedly to Carnaby Street! Clearly inspired by the Carnival of Rio, these decorations are the most colourful, less serious and most dynamic ones of all.

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The Best Shop Window Setting goes to Debenhams on Oxford Street! Their fairy tale theme is enchanting, luxurious and sparkly pink!

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Best Selfie Spot With Friends goes to the silver and blue bauble on Tottenham Ct. Road! You can pose underneath the gallery inside the bauble and Instagram yourself as much as you like (tip of the day: print the photo on card and send it to your family as Xmas card!).

That’s all from London, for now. Yes, because I’m sure there’ll be more posts about this city’s festive events, and I’ll do my best to keep you updated with detailed reportages!

See you later, Wanderers!

 

 

 

Bonfire Night 2017 in Blackheath

Hi everyone!

Every 5th of November London celebrates Bonfire Night a British tradition that jumps back in time to 1605, when the Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament (with his infamous Gunpowder Plot). The plot failed and King James I was safe on his throne. The event is celebrated every year with bonfires and fireworks displays in various parts of London (Battersea, Victoria Park, Southwark…).

Last night I attended the celebrations in Blackheath, where the Lewisham council organizes one of the biggest firework display in London. The event takes place in the large outdoor space around All Saints Church: a fun fair is open from midday and food stalls and bars keep you fed and happy until late in the evening (the beautiful firework display starts at 8 p.m. and lasts about 25 minutes). It’s one of the best free-entry Bonfire events in London, but make sure you donate, even a small fee to the guys that walk around with buckets, to keep this tradition open and free for the years to come.

Here’s some of the pictures I’ve managed to take from last night. It was nice, fun and freezing cold! I’ve basically skipped last winter entirely because I was working on SilverCloud in Africa, so i guess I just need to re-adjust to the British winter weather 😀 I’ve spent the night looking for a food stall that served mulled wine, but my pursuit failed miserably… I’ve ended the lovely night eating an overpriced but, to be fair, over-delicious pot of hot fried churros with sugar, cinnamon and chocolate cream on top.

Now that the Christmas season is approaching I will attend London’s most unmissable events and I’ll make sure I document them fully for you Wanderers 😉

Stay tuned!

 

Memories of a city – Rio De Janeiro [Brazil]

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November-December 2011. I struggle to believe it’s been already nearly six years since that trip that meant so much to me. It was a holiday, a mad act of love, a journey of self-discovery. I was answering a calling from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, but most of all I was following a voice from inside of me. My voice, finally.

I said “a mad act of love”. The day before my flight to Rio, Rome (I was still living in Rome) was ironically hit by a sudden, unusual and sensational SNOW STORM! It snowed all day, and Romans can confirm that our beloved city is totally not prepared or equipped to face that kind of emergency. The result was that a lot of flights were cancelled, all the buses were stopped and you could barely see a car circulating (let alone a taxi). I spent the night attached to the computer screen, praying that my flight would not be cancelled, with my parents not understanding why was that trip so important to me. Surprisingly my flight from Fiumicino Airport remained confirmed, so the morning after (at 5.30 a.m.) I left my house and dragged my heavy suitcase in the snow, walking for one kilometer to reach the nearest tube station. Buses were still down, so I had to catch two trains, praying to make it to the airport on time. On my phone some of my friends were rooting for me via sms. I made it. I checked in and I flew to Rio.

This is a photo album with some beautiful memories of that holiday and that fascinating city.

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The exhibition “India!” at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil was the first event I attended upon my arrival in Rio, and it was spectacular. It surely triggered my interest towards exploring and getting to know Asia, the cultures and traditions of that part of the world that was unknown to me. The exhibition included interactive and musical lectures about Hinduism and Buddhism, and rooms of marvellous contemporary art.

I can’t quite describe the feeling I had when I walked along the seaside at Ipanema and Copacabana. I remember that for the first couple of days the sun was pale, and the sky was a bit cloudy and misty… The beach was enveloped in a magical halo, and I experienced a sense of total freedom and fullness. It was like walking on air. Was it the love high? Sure, that played a big part, but the scenery I was surrounded by was mesmerising.

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There’s a rock formation that separates the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and if you climb to the top you can have probably the best view of all the surrounding area.

When I took the following picture I knew immediately the title I would have given to it: “Listen”. That was the moment I finally realised the importance of listening carefully to ourself, to our inner voice. Never leave it unheard.

