A day trip to York

This year I have decided to visit the UK more, and York was my first port of call.

I know there’s a lot to uncover aside from my usual spots of choice, so I’m trying to see the most possible this year by applying the rule that it has to be someplace that I have never been before (within a reasonable budget and distance from London and of course holiday permitting, lol). Therefore, last Saturday,  I’ve hopped on a train and headed to my chosen destination for the day.

A train ticket from London to York costs around £50 return (a bit cheaper if pre-booked in advance) and it takes roughly an hour and 50 minutes to get there, so it’s a good place to choose even if you are just looking for day trips.

Once arrived there, and since I had only 6 hours to spend in the city, I made a plan to see at least the most famous tourist attractions.

What to do

At 11 am my train arrived at the station and I started my day visiting the York Minster.

 

York
York. Photo By Roman In Londo

Dominating the City there’s York Minster Cathedral  (Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York), one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. The ticket costs £10 plus £5 more if you are willing to climb the 257 steps to get to the top (which I obviously did). The day was lovely, sunny and the view from the top was grand so I’m glad I’ve made the effort. However, it made me realize how actually unfit am I gave that it took me a while to regain my breath once on top.

View from the top. Photo by Roman In London

A prize for the courageous climbers is a badge of the Cathedral reading *I made it to the top*.

If you’re travelling with a partner you should stop for a kiss by the Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window, as legend says if you do you’ll stay together forever 🙂

Walk the walls. Definitely, a must if you go to York,  is a walk on the walls. It takes circa 90 minutes and the view is breathtaking, especially around this time of year.

 

Photo by Roman In London

Stroll around the Shambles. The narrow cobbled streets that surround the Minster are hard to resist and full of nice shops and bars, in the late 14th century The Shambles housed a street full of butchers shops, today you will find sweet stores, antique and jewellery shops, tea rooms etc.

GhostTour. One of the quirky traits of this City is its reputation of being one of the most haunted cities in Europe, so if you fancy the idea of a Ghost Tour you’ll have an array of options to choose from.

I have finished my day sipping a tea in a lovely tea/coffee shop called the Vanilla Cafe (pictures below) its old-fashioned interior decor has captured my attention and the tasty almond cake I had has proven it to be a good choice. The Betty’s Café is also another option and has the reputation for being York’s most famous tea spot (with the queues to match),

Vanilla Cafe. Photo By Roman In London
The Vanilla Cafe’. Photo by Roman In London

York has definitely a lot more to offer though: with influences from the Romans, Vikings, Normans, Tudors, and Victorians, you’ve got a whole snapshot of history in one city. All of which has made it one of my favourite UK city break destinations and (perhaps next year) I’ll definitely head back to see more of it!

 

 

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Santa Severa: one of Rome’s prettiest beach

A beach close to Rome, with clear water, a medieval castle, and some Roman ruins: why not?

Santa Severa, even though is not really a destination widely considered by foreign tourists, is in my humble opinion, a proper hidden gem that’s worth to visit especially if travelling during the summer months. If you need a break from the heat of the City, you might be surprised to hear how easy and close is to slip into the clean Mediterranean waters.

Santa Severa, amongst other destinations by the sea, is only 50 km from Rome.

The beach that surrounds the Castle is free, which is quite rare given the fact that in Italy most of the beaches are taken over by private owners (Stabilimenti).

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Named after its homonymous martyr, is believed to have been an ancient Roman port under the name of Pyrgi. Like its bigger neighbour Santa Marinella, it was a popular summer resort for the Romans as well as a fishing settlement supplying fish to the mainland towns and Rome itself. The outline of the Roman settlement is still visible, if you walk around the borgo (walled village) you will notice that the Roman-era foundations are made of massive cyclopean masonry. On top of this, the medieval borgo walls were built, from smaller stones, covered in plaster. Inside the walls, there is a small museum, a church and some small artsy shops.

Santa Severa. Photo By Roman In London

Here is the castle’s official website, where you can also pre-purchase the entry ticket: http://www.regione.lazio.it/santasevera/

Santa Severa. Photo by Roman In London

How to get there from Rome: https://www.rome2rio.com/it/s/Roma/Santa-Severa

Santa Severa is about 45 minutes away by train from either Termini or Trastevere station. The train ticket costs about €5, but access to the beach is totally free.

