Let us all pretend that today is the 32nd day of January 2019 and not comment about how I skipped posting our Flyaway Friday feature. Real life keeps tripping my schedules. Anyway I am here for my Philippines special Flyaway Friday!
This week we have Jennilyn of Rurouni Jenni Reads talking about her life in the Philippines and to tell us about everything we need to know for our virtual travel. Thank you Jenny!
Say hello to Jennilyn, fellow travellers!
Jennilyn is a Filipina who loves books, braids, cats and cakes. She is an accountant IRL but she secretly wants to become a famous frog someday. Like so many of her countrymen, she is an ace karaoke singer. Her favorite color is green.
Hello to everyone here at Elgee Writes! I am Jennilyn, your friendly book blogger at Rurouni Jenni Reads. In this guest post, let me talk to you about my beautiful and beloved country, Philippines!
Experience the Filipino hospitality
If there is one Filipino trait that I can be most proud about, it’s our hospitality. We are a bunch of warm, helpful and smiling people. We make such a fuss when we have visitors over, whether it be our own Filipino relatives or foreigners. Filipinos give our best to our visitors. If we are expecting guests, we make sure to clean the house thoroughly. If our visitors are staying the night, we give up the best room in the house even if that means that we have to sleep on the couch o on the floor.
Another aspect of our hospitality is how we willingly open our home to anyone. When you visit a Filipino home during mealtimes, it is imperative for the homeowners to say, “Tara, kain!” which means, “Let’s eat!”. We would gladly welcome an unexpected guest to dine with us even if we actually do not have enough food to share around.
Filipinos are foodies
Our original Filipino cuisines, sinigang and adobo, are my favorite food. Sinigang is either a pork or seafood broth soured by tamarind or any local citrus fruits. I always ask my mother to cook sinigang for me when I am sick.
Adobo is pork, chicken or fish braised in soy sauce and vinegar. Eating sinigang, adobo or any other Filipino ulam (dish) is always accompanied with sumptuous helpings of rice. A meal isn’t a meal here without rice. Our sacred food motto is “Rice is life.”
Our home cooking has also various foreign influences. From the Chinese, we have pancit (stir fried noodles topped with meat and veggies) and lumpia (spring rolls). Pancit is a staple in Filipino birthday celebrations because our elders believe that eating pancit gives the celebrator a long life. From the Spanish, we have tomato based dishes: afritada and menudo.
Our use of vetsin (monosodium glutamate) as seasoning and our halo-halo (shaved ice topped with different sweet preserves, plus milk) have Japanese influences. And of course, our love for burgers, fried chicken and pizza is influenced by the Americans. We have American fast food joints here like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. But no Filipino fastfood experiene is complete without eating in Jollibee, a homegrown fastfood joint.
Pro tip: Jollibee’s sweet and saucy spaghetti is a must-try.
Go Ghetto, if you wish
If you wanna go ghetto, we have an amazing array of street food. Some of my favorites are kwek-kwek (deep fried quail eggs in orange batter), taho (silk tofu with sago pearls in brown caramel sauce) and isaw (grilled chicken intestines). If you want your street food on the exotic side, you should try our balut (boiled fertilized duck egg).
A love-hate relationship with city life
I am born and raised in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. If you want to feel our country’s history, Intramuros is the place to go. Food tripping in Binondo is also an something that you shouldn’t miss. You can roam around Binondo all year-round but better visit during the Lunar/Chinese New Year to witness the celebrations of our Filipino-Chinese community.
On weekends, some Filipino families go on picnis on public parks like Luneta and the Quezon City Circle. But more often because it’s too hot outside, we flock in droves to airconditioned malls. And by golly, we have plenty of malls here.
There’s lots to love in the city but there are also lots of stuff that we have to improve on. Our cities are overpopulated because people in the province migrate here in the hopes of better job opportunities. Where there is overpopulation, there is loitering and littering and a higher crime rate. I admit that I’ve been pickpocketed more than once, lol. The commute and traffic is also a daily struggle.
Visit our tropical tourist destinations
Manila is not only the place to be in our country. The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands and that means lots of island-hopping and beach-bumming. I am personally a fan of travelling our own country.