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Brazilian people are probably one of the kindest people you would meet in the world. Much alike us Italians, they open their heart easily and they love to make you feel at home. On sale along the street in Copacabana I saw this t-shirt saying “Gentileza gera gentileza” (“Kindness generates kindness”). It doesn’t happen always, unfortunately, but we should never give up on this idea. We should generate the change that we want to see around us, everyday. More kindness is what we need.

“Pão de Açúcar” means “sugar loaf”: it’s the iconic cone-shaped mountain you see in many pictures of sunsets over Rio. The summit is reachable by a cable car system that stops halfway on top of the shorter peak Morro da Urca. On the top of Pão de Açúcar the vegetation is flourishing and you have the chance to spot many little monkeys jumping between trees (it was basically impossible for me to take an unblurred photo of them) and tiny colourful parrots. Heavenly place.

Another iconic peak, Corcovado. Where the statue of Christ The Redeemer welcomes all tourists and pilgrims with arms wide open and eyes of wisdom. We took the train through the natural park, then walked up to the top. I remember that the wind was so strong we had to grab each other arms and ground ourself to the floor. But how spectacular it was… The city from up there looked Lego made. And in my ears the lyrics of  that famous Antônio Carlos Jobim’s song called “Corcovado” were resonating so brightly:

“…E eu que era triste
Descrente deste mundo
Ao encontrar você eu conheci
O que é felicidade meu amor…”

And then there were beach days. And long walks drinking coconuts with a straw. Abundant food cooked with care. Promises for the future and life lived for the moment. And Christmas trees, because it was already Christmas season! So strange for me to see Christmas settings in a summer weather for the first time!

There was all this and much much more, in the space of ten days. There was Tay, who I’ll always thank for that little window of time when our paths have crossed, really. And there was Rio, with all its magic.

(Oh and we saw this live. Awesome.)

Photodiary of a weekend in Bath

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Some weeks ago I had the pleasure to spend a lovely weekend (despite the weather, it basically rained the whole freaking time) with friends in Bath, in the countryside region of Somerset (UK). It’s the perfect weekend getaway from London! Easily reachable via train (but we went by car, which is cheaper and gives you more freedom of course), Bath is famous for its natural hot springs and it still preserves a bath system built by the Romans in the 2nd Century! And every thing that the city has to offer is within walking distance from the station and from the main street. This is a photo-diary of those two days, enjoy and… go visit Bath!

The river Avon, which crosses the city and has a walkable promenade.

Parade Gardens, with a beautiful flower sculpture dedicated to the novelist Jane Austen, who spent in Bath five important years of her life and career. At 40 Gay Street you can even visit the Jane Austen Centre, a picturesque permanent exhibition where you can go back in time to the beginning of the 19th Century.

IMG_20170725_075549_831If you like whiskey you can’t miss this place called The Hideout, a stone-walled bar for real connoisseurs, with a warm and friendly atmosphere!

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Bath Abbey and the Pump Room, where you can have a good afternoon tea right next the Roman Baths.

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The experience of the Roman Baths is a must-do, especially in the evening when the torch lights enhance the magic of that place. The path describes very well the everyday life of the Romans, and you can see perfectly preserved objects and architectural structures. A company of actors recreate scenes from the Roman age and accompany the tourists on their walk.

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We stopped at Boston Tea Party for cakes, coffee and herbal tea, and it was very nice!

More views of the city, walking towards The Circus. The umbrellas installation is located just inside Southgate Shopping Center (Southgate St, Bath BA1 1AQ).

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Dinner time! Probably because of the Roman origin, Bath is full of Italian restaurants 😀 We chose Nonna’s Cucina Italiana, very stylish place and delicious food! I had Insalata di Mare (seafood salad) as starter, and a rich mushroom risotto, all accompanied by an Apulian wine called Primitivo. Highly recommended if you fancy an Italian dinner!

The morning after we had a good breakfast at Rosarios, and then we visited the Victoria Art Gallery . We crossed Pulteney Bridge and we went exploring the other side.

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We stumbled upon a rugby field! I thought it was a croquet field. I’ve never been too good at sports.

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What a great surprise was The Holburne Museum! Full of art and antiques, with a gorgeous park attached. We had a nice wander through the building and enjoyed the green surroundings… and we got caught in the rain again!

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I definitely want to visit Bath again soon. Probably in springtime, hoping to find a drier weather 🙂 On my bucket list for next Bath weekend:

  • Experience the open-air rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa
  • Visit Alexandra Park for more spectacular views
  • Have a traditional full afternoon tea

and….

