Tarantella The Night Away!

Do you dance? No, me neither.

Not until the tarantella found its way into my life, that is. This night was up there with the most fun nights ever since fun nights began.

What better way to stomp away a bitingly cold February evening than by learning the deceptively simple tarantella steps? This fiery, traditional southern Italian dance is unbelievably fun, exhausting and hilarious. A touch of fact – the word ‘tarantella’ is another word for ‘tarantism’ – the hysterical condition following a bite from a grotesque ‘tarantula’ – now your turn for a ‘t’ word.

Let me rewind.

I went with a gorgeous, (more so than enthusiastic I might add) group of friends to what seemed like an abandoned warehouse in nondescript Limehouse, (think distressed, eery SAW shoot location if you will.)

Do not be fooled by appearances!

If the thumping percussion, siren singing and red music doesn’t seduce you then, frankly, I don’t know what will.

I hope the pictures below awaken something tarantella-esque in you enough to get your ‘jeeeeg’ on (as the Italians would say.) If that fails to stir you, perhaps the flowing wine and cosy entertainment might be enough to lure you out of your  70% off GAP pyjamas.

Watch for upcoming events here at the Jamoboree!

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Nutella Hot Chocolate

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 Just climbed a frosty mountain? Braved the weather in wellies and a hat damp from the Christmas Day walk yesterday in an effort to feel hungry again? Perching by the fire with a frozen nose?

 

Nutella hot chocolate is the thing to make yourself/loved ones this Christmas, (if you haven’t already dissolved into a champagne & brandy soaked sugar cube yet that is.)

 

It is sweet, indulgent and cosy – so that is 3 hearty yes’s from us.

 

You literally just need milk, a big dollop of Nutella (per person) and something hot in which to bubble it all up together.

 

What are you still doing sitting there?

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Vogue Night Out

Here are some pictures from the Vogue Night Out I attended recently.

Serene ballet dancers performed sequences in gleaming shop windows; a glamorous string quartet embellished with handsome waiters clutching trays of fluorescent Aperol Spritz, beckoning you in.

Bursts of white flowers placed as gorgeous centrepieces, like elegant frothy explosions in the middle of the floor, cherry-flavoured vodka poured silkily into pristine cocktail glasses…

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The rather suggestively dubbed ‘Pornstar Martini’

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– Prosecco (little buddy in the shot glass)
– Passion fruit
– Gin
– ‘Penash’

They may look far too summery and deceiving in this droning winter, but once you’ve escaped the pulse of commuterdom (whether in New York, London or Paris) they are a lovely if unoriginal choice.

So step down mulled wine and soggy cinnamon sticks (that just get in the way).

As Shakespeare the very man himself famously said:

It is a known thing that a martini maketh merriment

June Joys & Cappuccino Confrontation

First of all, apologies for the recent silence – dilemmas summoned me homeward bound and so I’ve been absent from the keyboard. I’m back now and, if I may say so myself, in full force. Friday morning, I took Teresa … Continue reading

Back To School, Catch Up Avec Les Filles & Nano-Romances

Back to Rome means back to Language School. I must admit, it is an indulgent, less-productive-than-it-sounds way to spend the morning. I head to Piazza Firenze after dropping off the kids at school, Teresa, and her brother Fran-I-Don’t-Need-Anyone-To-Take-Me-Esco.

I am really enjoying my course. I should probably write these in Italian! (Show off) but seriously, I’m getting good. The other day, someone American asked me for directions, attempting a whiny Italian – at least I look Italian, and that’s a start if ever I saw one ! (We ended up chatting about Ilinois, his hometown, but that is by-the-by.)

Our teacher today was someone new. A bulging chest wig, complete with a magnificent gold, chain necklace, that I wonder if he wore it especially, or if he had a Medallion Shining Conference to attend after the lesson. He perched dangerously on our desks, bellowing out the Uses of the Subjunctive, causing us to lean a notch back. He spat too, and I decided it was a terrible mistake to sit near the front. He was like all senses rolled into one pastry of ear-hair and ‘shimmying’ trousers . My friends Selina and Anne-Sophie performed fantastic imitations of him after – I think they deserve their own show.

