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Recently there has been a trend to give a donation to charity and in place of the favour a note or card telling your guests about the donation. It’s a lovely idea, especially if you have a charity that’s close to your heart.

italian ceramic charity favour

Another great idea is to give favours that have been made by a charity, that way, your money goes to a good cause and you can still give your guests a special keepsake.

ceramic star favour made by disabled people for charity

cooperativa sociale coloriAt BombonieraShop, we work with a local charity called “Cooperativa Sociale Colori” where disabled people hand make ceramic favours. We sell these complete with favour pouches filled with dragees. They come complete with certificate. It’s a wonderful way to help a good cause.

italian charity favours

Tinnari

 life, sardinia, Sardinian Beaches, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su Tinnari
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Tinnari is a very special beach, apart from being beautiful it’s hard to access which means even in the height of summer there won’t be many people there. You can get here by boat trip from Costa Paradiso or driviving to Tinnari and hiking down.

Cala Tinnari SardiniaIts’s quite easy to miss, you should take the main road from Castelsardo to Santa Theresa – SP90, it’s about halfway between Isola Rossa and Costa Paradiso, the turn off is tucked behind a restaurant called Il Geranio. It’s a dirt track that leads up a big hill, you’ll probably find a few other cars parked up at the top of the hill. It’s a good 2km walk and some parts of the path are difficult. We did it with a 5, 3 and 1 yr old. They weren’t too happy coming back up as they’d worn themselves out. If you’re without small children it would probably only take 30 minutes. You could leave an umbrella behind and shelter in the shade of the rocks if necessary. Take snacks and plenty of water, you won’t find any vendors on this beach.
Costa di Tinnari

It’s a stoney beach so bear this in mind if you like to wear water shoes! The water is crystal clear, as in most places in Sardinia and has some very sheltered areas protected by rocks which my kids loved jumping off and paddling around in. It would be great to snorkle here. My son also loved crab catching on the rocks and it was a pirate cove so great for young imaginations!

tinnari sardinia

If you’re planning a holiday in the horth of Sardinia, this is a great guide to beaches around Trinita D’Agultu, many of which are calm and have shallow water suitable for young children. Have a great holiday!

 

My rennovation inspiration

 expat in italy, gardening, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su My rennovation inspiration
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When We bought our house I had just come back from travelling around India and the surrounding countries. I fell in love with the havellis in Rajisthan and the Portuguese villas of Goa, Kerela and Sri Lanka. Sardinian architecture leaves a lot to be desired and country properties in particular were built to be practical and little else. Still our house felt like it had character, it was built by a wealthy (for the countryside) family who owned a lot of land in the early 1940’s. They tried to create a house similar to those in the city with high ceilings and tall windows, inside however has low doorways!

Rajasthan HavelliWe knew from the outset we would extend our house, I loved the idea of a veranda or roof terrace, enjoying a breeze in the shade sipping a lime soda. Ahhh, those were the days! I knew we’d need some areas which would graham and green goa villastay cool in the hot summer months. Havellis do a great job of this with rooms built around a central open courtyard. I was lucky enough to stay in the villa owned by Antonia Green, co founder of Graham and Green. It too benefits from a central open courtyard, however, the Goan climate is slightly different from Sardinia’s and I don’t think we’d appreciate the chill in winter!

portuguese villa in goaAs our house was built on a slope, we decided that where you enter the house, the ground floor, would be the day time zone with lounge, dining room and kitchen etc. And the extension would be built at lower ground floor level and house the bedrooms and bathrooms. In fact the house actually has 5 levels! Up a few steps to the kitchen, down a few to the family bathroom and shower room, down a few more to 2 bedrooms and down again to a further 3 bedrooms which have their own private access and en-suites built in the extension. Eventually we will convert the loft space so our children each have a bedroom. The extension was built on the back of the house and is roughly 80sqm and the roof is a terrace accessed via french doors from the dining room with steps down to the garden.

