August 19, 2017

Italian beach culture at its best

After having spent the last ten days observing Italians at the beach I am forever in awe of the their beach culture. They really have it "down to a t". Suntanning is a profession and beach going is a serious affair which needs to be planned carefully.

The beach umbrella needs to be bored deep into the sandy spot that you strategically have chosen in reference to other bathers whom arrived before you and therefore for stole a better spot. The umbrelloni get pinned down in order to resist the gushes of wind. They provide just enough shade to keep the cooler protected from the sun.

Beach chairs are set up and towels spread out. Fathers inflate the air mattresses while the kids unload their multi-coloured plastic beach toys.

Everything has it's place and once the suntan lotion has been handed around everyone feels so hot and bothered it is time to hit the water.

This is where the Italians make me smile... no one bothers much with the swimming part, the majority of their activity boils down to communication and interpersonal relations. You chat to your new-found neighbour, you talk on the phone, you bump into aquaintances, you laugh with your friends, you play a ball game with the kids... all this with your feet in the water while working on your suntan... WITHOUT EVER taking your sunglasses off!

Hands moving, arms waving, heads thrown up or over... it is all part of the Italians' world-renowned communication style which when practiced in a swimsuit with the sea as their background turns into movie material.

After hours of conversation and a quick phone call to mamma (that is if she is not with you at the beach) the most important part of the day commences: il pranzo!

It's lunch time: i panini (sandwiches), la caprese (tomatoes & mozzarella) l'insalata di riso (rice salad), la frittata (pasta omelette), le melanzane fritte (fried eggplant), le palatine (chips) and la frutta (fruit) start making their entrance. THIS is why the umbrellone is essential... to guarantee the food in the cooler is held at the exact right temperature.

Each family member finds their place around the camp and lunch is devoured admits more discussion and talk about... food, of course!

Inevitably a siesta calls upon your body and how could you refuse?!?

A few hours on and one last quick swim before it is time to pack it all up again and head home to prepare the aperitivo before dinner.

August 13, 2017

Only in Naples

Always on the lookout for local authors when travelling, my eyes set on an all too familiar sounding phrase during our stopover at Napoli airport: "Lessons in Food and Famiglia from my Italian Mother-in-Law."

I don't usually share my Summer reading but this book was just too delicious to devour by myself.

"Only in Naples" is one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. Admittedly as an Anglo-American married to a Neapolitan it all makes perfect sense. The author has incorporated endless anecdotes that had me laughing out loud eventhough at the time I was living these experiences first-hand I probably did not find them so funny.

When marrying into another culture it takes time, patience and understanding which is not always easy when you are still trying to figure out married life or worse don't yet master the language or dialect spoken in your new home country.

Reading about many all too familiar situations from my marriage of nearly 20 years to a true Neapollitan, Katherine Wilson had me smile with contempt time and time again. It wasn't just me after all. What I had learnt the hard way over the years is delightfully described in chapters leading straight to the point. Heartfelt lessons that come from the author's soul and show a true and thorough analysis of Neapolitan culture. A culture that grips your stomach before letting your head get around it. People that steal your heart before you have realized what is happening. 

Many passages have been read out loud to my husband (something that never happens) just to relive those moments of genuine misunderstanding and subsequent comical outcomes or fuming frustration that we have experienced over two decades of common life.

The mention of 'A Marenna hit home big time with my adolescent son who would give almost everything for his Napoli team.

My teenage daughter declared age three she would no longer wear pink ruffles and still wears fluorescent t-shirts! La nonna did manage to kit her out with "proper" shoes for a few years though!

The description of Napoli's medical care had me in stiches. What would we do without that friend of a friend who knows the father's cousin of the hospital's head doctor?

And when my husband asked if the fresh eggs had been mentioned in the book, it was proof that "Only in Naples" was a deep and authentic picture of everyday Neapolitan life. A rendering that needs to be felt, tasted and lived rather than simply read and understood.

This book is a treasure and should be read by every foreigner who is marrying into a Neapolitan family. For it is not only the person but the clan you are committing to.

As my father said to me just before leading me down the aisle: " You wanted Italian, now you got to deal with Italian!"

