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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 ❤

 


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Roadtrip: Vienna-Milano-Como

Ciao!

First 10 days in Milano went so unbelievably fast! I am done with week 1 of the Bocconi course and I can already describe is at quite intense and challenging from time to time but at the same time indeed interesting. Being an economist in general turned out to be so much more exciting than the word itself sounds. I am now really happy with my choice and am thankful to my parents for their recommendations that gave me first interest for this branch.
Studying at Bocconi is not only intense but also very time consuming. We have a lot of extra curricular activities like team building events and company visits. At the end of the course I am definitely gonna describe their approach to teaching and leading students as it differs gradually from what I was used to at my home university.
But now let’s start from the very beginning! Even the way I got here was already very exciting itself. We went as a fun party crew of four people including two drivers. And we made it from Vienna to Milan! Was the first time both of us drove for such a long distance (ca. 900km) so we were a bit nervous at the beginning, of course. But all went well and in about 10 hours (2 of which we spent trying to get out of Vienna through the worst traffic I’ve ever seen there) we made it! If you know your way and don’t get stuck in traffic jams, I’d say it is quite doable in 7 hours.hfHYqr3Fy-w
The highway in Austria was surprisingly narrow, especially from Vienna to Graz. I was a bit shocked that Italian roads were in general better: more modern, wider, better quality. On some segments Austrian so-called highway looked like some suburb road leading to nearest village. There are no ticket control stations in Austria, but the police can still stop you and check if you have a valid one. In Italy there are checkpoints whenever you get on and off highway. We paid something around 40 euros to drive from Austrian-Italian border (came in through Villach-Udine road) to Milan. All the maps where I tried to build up our route were insisting that we should have driven trough Slovenia but we didn’t give it a try because I was concerned that we could have got stuck on the passport control twice as Austria technically has closed borders now. But there were no checks at all when driving in to Italy, as in good old times with completely free circulation of people within the EU. We didn’t really get stuck anywhere else rather than when attempting to leave Vienna. Not much traffic even though it was Friday. But I must admit that in Austria you really have to check mirrors every other second, the roads are not wide enough for the traffic flow. Italy was much more relaxed. I was the one who was driving most of the Italian part of the route and even in the darkness I found it quite comfortable. The only thing is the language – all info on the highway boards is given in Italian as well as the signs alerting you that there will be speed control point soon. As for radars, we are not quite sure how they work. In Austria you notice one immediately but there are almost no signs informing drivers about them. We just went with the average speed of the cars around as. Jamila said she never gets fines from Austrian highways so let’s hope we won’t get any either. As for Italy, there are radars everywhere and they are so hidden that you don’t always necessarily see it but there are signs «controllo electronico della velocità» that indicate them. However, I have noticed that not each sign means there is gonna be a radar right behind it. They probably move them around or whatever. And all the other drivers were going really fast pass those signs which made me think they are either sometimes irrelevant or people just don’t care which could also be the case in Italy. Anyway, we are gonna see if we get fined couple months later!
As for paying for Italian roads, here you need to be informed in advance how the thing works. On some short highway sectors you don’t pay for the amount of km you drive but for the fact of using the road in general. The billboards above checkpoints indicate where drivers with passes need to go and where the ones who pay with cards/cash should stop. There are also comments like «self-service» underneath so if you don’t know how the system works chose the one that has a person sitting behind the window! And know one other thing: if you chose to pay with cash and go through the self-service window, you need to have the exact amount of coins needed to pay for the road! So just be careful not to get stuck and stop all the people behind you.
As for parking, it’s quite straight forward in Italy. We knew nothing in advance so I just opened a window and asked some passing by guy how I am allowed to park in Milan and he explained it to me: yellow lines are for residents, so if you rent a car make sure to find out in which city it is registered. It may already have a long-term parking ticket or you can purchase it. Non-residents like us can park on the blue lines (they are marked with signs that tell you which hours are free of charge and during which you must pay to stop there) and somewhere nearby one finds a machine where you can purchase a parking ticket.
 It took us time to figure out some moments but in general I must say that even if you drive through Europe for the first time you will most likely have no particular difficulties.