I also found inspiration on websites such as Mr and Mrs Smith and Olivers Travels looking through their Italian properties. Unfortunately, Pinterest had yet to be invented!

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I always give what I’d like to receive and here are a few favours suitable for a birth, baby shower or Baptism that I’d love to be given!

Silver stork carrying baby in a bundle. DIY favour.

Silver stork carrying baby in a bundle. DIY favour.

This cute silver miniature figurine could be attached to a favour bag, pouch or rosette (as shown below). It would also look fantatsic on an elegant perspex favour box and decorated with ribbon and filled with dragees in a matching colour.

Silver stork carrying a baby bundle presented on a pink favour rosette filled with a choice of dragees.

Silver stork carrying a baby bundle presented on a pink favour rosette filled with a choice of dragees.

Silver stork carrying a baby bundle presented on a blue favour rosette filled with a choice of dragees.

Silver stork carrying a baby bundle presented on a blue favour rosette filled with a choice of dragees.

 

I personally think it’s better to spend a little bit more but give a favour which my guests will treasure forever with a special memory of the day or event we shared together.

The reality of living in Sardinia

 expat in italy, food, gardening, sardinia, sardinian farmhouse, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su The reality of living in Sardinia
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If you love Sardinia and think you’d like to live here full time then here are a few things you should bear in mind:

tempio pausania sardiniaWork.

Do you need to work or will you be retiring? If you need to look for work then you should speak fluent Italian or be CELTA qualified with 2 years experience (or the equivalent qualification for teaching another sought after foreign language such as German, Russian French or Spanish). There is teaching work in Sardinia, however without experience and any knowledge of Italian you may find it difficult to get many hours. If your Italian is good enough you could get seasonal work in a hotel or restaurant. These are generally 4 month contracts which include accomodation. There is little other work. You could translate but you need a very good knowledge of Italian.

Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who got transfered to Sardinia…. it does happen.

I’ve lived in Sardinia for 7 years, I have a degree in Graphic design, a CELTA and speak fluent Italian, Last year I started teaching and have continued this year, gradually building a reputation. I now also translate part time. I’m lucky to have a job.

My husband speaks fluent English and French along with Italian, he works 4 months a year as a restaurant manager. It’s not easy supporting a family with so little work. If you’re interested on reading more listen to Jennifer Aventura too.

Many places will only offer a temporary contract so you can forget about things like loans, mortgages and credit cards.

Language

Learning Italian is a must. Get lessons, throw yourself into Italian life unless you want to live in a bubble of expats with whom your only common ground is probably the English language. This was my experience anyway. Most English people I know who live near me are retired, they don’t have much time for me and my brood and I don’t think they understand the daily struggles of life in Sardinia.

cabu abbas, perfugas, sardinia

Life

Life in Sardinia is slow paced, old fashioned and ridiculously frustrating. There is a form for everything, and they need to be filled in every year, (for example, child benefit should be reapplied for every year even if no changes have occured.) You really do need to know lots of people otherwise things just won’t happen for you, I had been waiting for over 6 months to get my daughter assessed for speech therapy, when I mentioned it to my friend she said, oh my friend works there, I’ll call him. So we got an appointment. The SYSTEMS are long and complicated, I bore myself talking about it, in fact, I can’t really think about it beacuse I find it so frustrating. People shrug it off and say, oh well in England things are different. But some of it is common sense and laziness. Too many people have jobs because they know someone at the top. Hence lots of incompetent people – mainly within the councils.

Food

home grown baby water melonProbably the best aspect to living here is the fresh and organic produce. If you live in the countryside then you and your neighbours will likely have an ‘orto’ veg patch. People share their bumper crops amongst friends and family. I rarely buy fruit and vegetables during the summer. There are lots of wild fruits that you can pick from along the roads too. Figs, prickly pears, blackberries, pears, almonds, asparagus, mushrooms.

