All Articles Tagged "Italy"

Milan Is So Overrated

November 19th, 2014 - By Subira Willock
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In a perfect world, everything we desire comes to fruition in the exact way we wish it to be. Life glows with the warmth of friendship, love and experiences that enrich us and make us feel whole. As travelers we tend to fantasize about what a destination will be like based on external factors like movies, travel guides, and the experiences of others. The journey first begins in our imaginations, before we ever take a single step onto foreign soil. We build up expectations of adventures that make us come alive, warm savory food that melts in our mouth, the melodic voices of handsome strangers flowing sweetly in an exotic tongue, sunshine and clear blue skies. But the real world is not so perfect and sometimes being present in a foreign city is the only way to accept that where you are is not what you thought it would be.

We emerged from Milano Porto Garibaldi on a cold, rainy Sunday morning. The almost 12-hour overnight train ride from Naples to Milan was rough. Like a scene out of a murder mystery, at the stroke of 22:00 hours, hundreds of disorderly passengers piled onto the partially rusting Intercity regional train. We both found our seats in the cramped six-seater cabin alongside a sketchy Nigerian priest dressed in white robes, a mature Sikh gentleman with his boyish lover and an Italian hipster. I shifted my eyes over to Nicole with raised eyebrows and caught her glance. After fifteen years of friendship, I hoped she could read my thoughts about the situation. Two women facing each other with our only escape route blocked by four men for an entire twelve hours. If anything crazy goes down we’ll break the windows and hop out of the speeding train like some extras from the Wild Wild West. Until then, we resigned ourselves to the uncomfortable, non-reclining seats and slept with one eye open, clutching our bags all the way to Milan’s regional station.

After a whirlwind tour with stops in Rome, Naples, Capri, Pompeii, Florence and Venice we settled into Milan for the last leg of our legendary Italian circuit. We were ready to rest our worn-out bodies, let loose and have some fun. From retracing the footsteps of gladiators in Rome, gazing in awe at the masterpiece that is Michelangelo’s ‘Book of Genesis’ painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and sailing the blue canals of Venice, we truly felt Italy’s spirit. Centuries of history, architecture, artwork and culture all preserved. But Milan was different – we landed in a metropolis, with colder temperatures, gloomy overcast skies, crowds of people zig-zagging along narrow walkways, mediocre food, and very little personality. Like Paris and New York City, Milan is known for fashion, finance, luxury and nightlife but unfortunately is the least exciting of the three. Be that as it may, if you happen to be in the area, here are some things you can do in between fashion shows and trips to Tom Ford.

Visit the Duomo cathedral. This is Milan’s centerpiece and most popular monument. Tourists are free to enter and can go up to the roof for a better view of the city. Next, go shopping in the main shopping district in Milan which is walking distance from the Duomo, called Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The area is filled with mid to luxury range boutiques from the GAP to Armani but you will only find Gucci, Louis, Fendi, and Prada at the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the Duomo.  When it’s time to eat, head over to Pizzeria Rocking Horse in Corso Como for their famous pies and bruschetta. As an aside, a gentleman who was chatting me up revealed that many dishes at high-traffic restaurants in Milan are not made to order, but are pre-cooked, refrigerated and re-heated. So, if you want something fresh, go for the pizza. A night out on the town can be epic in Corso Como, the popular nightlife district, if you go on the right night. Clubs usually charge at the door and offer a free drink on entry.

If you’re not too tired from fist-pumping to electronic beats all night, grab a 24-hour subway pass the next morning and ride the metro around Milan for a day. You can hop off and on at random stops and explore different pockets of the city on your own terms. Try to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s  ‘Last Supper’ painting on one of your stops. It is one of the most famous religious works of art in the world but visitors will need to make an online ticket reservation at least one month in advance or connect with a licensed group tour guide to gain entry – same day visits are not allowed. Lastly, remember that many business and tourist sites are closed on Sundays and Mondays so check days of operation before heading out.