 

 

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Here’s your new favourite Swimsuit

swimwear

A swimming costume or bikini is probably the most important purchase of the Summer, so it’s one you want to get just right. Whatever your body shape and personal style, there’s a super swimsuit to suit you!

Stand-Out Swimsuit

If you want to turn heads on the beach then back away from basic black and go for eye-catching colour and pattern instead. Spots and stripes never go out of style, and a colourful cut-out swimsuit gives extra fashion points.

swimwear

Perfectly Petite

If you’re looking for a swimsuit to suit a small frame or bust then remember that voluminous frills and ruffles will both add interest. The gypsy-style Leandra Off Shoulder Bikini by Lisa Marie Fernandez is a winner for those who dare to be different. The off-shoulder style is bang on trend too.

swimwear

Killer Curves

The halterneck bikini top is a curvy girl’s best friend for the beach. The Daisy Print Bikini by Dolce and Gabbana is super cute and there are matching retro-style high waist bikini shorts too.

swimwear

Poolside Posing

If you’re not actually planning on getting closer to the water than a poolside sunlounger, La Perla has some incredible swimsuits for posing up a storm in. The sequined ‘Dreamland’ plunge swimsuit is a white hot number that will go great with whatever cocktail you’ve got in your hand – just be careful not to spill!

swimwear

 

Waterpark Ready

Whether you’re keen to do some actual swimming, or want something that will stay put on the waterpark slides, a proper swimming costume definitely has a place in every suitcase. Onia has a good range of sturdy swimwear that will withstand the waves. The Devyn zip-up top is a sporty, supportive alternative, if a one-piece doesn’t appeal.

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Just moved to London? These are the apps you’ll need!

London

Whether you’ll be travelling or moving to London this year (2017),  this post will give you some tips on what are the most useful apps you’ll need during your stay.

Those days when we used to travel “light” with a map and a guide book only are long by now, today our daily lives are made easier by technology and the use of the phone for each little thing we might need is ingrained in our daily habits: from checking the news, emails, weather, transports and bank,  you’ll definitely need your phone, even more, when on a City Trip.

 

The Big Ben at night. Photo By Roman In London

 

  • Uber

A great app to have, it lets you find a taxi wherever you’re at, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle of paying the driver in cash as it’s all taken from your registered credit card. On the plus side, it’s about 30-50% cheaper than a traditional black cab.

  • City Mapper

Simple, sleek, and super helpful, City Mapper provides up-to-date transports times and line updates, the route planner is particularly useful, allowing you to optimise for a shorter journey or fewer changes.

  • Time Out London

You may be able to pick up a free copy of Time Out on the tube or around hotels and cafes. If you don’t find one, make sure you use the Time Out London app for suggestions of things to see. They list the latest events, culture and nightlife and have lots of suggestions for first-time visitors too.

  •  Bus London

Never wait in the cold again thanks to UK Bus Checker. The app will give you live bus times at any London stop so you know exactly when to show up at your stop to catch your ride.

  •   Meetup

If travelling solo or just looking to meet people I find this a very useful app as it gather a wide range of interests and opportunity to meet like minded people to have interesting and fun times

  •   Just Eat

This is internationally known and widely used almost everywhere. If you get too tired after a day touring the City this is a good app to use to get your dinner (or breakfast delivered).

  • Opentable

Eating out in London is quite an expensive business, but there are bargains around if you know where to look. Opentable, which handles reservations for up to 80% of London’sMichelin-starred eateries, can provide restaurant discounts on everything from quick bites to fine dining in over 4,000 UK restaurants, as well as nearby restaurant searches and the ability to book online.

  •  Currency Converter App

If coming from abroad you may not be used to the Pound and might experience the constant challenge of doing currency conversions in your head. Any currency converter app is, therefore, a must companion.

phone

 

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Roman In London: where to see it

Roman Wall

As surprising as it may sound (at least to me) the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain in the year 43 AD and founded London who was named Londinium.

However, the Romans settlement didn’t last long (until around 61) when the Iceni tribe, led by Bodica, stormed in and burned it to the ground. A much bigger and stronger City rose in its place, but here and here there are still some remains of that short-lived Roman Empire influence.

The original City was built inside a set of defensive walls and some sections can still be seen today.

Roman London
In the 1300 the City was still confined within the Roman Walls. Map of the British city of London in around 1300. Vectorised version of File:Plan of London in 1300.jpg by William R. Shepherd, a work in the public domain in the United States, also its home country, by virtue of being published in 1923 without copyright renewal.

