Things I Love Sunday

I have decided to start a ‘Things I love’ feature, which will be a regular Sunday post! It is such an easy way to appreciate and be thankful for the small things in life and remember all the little things from the past week!

So without further ado, Things I love this week…

Being home with my family Catching up with family and friends Endless cups of tea and biscuits Relaxing bubble baths Being woken up by my dog Popping candy ice cream Seeing a clear sky of stars at night Dinner with friends – Poached egg on toast with crushed avocado and chorizo  Singing at the top of my voice with my Mum as we drive along with the roof down Long train journeys, visiting my cousin and the chance to read George Orwell’s Animal Farm in one day Skype dates with my friend in Milan – 

What are you thankful for this week?

IMG_1869

I took this today in Norfolk, it was a beautiful day in the countryside!

Have a great week ahead everyone!

Anna

Armani Silos: Sophisticated and Sleek

As I mentioned in my recent post on the wonderful Prada Foundation in Milan, the same weekend I also visited the Armani Silos. The building was originally used for food storage, hence the name ‘Silos’ and Giorgio Armani decided to maintain the name, as he explained that for him, fashion is as essential to life as food! The large space  of 4500 square metres is spread out over four floors and the collection exhibits clothes from the 1980’s to today, as well as a digital archive on the top floor.

Armani1

The clothes are organised in themes and you start with the Stars and Day-wear section on the first floor, moving upwards to Exoticism, Colour-Schemes and finish with Light and the Digital Archives on the fourth floor.  What I really liked about this layout was that it meant you could see how Armani has been influenced by certain things again and again throughout his career.  They had grouped together pieces, for example from the 80’s and 2000’s which featured similar exotic fabrics and colours,  insects and intricate beading. It was interesting to see how fabrics, cuts and styles have come back into fashion or been updated years later.

Armani11

Armani10

Armani12

Armani is such an iconic brand and for me is the epitome of style! His designs are so perfectly cut and flattering to the body, minimalist and understated but so chic and elaborate at the same time.  The Stars section of the exhibition featured a video showing the numerous famous faces who have worn Armani throughout its’ history, from Diane Keaton accepting her Oscar for Annie Hall, to Sophia Loren, Richard Gere and Lady Gaga.

Armani7

Armani8

Armani5

Armani2

I have a somewhat special love for Armani, as whilst on my Erasmus year in Italy, I completed a six month internship at the company’s production offices in Modena. I was so excited when I was accepted and offered the opportunity, as I absolutely love fashion and it was an experience I will never forget. I learnt a lot and met some amazing people! (Sadly not the man himself!) The main design offices for Armani are of course in Milan and the city is definitely his city! Not only is there the Armani department store, featuring all their lines, as well as a florists, but next door is the Armani hotel! Armani Caffe is a great place too for a light lunch or coffee and cake – they once had an amazing melting chocolate pudding! It was divine! And I have always found the staff in both the Caffe and Department store very friendly and helpful, so don’t be put off by the slightly intimidating style of the place!

Armani6

Armani3

Armani4

Love this dress! The colours are amazing, so vibrant and I love the delicate embroidery!

Back to the exhibition and luckily for myself and the two friends I went with, Sunday seemed to be a particularly quiet day, so after clearing airport style security, we enjoyed the space almost entirely to ourselves! There were endless members of perfectly groomed and very good looking staff on hand to help…for example when all three of us could not work out how to call the lift…it was too high tech for us! Haha! After we had spent a couple of hours exploring and appreciating all the beautiful clothes, we headed to the Navigli for a walk around the Darsena, before enjoying delicious cocktails at Ugo on Via Corsico.

Armani9

Another perfect day in the city!

Anna

10 Random facts about myself!

Hello everyone! I am writing this post from England as I am finally back home for the Summer with my family and friends! I left the sweltering heat in Milan and hopped on a plane to Stansted, to be pleasantly surprised by the weather here.  Not at all as cold and rainy as I was expecting!

I thought I would write a slightly more personal post as being home surrounded by lots of pictures and memories makes you a little sentimental. So I am going to tell you all 10 random facts about myself, so you can get to know me a little better!

