Nuvola's Guide to Italy
Milan may be yesterday's news for the fashion industry (Paris Fashion Week has begun), but Italy is still very much in Chinti and Parker's thoughts. For Italy in the autumn is every bit as glorious as Paris in the spring. Having just returned from her own version of The Grand Tour (the Italian leg, at least), Chinti designer and native Italian, Nuvola, has compiled her very own guide to Italy. What with a fair chunk of the calendar to get through until Christmas, a mini break is surely in order, non? In fact that, by the time you've read this post, you'll be seriously considering relocation.
Il Clima (Weather)
We don't have perpetual summers, like other magic places in the world, but we have something called 'seasons', which is even better. Summer gets extremely hot, which is why in August nobody works, everything is closed, and if you decide to go into the city, you will really have it all to yourself. School is closed from June 10 to September 10; I will probably miss those 3 months of school holidays forever.
And we also have infinite amounts of snow during winter, especially in Masserano where I come from, which is at the bottom of the Alps.
Il Mare (Sea)
I don't want to boast, but there are places in Italy that look even better than the Caribbean! Have you ever been to Puglia or Sardegna?! Because Italy is a peninsula, you're spoiled for choice. Most of the time you can have the best of both worlds, and combine the city and the sea in a vacation. Cinque Terre in Liguria is the perfect example of this.
Fatto in Italia (Made in Italy)
Made in Italy is not just a label but a concept that resides in the culture of superlative craftsmanship synonymous with Italy. It's systemic; this tradition of the 'well-made', encompasses clothing, accessories, food and architecture. It's everywhere. Wherever you go, you'll see attention to detail, from the taxi driver doing his shift in a suit, to the Carabinieri (a faction of the police) whose uniforms are designed by Giorgio Armani. Even Italy's most controversial football team, AC Milan, wear suits by Dolce and Gabbana for their off-pitch duties.
If you want to see the most fashionable people, then head to Milan. It's a working city, so everyone is looking their best at all times. If their polish makes your own attire feel a little frumpy, then I suggest some retail therapy in the famous Via Montenapoleone (if you have cash to burn) or the more approachable via Torino.
Another cultural concept in Italy, is La Bella Figura, which is about presenting your best possible self at all times. This is as much about attitude and poise as clothing.
I am really passionate about travelling, and as soon as I can save a few pennies I always book a trip, so I have had the fortune of having seeing quite few places around the world. But trust me, nothing in the world beats the beauty of Rome.
This might sound blindly patriotic, but I have never experienced a city that could take my breath away in they way Rome does. Every corner is a discovery; you literally walk on history everywhere you go. If you have a sweet tooth, you have to eat the Tiramisu at Bar Pompi! Simply put, it's the best. Go and see the Italian movie 'The Great Beauty', in cinemas now, and you'll understand why Rome is on a pedestal!
If you're passionate about classic, medieval, renaissance, baroque, neoclassic, modern or contemporary art, there's nothing Italy can't offer you! Culture is the country's heritage, something Italy can be pompously proud of, but deservedly so.
Every little village will have at least four churches, and you can bet they're all of significant cultural interest. It might be a mosaic, a painting or a fresco on its ceiling that will seduce you forever. Just look around and enjoy!
I truly believe in the healing power of pizza. This should help explain the intense love relationship I have with food, and that of all Italians.
In Italy, you must sit around the table to enjoy a meal (eating while walking and checking the phone is a serious offence). It's about being in good company, and just enjoying what's on your plate without distraction.
Now, a couple of very important things you need to know about food in Italy that often confuses foreigners:
We don't do chicken pasta, or (even worse) chicken pizza! Chicken is a main course and you don't mix it! Nor do we eat salad as a side to lasagna! And we don't drink cappuccino after 10 am! Note my exclamation marks here!!!
La Gente (People)
Foreigners often say that Italians are friendly, open-hearted, charming and loud. I have to confess that these descriptions don't really apply to me as I'm rather quiet. I might be the least Italian Italian! Obviously this truth in this cliché depends entirely on your luck and also on the area of Italy you're visiting - the saying goes, that people from the South are more outgoing and loud than people from the North. Personally, when I go back home, there are so many things about Italian people that make me happy to be back. And others that make me wish I was in England. For example, Italians don't queue. Arrrgh! It's war! Be prepared to step on your neighbour's toe if you don't want to miss your place at the Post Office.