 

The landsardinian countryside, perfugas, domos cabu abbas
I live in the countryside in north central Sardinia. An area known as Anglona. It’s handily positioned between 2 airports. It’s blissfully quiet. All I hear through the winter is the sound of cow bells in surrounding fields, in the spring the frogs wake up and sing their hearts out and in the summer the air is filled with the sound of crickets. It’s beautiful. It’s a shame so many tourists don’t bother with central Sardinia, it has a lot to offer, huge lakes, moutains, great bike paths, rivers, nuraghes and traditional villages.

Let’s not for get the beaches, although, if you have to work like most Sardinians throughout the summer months, you won’t get much chance to enjoy these! This is Tinnari, a cove once used by pirates and accessible only by a very steep and difficult footpath or by boat excursion, it’s worth the hike though, it’s hard to find (almost) empty beaches in August in Sardinia.

tinnari, sardinia, pirate cove

 

Top Italian Baby names of 2016

 children, expat in italy, life, Sardinian Life  Commenti disabilitati su Top Italian Baby names of 2016
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Italian parents tend to stick to more traditional names for their children and it’s very common to name your children after your parents,  So if you have Italian family and want something inkeeping, here is a list of the top baby names from 2015 in Italy. In brackets I have added how these names are often shortened or the pronunciation if the name is unusual.

italian newborn baby-d33utv4

 

Girls:

  1. Sofia
  2. Aurora
  3. Emma
  4. Giulia (Julia)
  5. Giorgia (Gio/Jo)
  6. Martina (Marty)
  7. Alice
  8. Chiara
  9. Sara
  10. Greta
  11. Anna (or Annina – meaning little Anna)
  12. Gaia (Pronounced guy a)
  13. Francesca
  14. Giada (Pronounced ja da)
  15. Elena
  16. Beatrice
  17. Asia
  18. Rebecca (Becca)
  19. Viola
  20. Noemi (as in Naomi, pronounced no emi)

Boys

  1. Alessandro (Ale or Sandro)
  2. Lorenzo (Lore or Enzo)
  3. Mattia (Matti)
  4. Andrea
  5. Francesco (Kiko only when young)
  6. Leonardo (Leo or Nardo)
  7. Matteo (Matti)
  8. Marco
  9. Luca
  10. Gabriele (Gabri)
  11. Riccardo (Ricky)
  12. Diego
  13. Tommaso
  14. Davide
  15. Federico
  16. Enea
  17. Eduoardo
  18. Alessio (Ale)
  19. Jacopo (as in Jacob)
  20. Christian

Unusual name choices tend to be international names, with a few instagram filters making an apprearance too: Ludwig and Beethoven for boys and Juno for girls. For a fuller list see here.

Francesco is the most popular boys name in Italy for the last 10 years.

And the best name I’ve ever come across, the other day I met a woman who had called her son Jacopo Leone! (Jacob Lion) I love it. And my children … Luca, Annina and Rafi (short for Raffaele). Here is another great list for you to browse through for more ideas.

Italian Wedding Cars

 ideas, italian wedding, sardinia, wedding car, wedding decorations  Commenti disabilitati su Italian Wedding Cars
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If you’re looking for wedding cars for your Italian wedding then what could be cuter than a white fiat 500? We love this fantatsic shot by David Burton taken for Elle Sposa.

Italian wedding by David Burton

piaggo ape wedding tuc tucLuckily Italy has made some pretty special classic cars so if the 500 isn’t for you, don’t worry, we’ve got a few more options. You could go all quirky in a converted Piaggio Ape, tuc tuc style or the fiat multipla. There’s the lesser known fiat Topolino, a small car meaning “little mouse.”

fiat topolino 500 B
alpha romeo spider wedding car
lancia agusta wedding carThe Lancia Agusta is a beautiful Italian classic car as is the Alpha Romeo Spider. Other popular wedding cars are vintage VW Beetles, Rolls -Royce, Jaguars and Mercedes.