…visit Stonehenge on the way back to London (this time it wasn’t possible due to limited time)!

Have you been in Bath? What are your favourite spots? And what do you suggest for my next trip?

 

Capsule wardrobe, minimalism and how Coco Chanel dealt with mean kids at school

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years (I know, I deserve a special Procrastination Award) and I definitely want to give it a try. I’m sure that many of you are already familiar with the concept of capsule wardrobe but I’ll try to describe it briefly: it’s a wardrobe composed by only a few basic items of clothing, chosen to be matched in many combinations to cover all situations, from formal to casual, of our everyday life.

It’s tightly connected to the idea of owning less and maximise what we have. How many times we buy clothes that we like in that very moment but then we wear them only once, or maybe never? Or we suddenly realise that they are difficult to match or they belong to a fad that will pass very soon?

A capsule wardrobe contains staple items in basic colours that can be combined effortlessly (sure there’s space for the occasional seasonal pops of colour but everything should be done within reason, I’ll talk about it later), chosen wisely according to the realistic possibilities of our individual lifestyles. For example, it doesn’t make any sense owning four pairs of denim trousers if your job asks you to be in suit and tie five days a week and you only go out for casual activities on weekends. Or owning three different pairs of tracksuit trousers if you go to the gym twice a week.

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@capsulewardrobemen

The benefits of switching to a capsule wardrobe are multiple.

  • Economic, firstly. The idea of the capsule revolutions the way we shop for clothes, keeping us from wasting money. No more comfort shopping sprees, no more retail therapy (I know, it’s a thing for many of us, especially ladies. But you can still pamper yourself going for a nice meal, a spa day, or buying a good book, etc…). Stop buying impulsively. Ponder before choosing an item: is the quality good enough to last, let’s say, at least a year? Does it fit well, and does it suit us? Does it match with the style and colours of what we already own? And would we wear it consistently?
  • Space management. Considering my case, flats in London (unless you’re rich and you can afford a huge one) tend to be quite small and lack of storage space. Having a smaller wardrobe saves a lot of space, without mentioning the benefits that an uncluttered environment has on our everyday life (have a read through A Small Wardrobe’s blog for very interesting aspects of a minimalistic life);
  • Brain energy. Interesting articles underline how eliminating the hassle of thinking about what to wear every morning, and having instead preset combinations of clothes ready to be worn, allows your brain to focus better on other, more important things and tasks. There are examples of very famous and successful people who have a signature look and we rarely (or never) see them wearing anything different: think about Steve Jobs and his black turtleneck, Mark Zuckerberg with a grey t-shirt or Karl Lagerfield with his white suit and tie attire.

Plus, from a traveller’s (like most of us are) point of view, packing a suitcase would be a lot much easier and quicker!

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So, after all the theory and after highlighting the benefits, what keeps us (me, for instance) from switching to a capsule wardrobe? I tried to make a list of reasons, I stripped it down removing the least “honest” ones, and this is what’s left:

  • Social pressures. Society and media pressure us everyday into making an effort to look beautiful. Almost every time the idea of having a beautiful image or having style is paired with the idea of owning a lot of clothes, with a lot of possibilities, so we can always look fresh and new. Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & The City (although her wardrobe space is quite regular) seems to own thousands of clothes and she keeps shopping for more (we never see her wearing an item twice), without mentioning her obsession for shoes. I’m a trained performer, and most of the people I’ve spent the last fifteen years surrounded by are workers of the entertainment business. And although I never really cared about fashion I’ve often felt a fashion pressure, that is inevitable in a career full of events, portfolio photo shoots, opening nights and auditions, where you constantly have to grab people’s attention. But do we really need to own a lot of clothes to succeed looking impeccable? The true answer is no. Coco Chanel said “Simplicity is the key-note to all true elegance”.
  • Childhood traumas. I guess every one of us had a moment in our adolescence (or before) in which we were so attached to an item of clothing that we were wearing it constantly (I had an orange baseball cap phase), until some mean kid at school said loud “Hey! you’ve been wearing that since forever, do you even wash it?”, and the other kids laughed, we felt ashamed and still now we are unconsciously scared of looking like somebody who always wears the same things. But let’s face it, as long as your clothes are clean and you don’t smell there’s nothing wrong in owning less clothes. And if somebody ever says “Hey! you’ve been wearing that since forever…” you can reply “Yes, just like you’ve been wearing that dick in place of your head since forever, so what?”. Coco Chanel would certainly say this.
  • The incapability of getting rid of stuff. So many people find difficulty in letting go of clothes from the past because they are gifts, because they remind them of moments of their life, because they used to fit but now they don’t fit anymore but maybe one day they’ll fit again, because they don’t want to admit they’ve done a wrong purchase… The reasons are countless, and the answer is a simple one: we need to learn to let go. Which is a good advice for life in general. Examine your wardrobe and take out of it (merciless) those items that

