Perche' la diversita` e` una ricchezza e noi lo sappiano, perche' il fatto che i miei figli stiano crescendo parlando tre lingue e possedendo tre passaporti fa si' che le generazioni di domani, forse, non penseranno in termini di individui, ne` di nazionalita`, ma di esseri umani.Read More
I have taken my foot off the accelerator this past week. With the summer break approaching the amount of pressure we have been under these past couple of months has not allowed for more than a few hours of sleep each night, leave alone time for me.
We are familiar with these phases, especially since becoming parents. Not sure what works for you and gets you through, for me the only lesson I have learnt so far and can share is to push through, keeping the arrival date in mind. Prioritising (ahah). Securing downtime immediately after, like after a marathon. Knowing that these patches don't last for long, focusing on one day at a time and watching the light at the end of the tunnel grow bigger every day, helps.
Work has been very interesting but hectic, some projects have had us busy past midnight most nights, we are refurbishing the new place we will soon move to (another house move, this time with two kids: fun ahead!), kids have been sick almost all the time these past two months with all sorts of viruses from nursery school. Resulting in even less sleep, worry and childcare related stress. Tough. That in a nutshell has been the status quo from May through to July 21st.
July 28th. I type this on my phone while enjoying two hours off duty at the hairdresser. I have now been slowing down for a week, on semi- holiday, real time off will start soon.
I have enjoyed the kids and family as priority one. I have stepped back in time. And I have laughed a lot.
'Mum!!! You are driving a race car!! Please please go faaaast!!'
The 'race car' my son is referring to is a 20+ years old Ford Escort Cabrio, bright red. The car we keep at the seaside for the holidays.
He has never had a ride with it because we assume it might be just a bit unsafe to place children car seats on a 20 years old coupe', so he watches with very interested little eyes how his mother drives it. Instead he goes with my dad's own car, that every summer since the kids are here he lovingly drives from Milan together with kids' car seats and various extra items I leave with him. Grandparents love.
I have for long now pressed a button to start engines and not used my left foot because of automatic gears. Today it was a very different story.
'Dad, I can't start the engine, it doesn't work?' I ask my own father.
'Pull the air!' (Laughs)
'Pull? The air? What air?' (Dad laughs some more. Ahah)
Once I find and pull the air handle the engine roars.
Great I can drive this no problem. Ha!
Except, I can hardly turn the steering wheel? And I thought I had fairly strong arms because of all the carrying around of the kids but manoeuvring this car backwards and out of the parking lot?? Ah ah.
And yet, I learned driving in 1999 with these very same steering wheels! Although no I had not pulled air handles before...
I had completely forgotten how real driving feels like. It's actually funny once I get the hang of it again. It's a sauna, it's a work-out, it's perfect!
In summer, at the seaside, people have time. Time to just be. Hang around, chat, pop by for coffee or wine (or both!) and chat some more. Share stories and memories. For my over scheduled, highly organised, prioritised often exhausting life, this is a refreshing change.
I have had time to sit and speak with my beloved 89 year old grandpa, give a massage to his sore shoulders, enjoy in silence my grandma moving around her kitchen. Moves I have seen since I have memory. She cooks her delicious meals that I know I will never learn well. She is a keen student at 80, types on her smart phone and tablet, sends and receives pictures. They are wise, they have been through so much.
I have time to be grateful. My children enjoy and witness what I have enjoyed for over 30 years. Family history and History. They watch my grandparents' hands and listen to their stories of when evenings were spent around the fireplace, chatting, embroidering and making fun of those who fell asleep. Of the great great grandpa who came back deaf from the First and then the Second World War because of the loud airplanes he was flying. Times have changed but some things never change. I want them to taste the somehow unchanged past.
Kids have time to get bored. So they get to dig holes in the garden with their wheelbarrows, to eat very organic, real bio fruit from the trees. To learn the names of fruits and veggies while standing in the garden, not in front of a book or a screen. To find pears lying under the trees and run super excited to you asking if they can eat them?
Fruit and veggies and obviously gelati are also delivered at your door with an Ape car. No booking and no phones needed. The guy drives around and whistles. You just shout back if you want him to stop by. So much for 'fresh' graze boxes delivered in the office. I love this.
Kids walk around the house, find an old typewriter and ask 'what is this??' And next, 'can I use it please?'
'Look mum look!! I have TYPED these letters on the paper!!'
It's a treasure hunt. They find toys left last year in their room and their little faces brighten up. 'Looook!!!'
They make phone calls from a phone they will never really use and that soon will be shown in museums.
They watch smoke coming out of the volcano and ask why, they look at the castle above their heads and ask about the King and the Princess, to find out that the guy who built that castle was Frederick Barbarossa (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_I,_Holy_Roman_Emperor).