Why doesn’t it sound glamorous? Because it is like any other city in any other country with luxury boutiques, mid-range stores, Zaras and H&Ms lining busy streets filled with label-conscious shopaholics. Consumerism and materialism take center stage, while the rustic Italian charm we had come to expect was completely overshadowed. Oh but the people are beautiful! Dark hair, pale skin and rail thin model-esque specimens own the streets – and why wouldn’t they? Milan is Italy’s modern city, its fashion capital and the home of Prada, Versace and Guiseppe Zanotti. But if you’re an up-and-coming gal like me, whose profession is lucrative but not yet celebrity, Milan is just a place with a bunch of stores that a vast majority of visitors can barely afford to shop in. If you’re looking for things that cannot be found on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the only saving grace may be the tiny shops or local flea markets around Milan where you can buy thrifty vintage gear. Catch them while you can though, since street markets only open on random days during the week like Tuesdays and Sundays.

Overall, Milan is like the chick you bang and never call again. She has some good qualities but you really don’t care if you ever see her again – you would rather go on a date with Florence or marry Venice. That’s the thing about having high expectations and making comparisons, they are never completely fair because they are founded on an individual’s preconceptions and limited experiences. As a wise man once said, accept things as they are and look realistically at the world around you. Reality is, when you go looking for excitement, sometimes you don’t find it.

 

Subira Willock spills the travel tea as the creator of Black Travel Snob, a travel lifestyle brand for the hip-hop generation. Follow @blacktravelsnob on Twitter and Instagram or visit btsnob.com for photos and more stories.

Before I Die: Journey o the Ancient City of Pompeii

November 17th, 2014 - By Subira Willock
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Dr. Greene had a way with words and an unforgettable presence. Always dressed in earth-toned suits with his stark white hair neatly combed back, one hand on his walking stick and the other clutching the overhead projector’s clicker. When he dimmed the lights of the fifth floor Art History room, everyone knew it was lecture time. Personal photographs and slides of classical paintings from Monet to Van Gogh, from Greek and Roman neoclassical architecture to contemporary art. Dr. Greene was by far the most travelled man I had ever known and an incredible storyteller. As a college freshman whose travel experience consisted of flying back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago and New York City, it never occurred to me that I would ever visit any of the places he had been. His lectures fascinated me, not only in historical context, but because so much information about the artists’ personalities was injected into each narrative. The day he shared memories of his first visit to the lost city of Pompeii was a turning point. The images and details of an event so catastrophic that it buried thousands of people alive and wiped two thriving communities off the map for centuries, haunted me and remained in my subconscious for many years. Pompeii became the one place I had to visit before I die.

Almost eight years later, retracing Dr. Greene’s footsteps through the winding hallways of the Louvre Museum in Paris, anticipating my first glimpse of Nike’s statue in all her headless glory and Mona Lisa sitting behind her glass enclosure in a crowded room. Gazing up at the coffered dome of the Pantheon in Rome, rubbing my hands on the rough bricks of the Coloseum where ancient gladiators perished, until finally my feet touched the smooth cobblestone streets of Pompeii.

The inspiration to achieve anything may come from one event, or a number of experiences. For me, the murder of my 16 year old best friend two weeks after I moved from Trinidad to New York and the sudden death of my only sister four years later on her 26th birthday forced me to come to terms with my own mortality. We are so busy worrying about our future lives, that we often forget that some of us may not have the luxury of making it to old age. For that reason, my decision to start crossing things off my bucket list carried me halfway across the world to Italy.

Everyone loves a great story. One that captures the imagination, ignites our emotions and leaves us wanting to know more. But in 79 AD, at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, the story of the residents of Pompeii and Herculaneum in what was then the Roman Empire, was written as their lives came to a horrifying end. Thousands of people went from going about their daily lives to being buried by a sea of hot, molten lava and toxic ash. They tried to escape, but could not get far. Herculaneum’s close proximity to Vesuvius meant that its residents died instantly as the intense heat boiled the flesh right off of their bones. While, gusts of wind from the crater’s explosion rained clouds of toxic ash down onto Pompeii’s residents suffocating every living thing and burying the entire town under 20 feet of volcanic debris.

