Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

I am in Milan, Italy at the moment. My trip was a last minute arrangement. My mother fell and broke her wrist – ouch! After a 10-day stay in hospital ( a rather fraught (tense) experience) which included an operation to have a titanium plate inserted, she returned home late last week. I decided to fly over so that I could help my mother as and when she needed. I am glad that I am a teacher as my nursing skills are severely lacking!! Luckily, my mother is extremely independent and is recovering remarkably well.

The remarkable patient

The remarkable patient

Mum's bionic hand

Mum’s bionic hand

Yesterday, we went to the hospital to have her dressing changed. I got to see the metal stitches that she was given.She looks like she has a bionic arm!

Despite her broken wrist, my mother and I have been to the cinema and even the theatre. As I write this post, she’s taking her English class at the centre where she volunteers as an English Language teacher! What a Mum!


Whilst in Milan, I am also taking the opportunity to catch up with some clients, friends and to visit some new places. The city has been very busy getting ready for the Expo which will take place between May and October this year. There has been a lot of building work around certain key areas.

Yesterday I visited Eataly which is an organisation that celebrates all the food that Italy has to offer the world. It was a real feast for the eyes.


This week is also the end of carnival week that culminated yesterday with Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday) or Shrove Tuesday as it’s known in the UK. To Christians around the world, Mardis Gras represents the last chance for a great show of colour, raucous behaviour and excess of food and wine before the start of the 40-day abstinence for Lent.

Here in Italy, the Venice Carnival is world-famous. However there are also lesser known carnivals like the one in Rome. In terms of food, we eat “chiacchiere” which are delicious, crunchy and positively moreish. We also eat “tortelli” although I prefer the former. In the UK,  Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day.

Le Chiacchiere - crunchy and so moreish!!

Le Chiacchiere – crunchy and so moreish!!

From today (Ash Wednesday), all excesses are put to one side and we begin the 40-day abstinence for Lent. “The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.” (Wikipedia).  In the Christian world, this takes on many forms such as fasting on certain days, avoiding certain food types like dairy products, meat and alcohol. In today’s more secular society, some people choose to give up a luxury product or favourite item like chocolate or alcohol.

Me? I haven’t decided yet. In Milan, we follow the Ambrosian Rite after St Ambrose (the patron saint of Milan) and that means that carnival ends four days later on Fat Saturday (sabato grasso). This also means that I have four more days to enjoy all the goodies on offer and have more time to decide what to give up for Lent. For as the saying goes….when in Rome (Milan), do as the Romans (Milanese) do!

So cheers!

For the Christians among you, practising or non-practising, are you giving anything up for Lent?

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Ciao for now