We had the inmense pleasure of meeting some wonderful people when we attended last years Traverse 19 event which was held in the beautiful city of Trento – Italy. Being one of our first every Travel Bloggers experience Betti and I were super happy to engage and take advantage of the fantastic tours along with mind opening lectures and presentations from fellow Bloggers.
Of these we had the pleasure of meeting Kashyap Bhattacharya and his partner Sabrina Wulf. Kashyap is the mind behind Budget Traveller, a fantastic blog and the author of a great book that covers Hostels (The Grand Hostels: Luxury Hostels of the World) of which he is definetly an expert in.
Due to the non-existent travel situation we currently find ourselves in they have both embarked on supporting a movement called AdoptaHostel to give a helping hand to a series of Hostels worldwide via a system of coupons that one can purchase for future use once this whole situation hopefully comes back to normal.
We love the initiative and invite you to check it out over at https://www.adoptahostel.com/
As we have reached the 51t day of our lockdown status here in Milan, Italy I have decided to give our friends and followers an idea of how things have evolved in these last 6 weeks at the Chiesi-Beltran household. As most of you know this Italian Lifestyle Blog is our platform on which we express our thoughts and love for this beautiful country that is Italy. You can read a bit more of the people involved since we started back in the Summer of 2014 here at this link
As most of the people we know around the world the arrival of this virus has affected everyone’s life in one way or another: from major health concerns plus the economical impact on our pocketbooks this one comes right up there with something that at least I have personally not come across in my 60 years on planet Earth.
From seeing the images of our empty cities on the news along with information on the web to hearing accounts from friends and family of which direction this might take us it becomes quite hard to dispense optimism and empathy but still….we maintain a positive outlook
and try our best to keep a level of calm which we clearly know is hard to do based on a month (plus or minus) of lockdown.
But now for the positive stuff that has come out of all of this. Human beings need to have a sense of communication that before all of this had somehow gone lost in the crazy and production-based society we live in. Betti and I find ourselves with extra time to explore all those things and ideas that before were not possible to envision or develop. We tend to leave the Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other distratcions as an evening only option and somehow now look at all of it with a different eye. In fact, Betti would rather prefer to watch documentaries on subject matter which is culturally enlighting instead of a bizarre shows such as the likes of Tiger Tail or similar.
From a work standpoint of view, we are fortunate in the sense that my work revolves around the digital transformation of companies and even if Betti is a make-up artist and for now fashion is on hold she is teaching remotely to the diverse schools that she is involved in and working on a new project that revolves around Make-up. I am blessed to be married to such a talented person!
Our daughter Zoe is also in the house and being a 25 year old woman we were concerned that she would go in a downward path being locked up for so long but to our surprise, she is upbeat and working on her career as a photographer and digital entrepreneur. We are quite impressed!
Another beautiful thing that has come out of all of this is that we have established a close relationship with our neighbors which has evolved towards the idea of having a weekly Saturday dinner party which we do on the landing of the fifth floor between both apartments placing a plant in between and keeping a safe distance but setting up candles and cooking phenomenal Italian Food. Tonight is Saturday so we are already preparing for what we end up dreaming about all week long: la cenetta con il vicini!
Another interesting thing that has occurred in this period is that we have decided with the advance of the days and then the weeks to tune out from the news which in the end only brings negative vibes to the whole equation. Better to concentrate on positive stuff and learn or polish new skills related to both our professions.
In regards to our Casa Chiesi project even if the whole travel scene here in Italy has come to a grinding stop we are still writing and posting material about our love per Italia! Once things slowly pick up we will be back on the beaten path traveling and showing great sites, food, art, history, and traditions.
To all our dear friends and followers big hugs and stay as healthy and safe as possible.
Baci e abracci a tutti
As we go into the third week of a new way of living due to this virus which has touched everyone’s life near and far one has to look at the positive things that we can at least derive from this new phase in what we call live on this planet.
Yes we can not deny that this is a game changer for people worldwide in more aspects that one can envision but at the same time we should
embrace the opportunity to mantain an approach that embraces calm and collectivness along with a new sense of empathy that had gone out the window in the current world we were living in.