I recommend using matrimonio.com to search by region to see what cars are available in your chosen area. Of course, if you’re getting married in a small town you could always ask the locals if anyone has a car they could lend you.

But what’s a popular wedding car where I live… well, obviously an old British taxi! What could be better in the middle of the Sardinian countryside?

Italian Wedding Cakes! Eat your Heart out!

 italian wedding, wedding cake, wedding decorations, wedding menu  Commenti disabilitati su Italian Wedding Cakes! Eat your Heart out!
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So you’ve sorted out the venue, the dress, the menu but what about the cake? Where do you start? If you’re using a wedding planner then they are bound to have a list of recommendations but if you’re going it alone it might get difficult.

italian wedding cake with fruit

If you’ve chosen quite a large a hotel, they will have a pastry chef and be able to prepare your cake but otherwise you’ll have to start visiting local pasticcerias, many will have a little portfolio of wedding cakes they’ve made. These will be more traditional Italian wedding cakes which are generally sponge based with pastry cream and decorated in whipped cream and often fresh fruit. They are generally very reasonably priced.

If you’re looking for a more modern tiered wedding cake, perhaps what we’re used to in the UK and USA then don’t worry, you can find cake decoraters in Italy too, the larger the city, the easier it will be.

Florence CakesIn Tuscany, Melanie Secciani has a stunning portfolio of wedding cakes. Prices range from 9.25-20 euros per person and they are all made to order. False layers can be added or extra single layer cakes can be added to make up for larger ceremonies to help keep the cost down. It’s worth getting in touch with Melanie with your requests and eventually make an appointment at her bakery in Florence.

 

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One of my favourite favours has always been this simple porcelain rose brooch. It’s really adaptable and also really reasonably price. It comes in a darker beige colour too, you could mix the two to give your favours a little tonal variety.

porcelain ivory broochtaupe pocelain rose broochThe first thing you could do is pin it to the favour pouch of your choice, add your prefered sweets and decorate with matching ribbon but if you’re feeling more adventurous you could place it on top or inside a perspex or glass favour box or jar.

porcelain rose brooch favour

Here we’ve placed the brooch on top of a 3x6x6 perspex favour box which has been tied with ribbon and the brooch applied to the bow. Inside we’ve used a mixture of chocolate heart shaped dragees and sugar pearls which add a pretty touch if you’re using a perspex or glass favour jar, they come in a choice of colours. It’s an elegant and neutral favour which works great for a wedding, anniversary or even a Baptism favour.

porcelain rose brooch on favour bag with sweetsAlternatively here it’s applied to a polka dot favour pouch. You can add depth to your favours by elaborating on the deoration, perhaps combine 2 ribbons and create a double bow. The same colour in different widths and materials works well. For example a wide organza ribbon teamed with a thin gros grain or satin ribbon or two widths of satin ribbons in different shades. Have a look in our DIY department at our full collection of ribbons, all on big reels.

Dress of the week

 Abito Nuziale, Base, italian wedding, wedding dress  Commenti disabilitati su Dress of the week
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If you’re marrying an Italian or getting married in Italy then you might be looking for a quintessential Italian wedding dress. We think we’ve found just that dress.bianca amelia sposa wedding dress

We’ve fallen head over heals for Bianca, this stunning Chantilly lace dress with Venice lace appliques features a crystal beaded belt.

This dress really emphasises the feminine silhouette and has a sensual open back which is accentuated with the fine lace detail and crystal belt which carries on down the train.

amelia sposa wedding dress bianca rear back

Amelia Sposa is a family business run by Amelia and her 2 children who oversee a small team of designers. Amelia, from Potenza in the South of Italy, started working as a seamstress with a passion for design and tailoring in 1983 and for for more than 30 years has been working with the aim to create brides who glow through the dresses they wear on their special day.

AmeliaSposa have a wonderful collection of dresses which can be ordered online and shipped worldwide.