Musings on things to come…

Good morning to you all from (finally) a rather wintry, bitter cold Milan! Still no snow though! I am excited to get writing again this weekend and over the coming weeks and building my blog, which I think needs and deserves a little more of my time this year. Less procrastination and more productivity is definitely the key! We are all victims of this from time to time and I often more than others it would seem! But alas, I am full of ideas and determination, so lots of writing to do!

Including in the next couple of weeks a further post on my last trip to Venice, a book review and a focus on posts all about Milan, places to go, what to see, what to do!

For now, I leave you with a photo of the Bridge of Sighs – Ponte dei Sospiri – in Venice and will be back soon!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Another perfect day in the city!

Anna

Pietra e Preghiera

A recurring feature of my posts, seems to be Milan’s Duomo. The Cathedral is very much the centre of the city and is used as a frequent backdrop for concerts and events. You may have read my post Music by Moonlight about the opening night of Expo here in Milan and the wonderful concert featuring Andrea Boccelli and pianist Lang Lang.  Or perhaps the post A Roof with a Viewshowing some of the stunning views offered from the terraces of the Duomo.

Last week, once again it took to centre stage, this time for Pietra e Preghiera an evening of video-mapping on the façade of the Duomo. Using modern technology they projected lights and both still and moving images onto the building, accompanied by the beautiful music of Giuseppe Verdi.

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It really was quite a magical and mesmerizing evening! Sometimes we stop noticing the things around us and we take for granted historic and amazing buildings.  The Duomo is truly a fantastic piece of architecture and events like this make you stop and appreciate it once again!

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Have a great weekend!

Anna

p.s. Check out my Instagram for a video of the night!

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!

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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!!)

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Anna

Lake Como

Being a country girl at heart, I find that from time to time I long to escape the hustle and bustle of the city! To inhale long deep breaths of fresh, clean air. I dream of an English meadow, filled with wild flowers, or a quiet beach in the Essex countryside with my dog, an overgrown wood and spotting a sly fox on the path ahead, before it scurries away into the undergrowth. When I can’t make it home to England, luckily enough the Lakes are only a hop, skip and a jump from Milan!

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I think my favourite of the Italian lakes is Garda, as I have such lovely memories of my first visit there, but Como and Maggiore are both absolutely charming! In the last few weeks I have been to Como (on Lake Como) a couple of times and whilst I used to find it a little too busy and not particularly relaxing, it has grown on me!

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The first trip was with my two friends who were visiting from England. We decided that rather than take a boat trip on the lake, we would instead go on the Funicular Railway to see the spectacular views from the top of the mountains! The Funicular was opened on the 11th November 1894 and the slope is apparently 46%. It certainly feels very steep when you are going up and I wouldn’t suggest standing by the windows if you get a little vertigo!

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The views from the top though are amazing and just a short walk from the station is a wonderful spot to take panoramas of the lake. Conveniently there is also a charming little bar where you can enjoy a refreshing glass of Prosecco and take in the views!

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Cheeky little Guinness and Prosecco’s whilst enjoying the view!

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Spotted this little guy relaxing in the sun!

If you are feeling energetic, further up the mountain is a lighthouse which you can walk to, I did so in October when a friend came to stay with me. The views are outstanding, but from my personal experience I would advise you to make sure you walk back down to the Funicular before sunset! The terrain in certain parts is a little steep and lose off foot, so in the dark can be quite dangerous – however you get some spectacular photo opportunities watching the sunset from the lighthouse!

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My friend on the last stretch to the lighthouse

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Watching the sunset from the lighthouse was absolutely stunning!

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Only halfway back down and it was pitch black on the paths! A little spooky!

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‘Love boats’ – look like Noddy’s car to me!!

The second time I visited recently with my two friends from Milan, we were feeling like a little adventure and exercise, so we rented a ‘Love Boat’ which is really just a fancy name for a pedalo and went out on the lake! Despite my friends doubting whether I was the best person to drive the boat, they did let me and if I do say so myself I did a really good job – we didn’t capsize or crash! It was hard work though cycling for an hour under the boiling sun – so a refreshing cocktail was greatly appreciated before heading back to Milan, tired but happy!

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Look at those driving skills! Haha! Photo credit: Bri and Grace

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Photo Credit: Grace

Have you ever been to any of the Italian lakes? Let me know where, and what you enjoyed most! I need new inspiration for the next trip as I am dreaming of a weekend at the lakes soon…..

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!

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The beautiful Villa Reale

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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.

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

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I especially loved this one!

 

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

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