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Favorite Summer Tradition

…for me is, of course, annual trips to Italy! This post is a throwback to the Italian trip of the summer 2017. Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetBack in the days I would spend whole summers mostly in Italy, only leaving for 2-4 weeks for somewhere else. The main reason, other than unconditional love for Italy, would be to practice the language. But now I speak decent Italian and from last summer on have been trying to broaden horizons and travel outside my favorite country more, as well as start learning some other language. Spanish was chosen to be the next one, as you remember from my 2016 summer trip to Cuba and Mexico.

Nevertheless, a trip to Italy is a must-do for me every summer as well as every winter, as Italy is not only the best way to spend hot days for me, but the most desired snowboarding destination, too. What a country!

My summer vacation this year started exactly like the one last year, by the way: we made a road-trip to Milan and then hit couple more places, including a lake. Trip with the girls last year was awesome, so why not do it again, we thought? We were different team this time, but it was just as great! I am so happy I bring all my friends to Milan and to my most beloved city of Italy – Florence. Last year I went there with my Australian friend, but this time we managed to include Florence in the road trip plan right away.

Four days in my favorite country to begin with – what can be a better kick off for the summer?! It’s gonna be a great one, I know! This time I don’t want to heap this post up with must-eat’s, as everything is a must-eat for me in Italy. So, let’s skip my usual approach to travel notes which always includes tips for restaurants, bars and view decks, and I will just leave couple pics here to remember how great this trip was. There is no need to prove that everything is worth tasting and seeing there 😉

Last year’s memories of the times when I studied at Bocconi together with breakfasts at my beloved eat me & go; nights at Aperol terrace dancing like crazy above Duomo Square and parking for free as if we were always locals there

Next stop – my one and only Florence. The voice announcing trains on the station still gives me shivers of the memories from those times when I used to come to that station anxious and happy; narrow streets every single one of which I still remember as if I had spent my childhood there; favorite bar La Petite where it all started 3 years ago; leather market and the “don’t let him take you to the big shop, it’s a forbidden experience!” from Sex&The City; risotto ai porcini and the view on Duomo cupola in the sun dawn.

I was the happiest there, in Florence. I am happy now, too. Just differently happy. More mature or more cynically happy, which is by no chance a measure of less happiness; just the difference. The time when I was happy in Florence was most likely the last one, when I was happy as a child. Now I am actually happy for the first time since then, since that other “happy”. Now it’s a grown-up happy. The concentration of the word happy in this paragraph must exceed the use of this term in my whole blog.

Away from redundant revelations: our final stop on the way back to Austria was at Garda lake. Last year we went to Como, and our horrifying experience with running out of gas on a mountain road was the most stressful memory until we ran out of gas on a highway on the way to Croatia recently :-/ Life doesn’t teach us much, I know! But the lake was nevertheless so beautiful that this time we decided we absolutely need views like that again. We chose Garda because had only been there in spring time before. It is absolutely amazing in summer, too! 

I claimed I wouldn’t give any advice now, but just one, please: go somewhere around Salò when visiting Garda: no tourists, perfectly quiet and beautiful. Felt like the air itself has its sound there. Loved it!

This year I was driving back with the gang, too. Last time I stayed in Milan due to the start of my studies there, and this year I was initially planning to stay in Italy until my flight to Spain. But at the very last moment things twisted around and I went back with the girls which was a good decision: the views on the drive back are breathtaking!

After our nice Italian days I came back to Vienna, which I never do in summer. I guess I am starting to feel completely at home there, if I actually want to be there even during my time off. Spending 5 additional days with my boyfriend before leaving for longer holidays felt very good. Now I am already away again, for this summer I moved to Barcelona. But about that – later 😉

Have great summer holidays, everyone!

Beso


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Cortina d’Ampezzo

Juhuuuu the skiing season to be continued! Several years ago we started with a tradition of going in the mountains more than once, and me getting into the university with quite flexible schedule possibilities helped that move a lot. This year our next spot was old famous Cortina d’Ampezzo, where the 1956 Olympics were held.

The town is absolutely stunning. Something different from all those similar alpine villages. Maybe because it is not in Tyrol we are used to see in winter. It actually even reminded me of Courmayeur, maybe because both Aosta and Friuli Venezia Giulia were independent regions at some point and managed to develop their own micro cultures differing from the typical Italian ambient.

