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Give us bread, but give us roses

A couple of nights ago, though half asleep and quite frozen, I accepted  my friends’ invitation and headed to a cinema near home. I didn’t even know what movie we would watch, but since I have noticed I tend to a nostalgic and self-indulgent mood when I stay at home too much, I decided to give the cinema a chance.
I wasn’t disappointed at all. The girls chose Pride, an English movie set during the miners’ strike in the 80s in Uk.
It was masterly interpreted and made us cry a bit in the end.
I love the English cinema and I already knew some of the actors: an amazing Andrew Scott (by the way: I can’t wait until 2016 for the fourth season of Sherlock! I’m talking to you, BBC!), Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy (both seen in the Harry Potter movies, among many others). We all loved it; it was funny but not stupid, told a real story but it was never boring.

Last but not least, people’s rights. During the strike some guys and girls in the gay community decided to support men striving to be heard, fought by the police and people in the streets, facing a challenging situation everyday, just like them.
I believe in equal rights for everybody. Not just because some of my friends are gay; deep inside I believe no one can tell another person who they should love and how and when. As long as we are respecting each other and not hurting anybody, we are free. When people say that God wouldn’t approve, well I don’t think so. If it’s true what they say, that God is Love no matter what, well he would love everybody for sure, even bigots and homophobics (but that’s not a good reason to be one!). Knowing that we all have the same rights apart from everything, would make it easier for me to breathe.

In the movie, during one of the miners’ meeting a woman starts singing “Bread and Roses”. I got a bit emotional must confess. I reckon we should all learn an important message from this: “Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!”

Together with some things I am reconsidering these days, this is one of the strongest and truest messages I have received so far; everyday reality is basic but who I am inside has to be satisfied, one way or another.
Understanding what I really want and how to accept my goals (still a bit concealed from my own eyes) is one of my new year’s resolutions, let’s call it the first and most important.
Find a way to get it, the second. As I was once said when still attending University: a wish has to turn into a desire, stronger and resolute by definition, to realize.
Balancing reality with my own inner reality, so strong though confused and bursting with colours, needs and thought all at the same time, the third and probably most difficoult.

As usual, let this consciousness be the firts step.

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34 but still fine

So yeah, I turned 34 recently. No big deal. No shock, no wrinkles (so far), no anxiety.
As usual, I spent a few days abroad, just to make that day a special one.
Berlin has proved itself the place to be, once again. There’s something magical in those streets constantly swept by chilly winds, leaves swirling on the walkside, history pouring over every proud building staring ahead, uncaring of those tiny dots moving frantic all around.
It can be overwhelming, packed with tragic events as it is, but little by little I have found it can be warm and welcoming too. It just asks for some time and a chance to show its potential. Once left behind the most touristic destinations like Alexander Platz, Brandeburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie and the Wall, take your time to walk aimlessly along its avenues and live the city as a Berliner, instead of a tourist craving for a few pictures to show once home.
You won’t be disappointed.

Once back in Venice, I got ready for the birthday party. I know, I’m old enough to have a toast with my besties and move to more important stuff, but I love to see all my friends in my place so much. I find it an amzing way to make home warmer, building sweet and funny memories with people I care about the most.

This year I decided to go simple. No fancy cakes or endless preparation.
Just a few tasty, original things.
So this is what we had
Cinnamon Swirls (try them still hot… they’re addictive!)
cinnamon swirlscinnamon swirls2

Thumbprint almond cookies with homemade homegrown figs jam, Nutella and homemade cinnamon & apple jam
cinnamon swirls3

Gluten- free Chocolate Cake (moist, extra decadent, adorable) and peanut butter cookies my friends loved (even though I wasn’t particularly satisfied with)
chocolate cake

chocolate cake2

And a carrot cake I forgot to take a picture of, my bad. This, by the way.

Missing recipes in a couple of days!

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Calabria, wilderness and beaches

Pff, raining again and all I can do is thinking about is the holiday I spent deep South a couple of weeks ago.

Last year I published a post a lot of people liked and commented. Totally unexpected. I mean, I love South of Italy and in particular the area my dad is from, but I never thought I would get all those positive feedback. I am just a girl who posts pictures of her travels and stuff she loves to bake, I don’t get any money out of this blog and honestly I love to spend time and “efforts” without getting anything back. This is part of the fun. I already have a job, I want my spare time to be used on priceless stuff like baking, hanging out with people I love and enjoying books, nature, good music, movies, walking around my beloved city and, obviously, travelling.

Receiving all those thumbs up made me pretty happy: Italy is not only a bunch of beautiful and chaotic places. Though packed with problems (huge ones most of the time), my country is worthy a long and accurate visit. Many, actually. I see tourists coming to Venice just for a couple of hours or a day, thinking Venice is just Rialto Bridge and Saint Mark’s square. I know, the city could be expensive and not everybody has time (or feel like) to properly visit it, but as Roald Dahl said “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”; same for Venice: wandering aimlessly at night is magical and so charming (plus, nobody’s around). Take the time to give a look at all that surrounds you and give the city a chance.

