Tag Archives: England

Finding “Our” Place

When the Italian and I decided to get married, it was an automatic decision that the wedding was to be held in Italy.  Other than the obvious Italian luxuries like food, good wine, prosecco and extremely picturesque locations, the Italians Nonna, who was 90 at the time, had breast cancer and couldn’t travel.  So, we wanted to bring our wedding to her.

The location choice was really hard as the town where the Italian is from is literally forty minutes drive from everywhere, in every direction: mountains, sea and city.  I knew I wanted to try to aim for an English rose garden affair, but in Italy.  That wasnt going to be an easy feat.

We started scanning the internet for ideas and locations and when we found various places we liked the look of, the Italian called and enquired about prices, menus, catering etc.  however, the huge problem with wedding planning in Italy that we came across was that the Italians just don’t use the internet.  Websites are old and pictures are ancient.  You don’t get a good feel of how a place would look in reality.  It’s still very much a case of recommendation and word of mouth, which isn’t easy when you’re trying to arrange a wedding from another country.

We had a few trips to italy to view venues and after various trips back and forth I was in love with three places.  All were very different and offered us different things but we had a strict list of considerations to stick to.  Some  our guests were coming from England so we had to consider distance from the airport, local bars, transport from the hotel and transport from the wedding venue.  So, my (I say my, because the Italian really didn’t have a choice in this one!) first choice was out because it was too far from everywhere and a nightmare to transport everyone to and from.  I was heartbroken! Let me introduce your to Castle Brando:


I think I actually shed a tear when we realised that this place was out of our reach.  I had never imagined getting married in a castle before.  I’m much more a jeans and flip-flops kind of girl so I was quite surprised at myself that I was so upset.  Alas, there was a plan B.

One one of our trips I had convinced the Italian to visit a place that I had found on the internet.  Their website was ancient and photographs were terrible so he was really reluctant.  However, when we got there it was amazing! It was a Venetion country palazzo adorned with old furniture and regal looking decor.  The gardens were breath-taking and again, I was in love. Let me introduce you to Villa Luppis:


We were treated to a fabulous dinner at Villa Luppis and even today, I still remember how good the food was.  It was definitely the best food were tasted from all the venues we visited.  I loved everything about Villa Luppis but the only thing that we had an issue with was space for the children.  We had a handful of children at our wedding and this villa, although stunning, is a very grown up, very sophisticated kind of place.  That was the only thing that we stumbled on.  So, cue more tears and side step to plan C.

A neighbour of the Italian’s parents told us about a venue that their daughter had recently got married at and suggested that we definitely take a look.  I wasnt convinced.  Knowing his parents neighbours and their daughter, I wasnt sure her taste of venue was exactly and true match for my taste.  Nevertheless, we made a trip for a viewing.  How surprised we were!

We drove through a small town and followed the directions up a meandering hill, into and above the prosecco vineyards of Conegliano and then, there it was.  Let me introduce you to Casteletto.


Turning the corner through the vineyards to discover the iron gates that led to a gravelled driveway was a surprise.  As we approached the top and walked forward we were totally blown away by the view.  It was stunning!. There it was, a tiny little castle with a chapel, on the hill, hidden amongst the trees.  From the outside it was perfect.

Was this really a castle fit for a princess?

Did you have the in love feeling when you found your venue?



Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Italia


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Hooray Henley

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the lovely peeps at Focus PR, those who are lovingly supporting Lavazza in their bid for world domination. The offer was simple: a set of tickets and parking pass to the Henley Festival by way of thanks for taking part in the previous Lavazza Wimbledon challenge. As Lavazza were also one of the sponsors for Henley, it made sense for me to kindly accept the offer.

Dave Rogers from Lavazza Coffee UK Ltd had this to say about the event: “Lavazza were delighted to sponsor the Henley Festival for the fourth consecutive year, the mix of outstanding artists, exceptionally high demographic audience and quality environment make the Henley Festival very special – We look forward to more of the same next year”.

You can imagine how taken aback I was when I realised I wasnt actually in London on the dates that the Henley Festival was taking place. So, I asked if I could offer the package to a loving reader via Twitter. I did and the amazing @Miss_Ingredient won. Off she went to spend a night with Olly Murs courtesy of Lavazza UK.

Here is what she had to say about last nights black tie event:

“We had a lovely time at the festival last night.

