27 Faces

1Coming from what sometimes feels like the most average city in the UK where any form of artisticness has to be unearthed and separated from the humdrum of ordinary life, imagine my excitement to find this marked and quite frankly enormous example of public artwork in Rome. On one of my first days in the city I remember being driven along the river, passing the ancient monuments I’d come to love as a tourist when this giant palazzo came into view. It was so different to what I expected, and what I thought I knew about Rome.

35Call me easily distracted, but it took me almost a year to find out that the building is a ‘centro sociale’. Which in this case, from what I can work out, is halfway between a squat and a space for communal organisations. The rules for occupying buildings must be different in Italy as it doesn’t match up with the idea of squatting I have in my (British) brain as something dingy and detrimental to the local area.

On the morning we were poking around, the space was closed but according to a man we met there it is possible to go inside in the afternoons. We were even invited to take part in circus classes later that day. Next time, Francesco. Next time.
6OstienseBluMural8ViaPortoFluviale72Painted by an Italian known as Blu, the mural took around two years to complete and was finished in 2014. You can see a photo of how the building looked before, on the artist’s website here. I’m impressed at the vision needed to transform a rather industrial building into a bold and striking focal point of the neighbourhood.

Blu Mural Close Up9If you want to see the 27 painted faces in all their glory, you can find the building on Via del Porto Fluviale in the Ostiense neighbourhood.Porto Fluviale

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Last Pop Of Summer

Rome Vintage Outfit 12It’s officially the end of Summer. This Tuesday was the Autumn Equinox, that time of year where I usually look forward to wrapping up in layers and digging the woolies out from the back of my wardrobe. Checking my Instagram feed I’ve began to see hot chocolate instead of ice cream and ankle boots instead of flip flops from you all back home.

In Rome, we’ve still got temperatures in the high twenties so I’m a little disconnected from the usual routine. That said, last night we had a crazy thunderstorm (they really are so much more intense here and they go on for hours!) so Autumn should hopefully be here soon.

So, in contrast, introducing the last post of the Summer!

Rome Vintage Outfit 17Ask an Italian and they’ll tell you this Summer was much colder than usual and rather disappointing. If that’s true, then thank god!  It was bloody hot, I’m not sure how I would have survived anything much hotter.

As for clothes, I lived in bikini’s, sandals and loose cotton dresses to cover up when sighting seeing or walking to and from the beach. Not actually owning much of this type of clothing (there just isn’t the demand for it in Coventry), everyday was an easy and rather liberating choice.
Salt Water Sandals 3Rome Vintage Outfit 4skirtThis has got to be one of my favourite vintage dresses, originally bought from Freshmans Boutique in Sheffield (remember that uni friends?!) it started out allocated to the party dress section of my wardrobe. These days I find the 100% cotton and loose cut makes it perfect for scorching hot days. Label by Pop Vintage so I suspect it’s remade from vintage fabric – good work on find that kaleidoscopic pattern guys, I’ll never get tired of it.

It’s an uncomplicated outfit, simply paired with a pair of white Salt Water Sandals which I treated myself to a few months ago. I love their traditional style and they’ve really withstood a battering of sun, sand and seawater. Recommended.

Rome Vintage Outfit 25So let’s wrap up with some postcards from an Italian Summer…San Felice Circeo Old Town The view from the old town in San Felice Circeo. I also spent a few weeks further afield and travelled to the region of Puglia which (think of a map!) is the heel of the boot. PugliaPuglia sunsetPuglia DolceGood food is everywhere you look in Italy – and in every place I’ve visited I’ve been told “Oh, the mozzarella is very famous here”. Everytime.

