Firenze, Firenze – otherwise known as Florence. I still don’t understand why we need to translate foreign names of places into English versions, it just seems lazy avoiding the authentic pronunciations of places. And laziness does not come to mind when exploring such an intriguing city. The warm colours of the structures gleam when bathed in the sunlight, revealing hundreds of years of history that is reflected in the Arno river. There are museums housing glorious works of art at every cobblestone corner and just as many gelato shops to match. Not to mention the fabulous panini shops filled with delicious tuscan meats and cheeses, and shops filled to the brim with chianti. It is truly a paradise for food, wine and art lovers, and I felt right at home living here for two months of my trip.
There was always something new to see and eat, and a day off from uni meant a day to explore more of the wonderful city. I had to pinch myself everyday to remind myself that I was living in this remarkable place.
A trip to Florence is not complete without a trip to the Tuscan wine region. My housemates and I went on a winery tour to sample some of Tuscany’s best cheese and wine. In addition to becoming nicely tipsy and well-fed, we couldn’t take our eyes off the breathtaking Tuscan landscape with the rolling hills and majestic villas.
You know when you just know that you’ll return to some place in the future? That’s how I feel about Firenze. I’m certain that next time I will be able to continue working on my lacklustre Italian speaking skills, consume more pasta and chianti, and find more uneven cobblestone streets to trip over on.
Ahh, Milan. The capital of fashion and finance – not that they’re interlinked. I had heard many stories of ‘cosmopolitan’ and ‘business-like’ Milan, and of course had seen plenty of photos from fashion week. But other than that, I didn’t know what to expect other than plenty of high-end shops and skyscrapers. And oh – the window shopping was glorious. There was row after row of luxury labels and apparel I had only witnessed in Vogue and while scrolling through runway photos. The excitement I felt for being in the presence of gorgeous clothing beat witnessing the Sistine Chapel, and the fact that there was no way I could afford to buy anything refused to dampen my spirits one bit.
Scattered around the city were stunning old buildings, which beautifully contrasted with the modern structures and made for good exploring. Of course we visited Milan’s Duomo, and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (which used to be the premier spot for the Milanese bourgeoisie to meet), and the Museum. We didn’t get a chance to see The Last Supper, but that will have to wait for a future visit.
I dragged my housemate (who could not care less about fashion) to a vintage fashion exhibition, showcasing outfits created by distinguished Milanese designers over the last century. While I was poring over the use of fabrics and styles, he tried his best to engage with it all.
I only spent the day in Milan which is not nearly enough time to experience the city and its atmosphere, but I loved what I had the opportunity to see (and eat!). It truly is a fashion lover’s paradise, and I was in awe of how achingly chic the Milanese people were. It really made me question why I had to pack so sensibly and leave all my nice clothes at home, when I knew that I would be visiting a country that essentially breathes fashion.
This picture of the sunset on the Duomo was my last sight of Milan, and hopefully it won’t be long until I return to see more breathtaking views.
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The concept of Italy is so romantic. Everything is awash with shades of red (napoli sauce, vino rossa, Ferraris – that fiery Italian passion), and one can’t help but flirt with the expectation of a steamy love affair with a gorgeous Italian stallion thanks to the barrage of starry-eyed american movie narratives. Unrealistic flings aside, I will whole-heartedly give myself over to bottles of chianti and pasta al pomodore. And I refuse to engage in any self-talk about the effect of my extravagant consumption, because as seen in the inspiring american narrative of Eat Pray Love, one can simply buy bigger jeans. I intend to carry this attitude with me for the next two months in Italy, because I shall actually be living and breathing in the city of Firenze (for those uncultured folk, it’s Florence) and that’s a pretty exciting opportunity.
My introduction to Italian culture was set in Roma, which I suppose is natural for a first time traveller to this pizza-and-pasta-abundant land. My first impressions of Rome have been fabulous and filled with awe; how can one city house so many spectacular buildings and features? It was staggering how many imposing monuments would be waiting at every corner, with some dating back a couple thousand years. It clearly demonstrates how their history boasts plenty of wealth and pride, and as a history lover myself, I ate it all up.
We spent three days exploring the unmissable main sights, and often while it was cold and rainy. Fortunately I had my exceedingly bright Aldi jacket to protect me from the elements, but not from the stares of disapproving fashionable Romans.
My primary question and concern during my trip in Rome was: how did the artists manage to paint detailed images on ceilings? Surely there would have been some intense logistics (and possibly a few stiff necks) behind how these ceilings were created.
