Tag Archives: spring

The River Dora, Turin

Green grass and pots of ragù and day-to-day life.

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had lots of ideas for blog posts and nowhere near enough time or energy to turn any of them into reality. So this week will truly be a collection of snippets…


I often feel odd writing about the truly day-to-day stuff of living in Italy, especially since I know many of my friends here read this blog (hi guys!) and I can imagine them rolling their eyes and saying, “yeah, we know how to buy bread, duh.” But of course many of you don’t live here (why ever not??) so one of these days I should write a post about the process of getting a haircut when you don’t really speak Italian very well and the stylist doesn’t really care what you ask for anyway, because it’s fairly hilarious.

Also, a question for those of you who are better at Being an Adult than I am: do you trim your own fringe (bangs)? I do, because it feels silly to pay someone else to do it when I am in possession of a pair of scissors, a bathroom mirror, and only slightly below-average fine motor skills, but does this make me uncouth?


Last week was the Jazz Festival, and like I do every year, I fully intended to go to many concerts and ended up going to one. Or, half of one. I had a couple of house guests and we’d agreed to meet up Friday night at the free concert on Piazza Castello. The music was great, but after about 15 minutes, V. turned to me and said, “You know, this is really the sort of music you should listen to sitting down, with a glass of wine in your hand” — miming holding a stemmed glass — “not standing out here in the cold.”

So 10 minutes later the three of us decided to go back to my place and drink wine, instead.

(This is how many of my attempts at cultural experiences end up.)


My grand — and possibly only — achievement this weekend: I made a big pot of ragù and filled up a collection of freezer tubs so Future Me can eat nutritious food even when she can’t be bothered cooking. (Future Me is always so needy, geez.) I used this recipe (in Italian), because I was intrigued by the inclusion of milk and the use of white wine — I think I like it! And not just because I’ve got enough of the stuff to feed me for weeks…

Actually, the best achievement wasn’t making the ragù, it was realizing that I could roughly chop the carrot/celery/onion, and then throw it in the food processor to get a fine dice. I think this is something people who cook have known about since approximately the invention of food processors, but as a not-very-Adult person who trims her own fringe and doesn’t own a proper kitchen knife, this is a revelation.


If you’re friends with me on Facebook you’ve already been subjected to this joke but:

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What, by driving a truck?


Finally, a question for locals — has this Spring been more green than last year, or am I imagining it? Somehow, last year was all about the blue of the sky, but this year I have become very aware of the green of the leaves of the plane trees visible in my bedroom window, and the grass as I walk through Giardini Reali or along the Dora river.

My two guesses at rational explanations are: 1. I really am imagining it; and 2. there was so little rain last year things were actually less green. Any other suggestions?

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Spring in Baltimore

Notes from my extremely glamorous life: Spring!

It’s grey and rainy here in Turin — must be spring! Though to be honest, after a year of nearly non-stop dry weather, the rain is a welcome change.

We’ll see if I’m still saying that after it rains all week like it’s forecast to.

Actually, the rain is making me a bit nostalgic. I arrived in Turin 4 years ago this month, during an April where it rained every day except one. (I kept track.) I had been in Turin for weeks before I realized the Alps were close enough to be visible, because they were covered with clouds the entire time. I wondered what on earth I’d gotten myself in for. I said things like, “Well if this is what the weather’s going to be like, why don’t I just move back to Scotland where at least the beer is good?”

In the end, things worked out, and I made friends and I’ve come to love this city, even if the weather here is frequently terrible.

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How could you not love this?

(By the way: If we’re counting milestones, it’s not just 4 years since I moved to Turin, it’s 5 years(!) since I accidentally moved abroad. Woah.)

Even with the rain, it does feel like spring here. It’s noticeably warmer, and the trees are blossoming and budding leaves. Of course I haven’t gotten around to getting a photo of this in Turin yet, so the picture for this post is from Baltimore the other week.

Fortunately, I don’t get hayfever, with one exception. On International Women’s Day in early March, the tradition in Italy is to give women wattle flowers. There’s a whole separate blog post that could be written about “getting flowers” vs “getting equality”, but I have a more immediate complaint about the practice: I am allergic to the flowers. Sitting on the tram in the evening of March 8, with every woman on board carrying a sprig of wattle bloom, was a rather eye-watering, itchy-nosed experience.

(Also eye-watering was the terrible pun thread that resulted when I posted about this on facebook, starting with, “Wattle you do, Zoe?” and going downhill from there to a horrifying low from my own mother of, “Aunty Hesta means to provide her some relief soon”. Muuuuum!)

In other nose-related news, though: I was at my friends’ annual Easter Monday barbeque last week, and I could smell the meat cooking. This was quite exciting, because a) it was delicious, and b) last year, I wondered why everyone was so politely talking up how good the food smelt when there was clearly no odour coming off the barbeque — this was just before I realised I’d lost my sense of smell. So… Progress!

Piazza Castello, Turin

Counting my blessings, in no particular order.

I had the most cliche moment on the bus the other day.

I was sitting there thinking about all the annoying things that had gone on that week, I’m tired and my bank’s being a pain about sending me a new atm card and my water heater’s carked it and I have to book a follow-up MRI in a medical beaurocracy I don’t understand at all and and and… And — I know this is on made-for-TV movie level — I looked out the window and it was the clearest sunniest afternoon I’ve ever seen in Torino, the sky was cloudless and the mountains looked like they were just down the street and I realized, I really do have it pretty good. Imagine me looking out the window, and suddenly breaking into a grin, maybe add some inspiring background music.

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