On the morning we visited Pompeii, the skies were dark and gloomy as if in mourning. The cold, torrential downpour did not dampen our spirits or that of our animated Italian guide as he escorted a group of twenty-something foreigners through the soggy maze of ancient streets. As I stood in a puddle, in the main forum, among remnants of damaged marble columns, broken structures and mosaic tile, I tried to imagine what it was like to live there almost 2,000 years ago. As a young Pompeiian, hurrying to meet my friends at the bathhouse, watching a play at the open-air theatre, grabbing a bite to eat at one of the roadside eateries or spying on the imprisoned gladiators as they trained in the stadium; when suddenly I hear a roaring BOOM. As I spin around to see where the noise came from, a cloud of black smoke quickly covers me until I take my final breath.

But I didn’t need to imagine very much. Preserved remains of human bodies were carved out of the hardened ash when Pompeii was rediscovered in the 16th century. In all manner of positions, crouching down with arms outstretched, engaging in sexual acts at the brothel, even household pets were found in the exact positions in which they had died. Today, these human castes are displayed in glass cases around Pompeii as a reminder of those who lived and died in the great eruption of 79 AD.

But I could not leave without doing one last thing. It was part of the reason I had traveled all the way to Italy and would go down as one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We could barely see the cone of Vesuvius looming up above, through the overcast skies. As if to say “come closer,” we piled back into the van and began our quest to meet ‘Vesuvio.’

On the winding drive up to the top, there are now posh townhouses and gated residences. The threat of this deadly volcano and the thousands of lives lost in past eruptions did not deter brave Italians from laying their heads at the foot of a beast. As we drove higher and higher, our guide explained that Vesuvio was overdue for an eruption and that if we received word of seismic activity while at the crater, they would make their best attempts to evacuate us. With altitude sickness kicking in, I said a quick prayer for our safe return.

When the van could go no further, we began the steep 45 minute hike up to the gaping crater of Vesuvio. At the top of the most famous active volcano in the world, overlooking the Bay of Naples, with the gaseous smell of sulphuric steam filling our lungs, I asked Nicole where was the one place in the world she wanted to go before she died – because this is it for me.

Now what?

 

 

Subira Willock is the creator of Black Travel Snob, a travel lifestyle brand that spills the tea on the world’s most popular destinations. Follow @blacktravelsnob on Twitter and Instagram or visit btsnob.com for more stories.

 

 

 

 

Prada Unveils Harlem Renaissance Inspired Stores In Milan

February 20th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Prada

Prada

 

From StyleBlazer

Right in time for Black History Month, two of Prada’s stores will be recast in the image of the Harlem Renaissance at the brand’s Via Montenapoleone men’s and women’s boutiques in Milan, Italy.

The project is a part of Prada’s “Iconoclast” series originally launched in 2009 where fashion heavyweights such as Alex White, Olivier Rizzo, Carine Roitfeld and Katie Grand have reimagined Prada boutiques in the four fashion capitals: New York, London, Paris and Milan.

This time around, Prada has tapped Edward Enninful, W Magazine’s Style & Fashion Director, to “share his vision” in outfitting the store with a 1920s cool that features a Harlem Renaissance motif.

“The event is meant as a celebration of Miuccia Prada’s incredible work. Hopefully people will leave the event with a smile on their face,” Enninful told Style.com. “It is a very joyful moment, and I hope that people will be inspired by the men’s and women’s collections, the installations in each store, and the culturally inclusive direction of this moment in the Iconoclasts series.”

Read more on Prada at StyleBlazer.com 

Introducing The “Legends”: John Legend And Chrissy Teigen Married In Italy!