Locorotunda PugliaScooter South ItalyTrulli Puglia Puglia is well known for this type of white brick building called Trulli, the distinctive dome rooves are topped (and sometimes painted) with different symbols, each from different religious meanings. Puglia Puglia StreetPuglia ChurchIMG_1791italian tilesIMG_1863If beautiful towns comprised of maze like streets is your thing, then Puglia is the region to visit. I also think it is impossible for Italians to be far from the sea in Summer, so of course there’s plenty of gorgeous beaches too.
Puglia rock beach

Burnt Sienna

Emma (14)Just when you think you’ve got the hang of this living in a new country thing, when you no longer get stumped by public transport and when you can find your way through a maze of side streets by instinct, Rome likes to remind you that you know nothing! We were all set for a day away from the tourist filled streets with a visit to Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome’s largest park. Well, that was the idea anyway.

We got pretty close, but the walls of the park and roads which twisted away as soon as we got near did a good job of keeping us out! Rome is full of delights though, with things previously unseen hidden around every corner. We ended up at Gianicolo (if you know Rome, you know just how close we were) so the day wasn’t wasted by any means. It also means you get this blog post in a lovely shade of burnt sienna, what a treat. Emma (2)As much as I love piling on the layers to keep out the English chill, it’s a welcome change to wear a simple summer dress with just a liberal spray of factor 50. To my eyes, this lemon shift dress looks very vintage in shape (and in that delicious print!) although it’s actually from Topshop via eBay a few years ago.

Emma (4)The white pumps are a happy accident of my limited wardrobe here in Rome – none of my sandals went with the dress so a fresh pair of white trainers it was. Not only had I forgotten how satisfying that pristine white canvas is, I’d forgotten how quickly they get grubby. Not ideal for pounding the pavement in a dusty city.Emma (7)Emma (8)Emma (9)And if you look closely, you’ll see no Roman outfit is complete without a smattering of mosquito bites around the ankles. Yum.
Emma (13)

I Wanna Be EUR’s

16It might be the Brit in me, but I want to talk about the weather! These photos were taken last week when we were hitting around 33° here in Rome.  In the city it somehow feels hotter too, the heat seems to bounce off ancient marble turning the streets into a giant greenhouse.

Not wanting to do anything too strenuous we headed to the EUR district of Rome in the late afternoon for an explore. I wore this beautiful vintage dress (it deserves a more in depth post of its’ own actually – label research in process!) with a DIY cropped T shirt to keeps things casual…and voilà! Throw on the sandals you’ve been living in for the past few weeks and it’s as easy as that! I really rather like it but in truth it was still a little too warm for the blazing sunshine.

3 IMG_0931 12 IMG_0814 1356EUR was commissioned by Mussolini in the 1930’s to celebrate fascism in Italy. As an area designed entirely from scratch rather the usual expansion and redevelopment of cities it feels quite unlike the rest of Rome. Visit the Colosseum for example, and you’ll be impressed its’ the grandness and scale, yet you’re very much aware you’re looking at history, at ancient Rome. Take a trip to EUR and it feels like ancient Rome’s best bits have been revamped for modern eyes.

IMG_0437The district is pleasingly uniform, each building in matching shades of almost white marble or limestone. You’ll see hallmarks of ancient Rome, a stack of columns or a row of arches, in buildings with present day uses. Although I never ventured to this part of Rome before living here, I would recommend spending a few hours taking it in – preferably out of the midday sun!
IMG_0445 9

Getaway

Outfit 1It’s been just over a month since my last post, so we’ve got a lot to catch up on. First things first, if you think these photos look a little sunny for the UK then you’d be right! This outfit post comes to you from my new home in Rome!

Standing on the balcony outside my room, I had to get a little inventive with the picture taking whilst I was home alone. I figured if I snapped away then at least one or two would be useable – especially with a little strategic cropping.

This ASOS skirt has been sitting in my wardrobe for a while waiting for some warmer weather – I don’t think it looks as good with tights. Contrasting black and white on the front and back, it’s quite different to the other clothes I own. However it’s the royal blue stripes down the sides which I really love about it. ‘Go faster’ stripes and a curved hem to make me feel a little sporty (although not casual!) so something a bit different from my usual tastes.