Roman Wall

Roman Wall
Roman Wall

The Roman Wall was maintained until the 18 century, some of its sections can be seen on the grounds of the Museum of London, in the Barbican Estate and around Tower Hill. It now follows roughly the boundaries of the modern Square Mile. Outdoor displays of the wall stretches can be found along the thoroughfare of London Wall, towards the Museum of London.

Roman Amphitheatre

Remains of London’s amphitheatre were recently discovered in the north of the city (1888 in Guildhall Yard), and you can visit them at the Guildhall Art Gallery. The  80m-wide dark circle of  dark stone in the courtyard outside shows where the Roman amphitheatre in London once stood.

It was built in AD70 as a simple wooden structure, it’s not clear yet what was happening inside the amphitheatre at that time, whatever animal fighting or gladiators being executed, what is sure though, is that it was a place for mass entertainment as it had a capacity to host up to 6.000 people.

Roman Amphitheatre © photo by PastLondon on Flickr

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Obsession at The Barbican: Review

Jude Law and Halina Reijn are the protagonists in Ivo van Hove’s “Obsession”, stage version of Visconti’s 1942 film at the Barbican which I went to see last weekend and this is my review of the play.

The story is an adaptation of the 1930s  crime novel  ‘The Postman always rings twice” by James Mc Cain about a man and a married woman having an affair and the plot to murder her husband.

The scenography set is minimalistic with a modern and stylish twist, but, although well-thought and very dynamic, I’ve really struggled to imagine those described Italian ambients and scenarios.

As soon as you step into the theatre hall you’re already submerged into the atmosphere as the actors are already performing their set on stage.

You can start “breathing” and witnessing the boredom of Hannah’s life in her marriage with Joseph as she lays almost stranded in the kitchen, her mind elsewhere, her anguish in the solitude while her present/absent husband carries on his work duties. The lack of communication and respect between them is already palpable.

After a few minutes, Jude Law sets his foot onto the stage and the atmosphere gets suddenly intense as the immediate erotic attraction with Hannah sets the voyeuristic expectations high. Although the focus of the acts is not onto their passion, but more on the internal conflicts of the character of Gino (Jude Law) who struggles with a debate between his wild and free side of personality versus the desire and love for a woman. However, the possibility of a stable and  (perhaps in his opinion) boring life, makes him struggle and not able to cope.  The play depicts his shifts from pure passion to boredom with the rapidity of the blink of an eye.

Jude Law interpretation is stellar in interpreting the difficult character of the moody Gino and so is the interpretation of Halina Reijn, however, especially in some fundamental parts of the story, the abstract scenography makes it harder for a viewer to fully immerse in the play.

At Barbican, London, until 20 May. Box office: 020-7638 8891.

 

 

 

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Your guide to planning a road trip in the UK

I truly believe that a road trip is an incredible way to see a country, that feeling you get when ahead of you there’s nothing but miles of empty road, adventure and freedom.

Travelling by car will also allow you to see places your eyes would have only dreamed of if the medium of choice was to travel via plane or train instead.  One of the best things about this wonderful country is the vast amount of diverse sights and landscapes that stretch the length and breadth of the island.

Having said that, a road trip requires many things to take into account in order to avoid unexpected surprises. So, here is my guide to planning a trip in the UK:

1.If renting a car, plan in advance your beginning and ending destination

It is generally cheaper to pick-up and drop-off a rental car from the same destination, so it is worth planning accordingly.

2. Use your Phone GPS rather than renting one   

If you don’t have cellular data, you can preload a route on Google Maps when you have wifi and use the location service to follow the route.

3.Know the rules of the road

If travelling from abroad just a reminder that in the UK they drive on the left side of the road and signs are in miles per hour for speed and miles for distance.

4. If crossing the isles…

Don’t forget about the ferry services when travelling between the mainland UK, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. There are convenient ferry services from a few different ports, including:

  • Holyhead, Wales to Dublin, Ireland
  • Cardiff, Wales to Waterford, Ireland
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland to Liverpool, England

5. If driving your own car get MOT testing

Make sure you are driving safely and that your car had a MOT test prior departure. Repairing fails also can end up costing a fortune, also MOT from professionals ensures that no aspect is overlooked and it also helps in overcoming penalties or fines.