On Saturday afternoon we realised that the event was strict black tie which we were very excited about yet concerned given it has been raining for 3 months. What is a lady to wear in such weather conditions? Nevertheless, we dusted off M’s dinner suit and then spent at least 40 minutes trying to figure out how to tie a bow tie. The fact that he was wearing wellies only added to the look. Of course, what with him being foreign, he thought that the whole concept of going out on a rainy night in black tie and wellies was literally the most hysterical thing in the world and would “only happen in England”.
The festival itself had a very special setting with it being on the river with lots of hooray henry’s pulling up on their boats to listen to the music.
The event itself was a mixture of art, music and food. Marquees were set up along the river showcasing work from international artists.  A selection of restaurants and bars were a welcome relief from the rain and M and I settled into one resembling a Moroccan tent while Olly Murs took to the stage.
Olly himself was great and even treated us to a Stevie Wonder mega mix. The crowd were a mixture of couples and families with their children in boat jackets and Hunter wellies and a few women who were still insisting on high heels and sandals despite the boggy conditions. Given it was Olly performing, there were quite a few squealing teenage girls too which only added to the joy of the evening.
We ended the night sat under a tree looking at the water while the crowds dispersed before heading home in our very dirty wellies.
We took a few pics which I’ve attached”.
Here are a few of the pics they took at the event.
Wellies.. every festival needs them, even Henley!
Henley Festival – the boats arriving.
Olly Murs does his stuff on stage
Thank you Lavazza for providing a very elegant evening to a very elegant lady and her beau!
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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England v. Italy

Our house is England v. Italy every day.  I like tea, he likes coffee.  I like mash, he likes pasta.  I’m a good driver *honestly*. He’s a crazy Italian driver.  The list of our differences is endless.  The biggest difference, obviously, is the allegiance to one’s country.

As we led up to the England v. Italy match this week, so many people have asked me “so, who will you be supporting on Sunday?”.  This comment, every time, was met with a squinty eyed, creased forehead scowl.  Which country will I be supporting? Are you serious? I’m “married” to an Italian.  I’m not Italian.  I’m ENGLISH.  So, I reckon I’ll be supporting ENGLAND.  More to the point, not only I am English, I am Liverpudlian! Football is in my soul.  I was brought up to live, eat and breathe You’ll Never Walk Alone until I was eighteen years old.  Yes, that does make me “a red”, not “a blue” and in that also, my allegiance is never-failing.

Tonight, as my second home plays my real home, there is no question in my mind where my loyalty lies – and on this occasion only, my loyalty is not with my husband! Forget matrimony – tonight, I’m Steven Gerard, I’m married to my team!

As much as I love Italy; the food, the beaches, the fashion, I’m afraid to say that their national team is absolutely unfortunate looking, facially.  I mean, I might have been drip fed LFC as a child but I am female after all and if I’m honest, I know more about mens legs than I do about the off-side rule.  The Italian team is so unfortunate looking.  Therefore, they lose on two counts: England are going to win, fact.  England are better looking, fact.  Controversial but true.

So, as Bambina lays asleep in her cot after me having eased her out of a 38 temperature, the Italian has sworn his allegiance to his country by going to a friend’s house to wave his hands repeatedly and shout obscenities at my men at every given chance.  I’m glad he’s out.

Oops, half time. Must go make myself a nice cup of Early Grey.  Long live the Queen.  It’s good to be British.

C’mon England!!!





Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Italian: A Date

The Italian called me to advise “we’a goin’a far’a, dress up, yea..”.

So, first date and all, dress up I did. I had spent the last fifteen months in a bikini and flip flops so the opportunity to dress up was fantastic. I had a few days to plan my outfit: jeans, casual white top, black blazer, nude nails, minimal make up (I had a really good tan so didn’t overdo the face) and frostings of jewels.

The shoes were a slight issue. I only owned flip flops so I had to borrow a pair of very nice black heels from a friend. The problem was that they were a size too big and anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t walk in heels! I’m like Miss Piggy on crutches! But I had no choice so out I went wearing the borrowed stilettos.

The Italian picked me up promptly at 6pm. Rather early for a first date I thought but he sold it to me by saying we were going to a lovely place and had to be there on time. I was wooed.

The wooing didn’t last for long when at he bottom of the drive way was a scooter and perfectly perched on the seat were two helmuts. “We’re going on that?” I said in a ‘please say no’ tone’.

Well yea, we’a an’a goin’a far“. I reluctantly slid the helmut over my perfectly straightened hair, rubbing the blusher off my cheeks in the process, and shut the clamp firmly under my chin.

As we sped off sounding like a hair dryer on speed, the Italian slapped me on the leg and winked at me through his visor via the wing mirror. I was not impressed!

After about a ten minute ride, I noticed we were heading towards the M4. Are you kidding me?? we’re going on to the sodding motorway, on a scooter?? Is that even legal??

