In Erice…

I guess by now you know that each summer for the past four yeas, Gonzo and me spent traveling trough Italy with this amazing film festival for young filmmakers called CinemadaMare. Now, CdM holds an event every winter called “Waiting for CdM” where they invite filmmakers who have previously participated and evaluated the past summer, hold workshops, plan new projects and enjoy being together. Usually only Italians are invited, as otherwise it would simply be too difficult to organise: but hey, I live in Italy now too!

So when I got the official invitation-text message, I cheekily replied with “I’m in, and Gonzo too!” – So they had no choice! 😉

This year the “Waiting” was held in Erice in Sicily, where last summer Gonzo and me shot one of our loveliest movies and where I have a lot of very nice memories.

Last Wednesday Gonzo flew in from London and on Friday, at four in the morning (!) we met up with the other choosen guys at Termini station, had cornetto stuffed with nutella to kickstart our energies and then we all took the plane to Trapani together. Everything was organized for us and it basically felt like one big school trip!

Erice is a beautiful little world heritage village at the top of a (or perhaps the only?) mountain in the very south of Sicily, overlooking the sea. Did I say that it’s beautiful? Because it definitely is!
It was absolutely lovely weather all weekend long, but also absolutely freezing! I have no idea how the Italians do it, but I think I was constantly cold, even in the youth hostel. I guess the heating in our room was just there for decoration…

Anyway, we had a good time! We ate so much! I think we ate more than we worked! Every day we had freshly baked cornetti for breakfast (with Viennese coffee!) and a three course lunch, one night the local gastronomy school cooked a seven course gala dinner for us and the local pizzeria offered us a special deal – you get me, right?

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It was nice to have a little pre-Christmas get-away with Gonzo and all our friends who are usually filed as “summer” in our brains.

It was funny thought to see the cobblestone streets, overlooking the sea, decorated in christmas lights and a massive futuristic Christmas tree on the main piazza – in a place that means “summer, gelato, cannoli and holiday” to me. Now I’m ready for a proper snowy, mountain-y and Austrian Christmas!

XX, Angie

Roman Advent Adventures: Gingerbread

I made gingerbread! For the very first time actually and I am really quite proud: I precisely followed the instructions of the recipe of my grandmother and I have to say that they turned out amazing! The whole flat smells like Christmas and the gingerbread tastes like home.  ❤

Funnily gingerbread is not a known thing in Italy. Some know gingerbread men from american movies or the gingerbread house from fairytales. But most are completely oblivious to it; just like my flatmate who had no idea what I was talking about when I told her about my baking plans for the weekend and who never tasted gingerbread in her life – but when she did, her eyes widened and she said “but… it’s like christmas to eat!”

I prepared the dough on Friday evening and spent all Saturday afternoon making and baking the actual cookies. And that’s the result:

I wish you could smell my flat right now!
(another grandma-level unlocked!)

XX, a very proud Angie

Roman Advent Adventures – Let there be light!

At the beginning of the week we wrote the first exam and after getting back to having a (social) life after weeks of studying, I went for a walk in the centre of Rome and noticed that over the last couple of days the streets have filled up with christmas decorations and lights – but they were not yet switched on!
I found that very peculiar, as the first Sunday of advent as well as the 1st of December have passed already. And what do you do in a foreign land when confronted with confusing local behavior? Right, you ask the locals!  And so I learned that the starting signal for all kinds of Christmas decoration in Italy is officially the 8th of December. It’s a holiday, so people stay home, put up and decorate the trees and get that festive spirit going – and the streets officially get illuminated.

Knowing this, yesterday evening I went out to explore festive Rome. The first stop was a Christmas market near Flaminio. Well, it was a crafts market with a lot of fairy lights and some Sicilian street food stands outside, to be honest. It was absolutely lovely, the whole venue was full of lights and looked very whimsical – but it was by no way a Christmas market: no mulled wine, no sausages, not cold enough. 😛
Next up was Via del Corso – and oh yes! Now we are talking Christmas: the whole street was covered with lights all the way down to Piazza Venezia and all the shops had festive decorations in the windows. I felt so happy walking under the fairy lights munching some castagne (roasted chestnuts) which just taste so christmassy and also kept my fingers warm. The street was full of people and I was very pleased that I didn’t have to do any crazy Christmas shopping!
After seeing the tree at Piazza Venezia and passing by Fontana di Trevi (which is not decorated in any way, but simply very beautiful at night) I went to Piazza Spagna, where a firework tree is gracing the steps: it’s animated lights that give the impression of fireworks in Christmas tree shape. It looks very impressive but I can’t decide wether it’s beautiful or tacky!

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Christmassy Rome: check!

To finish off the evening I returned home and warmed myself up with a hot tea with proper christmassy spices and all!

XX, Angie

Roman Advent Adventures

Even being far from home, I try to maintain Austrian christmas and advent traditions, such as making an Adventkranz (advent wreath) and baking cookies.

For the past couple of years I successfully managed to create a round construct with four candles at all the flats I’ve lived in – and had to explain it’s meaning and purpose more than once.
This year though I decided to wouldn’t make one – mainly for the more practical reason that our flat is rather small and honestly there’s no space to put a “space-occupying candle-stuffed” object other than the kitchen table, which in fact is already overloaded with stuff that doesn’t necessarily belong on a kitchen table. So you get my point, right? Also, I’m gonna spend one weekend of advent in Sicily and on the 22nd I’ll depart to Austria anyway… So I figured I would be better this way.
KerzenII.jpgBut I actally really miss it! :/ I miss the peacefulness that lies in lighting a candle every Sunday until Christmas and I realized that I like having an Adventkranz around, as kind of a visual reminder that it’s advent and that actually you are supposed to calm down your crazy life, which we mostly forget these days to be honest.

Well, as I couldn’t do without any candles at all, I got this nifty advent-calendar-candle as a substitute, and some really amazing christmassy scented candles from Muji – so at least I’ll be lighting candles. And next year there’s gonna be an advent wreath, no matter where I’ll be or the conditions of the flat, I promise!

I hope you have a clam and peaceful advent!

XX, Angie