I have already gone to the beaches in Batangas (which is only a few hours drive from Manila) and Palawan (less than an hour plane-ride from Manila). I have also gone sight-seeing in Bohol and white-water rafting in Cagayan de Oro and I honestly can’t get enough of our tourist spots. I intend to save more for future travels in my own country before I save up for travel overseas.
Our claim to fame
Filipinos tend to have this fascinating proud moment when fellow Filipinos achieve something internationally. It’s a nice trait to be proud of our own but sometimes we can get all intense that even me gets weirded out. Like whenever a Filipino wins a boxing match or a Filipina nabs the crown of a beauty pageant, the Internet better brace itself for a flurry of #PinoyPride posts and comments. It’s as if one Filipino’s success is the achievement of the whole nation.
We even rejoice in the most mundane things in pop culture that mentions us or our country. A contestant in a talent show abroad has .00315% drop of Filipino blood and we’re like, yaaas #PinoyPride! A South Korean girl group waves our flag in their music vid(eo) and we go, yay #PinoyPride!
But if you ask me, there is no better depiction of the Philippines in films and books than the films and books created by Filipinos. And since I am a book blogger, let me recommend a few books by Filipino authors.
Almost all Filipinos are bilingual. In Manila, locals speak Tagalog and English. We use English in business correspondences and in classrooms, then we use Tagalog in our household and in our casual conversations. Some Filipinos can even speak in more than two tongues. My mother for instance, also knows Kapampangan and Bicol, two dialects from our provinces.
Even if we know English well, we Filipinos are endeared by foreigners who can speak our native tongue. So to end my guest post, let me teach you some basic Filipino that you can use when you visit our country in the future. It’s important to note that we pronounce our words exactly as spelled and our vowels are all short vowels.
Mabuhay! = A general greeting that literally translates to “long live” but can be used as “hello”
Kamusta? = How are you?
Salamat. = Thank you
Pasensya na. = Sorry.
Yes – Oo (informal). Opo (formal)
No – Hindi (informal). Hindi po (formal)
Thank you Jenny!
That is all for now folks and I cannot thank Jennilyn enough for providing the images and videos along with her post. Seriously this is fabulous girl. And you know what girl, I might actually visit your nation one of these days, just to be a beach bum!
I would love it if you guys give a shout out to her through her social accounts!
Philippines is a South East Asian country sharing maritime borders with Taiwan, Vietnam, Palau, Malaysia and Singapore. A map would explain better than me, right?
Major cities in Philippines
Let us cover the basics right away
More Trivia coming up!
Here are ten more things that to know before we start on our virtual travel.
1) Philippines is the world’s second largest archipelago, meaning large group of islands and it consists of about 7500+ islands. Only about 2000 and odd are inhibited and the rest may not even have a name on the Atlas.
2) The people of Philippines are called Filipino (male) or Filipina (female) and many of them are fluent in English. In fact Philippines is the fifth largest English-speaking nation.
3) However, they have more than 180 languages, most of them are still living. One of the majorly spoken language is Tagalog and it is influenced by Spanish, who ruled the nation for a really long time.
4) If you ever visit to Philippines, you will find many colorful tricycles and Jeepneys (modified Jeeps) for local commutes, more than cabs or Uber.
Have ever travelled in a Jeepney? If you visit Philippines you can. Learn more about the country in our weekly feature Flyaway Friday.
I am so excited today to write today’s post as we have Camilla as our guest blogger from Italy under our Flyaway Friday feature. She is a straight shooter and her answers are not sugar coated. I loved reading them and learned so much about the country. I will hand it over to her.
Hello, I’m Camilla. A 24 years old Italian currently living in Rome. I’m a fashion student, a writer when find time and calm mind, warrior reader, your proud in plain sight but also in the closet ace girl. And your nice and bitter blogger at The Reader in the Attic.
1) What do you think is exotic about Italy?
You want me to be honest? That’s difficult. I always lived in Italy, every thing the culture is made of is normal and everyday thing.
Okay, one thing… is that every region of Italy has its own tradition. Carnival, for citing a well know Italian tradition, change very much in forms and traditions depending on where you are. Not everything is Venice’s Carnival.