I was freezing! It was July but in England that means nothing. I was on a scooter, on a motorway, in stilettos and wearing a t-shirt! As first dates go, this wasn’t starting out well at all.

On my travels, I had picked up an amazing necklace at a jewelry market on the outskirts of Bangkok. Naturally a first date was the perfect time to showcase it. Wrong! As it was blowing for e gail wind on the back if the scooter, the stupid necklace had gotten entangled in the helmet strap under my chin. I was freezing AND choking!!

Whilst holding on to the side if the scooter with one hand, I tried to unravel the necklace with the other. My toes were rooted to the scooter step to try and keep myself from falling off. I was effing this and effing that under my helmut and wondering why I had even agreed to go in thus date. I was probably right anyway, he was gay!

Finally, after just over an hour we arrived in Windsor. I got off that scooter like John Wayne, my legs were permanently set to straddle mode, my head had been almost decapitated by my not-so-lovely-anymore-necklace and I hadn’t felt my feet for that half hour!

I composed myself and slid off the helmet to reveal a nest of matted nots that even a pigeon would have requested to be rehoused! I looked a state!

The Italian escorted me and my birds nest into Browns restaurant in Windsor where I immediately made a run for the toilets. Where, I ashamedly borrowed a strangers hairbrush to sort out my locks.

Luckily the meal was nice, the company was, well, different, and the journey home which I was dreading was mildly better as I dressed up in the winter wets that we’re hidden in the scooter seat! Seriously, if there had been any windows on that scooter, any street cred I had would have well and truly gone out of it!

You’a weren’t’a cold’a eh?” he asked. When my teeth had stopped chattering I told him bluntly “had have I known I would be on a scooter going 70mes an hour down the motorway, I would have dressed appropriately, so yes, I was/am freezing!”.

“But’a i’a told you’a to dress’a up!”

“I did!! Ive got jewelry on and everything!!”

“Yeah but’a in Italy when’a we say’a ‘dress’a up, we’a mean’a dress’a Up a’warm’a”

Oh well, we were not in Italy, we were in England and dress up to me means “wear something’ pretty Darlin'”, not get out your long johns and warmest balaclava!

And that amici, has been the basis of our relationship so far – lost in translation and reading between the lines – and mostly getting it wrong!


Posted by on May 27, 2012 in London


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A Road Much Travelled

I think we would agree that amongst other things (food, fashion, football and the generally good-lookingness of its population), Italy prides itself on having built roads, no? I believe so because I am reminded of it every time my husband and I get into a ‘my country/your country’ debate.

If it wasn’t for Italy..”, blah blah.. “if it wasn’t for the Romans…” yada yada yada…. YAWN! We have had many a debate about our home countries: mine being cold, his being hot, mine gave The Beatles, his gave Bocelli, they’ve got tagliatelle, we’ve got toad in the hole (does anyone under 100 eat toad in the whole in England?).  Now, I know this is slighty clutching at straws but they’ve got Prada, we’ve got Primark.  Totally validating this last point given the joy we ladies feel when purchasing a garment from either store!  As much as we would all love to be walking around in a Prada puffa jacket with over-sized fur-trimmed hood (usually real fur!), you can’t beat a seasonal splurge at Primark.

No matter what my comeback is, I am always hit with the road story.

What baffles me is if the Romans built all these roads for their troops to get around Europe, why don’t the Italians use them nowadays? This is clearly a huge generalisation but since I’ve been married to an Italian, I have noticed that travelling outside of Italy is not high on the list of priorities for most. Other than the mass exodus to Argentina and America in the 17th century, it seems that most Italians only use “their” roads in “their” country.  When I was travelling in South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, I don’t think I met a single Italian person (that was travelling).

A couple of years ago I mentioned to my brother-in-law that he had never visited us in London.  His response was “what would I eat?”.  He did visit, once.  He rather enjoyed himself. That was, until, he asked me if I like Italian food.  I do. But I prefer Indian/Mexican/Chinese, anything that’s not based on tomato or cream.  He asked me if I liked Italy in general. I do, from what I’ve seen so far. But in terms of “travelling”, I prefer Brazil/Colombia/Thailand, places where I can retell a story.  He hasn’t spoken to me since – that was 18 months ago.

According to Fanny Burney (I know, I’d have divorced my mother if she’d have dreamed up that name for me! God forbid if it were back to front!), “traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy”.  This might have been true for the English novelist back in the 1700’s but hello, there is a world out there – go explore!

This extreme pride and inane belief in one’s nationality could be because Italy does have a lot going for it; beaches, mountains, lakes, food, wine, style, gorgeous looking people, a to-die-for accent and …ROADS.


Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Italia


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