Outfit 4 OutfitFor simplicity I paired it with a plain T Shirt and pumps, both grey. Usually, on the blog I’ll show you my snaps from a day trip or whatever sightseeing I’ve been up to. This time though, my outfit and I stayed in the local area so you’ll have to wait until next time for some of Rome’s big sights. There’ll be plenty to see in future though!trainers

For now, here’s a few insights into my day to day so far: L-R: Fresh pizza with a ton of mozzarella; pasta varieties for the tourist crowd, a rainbow of tomatoes from the market at Campo de’ Fiori; another day, another pizza of pancetta, onion and fontina cheese. Italian FoodWalking by the Pantheon on the way home; kaleidoscopic tiles at a language class I trialled, enjoying a rest after my first bike ride in probably 10 years; the limestone palette of Piazza Novona.Rome snapshots

Just A Character In Your Stupid Film

I keep getting distracted writing this post. Not by other tasks still to do or by the endless black hole of the Internet (which is my usual style) but preocupied by the offshoots and tangents I find myself researching as I look back on my trip to Budapest. 

I visited just after New Year, the first weekend in January so this post has been a long time coming.

Basilica St Stephen St Stephen Railing St Stephen Wooden DoorsOur first port of call was the Basilica of St Stephen, Hungary’s most important Catholic Church. It contains the mummified right hand of its’ namesake, which quite frankly is nothing great to look at. Preserving relics for the sake of worship seems strange to me, but I do find the historical side of things interesting.

We climbed a maze of spiralling staircases and were rewarded with views across the city from the top of the 96m church dome.

StairwayTower Group2The link to our next destination was Chain Bridge, we stopped close by to get our bearings which is where I took my favourite photo of the whole trip:

Tram1OK, it doesn’t look like much (and photographically it isn’t) but I had a real moment here. I was pondering the atmosphere of Budapest, taking in the cold, grey landscape, the buildings disguised by fog in the distance. (People describe cities as giving off vibes, but I hate that word, and this is sounding pretentious enough already.) My knowledge of history here is sketchy but vague notions of life behind the Iron Curtain bring up certain associations. Time might have passed but to an outsider in a country with an unfathomable language, history lingers.

But back to this moment of mine! All these thoughts in my head were disturbed by this rather dated tram which came trundling into view. A shade of retro mustard yellow, I could practically hear this song playing and savoured my moment in my own Wes Anderson film (if only!) Knowing of the soon to be released The Grand Budapest Hotel, this was bound to happen at some point.

lockCrossing the chain bridge brings you to the Royal Palace, the top attraction in Budapest. It sprawls across part of Castle Hill and now comprises of the National Gallery, Budapest History Museum and the National Library. Don’t forget all the fountains, statues and monuments too. If we’d had more time, we’d have investigated this inside and out. As happens in Winter, we were forced inside by the impending dusk.  Roya Palace Entry Fountain Peep Copper Stone

Spire ArchesWe finished our day in this glowing red bar at the top of a spire. Cradling mugs of mulled wine was a perfectly acceptable end to day one.Red Bar

Back at home, when asked about my holiday, I struggled to explain just what the city was like and I wondered why I couldn’t  quite put my finger on these thoughts of Budapest. Of course, all the best ideas have already been done and someone’s always been there before you. In this case, good old Wes has summed up the Eastern European spirit I was trying to get a hold on by creating the Republic of Zubrowka, the setting for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yes, it’s a film (which incidentally I haven’t seen yet) but take a look at the Academie Zubrowka for a few hints of that feeling I had watching the tram ricket past in Budapest.

I think I’ll carry on exploring this tangent which keeps distracting me for a little while longer…

The Eternal City

Colosseum Rome

I’m sitting here wrapped in up in wooly layers, slurping a hot Ribena. Feeling so very cosy it’s hard to believe just how blue the sky was a couple of weeks ago on a trip to Rome. I’d been itching to go away ever since the trip I made to Greece last year so a weekend break was certainly a relief from the 9-5 routine!