When we started Casa Chiesi about 5 years ago we embarked on the adventure of showing our friends near and far the beauties that this country has to offer and these last 4 weeks have really shown us how strong this population is and how they are fighting with our their hearts and souls an invisible enemy. We are sure that this will all pass and we will come out of it with a stronger sense of unity and love.
As always we are here to keep promotion the wonders that Italy has to offer and waiting for the moment whe we can embrace each other in our love for all that Italy represents! Hang in there as this will pass….
Some magical and impressive moments from the last weeks in a locked down scenario follow…
Aperitivo with our neighbors from a safe distance!
Nazim on an empty train from Genoa to Milan two weeks ago
Arrival at Stazione Centrale and certificate check
Betti teaches Makeup to her class online
Virtual Dinner with our friends
Traverse Travel Bloggers Pub Crawl Quiz
Baci from Nazim and Betti!
A lot of times we get questions on our blog and other social media platforms regarding what we consider to be top-notch Italian products. And as you can all imagine Betti is very picky regarding any subject matter that relates to her country and origins (you should see how fussy she gets regarding the right type of pasta and how to cook it!)
Well after a lot of deliberation and consideration we decided to start researching products and services that relate and tie into our passion for Italy. So it is currently under construction (these things take time!…none of the presto, presto approach here). So while we are researching, contacting and building we would love for you to sign up to the Newsletter that is specific to the upcoming store)
Right now we have a holding splash page over at https://italianstore.casachiesi.com where you can sign up so that we will let everyone know when it’s ready.
Grazie mille and thanks for the support! Also please feel free to comment below on any suggestions that you would love to see us add into our store!
If you have the chance to pass by Genoa before March 1st don’t miss the exhibition “Anni 20 in Italia”.
Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Galileo Chini, Giorgio de Chirico, Fortunato Depero, Achille Funi, Virgilio Guidi, Alberto Martini, Arturo Martini, Fausto Pirandello, Enrico Prampolini, Alberto Savinio, Scipione, Gino Severini, Mario Sironi, Adolfo Wildt:
these are the artists who interpreted the difficult transition between the end of the first World War and the advent of Fascism, the roaring ‘20, revolutionary and feverish years, set between two enormous, wicked war disasters.
The exhibition takes us through the less glamorous sides of this interesting historical curve, a real cross-section of the society of the time, from which emerges the “modern classicism” that characterized the stylistic experiences of the twentieth century and Magic Realism.
I truly love this period of Italian art perhaps a little deserted by foreigners who often focus on more famous remote eras. This exhibit is a very good opportunity to take a look at our 20th century.
Palazzo Ducal Exhibit Info:
In this not that many times that one gets a chance to explore his own city from the point of view of how a tourist from abroad would see it so obviously when we received a wonderful invitation from the folks at City Wonders Walks to partake of their Milan City Highlights walking tour we were super excited to join.
Ellen Curtin from City Wonders had set us up for a visit on November but Betti’s fashion work got in the way and we had to reschedule for December 8th (Ellen was marvelous in being flexible with our schedule and since this is one of their bestseller tours was able to find a gap in December…grazie mille Ellen!).
City Wonders Tours offers a series of walking tours through the major cities in Europe and when we were contacted we immediately concentrated on Italy (obviously being Italian Lifestyle bloggers) and we were super impressed with the offerings that cover the golden boot! Another amazing fact that we discovered is that they are the only Official Vatican Partner to offer special tours of the Pope’s residence and adjoining museums! Definitely bucket list material for Casa Chiesi!
Living in Milan we told Ellen that we would love to cover one of the Milan based one’s so we opted for the “Best of Milan Duomo Cathedral & Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ Tour!”
The main reason was the fact that the last time we had visited the “Cenacolo” (as they call “The Last Supper“) was prior to the famous restoration of 1995. Plus for those of you who know it is super hard to get tickets on the same day to visit since they are usually sold out months prior to any sort of scheduling idea you might have in mind. In fact, when our friends mention that they would like to see it on the fly we tend to laugh and opt-out for a nice lunch at a restaurant or a visit to the Castle or Duomo. These along with tickets to La Scala are the hardest ones to get!