German like their dad, from the same hometown, who lived a thousand years before us. 'Is it like a Nonno Mum?'. Well, maybe...God knows we might even be related?!
They are living in the very moment and observing, not rushed from A to B as we do on school and work weeks. Downtime is great for them too.
They learn and I learn again what we have almost forgotten . We have time to just be. Nothing else is needed.
...where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Oh, won't you please take me home...
The grass is also vertical, pretty or not people seem fairly happy and the city is booming...
Next year I will celebrate a special 10 years anniversary. On October 5th 2007 I boarded a one way Milan-London flight, leaving my hometown and a partially broken heart behind and kicking off one of the best, funniest chapters of my life.
I have visited Milan so often in these past 9 years that I don`t really feel like I have ever really left. I used to go back once a month before kids, and probably every two or three months even now that "leaving for the weekend" means packing the house and enduring occasional kids` melt-downs while queuing with half of Northern Europe at the Gotthard (by the way, can Northern Italian citizens have a reserved lane when driving back home please...?)
I partially missed it. Somehow Milan has become, in the last few years, an irresistible magnet for young people from all over the country, from different continents, who flock there to work in design, media, fashion and food. Mediolanum, as the Romans called it "the city in the middle of the land", does conveniently sit a few kilometers south of the Alps, close to lakes, rivers, Ligurian seaside, snowy slopes, historical beauties.
It is in an ebullient mood. Last year’s expo, with 21 million visitors, seven million of them from abroad, was an unexpected success. The city’s annual Salone del Mobile, the annual furniture fair, is now the benchmark for the furnishing and design industries, the largest of its kind in the world. This month it attracted 400,000 visitors — 70 percent of them foreigners — and transformed the city in another weeklong movable feast.
High-rise towers are going up across the city, transforming the skyline. Fashion, design, art, advertising, publishing — Milan is the go-to city for all these sectors, as well as, increasingly, manufacturing and finance.
Beppe Severgnini, Italian columnist for the New York Times has put together a fantastic piece about 'Milano Capitale'. While I would never wish for my city to have our political circus flocking there from Roma, I believe the article deserves a good read.
In the summer the new Alptransit will connect Milan to Zurich and German speaking Switzerland further, connecting those 280 km efficiently and cutting travel time to under 3 hours.
If you are planning a visit there, my 'Milan in Pills' post gives first-hand, tried and tested (by me, friends, family and initially suspicious-now-in-love-with-Milan German husband) tips.
During our last visit this May we treated ourselves to a dinner date in the newly open 'The Stage' restaurant in one of the new hearts of the city, Piazza Gae Aulenti. Exchange rates currently in favour of Swiss visitors, we enjoyed Michelin star level cuisine at the cost of a pizza in Switzerland.
The next day we headed to 'Volandia', a place we were recommended to visit, great for kids (of all ages) to watch old airplanes, historical trains, trams and buses, and enjoy modern playgrounds.
I have to admit that after 5 years in Switzerland I have absorbed the contagious, unfair for those who know the world, 'Swiss is best' credo and so I immediately figured that 'Volandia' could not possibly even compete with the more publicised, beautiful, yet pricey, 'Transport Museum' we normally go to in Lucern.
Hey, was I wrong and trapped in a stereotype.
Probably Volandia has not (yet) hired the best marketing teams and lacks the typical Swiss self-esteem because the place is fantastic but only a few know about it.
Probably bigger than its Lucern counterpart, surrounded by a green park with benches and picnic areas, playgrounds, indoor soft play area, interactive games, a good restaurant and snack bar, all sorts of historically relevant and beautiful airplanes, buses, trams, trains, even reproductions of space shuttles. A clean, organised paradise for children of all ages and their parents. A step back in history that I personally enjoyed very much.
Have a look at some of our shots of the day.
Italians, are we finally starting to be better marketeers of ourselves?
150 years old Milan tram.
Wow, what do I climb on next?
The playgrounds outside of the exhibition areas.
Memories of communism in Eastern Germany and Russia. The only car available for everyone at the time, with 15 years waiting list. No gas indicator. It was customary to pull up and measure the gas left with a stick. Just wow.
Quando si capisce il valore delle cose? Purtroppo, spesso, quando non le si hanno piu`. E delle citta`? Quando si percepisce il valore di dove si vive?
Sono andata via da Milano, mia citta` per 25 dei miei allora 27 anni, nell` ottobre 2007, un`offerta di lavoro a Londra, "...parto ma sto via solo un paio d`anni, seguo un`opportunita` di lavoro..." poi tre anni, "ma torno!", non si rinuncia cosi` al marocchino e al corriere alla mattina, al tuo barista, al Duomo e all`"ape" in Corso Sempione..., a poter vedere i propri genitori e amici di una vita quando si vuole (i genitori!! quanto valgono? Non esiste valore per loro, troppo alto! Ripenso a come mi hanno salutata a Malpensa quel 5 Ottobre di 8 anni fa, sapevano molto piu` di quanto sapessi io...) poi un nuovo ruolo, poi incontro il mio vicino di casa a Notting Hill, ci spostiamo a Zurigo...and the rest is history.
