Well that's it for 2016 folks. It has been a hoot and a half, that's for sure. I highly doubt that the next year will be able to live up to the last, so many happy things defined my 2016: getting married, seeing my dearest friends and family altogether in Italy, getting married...! And as you probably know, we closed it off with a bang: the blog won the BEST NEW BLOG award from Italy Magazine! This is truly, madly, deeply, one of the greatest honors that an expat in Italy blogger like myself can be given and I'm really so happy, even more so with the fact that maybe we will have more exposure and I can get to connect with more of you living abroad, living in Italy, or dreaming of doing the former two. In the end, that was my greatest hope for the blog, to put our shared experiences into words and help prepare others for the journey! Speaking of journeys, I just came back from one yesterday. Massi and I spent "capodanno" (which technically is the first day of the year because it comes from "capo d'anno", but is typically used to refer to New Year's Eve celebrations) in Ferrara, Italy, a city in the region of Emilia-Romagna. Ferrara is actually reknowned for its New Year's Eve festivities, mainly for the iconic "incendio del castello" (castle-on-fire) where a wonderful fireworks display is coordinated around the Castello Estense in the center of the city. It involves not only traditional fireworks being shot-off from the four towers, but also a cascade of fireworks that pours over the castle walls- combined with smoke and flashing lights, it really seems like the castle is "on fire".
We spent the first part of the afternoon walking aimlessly around the city which usually results in us somehow hitting all the major sights and landmarks anyways, one of which is the building above, Palazzo dei Diamanti (referencing diamonds for obvious reasons). This building is particular stunning to see in person, the play of lights and angles is amazing considering it was conceived in 1493. It started to get rather chilly (for Italy) as the sun set, so we took that as indication to huddle in a streetfood kiosk (called Take Eat Easy) with some ice-cold IPA. We then started the arduous task of trying to find somewhere to eat. For New Year's Eve, Italians typically participate in what is called a "cenone" which is just a way to say "big, important dinner". This usually involves going out or staying in with your friends and eating an excessive amount which is like every other Friday night in Italy anyways, so what's the big deal you ask? Probably that if you go out, restaurants have a set menu and start taking reservations in advance. So armed with this knowledge, of course we waited until hours before to start asking around to make a reservation...with zero luck. Every restaurant in Ferrara was AL COMPLETO, FULLY BOOKED. It got to the point where restaurants were putting up makeshift signs so they wouldn't have to repeat it to the umpteenth clueless tourist. We were completely at a loss and contemplating having a kebab when a miracle happened. We were able to secure a table for two at a Chinese restaurant just steps from the castle. If you asked our fellow Italian diners, they would probably tell you it was a horrendous experience, but I, on the other hand, found it delightful. The restaurant had managed to jam in another forty people in its basement, with no emergency exit and no way of even walking between tables. The food was late and didn't follow a particular order, the waiters had no idea what was happening, and only one employee (the restaurant owner's son) spoke Italian. But, we ended up paying 20 Euros a person and the wine was unlimited. Let me repeat, the wine was UNLIMITED. So Massi and I had a grand ole' time, watched the fireworks happy as two clams, and danced until I couldn't take anymore Euro dance music (circa an hour is about my limit). I apologize, the photos are in reverse (so as you scroll down, you'll see the start of our trip).
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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