The architecture! The artwork! There’s evidence of unbelievable craftsmanship everywhere. Three days was sweet, but definitely not enough to completely appreciate the inexhaustible facets forming historic and contemporary Roma. This means that another visit to this remarkable city is on the agenda. x
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Next stop: The Greek Islands; a place I have always dreamed of travelling to since watching Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and Mamma Mia! In Crete we explored the remarkable ruins of the palace of Knossos and trawled through the marketplace in Rethymno; in Santorini we drank cocktails while staring in awe at the endless mass of blue; and in Naxos we ate cheese and relaxed on the beach till our hearts were content. No matter where we went, the views were more spectacular than we expected and the people were always warm and welcoming.
We were fortunate to have experienced the hustle and bustle of Heraklion, as well as the tranquility of the resort town of Rethymno. We spent a lot of time visiting archeological sites, as well as attempting to get used to the fact that we were on holidays.
My partner Dan and I agree that this was our favourite part of the trip. When you glide towards Santorini on a ferry, the white buildings on the top of the cliffs appear as snow, and make the island look like a snow-capped mountain. EVERYONE raves about the beauty of Santorini, and I completely understand why. The pristine white buildings against the inviting blue ocean was a sight I couldn’t tear my eyes away from.
We didn’t realise how big this island is, or in fact how good the food is. We tried to explore as much as we could in the three days we were there, but we always ended up gravitating towards the beach.
This was our last stop. The Acropolis was one of the most magnificent monuments I have ever seen, and it was so exciting to be among these buildings that were erected thousands of years ago.
Dan and I felt as though we had spent a decent amount of time in each place, which was important because we were able to experience the culture of the islands alongside taking the opportunity to relax and unwind. And when you’re in the Greek Islands, the best thing to do is to find a spot on the beach and enjoy the serenity and natural beauty of the landscape with a cocktail in hand. And that’s exactly what we did for the duration of this leg of the trip, and we were never disappointed.
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I was the quintessential wannabe princess in my early years when I would don my princess dresses, tulle skirts and tiaras whilst dancing to the dreamy tunes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Never mind whether I was playing in my bedroom or walking up to the coffee shop with mum; a full skirt with the corresponding jewellery, bags, wands and glittering tiaras would always be in order. And apparently you can never take the princess out of the girl (minus the magic wand and tiara) as full tulle skirts and fabulous accessories are exactly what I want to be wearing nowadays too.
The tulle skirt has made a comeback since Autumn 2015 on the streets with fabulous results. The femininity of the skirt can be contrasted with leather to create a tough-girl look, matched with wool and knits to cater for winter, and worn with denim to downplay the formality of tulle to offer a day-appropriate outfit. No longer should it be aligned with tiaras and sparkling bodices, because the opportunities for versatility don’t solely resign it for wear at a royal ball. The tulle skirt, as of recently, has been unleashed.
I found a relatively inexpensive one at a chain store and thought ‘why not?’ It resurrected so many childhood memories. On a day out in the city I wore it with a simple black and white stripped sleeveless top, a vintage leather choker and a contemporary clutch bag my sister bought for me on her travels in Europe. Oh, and a new haircut I recently coerced myself into having.
With my newly-short hair, princess skirt and continued love for Disney musical scores, it almost feels like I haven’t grown up. But I suppose my previous career plans to become a princess and marry Aladdin have changed dramatically.
Shoes: Forever New
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About a month ago, I was in the Gold Coast and visited one of my favourite places on the coast for some afternoon tea: the visually stunning Palazzo Versace. The setting proved irresistible for photo-taking, especially with this white belted gilet I had recently purchased after christmas. I had my eye on this piece for a couple of months before I purchased it, but being the typical economically downcast student I forced myself to wait until it became half price. Poor student note: A good piece of advice is that everything will be on sale in due course, and if you don’t need it urgently then it is ALWAYS more satisfying to purchase it when the price tag is halved.
Being an exuberant fan of white clothing, I knew I needed this gilet despite not exactly knowing where I’d wear it. Its versatility allows you to wear it as a dress with a slip underneath (as seen below) or as a sleeveless summer jacket with the belt hanging loosely across your stomach or by your sides. Hence I justified buying it through all the ways I could wear it, and most importantly, by how refreshingly classy it makes me feel.
I wore it with light tan gladiator sandals, rose gold jewelry, a black Guess bag and I even threw in my Chloe sunglasses to make me feel as designer as the hotel.
Belted Gilet: Witchery
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I cannot say no to a playsuit, particularly if it’s white and lacy. So when I made a promise to myself that I would refrain from any sort of shopping on a recent trip to the Gold Coast, I did not imagine that I would crack on day 2. But once you start envisioning yourself in an ethereal white lace playsuit (complimented by a well anticipated tan) and furthermore justify it with the fact that you would not encounter anything like it in my hometown of Melbourne, you almost pity the helplessness in my situation. Surely we have all been in that situation, right?
Not certain how shopping could be managed after the hectic mayhem of Christmas, but somehow us shopaholics can always find a reason.
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