I want to warn you about the facilities, though. As the resort is very old, the lifts are not modern either. For the skiers it should be no problem but as a snowboarder I sometimes was finding it quite challenging to get off the lift as it doesn’t slow down at the unloading point. There are some newer areas further away though, you just have to get there having struggled trough 1-2 old-fashioned funiculars. Don’t let it ruin your experience and just look around once on the peak – you will forget everything!

There are two separated zones in Cortina itself and the famous Cinque Torri 16km away. All three slopes networks are worth trying out! The Cinque Torri area is a place where events described in “All Quiet on the Western Front” are described and one can still see what’s left from Austrian and Italian troops’ tunnels and mines. It’s a breathtaking beautiful, too. Hard to imagine there were terrifying bomb explosions sounds there once.

Back to my beloved topic, food. Cortina differs from typical Italy here as well. Sometimes it’s a bit confusing and finding just regular al dente pasta is not that straightforward. But there are good places, definitely! I’d point out 5 Torri (simple and delicious), Stella Polare (marked by Michelin Guide, so a bit more elegant), pizzeria Porto Rotondo, Ra Stua, Beppe Sello is also said to be outstanding but we didn’t make it there – so try and leave me a feedback, if you ever find yourself there 😉 If you are ready to wait a bit longer but to get the best seafood you can find there – reserve a table at il Vizietto!

If you want to leave the mountains for a bad weather day and have a roadtrip around Veneto – you can of course go to Venice, but that would take you around 2,5 hrs. There are some small places closer to Cortina too, though! We tried Belluno – nothing new for Italy experts, but definitely very authentic for the new country visitors. Look for  restaurant (it seemed to be the only restaurant there at all, and it’s good).

The last two weeks of this winter sports season were sunny, very warm (what I love about snowboarding in March so much – plus 8 on the slopes feels just right) and just right for me to get distracted from Viennese life, spend some time with family, friends, good food and wines. Now let the spring come and see you again next year in the Alps!Processed with VSCO with g3 preset


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Bella Venezia

One of few tourist places that I enjoy visiting. Usually I try to avoid them popular for Chinese group tours routes, but Venice doesn’t have to be that! Having been there quite many times I managed to develop my own ways to reach San Marco from Santa Lucia and sometimes I meet literally nobody while making the 50th turn among narrow passages.

Having been in Venice several times both in summer and in winter it’s hard to tell which I would prefer. Summer is definitely more attractive for cursing around on boats, but actually this February was warm enough to take water taxi as well. One thing that makes spring tricky is the regular flooding, but in winter and summer you shouldn’t face that problem. Another lovely thing about going in February is the annual carnival which I got to see the second time. It’s not even about the shows, those I avoided due to my favorite tourist crowds, but the city itself is more magical during the carnival, there’s just more happening around every corner wherever you are staying.

So, I am very glad I got to spend 2 days in Venice on my way to Cortina d’Ampezzo and stopped there again for some shopping (all open on Sunday, a nice surprise for Europe! and great sales after the carnival is over!) and lunch on my way back. A place where I will always enjoy coming back for some crunchy pizza from the place near the train station, sitting at the channel bank waving at handsome gondoliers and hiding from crazy pigeons.See you again next year for sure ❤

 


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Bocconi

LUm2g1MgnI4Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to complete the summer course at Università Bocconi – a private university of Milan, a very respected one in Italy and one of the best ones in Europe.

I completed an «Economics of European Union» course but the university offers several more as Luxury management, Fashion management, Venture capital, Sports management, etc. The intense courses are offered in June and February. However, make sure to attempt to enter during the application period that is much earlier. The results are usually published ca. 1,5 months before the courses start. One can find everything concerning the application procedure on the Bocconi website.