Our tour was set up for a 2.30 pm appointment at the famous Milan Duomo which we have covered in this prior article. Also, check out our live stream from the top of the church when we started our blog back in 2014.
When we reached the destination we were greeted by the staff of City Wonders who started out by handing over the wireless audio repeaters which hook up to the guides wi-fi mic so you can follow the tour in perfect audio comfort and without the need for someone shouting out or everyone gathered in a close circle which we tend to dislike from previous tour experiences. Brilliant!
Our guide Katerina Panayotova started this tour by preparing us to enter the Duomo which on this particular Sunday was packed due to the fact that it was the famous Saint Ambrose religious Holiday. We took a look at the line and started to get concerned only to have our fears dispelled since the tour permits you to skip the lines both at the Duomo and The Last Supper! Sweet!
Once inside Katarina left us impressed with the way she described the history behind the famous Duomo highlighting the famous story of the nail of the crucifixion stored way about the main plateau and additional historical facts surrounding the artwork inside and the history behind the origin of this impressive church. A precise and fantastic storytelling approach made for a super interesting way of presenting these historical tidbits. And her timing/transitions on all that was described could not have been better!
Once we exited the Duomo we proceeded to make way through the main crowds through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele (the World’s first Shopping Mall dating back to 1877) on our way to The Brera district passing by La Scala and Castello Sforzesco (which is the castle close to where we live!)
Our set appointment at Leonardo’s The Last Supper was at 5.15 pm so we had to make headway so as to not miss out on the entrance time which is limited to small groups and in which you are only permitted to be inside for 15 minutes.
Once inside Katerina went into detail regarding the presence of symbolic imagery in the painting that I was not personally aware of and that an expert like her expressed in an entertaining and non-stuffy way! (I was accustomed to tours where you feel you are in a rigid school class non-fun approach but this was far away from that!).
Here is a short video that gives you an idea of how the tour went so you can get the glist of it
In conclusion, a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon with an extremely organized company w that shows you Italian historical gems bypassing extreme lines, potential frustrations and tour guides that offer a wonderful approach towards the sites one encounters! We are looking forward to highlighting some other ones in the coming year!
For more information here is their web site and Social Media links:
City Wonders Web Site links:
This last week brought in the very dismal images from a flooded Venice for which most of my friends got back to me saying: But isn’t it always underwater during the rainy season? Obviously what they are referring to is the famous “aqua alta” phenomenon which due to the high water table and occasional rains makes the city have to bring out the wooden planks and tourists can move around relatively easily by way of these elevated platforms.
But this time it’s a whole different story! I had the chance to speak via video chat with our fellow travel bloggers friends Daryl and Mindi Hirsch of 2FoodTripers who were able to waddle out and make it to Verona yesterday and told me they had never experienced anything like this! And it was their first time in Venice! They were interviewed on the Newsweek Online edition regarding how dangerous it was. Check out the article at this link
A state of emergency has been declared and obviously all the politicians were on-site yesterday expressing solidarity and doing the typical photo ops of which Italians are a bit fed up about and we have seen in previous situations such as the famous Aquila Earthquake back in 2009. The sad part about this is that there is an ongoing project to save the city from the lagoon water invasion called Mose which nobody actually knows how it will work and has been under construction since I arrived here back in 1992! Here is some more info on this controversial project >> link
Venice is one of my favorite cities in Italy (to the point that I told Bett I would love to live there in the future!) so to see this devastation is truly heart-wrenching. Let’s hope that this is not another mute wake-up call that falls on deaf ears!
As most of you already know we tend to spend our weekend escapes up in our country house which is conveniently located close to the city of Milan by car (roughly an hour and fifty minutes from door to door).
Now that Fall is starting to bless us with its wonderful colors and fantastic temperatures we tend to go in the vast woods that are right behind our house for long treks and exploration. We also tend to feel a certain optimism towards trying to find that sacred delicacy that everyone here talks about: The Porcini Mushroom!
