When in Rome…

… Do as Romans do!

It’s that time of the year when I finally manage to book myself into one of these cheap flights and travel to my beloved hometown: Rome.

But before doing so, I thought I should give you a heads up of what Romans, usually do (or go) when visiting their hometown. Even if only for a few days…

First things first: let me eat! And my taste buds will be eternally grateful.

Eating out in Rome is not a secondary activity, something that you leave in between other things. eating out is the Core activity! It is one of the main thing we’ll end up doing most of our time during the vacation.

Whether it’d be with my family, friends or by myself you’ll see me spending most of my time seating on a table and happily tasting all variety of delicious food. And I promise that I will be enjoying it every time as much as Julia Roberts did on her Italian vacation in the movie “Eat, Pray and Love”!

 

 

Recently, I have been to La Zanzara, Ristorante il Fico and Porto Fish and Chips.  Nice places in the centre of Rome where you can eat fresh seafood and drink good wines.

Sightseeing is not difficult when  free art and architecture is everywhere around you  in historic and ancient Rome. In fact, you’ ll easily find yourself stumbling upon few “hidden” gems such as beautiful Churches (Santa Maria del Popolo, Santa Maria della Vittoria), and ancient ruins (I Fori Imperiali or the Palatine Hill). You can pass by ruins, gardens, and fountains. Rome is a “compact” city and easily walk able

 

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Taking a day trip with my friends or alone to the nearest beach. Ostia, Fregene or Maccarese are the ones I usually end up going when visiting for a short period of time.

They may be not as glamorous but are the closest to Rome. All of them are equipped with some nice private sandy beaches as well as free to the public ones

 

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Shopping. As weird as it may sounds I am talking grocery shopping. My luggage on the way back to London will be full of things I crave to eat and rarely find troughout London (spices, vegetables such as artichokes, sometimes meat and wines).

 

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That’s all for now, but I’ll be updating you soon on what’s on the Roman Agenda.

 

 

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My guide to London’s Coolest Car-Boot Sales

Whether you are on the hunt for a car boot sale bargain, or just looking to sell your unwanted items, I know the feeling: there is nothing more satisfying than coming away with things you’ve always wanted to buy but never found elsewhere – or, perhaps, never at the right price. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.

If you are into vintage furniture, music, clothing or anything second hand really, here are few recommendation for you…

1) Chiswick’s Southfield Primary School Car Boot

 

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There are lots of bargains in this small, but a friendly sale in West London.

Entry fee: 50p (or £1 before 8.30am). If you want to pitch, it’s £10 for small vans, £8 for cars, and £5 for walk-in sellers. It’s run on the last Sunday of every month from February to November from 8.30am until 12.30 pm.

 2)  Battersea Car boot Sale

 

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This is one of my favourite car boot sales in London and is located in Battersea.

You may spot some branded high-quality items such as Gucci bags, Prada shoes… You name it.

It promises ‘quality goods and a Portobello-like atmosphere’. It runs every Sunday 1.30pm – 5pm. If you want to pitch dealers entry from 11.30am or 12 pm. Pitches starts from £20 up t £35

 

3) Princess May Car Boot Sale

 

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This car boot sale is situated in North London and is open every Saturdays and Sundays of every month, including bank holidays. Very hip: Stoke Newington and Dalston crowd style. Same applies for its vintage clothing and valuables or furniture.

Entry fee 50p (£3 before 9am) Open 9am-3pm Sat; 9am-2pm Sun. If you want to pitch, price start from £10

4) Wimbledon Car Boot Sale

Open three days a week this stadium is filled with stalls selling a wide range of items from clothing to silverware and jewellery at a bargain price.

Entry fee £2  (first hour of the sale), 50p thereafter. Open 10.30am-2pm Weds; 6.30am-1.30pm Sat; 7am-1.30pm Sun (except Easter, Christmas and New Year – please check availability during these times)

Wimbledon Stadium, Plough Lane, London, SW17 0BL

5) Capital Carboot Sale

One of the best London’s bargain, this Pimlico boot sale is open every Sunday inside and out at Pimlico Academy, selling furniture, kitchenware, bikes, books, clothes and all the other random, but awesome, things you usually find at a car boot. Ranging from classic furniture, clothing and collectables to odds and ends brought along by people clearing out their cupboards, the mix is enjoyable to sift through.