There’s plenty of sweet (savoury recipes too) that have the same name but change part of their ingredients depending on the region. But also, some sweet, despite being made in the same region, change even from city to city. Sometime even from village to village, despite both places being quite near.
Same thing for dialects. I’ll make a real-life example. I’m born in Carrara, north of Tuscany, really near Liguria, and city of marble. It’s situated up in the mountains, while the zone at the sea is called Marina di Carrara. Both are really near, but their dialects are different and some food recipes too.
2) Will you tell us about Italy’s eating habits and its national cuisine?
Italians can start a war over food. And trust me when I say that, despite saying it with a smile and looking like they’re joking, the great majority of Italians despise the way people outside our country eat typical Italian food.
There are also some deeper social reasons (Italians think often that their culture is the better one, no matter how toxic), but it’s fun to have food discussion. Just recently, I told one of my fellow Italian friend that an American blogger asked me if we eat pasta Alfredo…. and we laughed a lot. No one in Italy eats this Alfredo thing, whatever it’s. A part of me dies every time I hear Alfredo something.
With the same blogger (we’re friends, I swear XD ) we also had interesting discussion about ice cream and gelato, and the great illusion that eating ice cream/gelato (the English translation of gelato is ice cream for Italians) in Italy doesn’t make it the Italian gelato everyone seems to dream of.
I think that is true that Italian kinda fall into the pasta stereotype. It’s also true that in certain families, houses, street, sometimes more rustic corners, people are gonna almost force feed you, drinking on vine, talking at really high voices, and spend entire hours at the table.
3) Tell us more about a typical day in Italy.
Well, I guess you wake up, goes to work or school or university, whatever you have to do. Then you eat something outside and go back to what you have to do. Or find a way to go back home. At night adults may not go out that often, but the young generation are easy to find outside. They don’t do anything particular, just stay in the same place for hours until the sun rise, drinking and smoking (boring, if you want my youngster opinion).
I think the week is kind of common, but it’s when Saturday and Sunday arrive that things change. People go around the city, shops a lot, go to some mall, bring the kids to the parks. Some people go to the church for the mass. Going to watch sport or reunite with fellow friends is also common.
During summer is typical to reach to sea, but to be honest depends a lot from where you live. Here in Rome you can do everything, the only problem maybe is that we don’t snow that often and the city get blocked.
(the image features a pic of a villa, the Casino of Bel Respiro, situated inside the park of Villa Doria Pamphili. Such place was once a park and hunt zone owned by the Pamphili family, and now it’s one of Rome bigger park. The villa is sually closed to public because it’s used as a government base)
4) Can you tell us about some of your unique customs and practices specific to Italy?
*start to go thought the list* As I said, we have Carnival and I think we have a quite good number of our own unique Carnivals, different from the one of other nation. In Italy we have plenty of random festivities days because of some saint and our sort of Halloween, our day of the dead, is just about bringing flowers to the tombs. We have specific kind of sweet for some festivities.
Other things we do, that some people find strange, is that we kiss on the cheeks when we meet, or people shake their hands. Sometimes you bring little gift if you’re invited to someone house, but I think it’s a more education fact than an actual tradition. It’s not observed at all by many younger generations.
5) Which books / films in your opinion were very much true to the Italian culture?
I’m not a great film watcher, so I can’t give a good number of titles but I’ll say: films made by Italians.
They know their thing. We either have really useless romantic comedies, that heavily relies on gender stereotypes… and are actually quite painfully true when it comes to many relationships I’ve seen. Or are really obtuse. We have a real passion for idiotic film with extremely low and misogynist humour. Another thing that is not far away from Italian behaviour.
I may suggest you to check out things like Suburra or Gomorra, or old films about the fascism and such periods. These are quite truthful about Italy. Or any other film by an Italian that show some rural village or the rich part of the society.
Those are quite good indicators that you’re reaching for what can be the right film. So many Italians were really angry at films like La Grande Bellezza, because it painted a really decadent image of Italy, talking about the richer people.
But I’m a girl that kind of lived between the more common and everyday life of Italians and had the chance to slip into places represented in such film. So, yes, I can confirm that is kinda true in what it represents.
6) Tell us about some of the stereotypes about Italy as depicted in the media, books / film etc that annoy you.