You cannot imagine how many time we have picked and found mushrooms that we believed were close to being edible only to later find out upon inspection from the local experts (folks in their late 80s) that I could serve these up for my wife over dinner and in the early morning call the insurance company to collect on her insurance once I provide the appropriate death certificate!
Along with this the constant invitations to us city folks that they will take us early in the morning and show us how to get Mushrooms the correct way. I have to say that after 12 years since we bought the house I am still waiting for that invitation to come forward! Not holding my breath to tell you the truth! These “fugaioli” experts love to keep their secret spots to themselves!
Yesterday morning we decided to head on over to our friend’s place for coffee passing through the woods and Betti said…why don’t we try to go to that place where we found the Ovuli mushrooms last year? I said sure let’s give it a try.
Let me remind you that Bett’s sense of direction is a bit off and I tend to be the guy with an enclosed compass in my brain for which I pretty much knew where to start the trek. To tell you the truth I was more centered on finding the Ovuli type mushrooms so I started exploring the vicinity of the place that we had found those last year. Nothing!
I have to say that hunting for Mushrooms is a bit like Fishing. Long periods of waiting and walking till you stumble upon something is that is decent.
We sort of started giving up when heading a bit to the left of where we were I noticed a brown specimen that to me seem quite interesting and similar to a Porcini mushroom. I picked it up and handed it over to Betti but since we had already been through this process before (with rejection and jokes regarding how city folks love poisonous mushrooms) we placed it in the sack and decided to hold our enthusiasm.
As is typical they say that when you find a Mushroom you typical can find others close by and Betti stumbled upon a smaller one close by so that one also went in the sack.
We came back home in the afternoon and started looking at photos of Mushrooms to try to identify the specimen in hand but our enthusiasm was starting to flounder. Than Betti says: “We need to bring these to the old folks even if they make fun of us” as opposed to throwing them out which was my suggestion.
Alas! This morning we went to visit “la signora Fernanda” who as soon as she sees them burst out in celebration and confirmed that they were Porcini Mushrooms! She even brought out her scale and confirmed that we had 2 etti worth of precious mushrooms. Obviously Betti was ecstatic and we fully trust “signora Fernanda since she once owned a famous trattoria in Voghera and she knows her Mushrooms!
So in conclusion! We finally found the Fockers!!! Betti is bringing them over for a dinner invite we have tonight for all to enjoy! Bellisimo!
Just started my day back in Milan fresh out of spending a wonderful three days in London (of which two involved attending BorderlessLive). What can I say? Still, have that buzz feeling that revolves around meeting wonderfull Travel bloggers and Content Creators that share the same enthusiasm that we have over here at Casa Chiesi. For those that might not know Borderless Lives is organized by the same folks that brought us Traverse19 in the beautiful city of Trento in Italy.
For this first edition of BorderlessLive the venue was located at an interesting former Tobacco Dock which now has been renovated and offers up a great location for Conferences of which the WTM London in collaboration with Traverse and Reed Enterprise is in charge of setting up. Since Betti could not make it I decided that we could not miss it and bought the VIP Creator Pass, made my airplane and AirBnB reservations a while back. I flew in to Luton on Thursday night and made it in time for the closing drinks of the launch party that occurred at the Fugitive Motel in Bethnal Green (which turned out to be quite close to my Airbnb setup)
The next day headed off towards Tobacco Dock which was roughly 40 minutes away and a nice walk with views of the London skyline on the way. Upon arrival, I was super impressed with the efficient signup process that also included a dedicated Borderless Live App in which you could use the Slido platform to ask questions and also contact all the companies present at the event.
After a quick coffee and salutation with faces and friends, I recognized from Trento the sessions started. To get an idea of the level of seminars and interest here is the program for the two days. As you can see quite a lot of stuff to cover and this time I did not have Betti along for the ride so I had to decide on some cases which talk overlapped with each other and also the ones that would be beneficial for where we are in our Italian Lifestyle blogger journey.