Me

  1. Whilst at University, I joined the polo club and played (or at least tried to learn to play) polo. I don’t think I am a natural, but I absolutely love riding and have ridden since I was young.
  2. I have taken and passed Grade 6 in both piano and flute.
  3. In 2001 I performed in a variety show at the London Palladium, with my old Dance School. We performed two modern dance numbers, one to Geri Halliwell’s ‘It’s raining men’ and one to Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’! For which, we wore amazing 50’s style dance skirts! They were great for twirling around in!
  4. I have a rescue dog – a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Robbie!  My Dad, brother and I chose him from about ten staffies we met at a Kennels in Essex. He was originally called Diesel until the Kennel staff renamed him.10570208_887293894643325_1281618656_n
  5. My favourite food is Jacket Potato! Or to be honest any type of potato! I just love them!
  6. Whilst at college, I was an extra in a film about the notorious Witch Hunter Matthew Hopkins. I was in three scenes, including the hanging of three witches, where I had to throw handfuls of mud at the women convicted of witchcraft!
  7. I can speak Italian and am re-learning German. (Unfortunately since I started learning Italian I lost a lot of my German).
  8. My favourite author is Charles Dickens! I have every book he wrote and countless books on his writings and his life. I even combined my love for Dickens and Italy for my dissertation in my final year at University, writing about his relationship with Italy, through his travel writing and the novel ‘Little Dorrit’.  He was also, interestingly, a great supporter of the Italian Unification.
  9. Although I live in a city and love city life, I am a true country girl at heart and find that the smells, sights and sounds of the Essex countryside are so relaxing and beautiful. It is where I feel most at home.
  10. My favourite film (or at least one very high on my list) is Shawshank Redemption. I love the way the film is narrated and the beautiful sentiment in the most memorable quotes from the film.

 – I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend. – 

These are just a few random musings about myself, which I hope you have enjoyed! If you feel like it leave me a random fact about yourself below! I would love to know something about you!

I have lots of posts planned for the next month and am looking forward to a busy summer or fun and writing!

Anna

A stylish afternoon: Fondazione Prada

I have always had a passion for fashion and have been reading Vogue since I was about fifteen and as you will have seen in my previous posts, I also love going to exhibitions and galleries. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that two new exhibition spaces were opening in Milan, one the Fondazione Prada and the Armani Silos.  Obviously we expect anything connected to these two iconic brands to be not only luxurious but elegant and stylish. So a couple of weekends ago, a friend and I decided we needed a weekend of culture and to finally visit both spaces.  I will talk more about Armani in another post, but first we headed to the Fondazione Prada in the South of the city.

Prada18

The Fondazione (foundation) currently doesn’t feature any fashion exhibitions, but it does have a selection of permanent and temporary exhibits. I was particularly interested in a film interview they were showing with director Roman Polanski, talking about his earliest inspirations and what shaped the future of his film making.  The film was really interesting as it gave a great insight into the process of how Polanski works and how he has incorporated ideas from films, which inspired him as a young film student, into his own movies.  Plus the cinema had the most amazing mustard yellow/greeny velour seats and were super comfy! All that was missing was the popcorn!

We then mooched around the other exhibits, including two floors of Greek and Roman art, which talked about the relationship between originality and imitation of artworks. There was also an exhibit we looked at which explored the link between everyday life and art, however it was slightly too modern for me and I struggled to understand the full meaning of it, despite my friend offering up some rather excellent on the spot interpretations for me! One piece was a burnt out car, covered in neat, uniform lines of cigarettes, which she claimed showed a link between death, smoking and driving! It kind of made sense and maybe she was correct…but there wasn’t enough information available to read so I am not sure!

Prada14

Prada5

Prada9

Prada7

If anyone can tell me what this represents? A tar covered car with carefully placed white feathers!?

Prada6

This is the burnt out, cigarette covered car I mentioned! Any ideas?

However, my favourite thing about the whole Fondazione Prada was the architecture. It is on the site of an old distillery dating back to the 1910’s and during transformation of the site they kept some of the original buildings and added in three new spaces; an exhibition pavilion, a tower and a cinema.  Each building is so different from the last and all built using different materials and colours. It was really quite fascinating and oddly beautiful. The juxtaposition of materials and architecture styles has created a space which you want to explore and I found myself touching all the walls and taking my time to appreciate each building from the floors to the ceilings.

Prada3

Prada13

Prada11

Prada12

Prada10

I would really like to live in a gold tower!

Furthermore, there is a charming bar (with delicious panini and iced espresso!!) designed by the director Wes Anderson. It also is a slight mismatch of colours and textures and was designed in the style of a historic Milan Café with features evocative of the 1950’s and 1960’s. For me, it brought to mind a mixture between an old Parisian Café and an American diner (sorry Wes if that wasn’t your intention)!