One thing I say is that: stereotypes about Italians are false but also true at the same time. One part of me relate a lot when some POC talks about their family behaviour or mom way of being. That’s because is also typical Italian parent material.
On other sides, recently I was talking with a friend that read a book, in which the protagonist was all about how amazing was the Italian family she was with: those women that sang, dance and drink wine and her Italian lover who was a fervent feminist.
Oh, please… Italian party, we have loud voices and use a lot hand gestures. We drink and laugh, but is not like we jump on table and dance. We’re not that passionate, because the passion that is usually represented is straight up misogyny and possessive behaviour. Italian men are hardly feminists.
Italian are also shown as friendly and welcoming, and we can be. Some people will do everything to please you and treat like an actual human being. Some other people will open the door of their house while openly mocking you in term of gender, race, sexuality and disability. The same moment they are called out, they will tell they’re joking.
For Italians everything is a joke. So, even the warmest welcome can be not actually that nice. Italians, if they hate you, will heavily display that, from touching you without permission, to abusive behaviour, physically hitting and verbal assault.
Also, we have this horrible habit of using slurs of every type as common words. Do not let me start of bigotry, culture levels and such. Also, I think that people have this idea of mafia like another sort of thrilling thing to take inspiration from.
Mafia is a thing and is not nice at all to write book inspired by mafia system, describing it as “interesting and dashing”. It’s not. Mafia exist, is present, it’s deadly, kills tons of people every year, and terrorize the others.
It’s corruption and murder, that keeps growing in every part of the govern, even inside religion. It’s drug and human traffic. Do not let me start on the damage it does to younger generation. Every year we remember people killed by mafia, including whom that fought it. Who is alive, is currently forced to live under special condition, because they denounced the mafia system.
Basically, what people do with their mafia’s romanticized idea, is insulting and spitting on the dead.
7) What are your favorite fictional (bookish or otherwise) characters native to Italy?
That’s hard because I’m not exactly passionate about my country literature and work, while if I reach outside, like to US production, at beast I can find some mafia involved character. So, the answer is no one.
8) Tell us more about your national language. Teach us some very common words and few uncommon ones.
For this last answer I searched around the internet for finding some Italian words you people may find interesting, and I found this article and I found it too be behind silly. What is even sprezzatura? No one use it in common everyday language (at least in my zone). Same thing for impiraressa. And why would you need this world in English when you have words with the same exact meaning already?
Fascination with Italian language is.. strange.
But let me start with the uncommon, because it is much more easy that way. Mostly of our uncommon words, I think are from dialect. Romanaccio is the dialect of Rome and we have particular way to say things like yay, which is daje. Or when we want to say that we’re going to see at a certain hour, we say: ce vedemo a una certa.
One thing about my national language is that it’s really heavy and for saying a single thing, we take hours of our time. And also, verbs. So many verbs. We are also very vulgar, and swear words can be kinda incorporated in our language… despite having people who still react like touched by a bee if someone swears. Like, we can say easily sticazzi (literal translation is: these dicks) for meaning something that impressed us to what we don’t care at all.
Okay, few words that can help when you’re in Italy. If you want to say hello, go with ciao. Our good morning is Buongiorno. If you want to say good evening to someone or to pass a good night out, you said, respectively: buona sera or passate una buona serata. You want to wish a good night you will go with buona notte. Grazie and per favore are our ways to say thank you and please.
If you want to ask for things like breakfast, lunch and dinner, those are colazione, pranzo e cena. We also do a thing called meranda during the afternoon, when we eat a little things, usually sweet, and a drink.
We also take aperitivo or apericena. The first consist in drinking specific types of drinks along with savoury snacks, like potato chips, olives, peanuts… The apericena is kinda the same thing but with much more food, and is a mix between a dinner and an aperitivo.
Wow that is a lot of Italian for a day, I suppose. But again, we can always reach out to Camilla to ask for more help. You can contact her via.
I guess this is the end of this month’s travel, the Italian edition. I hope we will meet yet again next month with another country with its books, author and bloggers. I can’t wait!
Tell me what makes Italy such a romantic place to visit. Have you visited Italy? If so share your favorite Italian memory. Do you have any Italian stereotype that you would like to talk about? Let us chat.