August 12, 2017

Stunning Costa Smeralda

Sardegna is our summer destination this year, an Italian holiday mecca Expat boy has wanted to visit for a long time. A paradise for beach lovers and sun goddesses like myself. I did spend many a summer holiday in the southern part of this island when I was a little girl. When you could still pick starfish from the sea by just reaching down to your feet and Decathlon had not yet invented the pop-up tent that seems to be spreading like colourful mushrooms along the beaches fighting the winds.


Following the advice of my wonderful Italian girlfriend we rented a car and much to my teenage kids' delight took off for a tour around the island. A promise was made we would not visit museums nor churches in return they would not complain!

We started off with the charming artisans' market in San Pantaleo an enchanting village in the heart of the Costa Smeralda where the town square turns into a local treasure chest of craftsmanship and becomes a true mecca for tourists searching for products crafted by local ceramists, wrought iron craftsmen and skilled inlayers.



We carried on towards swanky Porto Cervo, known as the jewel of Costa Smeralda often referred to as a favourite playground for the rich and famous who flock to this yacht dotted marina for some fun in the sunshine. So, we pretended to mingle while enjoying a true Italian ice cream before moving on swiftly...


A stop at the infamous Cala Di Volpe, overlooking one of the most beautiful turquoise coves of Costa Smeralda, Hotel Cala di Volpe was built to resemble an ancient fishing village, with porches, arches and stained glass but it just oozes discreet luxury and elegance.
Pretending to be clients we confidently strode into the lobby and straight across to the terrasse to take in the magnificent view onto their private little harbour and the stunning pool area.


Not being able to resist we ventured further into the hotel and encountered the most magnificent exposition of Dolce & Gabbana's Haute Joaillerie. Who knew D&G made exquisite and unique pieces of precious stones? The curator was friendly, patient and very happy to go into detail of each piece exposed until my two rather edgy teenagers decided it was time to move on!

We made a pit stop at a lovely little hotel named after the flowers Le Ginestre for old memories sake. We had stayed here twice when we were still living in Milano. Eighteen years later and it hadn't changed a bit... which made my hubby and I feel like it had been yesterday since Expat boy was paddling in the hotel baby pool.


Porto Rotondo - named after the circular nature of the bay on which is was built - was next on our route and we were not disappointed. More chic shops lining an exclusive yet enchanting little harbour. Having found a strategic table "al bar" of Piazzetta San Marco a cocktail sounded tempting but we settled for a delicious "espresso" to keep our energy up and running.


On our way back to the hotel the kids fell asleep in the car which goes to prove that Mummy definitely has more stamina when it comes to sightseeing or is it just all linked to ones level of motivation?!?

August 7, 2017

Bon voyage

Ready to hit the beach... 
Wondering where?
Stay tuned...
Bon voyage!

August 5, 2017

Vote for Paris' Best Expat Blog 2017

Once again my blog has been nominated for Best Expat blog in Paris 2017 by Expatriates Magazine.

BEST OF PARIS is their annual campaign to find the companies, services and achievements expatriates in Paris feel deserve recognition.

If you believe that Expat with Kids in Paris has earned a little recognition in the Parisian blogsphere please cast a vote by simply selecting the category Best Expat blog in Paris 2017 from the dropdown menu and choose who you vote for.

Make my weekend and click here:
Mille mercis mes amis!

August 3, 2017

Guess who's in the news?

I can't help but to feel extremely chuffed with myself today. Enjoying my morning online news fix while still lingering in bed, imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I spot my Instagram picture from the day before featured in a Swissinfo article!

Swissinfo.ch is the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation distributing information about Switzerland, directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad. Yep, that target would be me and my blogs Expat with Kids and Expat with Kids in Paris.

Feeling inspired on August 1st, the Swiss National Day and - I admit - rather homesick I decided to post a typically Swiss picture on my Instagram account with the hashtag #1augustabroad. Tired of posting the same old red and white Swiss flag I came up with a different sort of cross.


Well, my stylised version of a Swiss flag capturing the emotions of Swiss-ness, home-cooking and home-sickness all in one sure didn't go unnoticed. Swissinfo.ch in their article about How Swiss National Day was celebrated around the world put my photo right up top.

Ahh, what a little hashtag can do for you?
And, what a great feeling when you wake up and read the news to discover you're in it!
But now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get to work and make some Rösti...
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