Prada15

Prada17

Prada16

I really love sitting in busy Café’s and listening in on lively conversation between friends, accompanied by the clink of cutlery and glasses and the smell of fresh coffee.  There is something so intriguing about the sounds, smells and atmosphere it all creates and of course I love watching all the well dressed Italians coming to and fro for a quick espresso at the bar or a glass of prosecco!  I read that Wes Anderson said about the bar, “While I do think it would make a pretty good movie set, I think it would be an even better place to write a movie.” I can see what he means…I intend to return more than once – even if just to sit and drink a coffee and indulge in some people watching!

Anna

Sun, Sea and Sand!

It’s that time of year again, when the majority of Italians head to the coast for weeks of relaxation and sun worshipping! Of course at the first sign of the sun they instantly transform into beautiful sun-kissed people with flawless tans! You rarely see an Italian with dodgy tan lines or streaky fake tan! For the rest of us mere mortals (i.e. English rose complexion) we have to put in some serious effort, so my best friend and I headed to the beach for a week of sun, sea and sand! It also marked the end of the school year and for both of us our first year in business – so the perfect excuse for a little break!

Vr8

We headed to Viareggio in Northern Tuscany, a small but rather charming little town on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We had little else on our agenda except for spending the day on the beach and going for long dinners in the evenings and walks on the beach (a perfect romantic week really – except with my best friend rather than a boy! haha!!)

Vr9

We stayed in a lovely little hotel right on the beach front, with very friendly and helpful staff and managed to move rooms on the second night so we had a beach view! The beach mainly consists of private beaches, but it is worth paying for their facilities, as they have bathrooms, hot showers and some have swimming pools and bars! Plus you get an umbrella and sun loungers! Somehow we managed to convince them to give us two sun loungers whilst everyone else on our beach only had one (including families!) so we were feeling rather lucky and slightly smug!  Taking turns to lie on one, would not have been fun!

Vr2

 

Vr3

Viareggio

There were lots of great restaurants in the town, serving of course fresh seafood, so every evening we had a feast of sword fish, crab, prawns, tuna and all sorts of delicious food!

The sea was beautiful to swim in and very refreshing, however, it was teeming with jelly fish and so we had to constantly be on jelly fish watch! Also there were numerous crabs on the seabed and on the last morning, one nipped me right on my big toe! I was not impressed!

Vr4

Vr5

Vr6

We returned to Milan tanned (and a little sunburnt), relaxed and ready for the summer! However we are in a sort of heat wave in the city at the moment and I would do anything to be back at the beach, but alas work is calling me! Three more weeks though and I will be on holiday back in sunny (haha) England!

Vr7

Anna

Piano City 2015

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you will know that a couple of weeks ago on another sunny Sunday afternoon, I went to the last day of Piano City Milano. This is a a three day event held every year with all types of piano concerts spread across the city! There are concerts held in parks, trams, houses, gardens, Piazza’s and museums to name just a few locations!  There is something for everyone with everything from classical, jazz and pop music to baroque and electronic! Not only is the music fantastic and all concerts are free, it is a great way to explore the city and discover new places!

For example last year, my friend and I went to a concert in the beautiful gardens of Villa Reale, which is the heart of the event and known as Piano Giardino (Piano Garden).  So naturally this year, I took my friends who were visiting there, to listen to some light Jazz and take a well needed break from all the walking we had been doing that weekend!

Pc

The beautiful Villa Reale

Pc4

We listened to pianist Alberto Tafuri play homage to Neapolitan musician Pino Daniele.  A large crowd had gathered (luckily we found space on the grass to sit!) and we spent an idyllic hour listening to him play some beautiful pieces! You can hear a short clip of one on my Instagram page.

Pc5

 

Pc2

There were lots of piano’s to have a little play on – all painted and decorated in funky ways!

Pc3

I especially loved this one!

 

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Anna

A Roof with a View!

Hello everyone! I haven’t given up on my little blog…despite not having written anything for a while! I have just been super busy and so musings took a back seat – but I am back!

Last weekend I had some of my dear friends from home come and visit me and so of course I showed them all around the city and we took a little trip to Lake Como (more on this in another post)!  The best thing about having people come and stay is that I get to be a tourist and fall in love with Milan all over again!  I am a little obsessed with taking pictures at the moment and I honestly think I took more than my friends, despite having seen everything before – but that just means that now I can share them with you!

6

So, one of my absolute favourite things to do in Milan, is to visit the terraces of the Duomo! Milan’s cathedral, the symbol of the city, lies in Piazza Duomo and is a pivotal and central point of interest for anyone visiting.  The Cathedral, commissioned in 1386, is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and took almost 500 years to complete! It features more than 3,500 statues and is a labyrinth of flying buttresses, pinnacles, 96 gargoyles and 135 spires.