“…our teacher today was someone new. A bulging chest wig, complete with a magnificent gold, chain necklace, that I wonder if he wore it especially, or if he had a Medallion Shining Conference to attend to after…”

Again, Rome was showing off weather-wise, bearing its clear, blue eyes from morning till five-thirty ish. Anne-Sophie, Selina and I decided to get a welcome-back cappuccino in a bar in Piazza Navona. I know – a tourist haven for the weary, sock-sandeled and beige flocks of nomadic, old people. Normally, I never go there as an unassuming cappuccino turns immediately into a small fortune, that you may prefer to spend on a small pony or gold-threaded slippers, or indeed a night in one of the lavish surrounding hotels with Ryan Gosling doing DIY in Dolce undies.

“…never go there as an unassuming cappuccino turns immediately into a small fortune, that you may prefer to spend on a small pony or gold-threaded slippers, or…a night in one of the lavish, surrounding hotels with Ryan Gosling doing DIY in Dolce undies”

 Anyway, there we were catching up about Christmas, which seems like a long way away already. The two of them went back to France (one Montpellier and the other, Tour.) Like me, they were happy to be back (and I didn’t mention my drippy homesick episode, nor the weeping in the shower.) However, much as Granny Question Time and Poking-Nose-About-(non-existent)Boyfriend Q&A’s are delightful, it is hard not to miss the wobbly cobbles whilst navigating night’s-out in heels, or the freshest croissants known to man, (you can still smell the doughy baker’s fingertips, or the baker’s doughy fingertips) or the omniscient looming, stunning architecture. I find the whole, ancient city inspiring and breathtaking, and that is at the worst of times.

Both friends have had the odd ‘nano-romance’ since living here. I asked what that was, and they shrugged in a way only French women can do with bags of sass and nonchalance.

“Eet ees, mmm, a leettle of this, a leettle of that,”. I nodded and wanted more gossip – but they said that perhaps this was more a conversation for cocktails and not ‘middle-of-the-day moosh moosh.’

I left it at ‘moosh-moosh’. I need to know them better to pry.

We didn’t stay too long out and about, but we have a night out planned for ASAP. They were full of fluttering pecks on my cheek before dashing off on their separate ways: one to prepare lunch for the children and the other to a hair appointment.

I left to walk the dog – my own and only source of ‘nano-romance’ at the moment.

“Both friends have had the odd ‘nano-romance’ since living here… the dog – my own and only source of ‘nano-romance’ at the moment”

French hostess, Dimpled Ivan, After Class Chats

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This Friday morning, I went to the Dante Alighieri language school behind Piazza Navona, for one of my once a week lessons. After dropping off the children and taking the dog for a brisk walk down the river, I gathered my things and trotted off to school. By the end of the first lesson we had learnt the basics.

Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, string of luxurious pearls that dance on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint on her face. Unsurprisingly, she got everyone stirring into conversation. The class began with quiet, embarrassed murmurs, but by the end we were all bellowing “Ciao!” and “Where do you come from?” and in Italian: “Where can I find the tram/parking space/nearest post office?” as if our lives depended on it.

        “Our teacher is a jumpy, shrill woman with a dark bob, strings of luxurious pearls that danced on her bosom, accompanied by 24 tottering layers of acrylic paint  on her face…and got everyone stirring into conversation.”

Guess what? I made more friends!

Two sexy, French ladies: Selina and Anne-Sophie: Selina works as a hostess in a posh, French restaurant where she was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business: and Anne-Sophie, an enigmatic hippy with a gap in her teeth, who reluctantly came to Rome to get away from “nosy, over-protective parents”.

“She was told off for “not showing enough leg” and where I imagine the stiff, toothless pole of luxury panther hairs, half-meerkat/half Dracula Karl Lagerfeld is invited when in Rome on vital Chanel business…”

There is also George from Lebanon, dazzlingly different to any friends I’ve ever had: training to be a priest and bought all our coffees and pastries as he has lots of money because “I don’t believe in materialism”. Finally there is Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming and I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me). His father had moved here under the guise of a diplomat working at the Roman Embassy, so he’d school and country hopped because of this profession.