Usually before a holiday I’m quite the planner. I enjoy the ritual of buying a book (Lonely Planet, always) selecting some sights to see and swotting up on what’s good to eat and how to order it, or at least attempt to! This time, my friend Kate and I had both been to Rome before so we did our planning in super fast time by quizzing ourselves about pasta shapes and their names. Very thorough.

Here are our snaps from the Eternal City.

Piazza Novona

Via Dell Orso

piazza novona

1383162_593586224181_655353050_n

Pantheon Roma

Pantheon Roof

Rome street sign

Me in Rome

Fontana di Trevi

Emma Kate Trevi Fountain Rome

Piazza del popolo

Piazza di Spagna

Spanish Steps

Rome citroen

DSCN2918

Roman Baths Mosaic

Roma Mosaic

Roman Baths

Rome Baths Ruins

Latin writing

war memorial rome

piazza della repubblica

santa maria church door rome

santa maria church door rome

Rome FiatUntil next time, Rome x

Here, There and Everywhere.

London Cartoon Map

I live an hour away from London and I’d never really seen the big tourist sights – ridiculous I know! I’d done a couple of the museums and seen the inside of plenty of bars over the years, but considering how much of a sight-seer I am on my holidays my London to do list was shamefully long. So when I had a day to myself in the big city I knew exactly what I was going to do with it.

I packed a map and my camera and pranced onto the tube!

breakfast in hyde park

My first stop was Hyde Park. I spent a little time on the edges, but the early start meant my stomach soon demanded breakfast. I leisured over a paper in Green Park and gained some energy for the day ahead. One more consultation of the map and I was good to go and tick some landmarks off my list…

Wellington Statue Hyde Park

Hyde Park – check!Wellington Arch Hyde Park

Wellington Arch – check!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace – check! Trying to walk through Buckingham Palace I realised I’d timed it right to see the Changing of the Guard which was good to watch. That said, it was so busy so I scurried off and watched from a distance.  It was far to hot to stand like a sardine with all the other tourists!

column in trafagarNelson’s Column – check!

trafalgar square

Trafalgar Square – check! I quite enjoyed mooching through the National Gallery too. Some of the more traditional stuff wasn’t really to my taste but there’s a good collection of Impressionists which was popular.

Big BenBig Ben – check!

london wheelLondon Eye – check!

So what do you think, did I miss anything out?!

This isn’t quite the order I did things in, as there were lots of pit stops for ice cream and cool drinks. I also meandered through St James’s park – how’s this for a splash of colour in the middle of London?! What a beaut.

st james park nature

Travel Journal: Play it again, Sam.

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The nitty gritty of booking a holiday, quite frankly, bores me. I hate comparing hotels, finding cheap flights and working out how to get from one to the other when your plane lands at 3am. Once all that’s done, however, I love researching things to do, places to eat and sights to see.

Apparently, open air cinemas are quintessentially Greek. I’m no film buff, but I do love a trip to the cinema so a visit to an open air theatre was a must. Before the trip I’d seen that Casablanca was listed as ‘Coming Soon’, so I was pleased to find out it was showing a couple of days before we were due to leave.

I’ve only recently (within the last six months) watched Casablanca for the first time. Despite it being a classic film, I’d never got round to seeing it but I wish I’d watched it sooner! I know the blog title is a misquote but it’s still iconic.

Athens Open Air Cinema

Watching for the second time in an open air theatre with a couple of hundred Athenian locals was an unusual experience. It was in English with Greek subtitles so everyone could follow along together, but interestingly, the locals reacted differently to parts of the film than I did. They laughed at different parts and there were a lot more gasps and boos than an English girl could politely make in the company of others.

I knew I’d be watching with a Greek audience but I was more looking forward to an outside viewing on a warm night than considering how another culture watched the same film. It was a pleasant surprise, and by the end there were plenty of people holding back the tears, me included. (Oh Rick, we knew you were a good guy all along!)