Set in 1944, after the war the British occupy Naples and things are not any better. Food is scarce and the economy isn’t moving forward with people struggling to meet ends. Soon there is an increasing number of Bristish soldiers applying to marry local Italian women.
Captain James Gould is appointed to discourage this. He is dubbed as ‘the wedding officer’ by the locals. Ironically he falls for a young widow who is a fabulous cook.
What you can expect:
The Wedding Officer is a perfect blend of history, romance and a lot Italian cooking. Italy and food – your weekend can’t get any better.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
The Birth of Venus begins with the death of a nun and as her habit is stripped off, a particularly provocative tattoo is found. Thus we are taken on a journey when this mysterious nun was a fifteen year Alessandra Cecchi.
Set in the Renaissance Florence that is being suppressed by the religious and political forces, Alessandra is married off to an older man but her attraction to art and a particular artist survives the tumultuous time.
What you can expect:
What is more Italian than painting and painters? Add a bit of renaissance to the mix and you will love the suspense filled romance.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
If you are into best sellers this one is for you. Set in 1950s, the book follows the friendship of Elena and Lila right from the childhood to their adult life. Lila is the more beautiful, smarter, Elena is understandably jealous but she is the one who escapes their life through education.
What you can expect:
Read about the dirt poor Naples and the lovely friendship and rivalry between two girls.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
The story revolves around four major characters a nurse, a maimed thief, a bomb disposal expert and the nameless English patient just after the World War II. This non linear story takes us through war, love, culture and mostly memories.
What you can expect:
This Booker Prize winning book is all you need to read this week. Or better catch the movie, which is surprisingly does justice to the book.
Around the time Elizabeth Gilbert turned thirty, she went through an early-onslaught midlife crisis. She had everything an educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want—a husband, a house, a successful career.
But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief, and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love, and the eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, and undertook a yearlong journey around the world—all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the absorbing chronicle of that year.
Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
A fallen self help author who is trying to restore her reputation while hiding away under the Tuscan sun until she meets a silver screen star is vacationing in Italy.
With the townspeople trying to driver her away and the guy who wouldn’t leave her alone, she definitely doesn’t have a breathing room.
What you can expect:
A perfect romantic comedy for a lazy afternoon set in Tuscany.
Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
When Oliver spends his summer in Italy with his Professor Perlman, the professor’s son Elio begins to fall for him.The two young men have so much in common yet they cannot fathom the reason for their attractions. The six weeks’ of powerful romance is dreamy, seductive and the prose is beautiful and lyrical.
What you can expect:
This bittersweet coming of age romance is perfect if you are looking for YA read set in Riveria.
The Lost Art of Second Chances by Courtney Hunt
When Lucy Parker’s eccentric grandmother dies, Lucy must return a beloved painting to a mysterious man in Italy, leading her on a journey to discover family secrets, secrets buried in the chaotic aftermath of World War II.
Lucy’s childhood best friend, estate lawyer Jack Hamilton, agrees to accompany her, opening up a opportunity for them to find their second chance at love. Will they find it? From a tiny town in Massachusetts to the rolling hills of Tuscany, never-told family secrets unfurl in The Lost Art of Second Chances.
What you can expect:
This heartbreaking love story set in WW II is perfect if you are a sucker for happily ever afters.
Classics set in Italy
Where Angels Fear To Tread, by E.M. Forster
When a young English widow takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in-laws are not amused. That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected.
But that Lilia should have had a baby — and that the baby should be raised as an Italian! — are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his dour sister Harriet, and their well-meaning friend Miss Abbott.
A recipe for happiness: four women, one medieval Italian castle, plenty of wisteria, and solitude as needed.
The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Arnim
The women at the center of The Enchanted April are alike only in their dissatisfaction with their everyday lives. They find each other—and the castle of their dreams—through a classified ad in a London newspaper one rainy February afternoon.
The ladies expect a pleasant holiday, but they don’t anticipate that the month they spend in Portofino will reintroduce them to their true natures and reacquaint them with joy. Now, if the same transformation can be worked on their husbands and lovers, the enchantment will be complete.
A Room With A View, by E.M. Forster
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance.
Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?