Nuovo ruolo in una grande azienda, ci sposiamo, arrivano cost center nr 1 e cost center nr 2 (thanks Mrs Moneypenny), rispettivamente 3 anni e 7 mesi e, lo sappiamo, la prospettiva cambia e per ora Milano e` casa, anche se non quella dove vivo, ed e` un "energy top up" dove tornare una volta al mese. Chi l`avrebbe mai detto che sarei dovuta andare via per poterla apprezzare cosi` tanto?
Ma Lei, Lei rimane sempre nel cuore. Anzi. Sara` che il passato in qualche modo si idealizza, sara` che da lontano sembra ancora piu` bella.... Insomma noi italiani a volte abbiamo nel DNA quello che gli inglesi chiamano "whining", pagniucolare, lamentarsi di continuo ignorando i lati positivi della faccenda. E invece, specialmente quando si tratta di Milano, dobbiamo ricordarci che una citta` del genere non "capita", una citta` cosi bella, cosi europea, che nel giro di pochi decenni e` passata da "industriale e grigia" a capitale della moda, del design, della vita si` dolce ma produttiva, una citta` che ad oggi sta al passo con le altre grandi capitali europee, da Parigi a Francoforte a Vienna, una citta` cosi` la si crea giorno per giorno. Milano da` lezioni di vita alle cugine europee, fine e silenziosa.
Il due maggio 2015, ventimila cittadini sono scesi nelle strade con lo slogan "Milano non si tocca", hanno dedicato la loro domenica a pulire la loro citta` dopo i danni dei No Expo all`apertura del 1 maggio 2015. Che esempio di civilta`, che orgoglio. Siamo il fiore all`occhiello di un` Europa che inizia a muovere solo adesso i primi veri passi.
Quali altre citta` avrebbero dato questo esempio di umilita` e orgoglio? Da cittadina italiana ed europea, credo, nessuna.
Ecco due articoli interessanti di repubblica e del corriere. Cara Milano, ci vediamo nel weekend, i miei bimbi, anche se meta` tedeschi e svizzeri di nascita, devono sentirsi a casa anche nelle tue strade. Riconoscere i tuoi tesori, il tuo ritmo e la tua storia.
Il mio piccolo treenne durante la nostra ultima colazione al bar lo scorso ottobre, ha ordinato un "mini cappuccio e briosche please", mission accomplished?
So what is an Expo? What can we expect from the next World Exhibition? A little bit of history first. On November 23, 2010, the event was officially announced by the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE). The BIE General Assembly in Paris decided in favour of the Milanese candidature on March 31, 2008. The Expo Committee later chose that the event will be held under the theme Feeding the planet, energy for life.
Expo 2015 is the next scheduled Universal Exposition after Expo 2012, and will be hosted by Milan, Italy, between 1 May and 31 October 2015. This will be the second time Milan hosts the exposition, the first being the Milan International of 1906.
`The Expo will explore the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" and is expected to attract over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area. Over the six-month period, Milan will become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries will show the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium.` Read more here.
As I am planning to visit the Expo with my family, I tried to understand whether this is an event that children can also enjoy and learn from. Turns out the organizers did plan in great detail on this too, here is what I have found:
Expo & Children: TheChildren`s Park
The Children’s Park is designed as a forest, housing eight installations, each inspired by the theme. Sabina Cantarelli has curated the Children`s Park project and creation.
Sabina, can you give us three reasons to visit?
Three main reasons to visit the park are the setting, the games and the interaction. Firstly, Expo Milano 2015 aims to offer children a place where they can learn and have fun at the same time. Secondly, the Children’s Park is packed full of games and activities to get children actively involved. Lastly, it provides a wonderful opportunity to develop relationships through the installations, where they are encouraged to interact with others.
What is your vision of the future?
The concept of the Children’s Park is that only through the knowledge of others and the environment and by working together can we solve some of the major challenges that the planet is facing. It’s a powerful message delivered in a powerful setting. (Content by expo2015.org)
Milan – Zurich with SBB: Milan is only 280 km away from Zurich and from 2017 SBB and Trenitalia will launch the new fast train that will cover that distance in 2 hours. Until then, direct trains run daily every two hours from Zurich HB and will get you to Stazione Centrale in just under 4 hours. A quick cab ride will take you to the city center. Here more details to plan your trip.
Expo Prices: Two adults one child, open ticket 69 €, one adult open ticket 32€.