Some good and cheap MOT service providers in London are DAT Tyre, Motnearme.

Or if you prefer going locally, many local councils have their own MOT testing stations for their own vehicles, such as buses or vans.

(This post was written in collaboration with DAT Tyre)
Lake District. Photo Courtesy: Telegraph

 

Lake District
Lake District. Photo Courtesy: Telegraph

 

 

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A day out in Greenwich

Greenwich is one of London’s most loved boroughs and home of some of London’s most iconic museums and landmarks like the Prime Meridian Line, the Cutty Sark or the Royal Observatory Museum.

 

Greenwich. Photo By Roman In London

 Morning:

The Cutty Sark is the first thing you’ll notice when out of the DLR, the historic merchant ship suffered from a fire in 2007 but has been restored after that.

But, let’s start the day from the Royal Observatory.The Royal Observatory is home to the Greenwich Mean Time and Prime Meridian line,  you’ll get the chance to learn about the discoveries of the 18th century while also having one on each side of the line and be in both eastern and western hemispheres at once.

Greenwich. Photo By Roman In London

Next stop is the National Maritime Museum. Here you can learn about the tales of explorers and brave sailors through an interactive collection of artefacts and displays.

greenwich
The Gypsy Moth, Greenwich. Photo By Roman In London

 

Photo By Roman In London

Lunch:

Greenwich is a great place to stop for food for its famous food market, there’s a fantastic range of street food from various part of the World, you’ll sample mini pancakes, macaroons and churros, marmalades and jam or authentic dim sum and dumplings and much more.

Photo By Roman In London

Afternoon:

After lunch, you can visit the Fan Museum, the world’s only museum dedicated to fans. Greenwich’s Fan Museum contains over 4,000 antique and unique fans dating as far back as the 11th century. The museum will take you through exhibitions about their social importance and cultural significance over time.

View from the Royal Observatory.

Evening:

You can end up your day in Greenwich in one of the most iconic pubs in London: The Gipsy Moth overlooking the Cutty Sark there is one of the most hard-to-beat views of any riverside pub.

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10 Things Italians living in London may find amusing

tube signs

It has been five years since I’ve decided to take a couple of suitcases with me and wave goodbye to my folks in Rome to start a new adventure in London. As an Italian however, the first approach to the Anglo-Saxon culture can be a bit of a shock (in a non-dramatic, but the entertaining and funny way).

What I’ve always been repeating to myself though, is pretty much ‘When in Rome do what Romans do’ and it worked out well. Embracing a different culture can only enrich your soul and widen up your mind. However, still, there’s some funny stuff that I couldn’t help but share with you – if you’ve ever considered moving – and that’s what most Italians thinks when in London.

TMI

Info overload is a thing in London, Mind the Gap anyone?

Although, admittedly, in few instances, it had actually helped me. In fact, if it wasn’t for the mindful floor sign at the crossroad – that shouts where to look at –  I’d probably won’t have lasted that long in London when first moved (and even now at times, well actually most of the times).

That ‘awkward’ silence on public transports

Memories of Italian’s loud and overcrowded public transports are all long gone by now. Public journeys in London are actually sacred mediums for silence and contemplation. Most people can get annoyed if you are talking too loud over the phone… Beware! Although, rules are rules and those might be slightly different on any given weekend after 5 pm.

 

tube signs

 

Happy Hours don’t actually involve the presence of food

As an Italian, (stereotype alert!) I’m used to drinking wine or cocktails as part of a meal or at an aperitif. Our ‘Aperitivo’ or ‘Happy Hour’ mainly consists of a buffet with all sorts of foods (the more the merrier!)  that you can eat along with your ONE drink of choice.

Which literally means give me more food than booze.

 

via GIPHY

                                      

Being promoted at work

Although it may sound awkward, being recognised for your efforts in Italy is not an easy and so standard process. Working hard could sometimes lead you to actually be even more frustrated than anything else as – rarely – there’s a chance of a big pay rise. Sad truth.

 

via GIPHY

 

Or Actually Having to work

Another upsetting truth is that finding jobs in Italy is not an easy task – nevermind your dream job – so, what has really shocked me (in an astonishingly and beautiful way) was that after moving to London, it only took me a few weeks to find my first occupation.

Without getting into too many details, youth unemployment rate in Italy, even tough recently has decreased is still quite high (36.90 percent). Therefore having to move abroad sometimes is not really a choice but a necessity.

