Sunday, 28 February 2010

Day 121-122-Genova, Italy

I remembered it was exactly a year ago, on my mum's birthday that I bought the Rolla Dolls. Today, Mum turns 70 years old and I am 2 hours away from her birthday dinner. If my dolls have birthdays, then I guess it is theirs too. So to celebrate in true royal style, the Rollas went on a holiday to meet the real Rollas.

The picture on top was the very 1st glimpse of Italy they had. It was from a train window at Milano Centrale where we took the Eurail from Milan to Genova. We had headed there straight from the Milan Malpensa Airport and it was around 9-10am. It was drizzling and the weather was to be wet everyday that we were in Italy. You won't believe it but I love the Italian drizzle. Soft and tender, they are like Evian from a spritzer. Totally refreshing.

Rosanna met us at the train station at Port Principe and we went straight to her home. Let me tell you a secret, Rosanna lives in a dollhouse too! I love her home. It was warm, cosy and very sweet!

I went into the bedroom to put my bags down and true to the legendary Rolla's hospitality, I found these packages on the bed, so beautifully wrapped I didn't want to open them at all.

So many wonderful gifts which I will share later but this one (which I reluctantly unwrapped that evening just before dinner) was the lucky blog candy dip that Rosanna organised and to top it all, she made a miniature version of the apron!

The 2 days with Rosanna went by too quickly in beautiful Genova. Although we took a grand total of about 2000 pictures of this trip, I won't torture you with them. Here are my top picks to show off the Genova I have come to love:

The Alleyways,
Via Garibaldi

(17th Feb 2010)

Painted ceiling of an apartment block

Frescoes and gilded ceiling of a church

The Fishing Village
(18th Feb 2010)

The Quaint Houses
A small hilltop bungalow with a faux drawbridge

To save on taxes (which are based on the number of windows), this house has trompe l'oeil windows. The closed ones are all fakes.

The Market

The SeaportMarG, me and Rosanna walking toward a lunch spot

Lunch, courtesy of Roberta

The Mystery
This century old chocolate shop is in some dark and danky back alley with no signboard. They however sell the best chocolates in Genova. The little pots on the shelves were made entirely of chocolate for the carnivale. Adults puts sweets and candies in these pots for their children to find on the last day of the carnivale.

The Best Meal In Europe
Home Cooked Genoese Dinner

Starters: **panissa fritta e sacripantina (fried chick peas in flour) , Anchovies in oil, salami, bread
1st Course: **pasta al pesto 2nd Course: Artichoke Pie
3rd Course: pollo alla cacciatora -chicken stew in tomato sauce
Dessert: Sacripantina made with finger biscuits, butter, sugar, eggs and marsala (a christmas specialty)

Dishes are all lovingly cooked by Rosanna (except maybe the bread) and those with asterisks are my favourites. Seriously, I don't know how she keeps her petite size.
We have the pesto pasta and artichoke pie for breakfast the next morning. I think I will have the same pesto pasta again this July.

Most Memorably,
The Friendships

The Last Look
While waiting for the bus to bring us to the train station away from Genova and toward Venice, this is the view I see from the bus stop. Rosanna's La Casa Rossa, the life size house she is modeling her next dollhouse after.

Ciao Bella!
Me and Rosanna chatting every chance we have

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Day 120- Open House, Good Night House

Today is the 3rd day of the Chinese New Year. People usually do not do any visiting today because they believe that one tends to get into arguments on this day. Is it any wonder, I ask you? When you are plain exhausted from the preparations of the last 3 days (starting from the eve) so much so that you really just want to take a break and not have to entertain some more.

That's why I thought today will be a perfect day to invite my virtual friends over. Bound to have no quarrels!

So, come, come, my dear friends ! Welcome to my home. Oh, did you think this is my Indian palace? Ermm, I am ashamed (..not!) to admit, my miniature life has quite certainly taken over my real life!

If you will please, do leave your beautiful shoes right at the door, that's it, thank you. And while I put on my favourite song.... 'fraid it's not anything Chinese, it's my current favourite from AR Rahman, the composer and singer for Slumdog? .. do sit down..

Pick any of the Indian cushions, pillows, poufs or bolsters. So many of them, you said, yes, I went a bit crazy and bought about 22 of them in one go from SuZ's shop. Oops, this reminds me, I have yet to pay for them! Ok, done! Just transferred the payment. Do you know it is super bad luck to owe people money during Chinese New Year? It means you will be indebted for the whole year after!

Ahh, are you admiring my new clothes? I bought it from a shop in Little India last year but have never worn it. It is a little loud but really, the colours are just right for the new year since we Chinese just adores red . Brings good luck. Yes, it is all about luck for us!

But let me show you the details of this dress. Aren't they simply to-die-for? Don't they remind you of my new tent? You know, if I can shrink myself in this dress, I will totally kick the Maharajah and his friend right out of his tent and claim ownership. I will so belong there, don't you think?

Oh, oh , oh, can I also show you my matching handbags?

I bought them when I was in Delhi last year. Made by this company called 500 B.C, here's a close up of my favourite.

For those of you who read Hindi (I think), can you tell the characters are exchanging "unpleasantries"? Don't you just love their wit? Laughter is good for the new year, you know.

Goodness! You must think me a terrible hostess. I forgot to offer you beverages and goodies! Let me quickly take out my best China from India.

Coffee, tea or orange juice? Which reminds me, here are 2 "Golden" Mandarins , luck of course. Happy New Year. Err, now you will have to give 2 back so that you will not take my luck away! All smiles now, thank you very much and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Oooh, one of you exclaim when you see my fresh flowers. They are lovely, aren't they? That brass pot? I bought it from Pakistan a long, long time ago. The incense burner shaped like the Taj Mahal is cute, isn't it? It's another old old piece.

Do you want to see the rest of the house? Sure! Let me show you my room.

Fresh bedsheets and bedspread from India of course. Not to mention the sari overhanging the bed bought at the Kinari bazaar.

These saris are cheap folk ones commonly worn by the less well to do. But they are the ones I love best. Look at the prints. Will you believe I cannot get them from Singapore?

Then there's the craft room of course. Come, let's bring our tea in here because this is where we will probably spend the most time. We can sit on the rug and chat and if you are sleepy after a while, you can always hop onto the bed and snooze with the elephants (hanging inside the "tent").

I think some of you may have already seen this room which probably is the one with the most Indian influence. Are you familiar with my dolls? Hey lookee there!

The Rollas are all packed. OMeGosh! How time flies when you are having fun! Feel free to stay as long as you like, my friends but I need to run now. I have a plane to catch and in less than 24 hours, I will be meeting the real Rollas in Genoa! And then maybe dear Rosanna will call Roberta and we can all have real tea! O,o,oh, I can no longer wait! Ta-ta, sweethearts! And please switch off the lights, the last of you.

Good night, House! See you in 10 days!
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