1

2

15

Since 1837 Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo has been responsible for the preservation and restoration of the Cathedral and thanks to its’ founder, Gian Galeazzo Visconti,  the Cathedral even has its own quarry! All the marble used for building and restoration comes from The Candoglia Quarries and has done since 1387 when they were given quarrying and transport rights. Originally the marble was transported by the Naviglio Grande but the boatmen were exempt from paying the tolls, as they used a secret password ‘AUF’ – ‘Ad usum fabricae’, ‘for the use of the Fabbrica’.

8

La Madonnina – stood on the central spire of the Duomo and keeping watch over the city since 1774, the copper gilded “Little Madonna”

Inside the Cathedral there are some stunning stain-glass windows, but for me the best thing are the terraces!  You can either take a lift or walk up to the top, but me being slightly lazy and not a fan of spiral church staircases (I get too dizzy!) I took the lift, (it does cost slightly more)! Once at the top you are free to walk around as you please, although I will say that since Expo has started there seems to be a lot more people up there than ever before!

13

A contemporary art exhibition: Tony Cragg, dialogue with the Duomo – running as part of EXPO

7

12

I have always been extremely lucky with the weather when I have been up to the terraces and on a very clear day you can see the Alps and Apennines! It is always nice to see things differently and being up high looking out over the city gives you a new perspective! You can see all the streets running off from Piazza Duomo and every time I visit, I always notice something different, either about the city or the Cathedral itself – usually a new gargoyle or statue!

5

 

11

Having fun in the sun on a roof with a view!

If you haven’t visited yet go now (or put it on your list if you ever visit Milan)…and if you have, what did you think?! I would love to hear!

Anna

 

Turn up the Music!

Last week I spent a whole day being irrationally annoyed and for the most ridiculous of reasons.  I would say I am a very optimistic happy person, but I have learnt that I can be irritated by the most obscure things! Last week it was because my headphones broke!  Yes….that’s all!  It is not the first time the same thing has caused me so much annoyance…last year on my overnight flight from New Orleans to London another pair broke and I had to spend the entire flight using the awful ones they give you for free – you know the crackly ones which never stay in your ears and are just so uncomfortable!

I do realise how silly it is to get so angst up about such a minuscule ‘problem’ but it made me think, why is it this annoys me so much?  Like when I forget my iPod, or can’t find anything good to listen to on the radio?  Don’t get me wrong, I also love talking to my friends (or strangers on the metro for that matter) and sometimes I just love sitting quietly, listening to the world around me or eves dropping on other people’s conversations! (Hehe!) But for the majority of the time whilst I travel around the city for work or am on a train or plane or driving somewhere, or cleaning my house, or working at home, or cooking…what I most enjoy is listening to my favourite songs, or having a singing session or dancing around like a lunatic!

I wasn’t one of those typical British teenagers who grew up listening to Backstreet Boys or Take That! I started liking more ‘popular’ music when I was a bit older! But what I did love was 60’s music and basically anything my Dad played in the car! I loved The Shangri-Las, The Shirelles, Louis Armstrong, The Monkees, The Kinks! I also fell in love with classical music and jazz…basically anything you can sing along or dance to!  But I think it is thanks to my musical upbringing and influences from all my family that now I have a very wide range of musical interest!

I also had not only piano lessons, but also flute, saxophone and singing lessons! I sang in choir and chamber choir at school and played in band and the orchestra. I also took dance classes and one of my favourite parts of this, was seeing what music the teacher had chosen for our new show or exam dance! Three of my personal favourite choices were Bjork ‘It’s oh so quiet’, ‘Move on’ from Chicago and ‘Mack the Knife’ – I will take any version of this song, one of my all time favourites!

So, what I am trying to portray is how important music has always been to me and I feel has become a fundamental part of who I am!  I listen to music if I am happy, sad, angry, stressed, need to relax, can’t sleep…there is a song or a genre for however you are feeling! I truly believe this! Therefore this must be why I get so annoyed when I can’t use my headphones – it has the opposite effect on me…perhaps I should start carrying spares…or invest in better quality ones!?

One final thought…pianist Vincent Corver commented last week on a video I put on my Instagram page of Andrea Bocelli saying that ‘Music is an art that connects us universally’ and I could not agree more.  It is one of the most powerful tools we have in life and one which can break boundaries and connect us all together in one moment!

Would you agree? How important is music in your life?

I leave you to reflect with Louis…

Anna