 

via GIPHY

 

Four seasons in a day

Ever happened to you? Entering the tube when it’s sunny and hot and getting out when it’s windy dark and cold?  Well, It definitely has to me and that is NOT so funny. Lol.  Cloudless blue skies can soon part to make way for torrential downpours.

   

 

The fine art of the small talks

Small Talks or “Chit Chat” are quite a fundamental part of the British Culture and at first got me totally unprepared. In fact once happened when being asked, “How was I doing”  that I’ve replied with an ingenuous “Totally shit today!” and got a fearful and scary look in return. Do never do that, for any reason. Whatsoever.

That subtle – typically British –  way of explaining tough stuff by always starting on a positive note it’s a tricky art to master, especially for an Italian!

 

 Canned Spaghetti

Yes, there is such a thing.

canned spaghetti

 The “I’m sorry, not so sorry ritual”

 

Finally, the amazing and multicultural melting pot that this City really is and that I’m grateful to be part of.

 

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These are the TOP Festivals in London

You can easily associate the Spring and the Summer in London to many things: like the unmissable Pimm’s o clock, the overcrowded parks during the lunch break on a sunny day, or the long-awaited Bank Holidays (and long weekends too), but also with the Festival season!

Here’s a round out of the top festivals in London and  for this year:

April

Ceremony at Haggerston Park April 29 Price £35

East London Urban Dance Festival: Garage, Grime and House 

May

  • When: May 12-14 Peckam Rye Music Festival Price £15-20 (day) £39.50 (for the weekend)  Where: Spread across various venues in Peckam (Link here https://peckhamryemusicfestival.co.uk/)
  • When May 26-28 Where at the Dome Price £17.50 – £25 (day) £60 (Weekend) Raw Power Festival. 
  • When May 26-28 We are FSTVL (Carl Cox,Basement Jaxx, Katy B and many more) Where at the Damnys Hall Aerodrome Price £67.50  (day) £119.50 (Weekend)

  • When May 27-28 Where at Victoria Park Steel Yard London EDM Kingpins (Martin Solveig amongst others) Sat Sold Out, Sun £45
  • When May 28 Where at Brockwell Park Gala Price £25-£30

June

  • When Jun 3  Where Various venues Camden Rocks £39.50
  • When Jun 3 Where at Victoria Park Field Day £64.50
  • When: Sat June 10th Where: Boston Manor Park, Brentford  Junction 2 Croatian inspired music festivals running for its second year. Price £39.50 http://www.junction2.london/
  • When: Sat June 10th Where: Various Venues Shepherds Bush Bushstock  http://www.bushstock.co.uk Price: £24
  • When: Fri June 30 Where: Hyde Park, Kensington  British Summer Time  http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets/30th-june-phil-collins Line up includes: Phil Collins Price £52.50-£72.50

July

  • When: Sat 1st July Where: Hyde Park, Kensington  British Summer Time  http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets/30th-june-phil-collins Line up includes: Green Day Price £52.50-£72.50

 

  • When: Sun 2nd July Where: Hyde Park, Kensington  British Summer Time  http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets/30th-june-phil-collins Line up includes: Justin Bieber Price £52.50-£72.50
  • When: Thursday 6th of July Where: Hyde Park, Kensington  British Summer Time  http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets/30th-june-phil-collins Line up includes: Kings of Lion Price £52.50-£72.50
  • When: Sunday 9th of July Where: Hyde Park, Kensington  British Summer Time  http://www.bst-hydepark.com/tickets/30th-june-phil-collins Line up includes: Tom Petty and the HeartBreakers  Price £52.50-£72.50
  • When: Friday 14th Sat – 15th Of July Where: Victoria Park LoveBox http://loveboxfestival.com/

 

lovebox line up

  • When: Sunday 16th July Where: Victoria Park  Citadel Festival Price £49.50

August

  • When: 5 August Where: Central London Bloomsbury Eastern Electrics From £24.95
  • When: 5 August Where: Trent Park Oakwood 51st State Festival From £35-£65
  • When: 12 August Where: Brockwell Park, Herne Hill Sunfall From £50-£60
  • When:26 August 27 Sunday August  Where: Clapham Common South West Four  £49.50-£99 pre-sale   http://www.southwestfour.com

A Roman In London

 

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