The great thing was also the free beer that was flowing courtesy of the folks representative of Budweiser Budvar who had tow kegs constantly flowing. The diet took a backburner these three days to say the least! So we wrapped up the first day with a second party over at Wombat’s City Hostel for more drinks and a Karaoke party which was great fun for all…I skipped this time in doing singing duties! I also had the pleasure of meeting Gregor Kleczkowski from Wombats Austria who gave us a great tour on the final evening where were we ended at for a final nightcap and closer. Great Hostel setups which now also over an Italian location in Venice!
Since I had a Networking appointment at 10 am on Saturday I decided to play it safe and end on back to Bethnal Green and not overdo it. The following day we had the opportunity of doing a Network session which was great for meeting some fellow travel bloggers which I will highlight at the end of this post. Prior to the Networking we all joined the Creator Breakfast and compared notes in regards to what we all do and the worlds we cover. Loved it!
After that, it was off to the second day of Sessions of which I had to cut a couple short because I had a Channel Check on our Social Media accounts. Pretty much got confirmed that we are on the track with how we have set up our platforms and posting in the last 5 months (which is when we decided to really kick it up a notch!)
The final evening and close off ceremony was at a cool venue called The Vintry located in Central London. Obviously with this kind of crowd the party moved on well into the night back at Wolmats for final drinks and singing!
Really a fabulous time and I would like to personally thank everyone involved! Here is a list of fellow Travel Bloggers/Content Creators that I had the chance to meet and that you need to follow:
Dutch Girl in London (@The_Zarina)
Phillip Ammon (@PhotoAmmon)
Karl Watson (@karlwatsondocs)
Kash Bhattacharya (@BudgetTraveller)
Palle Bo (@theradiovagabond)
Omo Osagiede and Eulanda Shead Osagiede (@dipyourtiesin)
Rhonna Elizabeth (@thonnaelizabeth)
Anisa Alhilali (@2TravelingTexans)
Antonio Maisto (@TotiMaisto)
BigWorld Small Pockets
Teresa Gomez (@broganboard)
Andrea Wade (@happydaystravellblog)
Larch Gauld (@thesilvernomad)
Rosie Fluskey (@flyingfuskey)
Shout out to the great team at Traverse who also did a fabulous job at Travese19 Here is a partial list
Han Talbot and the rest of the team at Traverse!
Apologies if I probably missed you but I did not get your contacts or was way too distracted! My fault!
Every year we typically retreat to the nice quite of the Valtidone hills in which we get a chance to recharge our energies and plan the rest of the year both workwise and Casa ChiesiCasa Chiesi Web Site wise!
This year we took part of the Confluenze festival which is a yearly event organised by our dear friend Azzura Zanoli (along with a vast team of collaborators). The initial editions of this festival use to concentrate on the town of Nibbiano which is directly below us and roughly a 10 minute drive from our country place.
This year the festival ran between August 3rd and August 10th which was perfect for us since we had just started our Summer Holiday.
One of the highlights for Betti and myself was a night walk into the woods with an artist that organised an excersice that consisted of painting on white sheets of paper the reflection cast out by the folliage in the woods. So basically we met in the forrest with a team of roughly 30 people who broke down the task towards someone holding a flashlight or torch (in most cases the mobile phones provided the perfect light source) and the other person trying to recreate the folliage on paper that derived from the shadows.
I have to confess that after seeing Betti so full of entusiasm and egging me on to join her in the fun (mind you I cant remember the last time I took a paint brush in my hands) the experience was so liberating and fun! Quite an interesting experiment with beautiful results in the middle of the evening in the famous Bosco delle Streghe (which means Witch Forrest, a name Azzura came up with years ago).
The theme of this years festival was Walking (Camminare) so most of the events revolved around beautiful walks that helped us better understand and appreciate the beauty which is Valtidone. We are looking forward to next years edition of this ever expanding event.
Check out their website (english version coming soon) at this link
Next year if you are in this neck of the woods we invite you to join in on the festivities.
Here is the location of the town of Nibbiano.