Entry fee is £1, unless you want to get first dibs, then you can get early bird entry for £5. (http://www.capitalcarboot.com)

6) Holloway Car Boot Sale

Open 8am-4pm Sat; 10am-2.30pm Sun (except Christmas and New Year). Holloway Road, opposite Odeon Cinema, London, N7 6LJ

Entry fee: free

7) Hounslow West Car Boot Sale

Open 7am-5pm Sat; 7am-3pm Sun (except Christmas and New Year). http://braymarkets.com/

Entry fee: Hounslow West Station Car Park, Bath Road, London, TW3 3DH

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House n. 4 | Dalston – East London

            Finally I managed to move into the new flat and spend some time around to explore the area and.. here I am to tell what are my first thoughts about it.

When it comes to changes and transitions I’ve always experienced some sort of excitement, but, sometimes,  this excitement does translate to a  bit of stress. Luckily, and as soon as I finished unpacking, I started to feel a little more at ease in the new “Environment”. It definitely didn’t last long!

At first sight, Dalston,  seems to be just a random and chaotic east London Suburb, with a big daily market, few cheap shops and lots of Turkish restaurants (I would also add “an interesting concept of Clean),but although hard to believe, I have to admit that I can see why it has been defined as one of the coolest and trendiest postcode in London.

“You can walk down the road and see everything from Pam Hogg squeezing a melon in the Ridley Road market to a man wearing a sack preaching to the traffic lights,” as Hanna Hanra, editor of the Pix. “Everything is possible. It’s a fabulous, optimistic place.”

Here is a list places that I’ve been to over the last couple of weeks and which I have absolutely loved:

 1) Viva Tapas Bar, Mexican Restaurant

 

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Small, informal and intimate. Decorated with a nice vintage touch,  exposed bricks and low lightings. The big painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe does not intimidates me as soon as I enter the restaurant and I can truly enjoy a fresh tequila based cocktail.

To complete the Mexican atmosphere, I had Nachos with guacamole and a Quesadilla with pork. Delicious!

2) Walk by the Canal 

 

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Walking down the river can definitely help you in changing the pace of the day. From the busy Kingsland Road to the calmest atmosphere.. it’s, in fact, just a matter of few minutes walk.

I’d recommend heading straight down to the canal and walking in either direction – either to Angel or Victoria Park.

3) Farmers Market – Broadway Market

 

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Given the fact that I’m a food lover, I couldn’t really miss the opportunity to go first thing after moving to a new areas in search of the best market, grocery shops that it has to offer.

The Broadway Market is open on saturdays in a ittle East End street between the Regent’s Canal and London Fields.

It offers a variety of different tastes and cultures: stalls, shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

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Top 5 London Parks

Whilst doing a bit of research before writing this piece, I found out – to my greatest surprise – that London is one of the world’s greenest capitals… In fact as the Indipendent has mentioned in one of its articles: “if you include the 3.8million gardens in the capital, plus all the parks, nature reserves, graveyards and playing fields, 47 per cent of London is green, while 60 per cent is classified as “open space”. Interesting.

True fact is that London parks are a perfect place for relaxing, playing sports, make the kids play and also host a bunch of open air concerts and festivals and there’s plenty of them.

Here are the Top 5 and biggest London Parks:

1) Hyde Park


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If you are going to visit London,  even if only for a day or two, you might end up wandering in the middle of Hyde Park to rest from the craziness of the City.

Central and huge: about 1.5 miles long and about a mile wide. One of the largest of Royal Parks and oldest boating lake. The Serpentine is home to ducks, coots, swans and grebes, and is also a place of historic interest.

Close to Marble Arch there’s the Speaker’s Corner, a place where public speaking, debate and discussion are allowed, back in the 19th Century was a spot where mass and public demonstrations took place and so it is today.

2) The Regent’s Park

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The Regent’s Park covers 395 acres and includes Queen Mary’s Gardens. It’s also the home of the London Zoo. Nice thing to do it’d be taking a Canal Boat from Camden to Little Venice

3) Richmond Park

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Beautiful Park and the largest amongst the Royal’s. Also the home of free roaming red and fallow deer, as you can see from the image above. This park is distant only 30 mins from Central London and it is exactly how you’ll imagine the English Countryside. It covers almost 2500 acres, and  if you head towards the edge you’ll be astonished by the fantastic panoramas of the capital.

