This blog has had its share of accolades. I can boast to be perhaps the only beauty blog that has male heterosexual followers (for realz). I am also one to tell you not to spend your money but rather hold on to it.
But I also had criticisms for not knowing how to celebrate joy in the form of a new shade of lipstick. And yes, I am guilty.
After all, once you have found your own shade of red that makes your face light up and sparkle- what else can the spectrum of colors entice you with? Certainly not the overrated Viva Glam de Jour that donates to “charity” yet will never have the same effect as your own personal red.
So yes, this blog may teach you a lot of things but it does not have passion (for yet another ho-hum lipstick).
With this post, I would like to change that.
Every Viva Glam I turned down, a lip balm I refused, a new miracle (aherm cough*BB, mineral) formula I resisted, a new trendy color I skipped-
allowed me a thousand steps more of travel.
And by travel, I do not mean the type where you stress to finish all work in the office, stay a week in a hotel, have a day to day agenda of buildings, museums and monuments to see, then go home more tired than before the vacation.
That’s being a tourist, where you have instagram pictures to show but not a real experience that you can say enriched you.
· Challenge Ferraris to race in the Tuscan highways (in a shoe filled Volkswagen Beetle)
· Get yourself invited then thrown out (on purpose, they were getting too wild for my taste and there are lines I do not cross) of an artist’s party in Pietra Santa
· Ride in a midnight train full of sailors in Napoli,
· Be cooked for and fed by a castle owning Italian boy in Modena,
· Ride around Rome with a Milanese in a Vespa,
· Be shown around to mingle with the 25,000 local Venetian population by a real merchant of Venice
· Be asked to do a bible reading in an Italian wedding in Bari
Not. Unless you take it slow.
And the place in Italy which has a special place in my heart and where I recommend you start is Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Here are glimpses of it from an adopted native’s perspective.
Beauty Ad nauseam
There is a real medical condition called Florence syndrome, so called because a lot of incidents happened after seeing the Loggia dei Lenzi in Piazza dela Signoria (the place where Bonfire of the Vanities happened) in Florence.
In this you get overwhelmed with so much beauty that you actually go frenzy dizzy.
I would not waste my time describing or showing you pictures. It is to be experienced. Put this in your bucket list.
Medici is dead, long live the Medicis
This banking family has fostered the arts, science, literature, architecture that gave birth to Michelangelo, Galileo, Da Vinci and Dante (to but name a few).
The last of the Medicis was the gay Gaston and the childless Luisa.
Yet they are alive in the legacy of greatness that they helped flourish.
But the real legacy is the wonder that are the Florentines. I can wax poetry about them, but allow me to just be stupid and say - gawd, they are really nice people!
Why Does Michelangelo Have a Beard?
I once stayed in a student’s flat where one of the tenants is a sculpture student.
I learned that beards have two practical uses. For sculptors, they sometimes need to see better and up close without a mask. A beard helps shield their faces from the marble being chipped.
The second practical use of beards is to conceal a small penis.
Why/why not Prosecco?
Sparkling wine, when grown in the Champagne region in France is called Champagne. When grown in Italy is called Prosecco. When grown in Spain is called Cava.
I had a week long tour of vineyards in the Champagne region and there would be better and lesser quaity Champagnes as I imagine that there would be better and lesser proseccos. The difference is just the French would be complete asses about protecting their name (remember the fate of YSL’s Champagne fragrance?).
So, when I hear someone deploring prosecco in favour of Champagne, I scratch my head and ask what the hell this common beeatch think she is talking about?
This Italian ice cream is made from real fruits and hearty ingredients. (To try is the sesame nero from Vivali, black sesame is imported from Japan and once the batch for the year is over, it is over)
When you see gelato piled yey high atop its container, it would require quite some unnatural shit to make it stand that way.
Stay away from gelatos piled yey high.
American Students as Party Shepherds
Florence attracts a lot of students (and it is easy to enroll there as most schools offer courses with translators.)
The cooler ones sometimes get jobs as party shepherds, that is leading the throng of party goers to the next bar.
They can be great fun to live with but they often forget that I am old enough to be their mamma and would bother me a lot to party. I love them! (Dylan and Tracey!)
How is All This Possible?
But possible. Especially now more than ever when jobs can be done via the internet and an iphone full of app enablers.
But you start with small steps.
So find and stick to the one true shade of red lipstick that celebrates you.
Keep your load light.
And go out and learn how the rest of the world wags and what wags it.
Let me recommend that you start with Florence, Italy.
It is the where the Renaissance started.
It could also be the start of your own personal renaissance.
Some practical tips:
Easy for you to say, you do not have a job and kids…
How to Find a Legit Housing
If looking for long term housing, do Craig’s list.
If someone says they do not currently live there and will just send you key, go away.
At no instance should you ever pay via Western Union. If you must, pay perhaps a small reservation amount via a proper bank account (volunteer your ID and ask for the recipients ID as well).
If it can be arranged, secure your first two nights stay first in a hotel and spend those first days checking out your long term lodging options before you commit.
Note that for 1-2 days stay, hotels are aplenty and cheaper near train stations.
Eurail Tickets? Yes Or No?
Almost every tourist guide site I see tells you to buy those Eurail tickets where you get to travel so many countries for a period of time for a flat fee.
I say no.
First, those tickets limit your travel to ungodly hours or slow trains. So you either spend your time waiting and being inconvenienced or paying more for a better train schedule.
Second, to cram so many countries in a definite period; move on from one place you are just starting to love to another country just so you can make the most out of your Eurail pass?
Might as well wear a Hawaiian shirt and some leis while you are at it.
The option, travel by cheap airlines or by bus. Or carpool.
What to Pack
For this I found this video of Ms. St. Claire to be the one of the best tips out there (except for the spare glasses, you do not need them with a Portocchiali) The other is by Mr. Doug Dyment of Onebag.com
Me personally, I would take these:
- Little black sleeveless jersey dresses that I layer up with vests, coats, sweaters, shirts. (the best I find are from Max Mara, some of mine are more than 25 years old and still look great)
- A good quality black leather motorcycle coat.
- A pair of capri black jeans (got mine from H&M)
- A fringy black mini skirt
- A pair of ballet flats that I would wear then I would shop for appropriate shoes as I need them in Italy.
- I load up on the accessories
- And I think that capes are especially wonderful for travel and can do so many seasons.
Finally a disclaimer: