Meraviglioso (MARE- UH- VIL- YO- ZO) : Italian for wonderful, splendid, marvelous. I was on the plane coming home from the beautiful island of Sardegna about a week ago, feeling sad about how little time I have left in Italy, … Continue reading
I recently wrote my last column for the ongoing Vino & Visas section I’ve had all year for the Guardian. It’s been an interesting experience sending bits and pieces of my life abroad and i’ve learned quite a bit throughout … Continue reading
MAMMA MIA, TIME FLIES!!!
Wow I really can’t get over the fact that so much time has passed already that I’ve been living in another country. I mean, I’ve been consciously aware of the fact that I’m not in America while I’ve been here, but when I actually stop and think about the fact that I legit live in another country – and how much I LOVE IT, it kind of blows my mind. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty easily impressed, but I mean come on, I’m kind of proud of me.
~ok i’m done. moving on… ~
I just wanted to check in with my dear old bloggie, and I have news, so that’s fun! My news is that I ate fresh burrata in Puglia. I KNOW, YOU GUYS….SO EXCITING! Oh yeah, also, I went to Puglia for 4 days with my Italian roommate, Laura and my P.I.C., Lily. We drove around the southern part (the boot of Italy), saw stupidly pretty seawater/coastline and ate way too many taralli. Puglia is amazing – it’s full of olive trees that produce some of the best oive oil in Italy, rich cultural heritage sites and just happens to be where my Italian heritage tanti anni fa (many years ago) originates. I definitely recommend a visit to Puglia, if you’re looking for absolute beauty and some of the best food you’ll ever nom on. **Some things to know before you go: it’s the south, so infrastructure is really poor and/or non-existent, things like wi-fi are hard to find, most people don’t speak English and speak Italian with a very heavy accent, you need a car, unless you’re staying in only 1 or 2 towns, people do things on their own time (they are on super Italian time –meaning everything is later and slower than the actual time it’s supposed to happen), last but NOT least, it’s so worth it!
Before Puglia, two weeks prior I was actually in Spain for a week, visiting my friend, Rebecca. I went to Madrid and Valencia, both of which are amazing and deserve their own post. I think I’m going to work on posting travel tips and places I’ve been, this summer, when I have time and am back in America, reminiscing about Europe. In the meantime, i’ll give you all the trip highlights: Valencia – central market, incredibly cute town, bar crawl, drink (agua de valencia), bar crawl with randoms (pretending to bffs/making out with a cute german), randomly running into a wine and cheese festival. Madrid – THE METRO IS SO AMAZING, the Museo de Sofia Reina, parks, my sweet Spanish air bnb host and her homemade spanish tortillas, seeing Rebecca everyday :D.
Now, it’s May…HOLY SHIT! I have May, June and July (I leave July 29) left in my beloved Bologna. I’m freaking out a bit, because I know how fast the time will go and I still have so many things I want/need to do. I have my internship with the Human Right’s Night Film Festival that’ll be happening soon, so i’ll be busy. I have exams, which I need to start studying for, but have absolutely no voglia (desire) to do so. I need to start planning my trip to Sicily and to Sardegna, for when my mom comes. I need to do my laundry and exercise and live a healthy lifestyle — sheesh, so many things!!!!
If there’s anything I’ve learned while abroad, it’s that there’s no use in thinking about the short amount of time you have to do things (yes, 1 year is actually no time at all). Invece (instead), you have to just appreciate and enjoy every moment for what it is…carpe that effin diem, or whatever those cheesy posters that I secretly love so much say. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing in Bologna – just appreciating how great the city is by always being out. Lily and I are always walking around, running into open-air markets, going for a stroll at Giardini Margherita, getting an aperitivo out with friends or just grabbing a bottle of wine and sitting in a piazza. Springtime in Bologna is amazing, everyone is always outside. Actually, tonight we wanted to go out for a bit, so we went to the last day of the liberation festival, conveniently located at the park next to our apartment and got melanzana alla parmigiana from the Sicilian stand. It was so nice; there were cute little tables on the grass, so we sat down and enjoyed our yummiez and were gifted a free cannolo, by the sweet man working the booth. Whilst enjoying our sweet treat, we caught the attention of a group of older Italian men chatting and drinking wine. It was obvious that they were looking to chat us up, so they started off with the standard “where are you from” question. They asked if we were Spanish and were delightfully surprised when we replied back that we’re Californiane. Soon enough, they asked if they could sit at our table for some chiacchierate (chitchat) and were picking our brains about old american comics and giving us a history lesson about Bologna and wars of the past. It was actually really fun to chitchat with the old geezers of Bologna, who were just being their naturally social, Italian selves. We said our goodbyes and headed home, after an unexpected eventful night of casual conversation and laughter in the park with locals. Bologna è così (Bologna’s like this): there’s always fun to be had, you just have to go out and find it.