4) St. James’s Park

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Surrounded by three Royal Palaces and one of the prettiest for me.It’s within walking distance from Trafalgar Square and home of some nice pelicans.

5) Victoria Park

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Locally known as “Vicky Park”, was London first Public Park has opened in the East end in 1845. Apparently the Victorians saw parks as instruments to improve the body. Home of some of the biggest festivals such as Lovebox and Field Day.

Other events that are hosted in Victoria Park are:

– Citadel Festival

– London Flower Show

During Easter break, in one of my strolls around the City, I ended up at the Mudchute Countryside Farm

I was pleased to acknowledge the fact that, very close from where I live at the moment, you can have the feel of being at the Countryside.

It’s very easy to walk around and the park offer an amazing view of Canary Wharf as well as some animals along the way!

 

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London Parks are definite a good way to escape the bustle of the City and now that the warm months are about to come you might have a clearer idea of what London has to offer on the green side!

 

 

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Moving to London… which is the best area?

Moving to London? If you are trying to figure out which area could possibly be the best to live in… well… I might have some info for you based on my personal experience.

Having relocated few times already, I had the feel of the various vibes that certain areas of London could give you.

Although, at the time being, many areas of London are undergoing into the process of gentrification and are in constant change – read change as “getting way more expensive”-  this is how I’ve seen London within the last 3 years:

House n.1 –  Belsize Park – North London

When I first moved to London I had the pleasure to live in the lovely area of Belsize Park, where I shared the flat with Eliza (also a blogger ) and Hanna.

Most of the North London area is very elegant and classy. You can find there some of the most popular residencies (and some celebrities too), but the whole package can come up with a pretty high price.

 

 

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In fact, Belsize Park is quite central, suburban and the average price of a double room can come to up to £1000. Mainly, the reason why I moved somewhere else.

Best areas to live in north london are:

– Camden (North-West).

Very busy, but with the perfect combination of transport links

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– Stoke Newington (North East)

Very close to Islington but the rents are cheaper. Less pleased with the transport links.

– Islington 

Upper – middle class live here. Pretty area.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, you’ve got:

– Kentish Town 
– West Hampstead
– Finsbury Park 

 

House n.2 – Wimbledon – South London

 

I absolutely loved living in Wimbledon! Leafy, pretty (Postcard Pretty) and with that “small, happy villagey” vibe.

The village is my favourite part, especially during the summer months. These pictures were taken at the Cannizaro House, a picturesque hotel/ park/ restaurant close by to the Wimbledon common park,  which I’ve discovered randomly when I got lost in one of my walks.

 

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South London is definitely not only confined to Wimbledon though, but is a very mixed bag of places. Running from the multi milion pound mansions to the poorest and roughest areas.

Streatham and Balham have now improved a lot over the last decade and are getting more pleasant, whilst areas like Nunhead and Peckam are still notorious for being… ehm not the “safest”.

And, if you don’t mind living a bit further out from Central London you can try Croydon. You can get the overground train and in 28 mins ca you are already into Central London, you might just need to remember to catch the last train home or you could be in for a very, very long bus ride!

 

House n.3 – Greenwich – South East London

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Been living nearby Greenwich for almost 6 months now, definitely not one of my longest tenancy.

Very good in terms of safety, less in terms of transportation links (especially if you work nearby east london). In this instance as well, if you miss the last train home there is only one night bus that runs only almost EVERY HOUR, therefore you’d better not.

Accommodation wise is still reasonably priced, and in the future a good amount of businesses will be moving in too.

Greenwich  hosts few antique and food markets and is the set of many London films such as “The Italian Job”.

Neighbourhoods to live in this area would be:

Greenwich
Canary Wharf 

 

Soon to be… House n.4 – Dalston – East London

 

Young, creative? Then Dalston is definitely the place for you. In 2009 Vogue Italia declared Dalston as the trendiest and coolest neighbourhood in London. Will need to update you on this bit once I move in!

Those, in my opinion, are some of the best places to look at.