Young Adults books set in Italy
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Two orphaned children are on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways of the city of Venice.
Befriended by a gang of street children and their mysterious leader, the Thief Lord, they shelter in an old, disused cinema. On their trail is a bungling detective, obsessed with disguises and the health of his pet tortoises.
But a greater threat to the boys’ new-found freedom is something from a forgotten past – a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark
It is 1498, the dawn of the Renaissance, and Venice teems with rumors about an ancient book that holds the secret to unimaginable power. It is an alchemist’s dream, with recipes for gold, immortality, and undying love. But while those who seek the book will stop at nothing to get it, those who know will die to protect it.
As a storm of intrigue and desire circles the republic that grew from the sea, Luciano, a penniless orphan with a quick wit and an even faster hand, is plucked up by an illustrious chef and hired, for reasons he cannot yet begin to understand, as an apprentice in the palace kitchen.
There, in the lavish home of the most powerful man in Venice, he is initiated into the chef’s rich and aromatic world, with all its seductive ingredients and secrets. It is not long before Luciano is caught up in the madness.
What he discovers will swing open the shutters of his mind, inflame his deepest desires, and leave an indelible mark on his soul.
What you can expect:
A luminous and seductive novel, it is, at its heart, a high-spirited tribute to the fruits of knowledge and the extraordinary power of those who hold its key.
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years?
All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries.
A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
What you can expect:
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more
The Eternal City by Paula Morris
Laura Martin is visiting Rome on a class trip, and she’s entranced by the majestic Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon. . . . Everything in this city seems magical.
That is, until the magic seems to turn very dark.
Suddenly, statues of Cupid and ancient works of art come to life before her eyes. Earthquakes rumble and a cloud of ash forms in the sky. A dark-eyed boy with wings on his heels appears and gives her a message. Laura soon realizes she is at the center of a brewing battle — a battle between the gods and goddesses, one that will shake modern-day Rome to its core.
Only she and her group of friends can truly unravel the mystery behind what is happening. As tensions mount and secret identities are revealed, Laura must rely on her own inner strength to face up to what may be a fight for her life.
What you can expect:
Acclaimed author Paula Morris brings the ancient world to vivid life in this unstoppable tale of friendship, love, and the power of the past.
Have you read any of these books? Did these books take you all over Italy virtually? Share with me your favorite books set in Italy. Let us talk more.
Do you know that the “new shiny thing” is really a syndrome? I am positive that I might be afflicted by it. I am talking about the feature we started at the beginning of the year called Flyaway Friday. I know it has been a while since we visited France and Finland, so I guess it is time for another trip, don’t you think?
So pack your bags and get ready to spend your Fridays dreaming about Italy this month.
We will learn about the country, talk about books set in Italy and I am saving the best for the last, have an Italian blogger tell us more about the country and its people. Sounds exciting right?
So let us start with the basics about Italy, shall we?
Italy is one of the common country in the bucket list for many of us, thanks to all the books and the characters we fell for.
I am sure we know Italy is an European country, somewhere in the Mediterranean region but we need to know a bit more than that before we travel, don’t we?
1.Italy, or Repubblica Italiana, is surrounded by water on three front and shares its land border with a lot of countries viz France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, San Marino, and Vatican City.
2. The eternal city of Rome is one of the oldest city’s of the world and it is about 3000 years old.
3. Rome is the home to the famous Trevi fountain, which is 85 feet in height and 65 feet in width is one of those must see tourist place in Italy. Yes, it is the one where people make a wish by throwing in coins.
4. The major Italian cities you need to know are: Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Naples
5. Did I say almost 80% of Italy is hilly or has a mountainous terrain?
6. It may come as no surprise that the Italians brought many of the cheeses like Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta to the world.
7. The world’s first woman graduate and a Ph.D holder, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia was born in Venice, Italy.
8. The Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino are located with the Italian territory.
9. Europe’s three active volcanoes Etna, Vesuvius, and Stromboli are all in Italy.
10. Many of the leading brands like Lamborghini, Gucci, Prada, Aramani, Ferrari call Italy their home.
11. While Italians have a long life expectancy with one of highest number of centenarians, they also have the lowest birth rate in the western world.