So, yeah i’m going to be sad to leave my new found home, but I think at the end of the day, the message is the same – find your own fun. Go outside, meet people, chat, laugh, eat, drink and be merry. Nothing will be ever the same, when I get back to California, but now that i’ve learned the kind of lifestyle I like, I think I can recreate it just about anywhere I am.
Basta ragazzi (enough), i’m done with all the cheesy stuff. Thanks for reading. Here are a few pics of my Bolognese life. Hope you enjoy.
I write a study abroad column for my university’s newspaper about my life in Italy, self realizations and what not. So I wrote this article a while back and it got published while I was on vacation, so I forgot to post … Continue reading
I’m trying to stay tranquilla (calm), but I just started thinking about the fact that 2015 is going to sneak up on me so hardcore with just about a million and one unknowns, which is exciting, but also terrifying. I’m … Continue reading
Sometimes in life, you neglect things and focus your energy on other things, even if the things you’re neglecting are the things you like. This is my way of saying I like blogging, but I’ve neglected my poor little blog … Continue reading
First things first, I’m sorry for sucking as a blogger. I’ve been far more inconsistent than I initially intended to be. I’d like to say that I’m going to fix that in the near future, but, I mean…
Anyway, I do have legit reasons for not writing; I’ve been traveling a ton with my good ole’ friend Ryan Air. For those of you who don’t know, Ryan Air is a budget airline in europe, that bases its business on providing affordable flights for customers and then promptly finding every way to rip you off. As a young traveler, Ryan Air is a necessary evil. What I mean by that is, if you want to travel around Europe and not break-the-bank Ryan Air and Easy Jet are your best bets. If it wasn’t for Ryan Air or Easy Jet, I wouldn’t have been able to afford all of the trips I’ve taken so far, so for that I’ll put aside the negativity and talk about all the cool trips I’ve been on.
In September I traveled to Paris, Brussels, Maastricht and Amsterdam. The Paris trip was a separate trip, just a long weekend. All of the other countries listed, I did in the week before school started. The trip to Paris was mainly because me and a group of friends spontaneously bought cheap tickets to see Queen Bey in concert back in July. We figured that Beyonce was a good excuse to see Paris as well. I didn’t really know what to expect, because I had always heard that Parisians are snobby and hate Americans. But, I honestly couldn’t have had a better experience. All of the people we met were so nice and even though 3-4 days is nowhere near enough time in Paris, we really got to see a lot of the city and enjoy Paris and of course BEYONCE, who is as far as I’m concerned, one of the best humans on the planet. Other trip highlights were: our First thing incredibly cool hostel, Young & Happy Hostel in the Latin Quarter, Nutella and banana crepes, a free 3 hour walking tour of the city, wine by the eiffel tower at night and a boat tour with mimosas along the Seine.
Pics from Paris:
My next trip was a bit longer and definitely much colder. My friend, Rebecca and I flew from Bologna to Brussels with Ryan Air, almost missed our flight, because we had electronic versions of our ticket instead of a paper copy. We literally were about to board the plane when the lady took one look at our e-tickets and our passports and said “Sorry, you can’t use those tickets. You have to go downstairs and back through security to get a printed copy, because you’re American.” So, we ran around frantically trying to make it back in time to catch our flight, which luckily we did (we were the last ones on the plane). Lesson Learned: ALWAYS PRINT YOUR TICKETS FOR RYAN AIR. If you don’t print your tickets and go through visa check first, YOU WILL BE RUNNING DOWN THE PLATFORM, or will have to pay 15 EUROS to print a stupid paper version.