 

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The Lion King Musical at Lyceum Theatre

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Last night, I was a lucky girl. As a present for my birthday, my boyfriend has given me the lovely gift of a ticket for a musical of my choice: no need to say we ended up at the Lyceum Theatre to see the Lion King.

The critically acclaimed musical has been  on stage since the late ’90s – and, only recently, has celebrated its 15th year – and is now acclaimed as the most successful stage show of all time. No wonder why.

The opening scene with the “Circle of life”song  was astonishing, and since the very first vibes (tribal percussion with African rhythms, to be more precise) I felt immersed in the atmosphere. Suddenly, various species of animals appeared into the stage from down the aisle with an elegant cavalcade: gazelles,  giraffes and a gigantic elephant  (in total 26 animals are represented).

 

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The vibrant colours, the music together with the use of an experimental technique that combines African masks, Japanese Kabuki costumes and Malaysian shadow puppetry together have a powerful and energetic impact . The stage adaptation of the American director Julie Taymor has almost certainly proved to be avant-garde.

Although loyal to the original Disney animated movie, I still find it very original.

There are no big dance numbers as such, but the show tunes are impressive: The Circle of life by Elton John, Hakuna Matata and Can you Feel the Love tonight.

I have seen quite a few musicals until now and I must admit that in this instance the entire cast was phenomenal:

 

 

Speaking of the crowd, the Theatre was really packed: my seat was in the first row on the left hand side of the grand circle and this is pretty much how the view was like:

 

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It’s definitely one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and I would recommend it as a great night out for theatregoers of all ages.

 

 

 

 

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7 things to consider when moving to London: my how-to guide

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When I moved to London 3 years ago and decided to leave my Country for the opportunity of a more challenging professional life, I wasn’t FULLY aware of what I would have had to experience… (Nor am I now to be honest – boredom You Old Friend). Although, I am pretty confident that I can still give you some tips in case you ever decide to –  or perhaps are already – considering to make the big step of moving abroad.

 

1) Change the money

The first thing that you have to consider when coming to London for the first time is that you’ll need to bring with you “some” cash. Which probably means that you’ll need to start saving well in advance…

Finding a decent job can take up to few weeks, so I’d recommend to be prepared for that.

Once you are all set and ready to go, change your cash! I personally avoid any sort of  current exchange shops for tourists and go directly to either Marks & Spencer or the tourist shops with the 0% commission sign at the front door (Oxford street is the place where you can find both).

2) Find a place to live

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You’ll need a place to stay whilst flat-hunting. If you don’t know anyone that can host you,  you can book yourself in and choose a place for a temporary accomodation with airbnb for  example.

Also, you might have to consider sharing your space as living in London is pretty expensive. The average cost for a room can range from 400 to 900 British Pounds:

Single Room: £500-600 pm
Double Room: £600-900 pm
Student Accommodation: £400-600 pm

Whether you are looking for a short or for a long term accomodation you can have a look at this sites and you’ll most certainly find what you are looking for:

– Spare Room.co.uk

– Gumtree

-Hostelworld.com

Couchsurfing.org

Craiglist

3) Learn the language (A must, I’d say)

Try not to stick around people from your own Country but, instead, do share your accomodation  with people from different countries. “Needed- for-Survival” communication is the best way to learn a language. Also, it’d be good to consider undertaking an english course. You can find a few online or you can just enroll in a class.

4) Transport Pass – Oyster

With the tube and the buses you can easily go everywhere in London – anytime. I’d recommend buying the weekly Travel card or the monthly one so you will save up money instead of buying separate tickets for every single journey. The transport of London website has all the info that you need in this instance.

5) Open a bank account & Register for your NIN

Opening a bank account is a must do before looking for a job as well as getting your NIN number sorted (National insurance Number). Fundamental requirements when starting a new job.

6) Time to find a job..

…. Not as easy at it used to be I’m afraid, although easier than in my own Country perhaps.

First, make sure that your CV is well written and with no grammar spells. Recruiters search for candidates by looking for skills and using keywords, so make sure that it is optimised for the job that you are looking for.  Try to build your network via Linkedin or Meetup by going to networking events and meeting like-minded people that work in the same field.

Last, but not least: do not sit around waiting for your application to get noticed, always be proactive.

7) And don’t forget to stay sane!

As much as I love London, I still find it pretty stressful at times.Big, challenging and expensive, but yet still amazing.  My own tip is: travel often, meet new people and create your own circle of friends. Wheteaver makes you happy! (Yoga and meditation is a must for me).

…And That’s all Folks!

Keep in touch if you have any questions 🙂

 

 

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Recipe ideas: zucchini rolls with ham and soft cheese

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This recipe is the result of one of my recent attemps at cooking (yeah for those who don’t know me well, literally, ATTEMPS). But I must admit that I am getting better at it and, last but not least, definitely putting an effort.

And as the wise Anonymous says:  “Cooking is love made visible”,  let’s show some love today!

Whilst wondering on the web I came across to this recipe from the Giallo Zafferano, an italian cooking website  which I truly recommend when in the look for some tasty and easy to repeat italian recipes.

This a light, fresh and remarkably easy to make appetizer which doesn’t require too much effort,  but at the same time,  is nice  to present on the table when inviting friends for dinner.

The ingredients are:
Zucchini slices 12
Robiola 100 g (any soft cheese will do the trick)
Ham (Prosciutto crudo like Parma is preferable) 40 gr
Chives , chopped 1 tablespoon
Pepper ground black pepper
Salt

1) Firstly, allow the Zucchini to lose part of their water, then cut them lenghtwise   – 2,3 mm- and then grill them side by side for at least 2 minutes per side. Less than that doesn’t really work me.

2) Mix in a bowl the soft cheese with the rest of the ingredients until they amalgamate together in a cream.

3) Leave the zucchini to cool down for a little while so you can easily spread the cream afterwards.

4) Roll the zucchini and garnish them with chives.

And there you have it!

In case you were wondering how many calories does a zucchini contain, here you can find the numbers:

 

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St. Patrick’s Day 2015: what’s happening today in London?

St. Patrick’s day is a worldwide event, but how do Londoners will be celebrating it? Perhaps trying to struck a pot of gold or more likely enjoying a pint or two of traditional Irish beer in some Irish pubs over London.

Surely you might be already aware of who St. Patrick actually is and why is so important to their culture. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland who lived during the 5th century, and is commemorated every year on the 17th of March.

 

 

And here you go: some of the events that will happen today. Enjoy!

1)  Fancy some Tea Dance? 

Hosted by the London Irish Centre, this traditional celebration includes a bunch of events such as a 2-course dinner, live music and a prize raffle. All for £10.

2) Pop up painting exhibition

How about an Irish Paint night instead? Have fun whilst painting the Emerald Isle at the Jam Tree in Clapham tonight.

3) Rather have a pint instead?

According to the Standard  the Porterhouse near Covent Garden, the Toucan in Soho and the Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington are amongst the best you could choose for an Irish Pint.

4) Silent Disco Night at the Shard

It is definitely the highest of the events running in London, as the Event organisers have appropriately defined, it and will  involve you in silently dancing traditional Irish Music whilst sipping a Jameson with ginger ale and lime.

5) Irish Party in a pub in Shoreditch at the Water Poet

The event will be running all day and will be fulfilled of Guinness Galore, irish dishes and live music.

Hope you have now gathered a few information on what is happening today, the 17th of March 2015, in London in case you were lacking of inspiration.

 

 

 

 

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A first taste of London

Having just recently celebrated my third year in London I thought it’d have been nice to share some of my favourite shots I’ve taken that I believe most represent my relationship with the City…. Here you go!

 

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Emirates O2 arena. Photo by Roman In London

 

An astonishing view of the skyline at sunset whilst riding on top of the Emirates Air Line. Even though that was my first – and only – time I’ve ever used this “unconventional” method of transportation I’d definitely recommend it for the chance to admire the landscape. Perhaps not as terrifying as I thought it would be… (A little scared of height).

 

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This picture features a London covered by an icy and glossy white. You can landscape view is visible from the top of the Hampstead Heath park in north London, and it is one of the highest natural spot that you can possibly find in the City. The hike to the top of Parliament Hill is a must do, especially if you live nearby the area.

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And yes, once you are there, why not dusting off your sledges to fly down Parliament Hill?

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