September 15th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"JohnChrissy"

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Many would say this has been a long time coming, but we can officially say that John Legend and Chrissy Teigen married on Saturday in Europe.

According to PEOPLE, the couple were married in Lake Como, Italy in front of family and friends.  While no “official” pictures have been released, the paparazzi was able to snap one photo of the couple during their ceremony. Chrissy posted a picture of the gown Sunday morning on Instagram. It was designed by Vera Wang and had an open back, lifted tulle skirt and hand-cut petal embroidered details. Beautiful!

"Chrissy Teigen"

Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram

For the reception, Chrissy changed into a second Vera dress, this  one in an ivory color featuring a micro-pleated bodice and sheared organza full skirt. For the after party dress – yes, there was an after party dress – Chrissy wore a crimson Vera Wang strapless mermaid gown with a hand-draped bodice, inverted flange skirt and embroidered crystal wheat detail.

The details about John’s suit have yet to be disclosed.

One of the highlights of the day was likely when John sang “All Of Me” in dedication to his new bride. The song, written specifically for Chrissy, can be found on his new album Love In The Future and is a tearjerker.

We’re sure the couple, together since 2006 and engaged since 2011, had a great time partying while eating a multi-layer cake full of crepe, pastry creme and raspberry sauce.

Congratulations to John and Chrissy, the new Mr. & Mrs. Stephens!

International Racism: Bananas Thrown At Italy’s First Black Minster

July 30th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Just the other day I was visiting Clutch reading about racism in Egypt. Apparently, black Egyptians whether immigrants or Nubians (the native people of Egypt) feel they are often face discrimination. I found that particularly disheartening because  not only had I just visited Egypt and been assured, by Arab Egyptians, that such a thing didn’t exist there; it also seemed that if there were one place in the world where racism wouldn’t be an issue, it would be in Egypt. After all, there is undeniable proof that the ancient Egyptians who were able to accomplish astounding feats, even by today’s standards, were black. But alas, they still endure racism. It makes you wonder, as one Clutch commenter mentioned, is there any place in the world where black people aren’t demonized? (I’ll let you think on that one.)

So, I guess it’s no surprise that Italy’s first black minister, Integration minister Cecile Kyenge, would also experience racism.

As we’ve reported before, Kyenge has been a  target of racism since her appointment in April. But it all came to a head when Kyenge, a woman born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was giving a speech on a campaign to make it easier for immigrants to gain Italian citizenship.

This campaign has angered several members of a right-winged group called Forza Nuova. At the site of the rally the group left mannequins covered in fake blood. They were protesting Kyenge’s efforts to make anyone born on Italian soil a citizen.

Pamphlets that contained the phrase “Immigration Kills” also accompanied the dummies.

While Kyenge was speaking the group threw bananas that missed the stage.

Kyenge responded to the racially motivated incident on Twitter, calling it sad and a waste of food. She also said, “The courage and optimism to change things has to come above all from the bottom up to reach the institutions.”

Several of Kyenge’s colleagues stepped forward to publicly condemn the actions as well.

The Veneto region governor, Luca Zaia had this to say:

“Throwing bananas, personal insults … acts like these play no part in the civilized and democratic discussion needed between the minister and those who don’t share her opinion,”

Make no mistake, though acts of racism are nothing new for blacks living all over the world, we still have a right and a duty even to be outraged by these heinous incidents.

Source

R.I.P.: ‘Sopranos’ Actor James Gandolfini Dead At 51

June 19th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

From TMZ

James Gandolfini who famously played Tony Soprano on “The Sopranos” — died earlier today in Italy … TMZ has learned.

Gandolfini is believed to have suffered a heart attack. He was 51.

Gandolfini was in Italy to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily — and he was scheduled to participate in a festival event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino.