         – haven’t been worn in more than a year;

 – are ripped, consumed, damaged, have holes in them (don’t say “these are fine, I’ll wear them at home or to sleep”: everyone has the chance of doing at least one cycle of washing per week, so you technically don’t need more than 7 t-shirts “to sleep in”);

– don’t fit (and realistically won’t fit again anytime soon);

– you wouldn’t save from a flood (so you don’t actually like them enough).

Don’t throw anything away, instead give the all lot to charity organisations. There’s so much need in the world, and when I was in Mombasa I realised the difference that a pair of trousers or shoes can make for people that are less lucky than us.

Once you’ve stripped your wardrobe from all excess (once again, be brutal: a change needs an act of courage and a leap of faith) you can start building your capsule from there. On Pinterest you can find loads of infographics to help you with combinations and colour matching (check my board for some). I’ll start working on mine at the end of this summer and I’ll keep you updated with the process. So, follow this space and feel free to give me suggestions or share your experience!

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5 beaches in Algarve where I’ve been and I loved them!

Before going back to the gloomy, rainy summer we’re having in London this year (really, London? Come on, we all know you can be lovely with a bit of sun!), I want to share with you some tips about beaches I recommend for your holiday in Portugal. Ready, set, go.

1) Praia da Dona Ana (Lagos)

Beautiful beach cove in Lagos that you must see! Enjoy the boat tour that departs from here every hour, cruising all along and inside the mesmerising grottos and cliffs. My absolute favourite of the Algarve region.

 

 

2) Praia dos Buizinhos (Porto Covo)

This is another fantastic bay enclosed between cliffs, reachable via stairs, with a stunning view from the top. The sea is metallic blue and the waves breaking against the rocks are spectacular.

 

 

3) Praia da Galé (Albufeira)

If you, like me, enjoy long long walks on the shore and taking pictures of rock formations, then you should spend a day in Praia da Galé.

 

 

4) Praia dos Alemães (Albufeira)

Located between Praia dos Aveiros and Praia do Inatel, this beach has a tucked away bay, with a rock barrier built to prevent erosion (perfect frame for your Instagram pictures!). A wooden staircase takes you up the top, where the views of the glorious vegetation and the coastal landscape are simply stunning! One of the highlights of my latest Portuguese holiday, definitely.

 

 

5) Praia dos Pescadores (Albufeira)

You can’t go to Albufeira and not spend at least one day and one evening in and around Praia dos Pescadores. During the day it’s a long sandy beach, full with people, with an inflatable waterpark (you have to swim to reach for it!) and sport activities. At sunset the colours are simply magic, and when the night falls you can stroll along the high top of Albufeira town, enjoying the view in the moonlight.

 

Have you ever been on holiday in the Algarve? What are your favourite spots? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below! 🙂

Oh, you’ll love cozinha portuguesa, com certeza!

If anyone hasn’t noticed yet, everytime I talk about travelling I talk about food. It’s kind of an automatic reflex, I guess it comes from the fat kid trapped in my body. So, after talking about the magical Lisbon and before I dedicate another post to the stunning coast of Portugal, let me start a brief insight into Portuguese food. Fasten your seatbelts, these are my suggestions:

Lunch and dinner

Meals in Portugal usually start putting on the table various petiscossmall bites to open up your appetite. Usually it’s a basket of sliced bread along with butter and spreadable pâtés of tuna, sardines and/or cheese, accompanied by a pot of good olives. Often you can find quejo fresco (fresh firm cheese with a very delicate flavour) or other kinds of cheese (I’m a big fan of the cow and sheep milk one, which is still soft but cured and creamy).

As a starter I suggest you to try the appetising croquetes made with chicken or pork meat (or the gorgeous version with codfish), or the rissóis de camarão, deep fried satchels stuffed with creamy shrimps… an absolute delight.