I have Jenny, better known as Tecsie, from Finland to share us about her country and their Finnish ways of life. I know her from our common Discord groups and then her blog Tecsielity;. She is a book worm, designer, video gamer and of course a blogger. Here is her bio that she shared with me:
Jenny (or Tecsie, either way is fine) is a 25-year-old Finnish lover of books and video games so she blogs about both of them. She’s currently obsessed with the Outlander series and also enjoys napping a lot because it’s cold outside.
Jenny takes over from here:
The common stereotype of Finnish people is that we are silent people who possibly drink a lot of alcohol, listen to metal and of course enjoy the sauna. Most Finns probably won’t deny these.
Small talk is not a big part of our culture and people are very comfortable with silence but don’t worry, we also have some chattier people among us. We may warm up to strangers a little slowly, but once you get to know us you may find that we’re actually very friendly people. And yes, we do love our saunas!
You can pretty much expect to find a sauna in every Finnish house, they’re that important. Yes, we go in there naked and yes, it’s very hot. The temperatures can be anything from 60C to 120C, but personally I think 60-70 is the most comfortable. It may sound way too hot if you’ve never been in one, but it’s actually very comfortable and especially lovely in winter.
A fun sauna tradition is gathering a bunch of leafy birch branches (vihta) and hitting your back with them (it’s supposed to be relaxing for the muscles and it also makes the sauna smell really good).
All the snow
Another thing you can of course expect to find in Finland is snow. Since it snows everywhere in the country it doesn’t affect the life much, we don’t close schools etc. for any weather and buses and trains will run unless something actually breaks down. I have unhappily walked to school in -30C weather quite a few times in my life.
Winters have become a lot milder these past few years though, especially in the southern Finland and even my area had surprisingly little snow last year despite being pretty north. Lapland still gets the harsher winter no matter what, and that’s probably part of the reason majority of the population lives in the south. North is the way to go if you wish to see the northern lights though! I know many tourists come here just to see those.
Our traditional foods probably won’t sound very fancy compared to many countries, but I’ll introduce a few examples anyway. My personal favorite are Karelian pasties which are basically rise wrapped in a rye crust and they’re so good! It’s common to put egg butter on them, but I prefer just normal butter. Karelian stew is also very good (it’s usually beef or pork stew). Some holiday related things would be mämmi (rye pudding) on Easter, and star shaped Christmas tarts (joulutorttu) that usually have plum or apple-cinnamon jam in the middle.
Don’t be alarmed if a Finn offers you salmiakki, it’s just salty liquorice. I’m personally not a fan, but it’s a very popular candy here it may be slightly hilarious to offer it to people who have never tried it. We also have a weird love for tar flavored things because for example tar flavored soda is a thing.
Finland in media
Finland does not come up a lot in fictional media (or elsewhere, I mean there’s a conspiracy theory that Finland doesn’t exist) which is why Finns are always very excited if something has Finnish characters in it or someone even just mentions us! You may see the phrase “Suomi mainittu! Torille!” on the Internet a lot if we’re actually included somewhere. It means “Finland mentioned! To the marketplace!”.
Some examples of Finnish fictional characters: M.K. (aka Veera Suominen) in Orphan Black and Ritva Tuomivaara in the game Wolfenstein II. Vikings has also had two Finnish actors (Jasper Pääkkönen and Peter Franzén) in major roles in the newer seasons.
Since I already taught you one great Finnish phrase, let’s continue with a few more of those:
Moi/Terve/Hei = Hello
Mitä kuuluu? = How are you?
Terveydeksi = Bless you
If you’re learning Finnish it’s also important to know that there are a lot of different dialects in different areas, so if you end up coming to Finland it probably won’t hurt to research a little bit how people talk in the particular area you’re going to so you won’t be completely lost. (Most Finns are pretty okay at English though.)
You’ll notice the difference even in such simple words as I or you. I can come up with at least five different ways to say each of those.
You = sinä, sää, sä, sie, nää
One of my favorite very local words is “pahki”, which basically means bumping into something or someone. If you tried to use that in southern Finland people most likely would have no idea what you’re talking about unless they’ve happened to hear it before!
Thanks Jenny for your time and sharing with us a glimpse of your Finnish life. You can contact here through her blog and social accounts.