The university itself is amazing. Well, it’s obvious that once you pay for education – you feel that you are a part of the private school now. Prosciutto, cheeses and croissants served for breakfast. Restaurant menu for lunch (yes, I start with the most important part of the experience). Modern campus, extremely friendly stuff that really helps. In my university you have to figure everything out yourself which is sometimes very tricky with all the bureaucracy procedures. At Bocconi they will make sure you know where and when to go, you feel comfortable and welcomed, you ain’t hungry and you are indeed interested in what the university offers.
The professors are jewels. I was doing a course with Stefano Riela and can say that he is really professional in teaching. Not that he is just a smart economist but he also knows very well how to treat his audience that way that the material is going to be absorbed by anyone.
We all had very different background there. Australia, China, Malaysia, EU countries, Great Britain and the States and many more. Naturally that means diverse levels of knowledge about the EU. Stefano managed to give it to everyone, have everyone interested, asking questions and participating.
We had group work as well. The main topics for research were TTIP (that I got), Brexit, Turkey as a EU candidate and Google abusive behavior using dominant position case. Imagine how interesting all four are and how much better do I understand what’s happening within the EU now, how the European Commission functions, what each country weights politically and how tight the ties in the modern society with trade areas and custom unions are. Splendid.
Other than lectures and presentations, we also had company visits. The companies differ from group to group and are related to the material of the course. We went to Mediaset, European Commission and Barkley’s. By the way, the main figures there are Bocconi graduates who enjoy keeping in touch with the university and with pleasure organize conferences with students like us. I am wishing now that I wasn’t on the plane that’s about to land and could share more about the companies now! The schedule was so tight during the course that I had absolutely no time to compose any feedback on what I was doing there. As a throwback let me just claim that I am very thankful to Bocconi for the experience. Their spirit gets you better than one of the American high school sports teams! Well-done!
Apart from studies and meeting very interesting people in companies headquarters, I also met a lot of cool guys from all over the world. Bocconi does cool things as common activities, team-building. cooking classes, aperitivo, staff dinners and all those things that make you feel a part of the big mechanism which functions only because you are a team. Last time I had this proud feeling so strong on FLEX reunions, So. Bocconi is definitely going to be an unforgettable experience for me just like FLEX has been since the very beginning 8 years ago.
And, well, having the whole terrace or cooking club rented out for you, being greeted with resect by people who have accomplished incredible things in their lives and now they treat you as even; showing your Bocconi ID card somewhere and immediately getting smiles and a lot of questions from random people around Italy – those moments make you feel special no matter how modest you are. And that’s the right way to feel once you experience something as Bocconi Summer School!
Grazie mille per tutto, l’Università Bocconi! A presto!


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Italy to Spain, challenge accepted

Bocconi course is over; finally time to take a break. But first I had to make it to Spain get my vacation started.

If you know me, you are aware of my travel problems. Most of my flights get either terribly delayed or cancelled. This year statistics show 100%. Even now, writing this being on the flight from Samara (to where the flight was delayed as well, of course) to Saint Petersburg already, we are running late. But we are en route at least, all the other flights from KUF before and after us are cancelled (I am traveling with Ksenia, her karma must have beaten mine this time). Anyways, you got the point. Try not to travel from the same airport as me on the same day.
So, I said goodbye to my lovely Australian friend who I met at Bocconi and hope to see again in Europe this winter; made it to Malpensa… to discover that my flight was cancelled at all. So, no plane. And no seats available on any connecting flights, of course. And none for the next day either. Obviously.
My experience of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no internet and beer costing $25 (Morocco, always in my heart) is so rich that I don’t even freak out anymore. As I was flying with the same airline that had lost my luggage for months, left me in an empty airport with a 19h delay and let me spend New Year’s Eve in the aircraft being stuck (those are all different cases and there are many more; NEVER fly with Vueling), I kind of had the feeling that complaints wouldn’t even reach anyone there. So, I got my shit and went to the nearest hotel somewhere in the woods almost in Switzerland. You can imagine where I found myself if you have an idea where Malpensa is. I put my sneakers on and ran to the nearest civilization. The 50s around one corner and medieval fest around another. Ok then.

One can never imagine how much fun can a cancelled flight bring! Back at the hotel I met some other guys from my flight who were in the same situation, we all united for dinner, Then for drinks. Then for party. Then for breaking into somebody’s house and swimming in their pool… Those 28h of delay (yes, that’s Jenny-traveling-style) turned out to be so much fun that we didn’t want to board for Barcelona when were finally assigned a flight.
Just be positive. Whatever the bullshit is happening around. Especially if you fly with Vueling.

Nevertheless, changing the landscape from Italian mountains and lakes to Spanish coast felt good! After 2 days, all tired, hungover and not believing I would ever get out of that hell, I made it to my parents ❤ Nothing could have felt as good as opening that cold bottle of wine and jumping into that hotel (not random person’s) pool. Welcome to Spain!


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Milano: kultyapka weekend

gqn7uasmyuwAnother weekend in Italy! Time flies so unbelievably fast here ahhh! This time I had the girls over: Alix from Switzerland; my Russian Lisa-love, and even Sonia made it here from Vienna after having skipped all the possible means of transportation.

Milan can be fun! It is a place to party, eat and shop. Even though I keep saying it is not real Italy for me, it is not the only necessary criteria to enjoy the weekend with friends.