Gandolfini shot to fame playing a hitman in the 1993 hit “True Romance” … and quickly became a Hollywood legend when he was cast as Tony Soprano in 1999.  He won 3 Emmy awards for the role during the show’s 6 season run.

Read more on TMZ.com.

Isn’t It Cheaper To Keep Her? Former Italian Premier To Pay $48 Million Annually To Ex-Wife!

December 29th, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Berlusconi Lario pf"

VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

No, you aren’t the only one speechless.

The divorce of Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his second wife Veronica Lario recently became final and an Italian paper has all the final details.  According to the NY Daily News, Berlusconi will pay Lario $4 million per month in alimony. He gets to keep the estate.

Now for the record, Berlusconi is a billionaire media tycoon and this year, he was named Forbes’ sixth wealthiest man in Italy with a net worth of $5.9 billion and probably still growing).  So he certainly has the means to cut this type of a check every month but this is certainly a wallop of a hit!

Berlusconi and Lario were married in 1990 and married for 19 years when Lario announced she was divorcing Berlusconi in 2009. She cited his presence at an 18 year old girl’s birthday party as her primary reason for the divorce.  She also stated that, in general, he has a “fondness” for young girls. The couple has three adult children (sidenote: all of whom were born while he was still married to his first wife…messy).

So far, no comments have been made by Lario, Berlusconi or their respective lawyers. But really, what is there to say?

By the way, Berlusconi is 76 years old and is currently dating a woman who is almost 50 years younger than him. Wow.

Heidi Who? Seal Looks Like He Has a New Boo

July 6th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: TMZ.com

For someone who didn’t want to get divorced—and who was telling that same story to every news outlet who would listen back in February—Seal sure didn’t take much time moving on from his soon-to-be ex-wife, Heidi Klum.

Pictures of him with another woman purposely being photographed (you can see a friend taking candids in some paparazzi shots) on a yacht somewhere in Italy certainly tell a thousand words, namely, I don’t care who knows or I hope these get back to Heidi. At this point in the game, it’s only been four months since Heidi and Seal announced their split, which by most accounts means it’s awfully soon to have replaced your wife of seven years. But then again, he seemed to not be the one drafted the papers in the first place so maybe this unnamed brunette is his way of coping.

Seal has been pretty mum about his pending divorce since people started questioning why he was running his mouth so much when Heidi hadn’t said a thing, but in a recent interview he told USA Today:

“I’m in an excellent place right now. In a situation like this, your priority is the children. As long as the children are happy, I’m happy.”

He certainly looks happy on that yacht. Check out more pics on TMZ. What do you think about Seal possibly moving on with a new woma already?

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for madamenoire.com. Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

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WINE DOWN: The Best White Wines To Sip For Summer – EDITOR PICKS

June 2nd, 2012 - By Rashana A. Hooks
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Because there is much more to wine than Moscato, I felt the need to share some of the best vino selections for your summer time sipping. Chilled white wine is perfect for this sun filled season so grab a glass and get ready to wine down…

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BFFs Beyonce and Gwyneth Taking Kids on Family Vacation

March 6th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Swagger New York

Beyonce is just about ready to get back to work on the numerous projects she has lined up for 2012, but not before she gets in one last vacation retreat. Bey and her BFF Gwyneth Paltrow are reportedly planning a relaxing mommy getaway in Tuscany and their bringing their kids Blue Ivy, Apple, and Moses along too. According to MTV UK,

“They’re planning daily yoga sessions at a private five-star villa, which has its own pool… And the pair will get stuck into a menu of Gwyneth’s favorite organic grub while they are away.”

Beyonce has already supposedly been taking Blue, who’s just about 2 months old, to baby yoga classes thanks to Gwyn’s recommendation so sessions at the Italian villa sound perfect for the mother-daughter pair. Maybe the singer and actress will work out Bey’s upcoming role in One Hit Wonders while they’re away too. Either way this vacay sounds fantastic!

If you could go anywhere in the world for a post-baby retreat where would you choose?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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