As you seen, I take pride in my cultural heritage and all the history leaking out of buildings, monuments and even landscapes. Though our social and political situation is tragicly leading the country to a non-return death point, I still love living here. We’ll see what the future has in store.

Calabria is my second home. Though my grandparents are long gone, I still have some cousins there and I feel I belong to that place too.
Calabria is a problematic area. Local mob controls the local population in an invisible yet perceivable cobweb. Normal services like hospitals and public offices are not efficient at all, money gets wasted and bribes are a rule. It breaks my heart to see how those places are totally ignored by political leaders and kept uncared. I can only imagine how the locals would feel about this.
I love how wild and deserted those places can be, but I am aware of the many issues the population has to face daily.

Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria Calabria WP_20140731_015

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Going Southward, again – Staiti

So, last year I wrote about my holidays in South of Italy and lot of people told me about they loved the picture and how amazing that area seems to be. Well, it is.
This year I spent another 2 weeks there since, as I wrote before, my dad was born and raised there, so we both feel the urge to reconnect with our roots at least once a year.
I took tons of pictures with my new phone, some aren’t the best quality, my bad.
I decided to split the post in different ones: the first (this one) is about the little village my dad is from, Staiti.
Once home in Venice, I tried to explain my friends how small and lovely Staiti is. It’s kind of difficult for people living in my area to utterly understand how really small villages can be down there: no banks, no restaurants, no fancy shops; just a bar, two small shops where people buy milk or bread, a post office and a pharmacy. Nothing else. I ran out of contact lens cleaner while there and had to drive for 15 km to find a shop where I could buy some. The closest cinema is more than 30 km far from our house and the mall is around 25. Totally different from the Northern Italy reality I live in and almost impossible for people up here to understand.

Staiti, view from our top terrace.Staiti - Calabria

Staiti, view from the cemetery

 

Staiti - Calabria

 

Staiti, narrow lane

Staiti - Calabria

Walking around

Staiti - Calabria

View from our kitchen window

Staiti - Calabria

View from our top terrace, you can see the sea in the distance

 

Staiti - Calabria

The Tridetti fountainStaiti - Calabria

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Home wanderings

Finally, that time of year has arrived. When temperature raises, sun warms our skin and staying out until late is appalling and full of magic. Especially if this is the view.Venice Lagoon

I already wrote about our boat trips last year (here all my posts about Venice). A friend’s family of our owns a boat and is kind enough to let us use it, once in a while. Venice LagoonI will never get tired of all this: how clouds combine and change the sky, how light reflects upon water, the St. Mark’s steeple in the distance, the smell of salty water and weeds while having a beer amid the islands, the seagulls’ crying and tohousands of flamingos (yes, we have flamingos as well!) gathered all together. Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice LagoonI took all these pictures with my phone and unfortunately a couple of them are out of focus. As I watch them for the 10th time, I realize they just give an idea of how these places are. The real beauty of our lagoon cannot be fully expressed by simple pictures.Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon Venice Lagoon

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A sweet summer cake

Carrot CakeAnother weekend has passed and here I am, sitting at the desk on a rainy Monday morning.
Monday, already.
I can’t complain, though. I feel relaxed and looking back I can see how many things I managed to stuff on my weekend: a birthday party, a quiet drink with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in weeks, a bike riding through the city for my Saturday errands, a dinner with some friends an their newborn babies, a shopping afternoon (well, more windows shopping!) and still, I had time to clean my whole place, bake a cake and a batch of cookies. Plus, despite the bad weather forecast, it rained just on Saturday night. Yeah!
Real Summer hasn’t arrived yet, with its damp, sunny, hot and sticky days and long, oppressive and mosquito-packed nights, but I am trying to make the best of the not-rainy days.

The cake, I was saying. A simple, plain and delicate carrot one. With no frosting, no decorations, nothing at all. I wanted its taste to speak for it, nothing else.
So, as usual, I turned to Pinterest. It never lets me down. Neither does Sally.
Her blog is packed with amazing recipes that never fail and I am a big fan of hers. You can feel the happiness and love for baking and good ingredients behind every post of hers.

This her recipe for this amazing Carrot Cake.
I used 2 egg whites and 2 whole eggs and left out the nuts, a friend is allergic. Apart from that, I didn’t change anything.
The cake is moist and tender as she promises, you can count on it. The cinnamon adds a surprising aftertaste that really takes the cake to another level and the brown sugar matches perfectly with the carrot sweetness.

So, I prepared the cake and no frosting, but yesterday wanted to add something special on a side while enoying a slice on the couch, so I added some vegan icecream I made in seconds: just blend a frozen banana (I have a couple of them in my freezer all the time) with a handful of nuts,1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and some agave syrup. I love how good it tastes. It’s totally guilt free and fat free. It’s my usual Sunday treat, with chocolate chips or (homemade and natural) peanut butter and really satisfies my sweet tooth.

Here my pictures (no filter used)

Carrot Cake Carrot Cake Carrot Cake

Enjoy!