Even though the start of the trip was a bit rough, the rest of the trip was amazing! Brussels is a really cool city and has amazing food/beer. They also were having some sort of festival the day we were there, so the famous statue of a peeing boy in the center of town was dressed up and instead of peeing water, the Belgians fixed up so the boy was peeing beer, which they were handing out for free. I feel like that alone, tells you a lot about Brussels. My friend Sahar, from UCSD is studying abroad in Maastricht (Netherlands), which is super close to Brussels came to visit us and then we went back with her to stay in Maastricht for the week. Maastricht is a super-charming Dutch town, in the southern part of the Netherlands. I really enjoyed our time there roaming around the streets, eating waffles and cheese and doing all sorts of fun shopping. From Maastricht we went to Amsterdam for a night, which was incredible. Amsterdam is an amazing city, full of history, culture and of course stoners from all over in the notorious coffee shops. We went cheese tasting, visited the Anne Frank house and walked all over the city. We really saw a lot that trip and enjoyed everywhere we went. It was also so nice to see Sahar and casually galavant through European countries, like we always dreamed about back at school in San Diego.
Pics or it didn’t happen:
The most recent trip I’ve taken was my pal Ryan Air was to Berlin. It was this trip that made my resentment for Ryan Air grow stronger. First off, we flew out of Bergamo, which is closer to Milan, so we had to take Bla Bla Cars (people who offer rides on a legit website from one place to another) to and from Milan, because trains to Milan are way too expensive. The Bergamo airport security is stupid and made my friend Lily throw away her expensive hair product, because it was in a travel-sized container that wasn’t labeled and they made me throw away my corkscrew, which with I’ve had no problem in any other European city before. We were just really grumpy in that airport, because everyone was being so annoying, but I mean we made it to Berlin and had a great time. Berlin, for those of you don’t know is HUGE, but it’s cool because they have an amazing public transportation system that tells you exactly how long it takes for each train to come and is incredibly fast and clean. Visiting Berlin was nice, because we had a place to stay with Lily’s brother, who lives there. My favorite part of Berlin is the funky/artsy culture that seeps into almost all aspects of the culture. I definitely want to go back and spend more time there, but my little taste of Berlin was wonderful and will do for now.
I have one last trip planned for next weekend with the homie Ryan Air and that’s to IBIZA!! The whole trip was 5o U.S. dollars ROUND TRIP!! It was to cheap not to book, so we’ll see how the Spanish Island life treats us…
The Verdict on Ryan Air: I don’t like them, but I for now I need them. Until I find a better solution…
It’s come to my attention that my name is a mystery to Italians. First off, most of them have never heard my name before. Then to make matters worse, the pronunciation is also ridiculously hard for Italians: Shelby ends up sounding more like Shal-bee-uh or Chel-vee. Due to this unfortunate pronunciation, I’ve decided to adopt an Italian name, because perché no (why not)?
My Italian name is Antonella Valente; it’s not as arbitrary as it sounds, lo giuro (I swear). Prima cosa (first thing), Antonella is much easier for Italians to say, it just rolls off the tongue so beautifully. Also, my middle name is Ann, as is my grandmother’s and my Italian great-grandma’s first name is Antoinette or Ann, for short. As you can see, the name “Ann” has roots that run deep throughout my family history, so I just took part of my name and Italianized it to the name that either me or someone in my family would’ve had if we actually lived in the part of Italy where our family is from in the South, more specifically, Trani in the Puglia region. Also, one my Italian family’s last names is Valente, (which means valiant and also is the name of a former Roman emperor) so I just used that to complete my new Italian identity.
It’s actually really liberating having an alias, especially when you go out to bars or clubs and some creepy guys try and find you on Facebook. It’s so great, because they can’t find me, because I technically don’t exist. Ha, I win!
