Posts Tagged ‘italy’

Waiting To Be Heard

Saturday, May 25th, 2013 | Books

Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir is a book by Amanda Knox, the girl who was convicted of murdering University of Leeds student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. Four years later the conviction was overturned on appeal, though is since going back to trial.

I’m not sure how useful it is as case notes – it’s clear from the book that Knox is innocent, but then as she wrote the book, you would expect it to be. If everything she says in the book is true, then the entire trial is a joke, but it certainly can’t have been written without bias.

BBC News published an interesting article about how what she writes in the book differs from what she said at the time. Things have almost certainly changed in the edit. But that said, even when you strip away the bias, it seems very generous to describe the evidence they do have as beyond reasonable doubt.

In any case, the book itself makes for an interesting read. Presumably there is little left to hide after the trial went through every detail of her personal life, so it is laid out without reservation. It’s structured well, in a small chunks that made it easy to read and I struggled to put it down every time.


Ungrateful Italians

Monday, June 20th, 2011 | Friends

Italy is a crazy place. It has some amazing sights but you literally take your life in your hands when you drive on their roads and all their cafes and restaurants close between 12 and 3 for lunch!

On the hole, Italians are very friendly people. That’s technically prejudice, I’ve only met a small section of the Italian population so I can’t really judge them all as friendly but as people don’t seem to mind positive stereotypes (or even negative stereotypes as long as they think they are positive – most Americans are flattered when you call them patriotic, the socially acceptable little brother of racism) though so I’m going to continue with that statement.

Unfortunately, there is a small minority of Italians which are simply ungrateful.

For example, this girl:

Elettra is in the process of moving house, and she didn’t have anywhere to put her rather large keyboard for a week. That’s this one:

Luckily, this good looking hero stepped up, when she asked him if she could store it in his apartment:

You would imagine she would be grateful for that.

So when someone else in the conversation suggested that it would be a great prop for a Jimmy Turtlehouse film, you would think at very least she would laugh along politely.

Of course, this is an entirely hypothetical situation, given I have no contact with the amazing rock star legend that is Jimmy Turtlehouse. But still.

As a consequence, you would presume then that when you come to help actually move the keyboard into your apartment, you won’t be greeted with sentences such as “even if you wanted to use the keyboard for your movies, you can’t, as I’ve got the charger!”

Ungrateful is what it is, ungrateful.


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 | Travel

Needing some down time I headed to Milan after Verona for a bit of R&R. A checked into a rather nice hotel near the centre of Milan (I though it was quite a distance out given it’s distance from the train station, but it turns out the train station is just miles away).

I decided to jump on the big red Sight Seeing buses which they also have in Leeds but I figured because Milan is far more interesting than Leeds the Milan one wouldn’t be shit (I haven’t been in the Leeds one, but it’s a pretty safe guess it is).

It as quite a good deal as they have two routes but you just buy one 24 hour ticket and that gives you access to them both. You also get a pair of headphones which are presumably rubbish (I didn’t try mine) though luckily I had my mini headphones, though unfortunately not my awesome noise canceling ones.

After doing both the tours round the city, I decided to go for a wander down the castle and have a look round. That really reminded me of the internet – full of Africans trying to scam you. Luckily shouting “sorry, ich spreche kein Englisch” seemed to get rid of them.

The cathedral, or Duomo di Milano if you will, was amazing – it was absolutely covered in statues, they were all over the walls and on every spire. Apparently it was quite luckily to see if without any building works on.

Had an interesting conversation on the way out also – trying to speak Italian to a taxi driver when I had never spoken a word of it before was a crazy experience. “Parco Trenno per favore.” “Parco Trenno? You mean Parco Trenno?” I’m 99% certain I pronounced it exactly the same as he did but he insisted it was Parco Trenno, not Parco Trenno. He then didn’t believe me that I wanted to go to Parco Trenno so I then had to try and explain that is where I was meeting my friends.

Still, a taxi was a much faster way of getting out of Milan than driving in – using the back streets, using the bus lane as a regular lane and not really caring if you almost wipe out a few people on mopeds make for much speedier driving.

One thing that I really did pick up on in Europe is how much better their public transport is than ours – most have a bus network, a tram system and an underground system as well as proper cycle lanes that aren’t simply a little painted line running in the main road.


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 | Travel

Another short drive away was Verona though perhaps not an easy drive – while most of Europe seems pretty sensible on the road, the Italians are very different. Things like coaches overtaking on bends, randomly pulling out and best of all, not being able to get into the other lane so simply pulling out and driving head on down your lane until someone lets them in were common place.

Luckily we eventually made it to Verona alive and found our hotel which was just off the main square and best of all – had a McDonald’s on the ground floor!

Once settled in to what was a nice hotel albeit it not offering wifi in our rooms and even in the lobby at a reasonably heavy price we decided to go for a wander and explore the city.

It was very nice – the pavements looked new and well maintained and all the shops were beautiful – it was basically an entire city which looked like the Victoria Quarter in Leeds. Of course, we couldn’t afford to shop in any of them.

We ended up on a square where we decided to have dinner paying what I think was a record of €7 for a beer and being served by a crazy waiter who when I asked for a white wine soon reappeared with a glass of red insisting I would prefer this one. Mental.

Still the food was very nice and on the way home we stopped by Juliet’s balcony, which was unfortunately closed. It’s also a bit of a joke, it’s not even made of the same colour stone as the rest of the building, it’s not even like they have pretended it was originally there – not that you really can for a fictional character.


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 | Travel

We hit the road early on Monday morning to take the road through the Alps to Venice. It was a long drive and continued the dramatic scenery as the road twisted and turned it’s way through the Alpine hills.

We eventually arrived at Venice late afternoon and parked up in the multistory at the edge of the city which was so big it was almost a small town in itself. We then jumped on the water bus to head down the Grand Canal to the other side of the city where our hotel was.

Venice is a crazy place – I mean who thought it would be a good idea to build a city in the middle of the sea? It’s so strange that you are walking around on all these huge squares and buildings, all of which are just floating on the water (they’re not actually floating, but still).

They did however have an annoying habit of mixing up languages – there were loads of t-shirts saying “I love Venezia” which is just annoying – Venezia is the Italian spelling of Venice, so it should either be “I love Venice” or “Lo amo Venezia”, mixing it up is just silly!

The night life was great in Venice also – the tiny winding streets were packed with people (and I’m sure could have felt packed with hardly anyone in them). It seemed to be the kind of place where you could live for a year and still not really know how the streets connect together.

We had pizza for dinner at a small restaurant then headed onto Piazza St Marco to watch the bands that were playing at the restaurants we couldn’t afford to eat at.

Our hotel was traditional Venesian place, which means authentic but otherwise rubbish, and filled with mosquitoes which decided to try and eat me alive.

The next day we decided to walk back across the city towards the car which was quite a distance with all the stuff but did allow us to see much more of Venice.

It was an odd mix of churches, tourist shops containing weird masquerade ball masks and actual shops to serve the people that actually live there.