We even did some sight seeing this time! I don’t get modern arts, but Novecento museum is an interesting place itself and also has a lot from the 20th century.

I am not planning on giving 1001 recommendations of where to go in Milan for food. It is so diverse, and anyone can explore it much deeper than I have (because I mostly eat at Bocconi). But there are several must-dos, I believe:

  • Get on the rooftop of La Rinascente and sit at the bar there during dusk time;
  • Walk along the Navigli, fight for a place at the bar there, eat some snacks during aperitivo time;
  • In general, do the aperitivo as often as possible! Anywhere, everywhere!
  • Try some typical restaurants. Let them be touristic, whatever. If searching for something not fat from the centre, I’d go for Signorvino or Pane e vino;
  • Reserve a table in advance, better via phone. Learn some phrases in Italian – it’s easy but will gradually change the quality of any experience you get in Italy;
  • Drink local drinks. Negroni, Sbagliato, Aperol- and Campari-based cocktails. It a cultural thing to do;
  • Remember about siesta! Even in Milan, the most operative city of Italy, still forget about getting proper restaurant food before 7 p.m. So, do aperitivi and the buffet, you don’t have much choice; better avoid the places that promise to serve full meals during siesta – it will most likely be bad quality. If you are in a real urge to eat properly – chose only international places. Local chefs won’t cook anything decent before dinner time, just get it;
  • Brera district. Make sure to walk around, look up on the architecture and stop for food and drinks there;
  • Search for rooftop terraces. Duomo 21, Campari, Armani, Aperol, whatever you can find;
  • Don’t be afraid of fancy places. Prices on drinks don’t differ that much. The only thing is, if you go to clubs like Old Fashion – you are likely to pay 20 euros for entrance;
  • Visit the cathedrals. They are not all the same here like in mosth of the Catholic world. Italy is very rich with history. Watch documental movies, read about local famous influential families (like Medici in Florence or Sforza in Milan), search for some of their heritage in the city;
  • Walk a lot. Just walk anywhere. San Lorenzo, Brera, Center, Corso Como at night, the channel – wherever.
  • For good Asian – Corso di Porta Ticinese. For the best Asian – Finger’s Garden;

I could come up with several more pieces of advice, but I really wish all who ever visits Milan to explore the city themselves! Like we did with the girls.

 

After the weekend in a hot city me and Lisa decided to leave Milan for some lakeside. We chose the town of Lecco on the Como lake. A very quiet and cute place with yachts, Aperol Spritz on every table and Sunday markets. There is also a campsite nearby where one can swim in the lake – just drive or take a train to the next station – Lecco Maggianoco.

Thank you for the visit, girls! See you soon in Vienna 😉


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A Thousand Days in Tuscany

Allora! Another weekend is coming and even though I am being extremely busy with finishing all the Uni stuff before my friends come over for it, I am kind of feeling like I have to write something about the last week’s trip before possibly going on another one.

Last weekend I introduced my Australian friend to the most beloved place in Italy for me – Tuscany. That area is everything you can imagine when hear the word “Italy”. Endless fields with mountains on the horizon; old villas surrounded by vineyards; medieval architecture influenced by the prosperous times of Medici; warm crystal sea and all the best food from bloody bistecca alla fiorentina to the freshest scallops and mussels. Tuscany is the real Italy for me. Some may argue that the South is more traditional but strongly I disagree. What can be more Italian than the old town of Florence or those landscapes you can contemplate for hours when crossing the region going to the seaside?

I spend my best time of Italy (and probably the best of my life so far) in Florence. I was so in love back then. In love with my life, with a very important person and with the city itself. And I still experience the strongest feelings when come back there which I try to do at least couple times a year.

All my best friends have been to Florence with me at some point. We have all had the most delicious cocktail ever there  – lemongrass daiquiri at La Petite bar; then danced  all night long at Red Garter to go to Viareggio in the morning and enjoy the sea. So, I was very excited to introduce somebody who had never been to Europe before to the best place of it.

Having spent an amazing day and a fun night at the place where my heart belongs, next morning we bought some leather goods on the traditional market there (a must-do once in Florence!), ate some delicious food once again and took a train to Viareggio – a village by the sea where I used to go almost every day when was staying in Tuscany.

Nothing has changed. Even the focaccia at the place where we ate with the girls tastes exactly the same. I love this about Italy (the real Italy in my vision, I mean) – all stays the same and you can always come back to dive into flashbacks of how amazing every previous time there had been.

Toscana, ti amo ❤