Bologna IV: Ciao, Ciao for Now

30th March – 1st April 2017 My last days in Bologna followed a similar trend: lots of food and lots of talking.  An older English woman in my class was growing increasingly frustrated with the school. She had lerned (and then taught) French in the old-school style of studying Latin and Ancient Greek; and although…

Bologna III: Getting my Hands Dirty

28th – 29th March 2017 Day two of my Italian course went smoothly. We were sudying direct and indirect peronal pronouns. Useful. Not much of a story there. I went for lunch with an Italian girl I’d met the night before. In the old market district, the streets still carry the names of the produce…

Bologna II: Styling it out

27th March 2017 An aunt of mine learnt German without studying or classes; but by spending a few months in the country. She learned “by ear”. I have nothing but envy for people like her. Others must study: grammar, vocabulary, syntax, pronunciation-through-phonetics. For them, languages are logical, rule-based and can be calculated. I don’t have enough…

Bologna I: New Worlds

2011 – 2012 Did I already mention I did a year abroad? in Paris? It gets worse. I drank wine on terraces while watching the world go past. And ate steak-frites. I walked through Montmartre. At night. In the rain (probably, at some point). I didn’t smoke gauloises. And I’ll forever regret it. I sat…

‘Happy’ Birthday

25th March 2017 The European project was begun in earnest 60 years ago today. But the festivities today will be rather muted. As we march through London today, I hope it will be seen as a pro-EU demonstration but cannot ignore its antipathy to out governments apparent negotiating strategy. Let’s suffice today with a brain…

Maintaining Momentum

31st December 2016 I spent New Year’s Eve with Italians in Cambridge. Our menu for the night included: Butternut squash risotto Grissini Smoked salmon Cured hams Two polenta dishes: one with cheese, one with sausages in a tomato sauce Pannetone And a freshly baked pear cake It was quite a feast. And enough to stave…

Ghosts of Seasons Past

I thought I’d try to get this in while it’s still kind of relevant. A little festive romp through Europe.  * December 2014 ‘Twas the night before the night before Christmas eve and my two Irish friends descended upon London. We crashed my mum’s “work party” (cocktails with her only employee, my stepdad) and went…

Stumbling Silhouettes

25th September 2016 With my Italian girlfriend and a Spanish friend and her English boyfriend (both of whom did an Erasmus year in Italy), I went to Il Meecato Metropolitano. The one thing I will consistently praise in London is its food scene. I can eat great food from any corner of the world. This…

The Calm before the Storm

May 2016 At the beginning of May, I met my girlfriend in Turin and the following morning we drove about 7 hours south to Tuscania in the Lazio region. An Etruscan town founded variously by a son of Aeneas or Hercules, my girlfriend’s uncle celebrated his 50th in a tower just outside the city walls. …

A Poco a poco

March 2015 When I first moved to London, I met a girl from Salamanca at a language exchange. She had had a miserable time of London. She had moved for an Irish boy who promptly dumped her; she was working in a cafĂ© but qualified as a pharmacist; she didn’t know anyone and was still…