However, having two identities is not all rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes it’s hard to remember who I am that night. Also, it’s difficult explaining to the whole fake identity story to people, once they find out that my name isn’t actually what I said it was. I actually think that at one point I’m just going to add Antonella to my name on Facebook, so people that I actually like can find me.
It’s also kind of sad not being able to use the fun nick-names that go along with Shelby, like Shelbs, Shelbster or even just Shel. Luckily, my American friends here still can say my name without butchering it, so that’s nice. I’m not the only one who has had to Italianize their name, my friend Payton changes her name to Patrizia, because Payton is even harder for Italians to say than Shelby is. It’s also just kind of fun to have an Italian alias, so a few of my other friends here have adopted Italian names, just for kicks.
Another really weird thing that I never really thought about before I came here is, that I’m kind of ethnically ambiguous.
In Italy, people generally just assume I’m Italian until I open my mouth and they can tell that I’m not a native speaker. More recently, I’ve been getting Spanish, multiple times actually, which is strange, because I have so many ethnic origins in Europe, because I’m a mut, but Spanish is probably not one of them. Unless I have some traces of Spanish from my Filipino family, because the Philippines were conquered by the Spanish for some insane number of years, like 500 or something…
So basically all you need to know is that I’m a mystery. I have an alias and an ethnically ambiguous facade. All I need now is some super cool ability like mind-reading, so I can get my own TV show.
Ciao for now ❤
Ciao a Tutti! I have been slacking on blogging…A LOT. I’m sorry! I’ve been busy traveling, getting to know my new city and also I’m lazy. Finalmente (finally)! I’m getting around to it. Allora, cominciamo all’inizio (well, let’s start at … Continue reading
Isn’t just so annoyingly true that once you finally get how things work in a new place, that you have to leave? That’s the position I find myself in on my last day in Florence. Maybe it’s the cool breeze coming the fan, having to say goodbye to my wonderful Italian professor, or the Rino Gaetano song playing over and over in my head, “Sfiorivano Le Viole” that has got me feeling a little sad about leaving this wonderful city. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to leave the land of obnoxious tourists, omnipresent blood-sucking zanzare (mosquitoes) and am so ready to sit on a beach and think about nothing but what cocktail I want next. It’s just that finally, after 2 months of being here that I finally feel like I know how things work, and I have to leave. It’s so bittersweet…
I mean I’ve done pretty well. I’ve discovered life beyond the American hub points like Astor, Red Garter and Lion’s Fountain. I’ve learned how to decipher the Tuscan/Florentine accent, pronouncing their c’s as h’s, when the “c” is in between two vowels. ex) La Casa is pronounced as La Hasa. It’s actually kind of cute and confusing at the same time. I’ve explored Oltrarno/Aldilà d’Arno (where all the Florentines actually are). Drank wine that I filled up from the barrels at the Enoteca across the street at Santa Croce, on the Steps of Santo Spirito, Piazza del Duomo, and Sant’Ambrogio. And most importantly, I’ve made incredible friends here that have made my experience amazing.
So instead of a bunch of words, here are some pics from my favorite moments in Florence. Prego:
Walking by the Arno every day on my way to class. Even though most days I had to navigate through crowds of tourists who don’t move and are always in the way…ALWAYS.
Having class in Santo Spirito everyday and seeing all of the interesting characters that hang out in the piazza.
Gelato from Santa Trinita. Stracciatella and Sesamo Nero (Black Sesame), a personal fave. Only 1,90 euro for pure heaven!
Being oh so silly with my lovely apartment mates (notice the candid “let’s all look away from the camera” pose).
The view from the top of the Duomo…Meraviglioso!!
Aperitivo at Le Murate (Caffe Letterario)
Limoncello Margaritas at L’Margaritaio con le ragazze dopo una giornata caldissima!
And of course, eating my way through the city…as evidenced by this heavenly panino from All’Antico Vinaio.
Of course there have been a million other things that I’ve done in Florence, but here’s a piccolo assaggio (little taste).
Grazie e Buona Vacanza a tutti! I now head off on a two week vacation and then I head to Bologna for my year abroad.