The typical Portuguese dish is bacalhau (salted codfish) cooked in many ways. My favourite recipes are bacalhau com natas (baked with potatoes, onions and a delicious cream, with a layer of cheese gratin on top… My tastebuds just had an orgasm. A multiple one) and bacalhau à brás (prepared in a casserole with eggs, onion, a fine julienne of potato fries, olive and parsley).

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If you are visiting the coast of Portugal don’t forget to try cataplana de mariscos (a casserole with yummy seafood in tomato and garlic sauce) and the already mentioned (in my previous post) grilled sardines, and especially if you are in Portimão I suggest you the zapateira (a giant crab with a tender and juicy meat).

As an option for those who don’t like fish and seafood (really? why? have you tried to seek professional help?) there’s a very simple and rustic dish that I like to order, called bitoque: it’s basically a pan fried steak of beef or pork with an egg on top, served with chips, rice and salad. A full meal in one plate that will keep you going all day!

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Originary from the area of Porto is the francesinha, a cube shaped club sandwich with ham, meat and cheese, all coated in cheese and sitting proudly in a beef gravy. They certainly know how to make a sandwich sexy.

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Street food 

Portugal has a nice selection of street food that you can devour during celebrations, city fairs or summer seasons. If you’re particularly hungry try the bifana, a soft bread bun filled with grilled pork meat, or the appetising pão com chouriço, a roll of bread dough wrapped around the good Portuguese spicy salami: during the baking process, the chouriço releases juice that infuses the bread, maximising the flavour.

Sweet treats

My favourite paragraph! Portugal is famous worldwide for its pasteis de nata, custard tarts of crunchy puff pastry with a caramelised sugar layer on top, served sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s tradition, when in Portugal,to have at least one pastel de nata per day (it’s my tradition, to be specific). But the country has a whole rich array of pastries that are absolutely gorgeous. Bolas de Berlim are big balls of fried donut dough filled with doce de ovo (a custard made mainly with egg yolks and sugar) or chocolate, or, in some heavenly occasions, with doce de leite. Travesseiro is a puff pastry cilinder with icing sugar on top, typical of the Sintra region, and queijada is a baked little milk cake (also available in a version infused with orange juice, called queijada de laranja). Speaking of proper cakes, my favourite is undoubtedly pudim, a light flan made with eggs, sugar and milk, cooked in bain-marie or oven baked, in a caramel sauce. Ok, I need to have my glycaemia levels checked now.

Drinks

In Portugal, sangria seems to be the refreshing drink of choice, available in various versions (try the muscatel one!) all over the territory. Of course you can’t leave the country without having tried Porto, the characteristic fortified wine, or the Vinho Verde (young and lightly bubbly). But above all, what I strongly recommend you is to enter the seductive and magic world of Ginjinha. It’s a sour cherry liquor, sweet and voluptuous, served in little cups made of dark chocolate: you drink the shot and you eat the cup straight after. It’s pure sex. Tradition wants that everytime you see the word “ginjinha” written outside a bar you must enter and have one (again, it’s my tradition, of course).

I hope this little smattering of Portuguese food was helpful! Tell me about your experience, what are your favourite things to order when you’re in Portugal?

 

[Note about the pictures: the images in this post are pictures I took during my stay in Portugal, along with some other ones I found on Pinterest. If you own any of the latter please let me know and I’ll credit you properly, or remove them if you don’t want them to feature in my post 😉 ]

Lisbon: a tale of love and life portrayed on blue tiles

 

Lisbon is always a good idea. I’ve just come back from the third Portuguese holiday of my life and it confirmed my thoughts firmly. Lisbon welcomes you wrapping its warm and strong arms around you, then it takes your hands, looks into your eyes with a cheeky grin and spins you in a twirl, before taking you out for one of those fresh, magic summer nights that you would never want to end.

“It’s the weather. It’s always sunny and that reflects on people, people are nice” says Ricardo, who grew up in Lisbon before moving to London fourteen years ago. “It’s the display of the city, it’s old and new at the same time and these two aspects seem to cohabit perfectly with each other”. Like a song by Ana Moura, that’s what I think while he continues talking about his hometown. “Lisbon is a capital, but you can still relax… It’s not overcrowded with people in constant rush, numbed by their daily routines, and the pace is much slower than London…”.

That’s exactly the first impression that strikes when we get off the train in Cais do Sodré, once we manage to leave the station full of vacationers heading to the beach at this time of the year, and while we walk on the lush promenade along the riverside. The area has been renovated in the past five years and now it’s the perfect stroll path to enjoy the sun, the drinks and the suggestive view of the bridge, before arriving to the spacious and central Praça do Comércio.