After mixing with the locals at the pictures we had one full day in Athens left (doesn’t time fly?!) In a week, we’d ticked off most of the main sights and tourist attractions, leaving only the Ancient Agora to visit.

An agora is basically a meeting place, used as somewhere to buy, sell, or trade, or as a place for public speaking and meetings – think of a Roman forum. It’s also where we get the word agoraphobia; a fear of open spaces.

With so many different things happening in an agora, there was lots of different types of building and styles of architecture. A good place to start is the Stoa of Attalos; the Oxford Street of it’s day, it was once full of shops only affordable to the wealthy Athenian.

Ancient AgoraNow, it’s home to a museum which showcases these lovely models of the Acropolis and surrounding area throughout different time periods.

Pantheon ModelJust hanging out at the Parthenon, I love the little fella leaning on a collumn!

There’s something about minatures which is so likeable. It must be the quaintness of an imaginary mini world, either that or the sense of power I get from feeling so tall!

Back to normal scale, we carried on exploring the rest of the Agora.

And that’s it for the Travel Journal series! We’ve reached the end of the holiday, ate all the Greek salad we can, and put the sunglasses away.

Travel Journal: Little Miracles

Athens ThriftLook how beautiful this Greek antique/vintage/junk shop is! I spotted the shop front down a side street whilst we were strolling along eating frozen yoghurt. The  little wooden sign informed me it was called ‘Little Miracles’, and knowing  it wasn’t to be missed I went for a poke around.

Vintage Horn

Vintage Umbrella Stand

Vintage Grammaphone

Spilling out onto the street were; pots and pans; candlesticks; vases; an umbrella stand; a tricycle, bed warmers; and numerous brass instruments.

Inside was just as chaotic, with items pinned from wall to wall and trinkets crammed into every nook and cranny.

vintage cameras

Vintage Perfume

Perfume bottles are always so pretty, and make such a pleasing dressing table. I love vintage bottles, particularly those with atomisers, instant glamour.

I’d never heard of ‘Crepe De Chine’ before but I’ve found a lovely review online:

“Crepe de Chine is a stunning, world class perfume. The scent has a clean, fresh entry with a gorgeous full bodied greenfloral accord at its heart, all over creamy, dreamy exotic woods. Crepe de Chine envelopes you with beauty beyond compare.” [1] 

One look at that Art Deco bottle and I’m picturing flapper dresses, classic cars, and cigarettes in long thin holders being smoked by ladies with red lipstick.

Vintage TeacupsI was brought crashing back to reality when the shop owner told me these china teacups were €27! Maybe she knows something I don’t about the floral motif, but you could thrift something similar much closer to home. Our charity shops are always full of tiny treasures at bargain prices.

Little Miracles antiques was a detour on the way to the Acropolis museum which was our main plan for the day. However, no photographs are allowed in the museum. This doesn’t make for a very fun blog post so instead I’ll show you our quick visit to the Panathenaic stadium later that day.

We’d spotted the stadium from our open top bus tour on the first day and thought it looked quite impressive. Although marble is everywhere in Athens, the stadium really stands out from its’ surroundings due to the solid shape forming a huge block of colour. Panathenaic Stadium

That tiny figure on the steps is me, I’ve gone trundling down the steps because I’ve spotted something worth investigating.

These are the throne’s where the Greek King and Queen sat during the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. These days the stadium is used for Olympic events and other concerts and festivals.Close up: lion paws hold up either end of the throne’s.Ready, set, go! It wouldn’t be right to leave without a quick once around the track. Enough fun and games for one post, I’ll leave you with a selection of my favourite details from Olympic posters around the stadium.Vintage Olympic Posters

L-R: St Louis 1904; London 1908; Paris 1924; Paris 1924; Berlin 1936; London 1948; Rome 1960; Mexico 1968; Athens 1896.