Most sought after pavilions: Rumour has it that a few pavilions, with their exhibitions and events, will be a once in a life time must attend: United Arab Emirates, China, Italy, France, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, UK, Switzerland, Czech Republic.
What to do in Milan:
Over the years many friends and colleagues have asked me what to do and where to go while visiting Milan. Here is a quick snapshot of what I would recommend doing in my home town (yes, including the shopping!).
And here an interesting article (in Italian) with a list if 10 `secret` beauties in the city.
Enjoy and don`t forget to share your experience!
Over the years many friends and colleagues have asked me what to do and where to go while visiting Milan. Here is a quick snapshot of what I would recommend doing in my hometown.
Hotels and flats in Milan:
I suggest to stay close to the Duomo - the Cathedral area (via Dante, Duomo, Cairoli, S.Babila, Sempione), it's the main central pedestrian area and every other central area you want to get to is close either with trams or metro or with a short cab ride. For hotels and short flat rentals, www.airbnb.com and booking.com are the best bets.
If you are up for a treat, I can recommend the Magna pars suites, Hotel Château Monfort or Armani hotel.
Shopping in Milan
For a good shopping centre I suggest "La Rinascente" (think Selfridges in London) it’s by Duomo, at the end of via Dante. This is also a shopping area, there are many high street chains and high-end boutiques around Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and San Babila. Don`t forget to go for a quick walk in Via Montenapoleone (THE shopping street :), think New Bond street in London, so the likes of Gucci, Armani, Ralph Lauren, and so on will be all there.
Other shopping areas are Corso Vercelli, where you will find shoe makers that have hand-made tailored leather shoes for over 100 years - many politicians and show business crowds can be seen shopping nearby, and Corso Magenta, a less historical but interesting area where to go for an afternoon shopping stroll.
As for outlets, there is a big one an hour drive from Milan, it’s called Serravalle outlet, if you like high end outlets, you will totally enjoy this Italian brands-packed one! :)
The Area of Sant’ Ambrogio is quite nice for a stroll and so is Navigli (the Canal area designed by Leonardo da Vinci , packed with little cute bars) and Brera, quite posh artistic area with many good restaurants, bars and tons of interesting artsy shops.
Pinacoteca di Brera is also a very nice art gallery. The other must-visit in Milan belongs to Leonardo da Vinci, the Last Supper (L'ultima cena), to visit this you will need to book online months before ...the queue can be painfully long.
Also don`t miss a quick hike up the Duomo (or cheat and get the elevator!) for breathtaking views and the Torre Branca, the high tower in the middle of Parco Sempione.
Drinks and Food in Milan
Milano is quite famous for its “aperitivo”, a Milanese version of the happy hour, that means that it’s plenty of fashion bars and lounge bars that offer mouth watering buffets, very good quality food mostly, free if you have drinks. Here are my favourite ones:
In the area of Corso Sempione, Arco della Pace area- 'my area' ;-)
- Living (best for aperitivo, especially if you can sit outside facing the park and the arch, and don`t miss the Sauvignon Blanc Specogna from Friuli, our favourite!)
- Deseo (great for Sunday morning brunch)
- Milano (via Procaccini, 37, nice aperitivo big bar if the weather lets you down this is a good place)
- Bar Bianco (in the middle of the park Sempione, open only in summer)
- 10 Corso Como (very nice bar for a quick drink while you are around the shops, Corso Como 10 is also a famous shop itself)
Don`t forget to go for an evening stroll to the Navigli area and choose a nice bar that inspires you.
Public transport can be pretty efficient and famous are the historic trans of Milan, don’t miss a chance to ride them. Taxis are the other obvious choice to move around, remember to memorise the cab number or code you are given on the phone. The companies I use are 0039 026969, 0039 02 8585 or 0039 024040.
As for food, a few restaurants I can highly recommend:
- Salsamenteria Verdiana
- La Torre di Pisa
- Pane e Acqua
- La Taverna dei Golosi
- Osteria Cavallini
- Officina 12
- Da Giacomo Arengario (breathtaking views of the Duomo)
Don’t forget to check out the Brera area too, there are so many cute restaurants there. If you are around the Duomo area at lunchtime be adventurous and try a “panzerotto di Luini”. Luini started off as a bakery and now makes the best panzerotto (small calzone) in town, people queue there every day of the week.
For sushi in Milan try Nu, Trussardi or Finger.
If you are looking for a family friendly restaurant I suggest Pollicino but generally, except the very posh places, most restaurants will be happy to have children and offer children menus and highchairs, especially for lunch or early dinners. Just let them know before you reserve.
In general, for any tips on family friendly places in Milan, and activities, have a look on mumadvisor.
Are you into theater, operas, ballet? Then don`t miss a night at Teatro alla Scala, a world-renowned opera house right behind the Duomo.