Passed the Arco de Rua Augusta you are ready to see the core of Lisbon, walking on the beautiful cobbled streets and enjoying the colourful tiled facades of the buildings. The traditional Portuguese tiles used to decorate public and private spaces since the 13th century are called azulejos, from the word “azul” (the colour blue, dominant tone of the tiles).

On the left you’ll soon meet the imponent Elevador de Santa Justa, a big metal elevator designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel: it connects the “low” part of Lisbon to Largo Do Carmo, in the Bairro Alto district. Arriving to the gigantic square of Rossio you can see, on the right hand side from a distance, the beautiful Castelo de São Jorge. Rossio is paved with black and white cobbles in a wave pattern, which brings my mind back to when I was in Rio De Janeiro, walking along the coast of Copacabana. The decor of pavements and buildings in Lisbon is so unique, and it certainly plays a big role in making this city memorable, together with other elements like the traditional trams on railway, the radiant bouganvillea plants, the old shops selling salted codfish and sardines, the pastelarias (bakeries and pastry shops, pure heaven for a sweet tooth like me), the melancholic fado music that echoes from cafes in the evening… Well I could go on for pages and pages, but instead I will let some of the pictures I’ve taken do the talking.

One of my favourite places in Lisbon is surely Alfama. Probably the oldest part of the city, it miracolously survived the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake, managing to mantain all its pitoresque beauty: with its narrow streets and white houses and stairways it reminds you of some Greek island or South-Italian village, but still has its own special feel. One of the best areas to stroll and shop for wonderful pieces of local craft. The little shops and ateliers will delight your eyes with gorgeous pottery, azulejos, art prints and blown glass creations. Do like I did: buy yourself a beautiful red fish made of glass. (Don’t do like I did: don’t break it while you’re doing the dusting at home because you’re clumsy like an elephant smeared with butter on a crystal stepladder). Around the 13th of june, when Lisbon celebrates St. Anthony, Alfama’s streets are decorated with multicoloured buntings and you can indulge in lovely street food (don’t forget to try the grlled sardines, one of the typical specialities of Portoguese cuisine). This part of the city is ideal to experience the fascinating world of fado music. I suggest you to have a nice dinner at a “casa do fado” and even if you don’t speak Portuguese I’m sure you’ll go home at night singing a couple of those tunes you’ll hear, guaranteed! But before dinner, don’t forget to enjoy a stunning view on the city from the Miradouro da Graça.

My Portuguese holiday included some other places, at a reasonable distance from Lisbon, really worth seeing. Here we go!

Belem – It’s the area where you can have the most fresh and delicious pasteis de nata (see next post about Portuguese food)! Have a walk along the riverside and you’ll find the amazing monument called Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Take pictures from different angles, the results are always stunning! Climb to the top (there’s a lift actually) to take beautiful panoramic shots and enjoy the mosaics on the ground below. Don’t forget to visit the Tower of Belem and Geronimo’s Monastery if you have time between pasteis de natas. I barely had any. (Time, not pasteis de nata.)

Cascais – Take the train from Cais Do Sodré to reach this lovely summer retreat near Estoril. Visit the old Fortaleza and the Boca do Inferno (a cliff with an open cave in the rock formed by the ceaseless pounding of the Atlantic waves), enjoy the beauty of the views and stop in a cafe called “Sacolinha” for a lush breakfast with the best pastries and sweet treats ever! (Yes I know, sugary food again… Well, don’t forget to brush your teeth, kids.)

Sintra – Perched upon a hill, Sintra is a really fascinating city and UNESCO World Heritage Site: walking in its natural parks and gardens opens up your lungs and the views are spectacular. Visit the Moors Castle, and try a sandwich with presunto e queijo da Serra from the stalls of local products that you find in front of Palacio Nacional.

Obidos – If you have a car, go and visit this lovely village, home of the delicious ginjinha liquor (see next post)! Very suggestive especially in the evening, with an unmissable Medieval Fair occurring every summer between July and August, where you’ll see a real Palio at sunset, and you’ll drink sangria in characteristic clay mugs that you can take home with you! You’ll absolutely love the experience, guaranteed.

Well… I can’t wait for my Portuguese holiday number 4! This time, if everything goes according to my plans, I’m going to see the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 live! I will keep you updated with news! 🙂