“…Ivan from Ecuador: dimpled, slightly too small and soft around the edges for a perfume ad, but charming…I felt like I was on Question Time for all his inquisitiveness, (I think he likes me)”

Opposite the school entrance, there is a café constantly buzzing with perky, fashionable students and loud, multilingual greetings and high-fives. We all mainly discussed Rome, our situation and why we were here, who is single or on the pull.

Anne-Sophie and Selina are both au-pairs and are both here for a year like me. George and I had an interesting conversation over our cappuccino about boyfriends and girlfriends. He asked me whether I was single. Apparently, in his culture, a girl would only belong to one boy. The Armenian culture (I learnt) is very strict and choice is often rigidly narrow.  It was very refreshing to be with someone unconcerned by the throes of life that would ordinarily trip me up on a daily basis. All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you.

“All in all, I left feeling heady with glee and fulfilled at the wonderful variety of people and conversation that life can spontaneously toss at you”

The Afternoon You Always Wanted

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Yesterday, I met the girls for lunch. It was a magical, crisp day and I was in a cashmere jumper dress, hat and leggings and white flat shoes. I wondered along the Ponte Mazzini to Trastevere to meet my friends. I think the family I live with are relieved I have friends!

“The family are relieved I have friends!”

We went to a snazzy, American place where there is a yoga-fied hostess from California who set up the joint two years ago and apparently lives the ‘American-Roman dream’. She was very smiley with very white teeth and the place had a homely vibe. There were bookshelves, benches, tables, it was a dining room/sitting room love-child, and Raashmi, Sara and I had four courses for twelve euros. Fresh vegetables, couscous, grains and beans, more steamed vegetables. It was basicly the type of meal in the Vogue recipe section that you have once and love the idea but never make it ever again.

“The type of meal in the Vogue recipe section that you have once…love the idea but never make it ever again”

Afterwards, the three of us walked through Trastevere which lounges directly across the Rivere Tevere from where I live. The streets are narrow, cobbled and built in such a way that the apartments lift up into the sky and guide you through intertwining greenery, peek-a-boo cafés and boutique shops. It was a chilly day; the piercing blue sky made the shadows appear very clear-cut, the light sharp and delicate. It is funny things you notice when you go abroad, odd smells, shapes and sounds.

“The streets are narrow, cobbled…built in such a way that the apartments lift up into the sky and guide you through intertwining greenery, peek-a-boo cafés and boutique shops”

After a while, as you can imagine, we ended up in another corner café. It was a place Sara knew, a cosy cuddle from the brisk cold. We ordered cappuccino and freshly baked fruit cake which was Adonis in cake form, (see photo).

What?! Cappuccino after eleven in the morning? – Yes? We must not speak of it again! Says the hooded italian in the corner watching us – it is far too late in the day to even think of ordering such a thing and you will get amused maybe even exasperated looks.

“Cappuccino after eleven in the morning?…You will get amused maybe even exasperated looks”

The place is a mixture of a pub/café with stools reaching up to small round tables. There is also a collection of tables outside where students were studying, books splayed open on tables with empty cups moonlighting as paperweights.

About five thirty, on the way home to meet the children, I had a chilling thought: What if I’d never met these girls? I saw a vision of me: a hermit walking home, lonely and quiet and fat from eating myself busy. Our mind is our own worst enemy I have come to believe. I then made spremuta (freshly squeezed orange juice) and helped Teresa create a map of the world as part of her homework: coloured in of course with special shading that made Teresa squeal with delight. (Map zero, Signorina one.)

“A chilling thought: what if I’d never met these girls? I saw a vision of me: a hermit…lonely and quiet and fat from eating myself busy”

Eventually Friends Will Find You

It all happened so suddenly.. Teresa’s school is just around the corner from the Pantheon, and I could see its heavy, brown walls like a giants’ foot from where I stood waiting for her after school yesterday afternoon. One minute … Continue reading