What matters now is that we got here.35XKBk3tsz4cDPPD8RSi5sCX9vQA_2-jUe0dRYFapofkFz77830GK1AhZ9DXz2yNPcK5kv0rrMNz8MhHHS6USlLssPuIrm5658YOur weekend was fun. We ate a lot of pasta, drank wine and typical Italian drinks like Aperol Spritz, Negroni or Limoncello shots, did some shopping and sightseeing. MIlan is not my favorite city in Italy and I even say very often that it’s not Italian at all. It doesn’t have that authentic appearance and things like siesta like the other Italian cities. But if you already know what «un italiano vero» means and you are not chasing the real spirit of good old Italy but just want some good restaurants, museums, entertainments and shopping – then you will enjoy a weekend in Milan. It is good for big cities lovers like me. The girls have already been around Italy quite few times, so they just took their time to enjoy some aperitivi, views and loud city events.
On Sunday we were ready for another road trip! Lake of Como! That was actually one of the reasons why we took a decision to travel by car – to have it there for going around the lake. I know that there are some trains and buses that can take you there but believe me – experience is not gonna be the same! All the beauty of Como is not exactly in the towns surrounding it but in driving along those tricky narrow mountain roads. It is incredible. Every other turn we would try to look for a place to stop and just enjoy it.
We first drove to Como city itself, took a boat there, did some sailing around, then even got to swim in the lake that was surprisingly warm and very clean and refreshing. The only thing I would mention here for drivers: try parking somewhere in town and then walk down to the lake, don’t try to get there by car, you will just waste time looking for a parking spot. On top of that, walking along the lake shore is very nice, they have delicious gelato there!
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I was very determined to make it to two destinations and to have dinner at Bellagio. That’s where the fun started. Neither of us had tried before driving on such a narrow and curly road before. I honestly wasn’t ready for it to be THAT extreme. I have been to the Alps by car many times but there still usually two cars going in opposite directions can make it easily without stealing each other’s mirrors. Here it was much more tight. Sometimes we even had to use the horn before making a turn to make sure whoever could be coming from the other direction knows we are there. And they go so fast! People who are used to it are just so confident, it is quite challenging to keep up with them if you are not experienced in this kind of driving. When a huge bus was coming from the opposite direction I literally thought we would have to climb the rock to escape. But that is not what I call fun. We were low on gas. Very low. And being sure there must be a gas station at the city exit, we drove from Como to Bellagio. There was one, yes. We were happy to see it when the car was already completely empty. But the gas station wasn’t working. Italian surprise! Of course there was nobody fixing it either. I am just so happy that we consulted some other driver and took a decision to lose time and come back to Como… If we tried to make it to another gas station we would definitely have to evacuate the car from the mountain road as there were no more stations on the way to Bellagio and our tank was so empty that the car wouldn’t even start when we fueled it. We had to turn off AC, radio and lights and just slowly drive back trying to consume as few gas as possible. Guys, that was really stressful. Even more stress we got when came back to the tank station in Como and saw a crowd of people trying to make the machine work. It was stuck as well and it took our ability to speak many languages, a lot of patience, help from the outside and mutual human effort of everybody who was at the gas station to fuel first some German girls whose money simply got stuck and stopped the machine from working and then us. Yay! Luck! I think couple more km and we wouldn’t have made it. I am used to nothing working properly in Italy but I would really never think there would be no working gas stations around. Especially considering that we took a different route to come back to Milan and it was full of them. So just make sure you don’t travel with an empty tank like we did.
After couple hours struggling with technical issues and then driving on a roller-coaster we finally made it to Bellagio. And it was damn worth all the stress! A very beautiful town in the most impressive location on Como (check the map to know what I mean here 😉 ). Surrounded by mountains and the lake from both sides it is absolutely gorgeous in the evening sun! We enjoyed every minute of walking around and even another extreme driving experience – getting through the road that was definitely not wide anough for the car and full of people on top of that. Now Jamila is a real Italian racer! That trip was the best driving school of life. 5EXNsbvV_okCdRWRS1F4rodKpk2iFQBtYJWn--62H2C8LSHc_IcUPi8VZ4kyNNqaC0Y0coEKcp8WcYsJPyOqGWu8

All small towns keep the tradition of siesta which I absolutely love. Not being able to get any food or go shopping for half of the day never made me angry but, vice versa, makes me feel that I am in real Italy, living their life with their absolutely adorable laziness traditions. Comfort and soul satisfaction are the most important things here – and traditions like siesta kind of lead you to understanding and accepting lifestyle where no working gas stations never make anyone freak out. They just say ok, go and grab a glass of bellini instead of spending their time and energy on making things function. Most of foreigners judge that not-giving-a-shit attitude but I as a very emotional person would love to learn that from Italians. Hopefully I spend enough time in this country to obtain their attitude!
We waited until the siesta was over to get amazing food, but they actually even let us order even before the official start of dinner. Ah, lovely folk!
 So, Bellagio was very good. We drove back along another side of the lake and ended up seeing all the spectacular views from both sides of mountains. Incredibly pure beauty surrounds you there. If you stop in Lombardia or somewhere close to Lugano in Switzerland, make sure to visit the lake of Como!