Even if you are not a circular and sustainable fashion expert, I am pretty sure that you have already heard about Upcycling. The reason is that the term has been increasingly used in the fashion system, when it comes to sustainability, reuse, recycling because of the increased attention of customers towards sustainability.
But what is Upcycling exactly?
When we talk about upcycling we usually refer to the creative reuse of materials, fabrics, as a starting point for a new creative process. Upcycling is different from recycling and downcycling because we don’t simply reuse something but we transform it to give it a new life.
We can be creative at home if we are able to use the sewing machine for example, by giving second life to our damaged pieces but there is another type of upcycling that is more and more used in the fashion system: the sartorial upcycling.
The Sartorial upcycling often gives to the creations an higher value to the original one, creating a new lifecycle for something that was almost dead. The fashion designer elaborates and readapt the old piece by transforming it into something different, unique, more precious and with high creativity.
One example of this creative sartorial upcycling is the new line of Vintage Sartorial Jackets created by Madame Ilary in collaboration with Le Fie Studio: they started from vintage jackets (many are designer’s) that they decorated or restructured with silk, juta and other precious materials, adding personal details like vintage buttons, bows or voluminous silk sleeves and other details.
The result is simply amazing and it clearly explains how a sartorial intervention on vintage pieces can be an added-value to the piece, giving it not only a second life but even a luxurious one!
Obviously all the pieces are unique, and I am showing here three of the pieces that I loved more:
The black blazer with silk sleeves and vintage buttons, definitely the best way to add glamour to the simplest outfit (here I am wearing it with a white tee and handmade culottes by Madame Ilary)
The red blazer, an incredible 80s vintage piece with silk sleeves that is perfect also with denim (from Sézane) and sneakers (Ash second hand found on Vinted)
The navy blazer, transformed into a sort of waistcoat, with precious brocade on the sleeves and on the back, here worn with some irony on a Madame Ilary hand-painted tee dedicated to Anna Piaggi and handmade tartan trousers
Many more creative Vintage Sartorial Jackets are on sale on Madame Ilary website, but you can also ask Ilaria and Grazia to readapt your own jacket with a sartorial twist.
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When you have been dealing with vintage for more than 20 years, it may happen that you feel as you have seen it all: that you know all the vintage shops in town and online, that you can’t be surprised by new vintage selectors and sellers.
But one of the advantages of vintage being the new cool trend at the moment is that you can find so many new sellers and dealers that you have never met before. You also find out that you can still be surprised and that with vintage you can never say that you have seen it all!
I don’t know if it is the surprising power of vintage but I feel immediately guilty of thinking just for a second that I won’t find new exciting vintage or vintage sellers around!
The outfit that I am wearing here is a very good example of this, as two vintage pieces come from seller that I have come to know during last year:
The dress is a lovely 80s printed dress coming from Beatbox Vintage selection. I met Cristian and Simone on Instagram first, then live at the Remira Market and I couldn’t imagine that their site and physical selection would be so full of vintage gems! I literally spent three hours online to decide what to buy from them! By the way, if you are interested this is the site and don’t forget that you can enjoy 10% off anytime with the code LADYBUG10
The beautiful vintage belt comes from a little shop that I found on Depop called A dream of mine: her pieces are lovely and I bought three amazing vintage belts from her!
The other pieces come from shops or sellers that I already knew:
The fabulous green rattan bag, directly from the 70s, comes from the amazing selection of A rebours Vintage in Milan
The 80s earrings are a great bargain from the antiques market in Sorrento many years ago
The handmade turban is from my beloved Madame Ilary, with a fabric and trims that I found in Amman, Jordan
The beautiful shell ring comes from an amazing Neapolitan jeweler: I met him through Madame Ilary who sells his pieces in her show room in Milan.
Ps. My Miu Miu thrifted sandals are always there, I know. I think that I will stop wearing them the day they will decide to leave me barefoot in the middle of the street!
I am not saying anything new by stating that I miss markets almost as much as I miss travels. We all do miss these things right?
If you consider that markets are not only my primary source for vintage pieces but also a great source for inspiration you can imagine how I feel right now!
As a content creator I definitely miss a lot of my “previous life” inspo: seeing people, going around, making new experiences, traveling, visiting museums, shops etc. was the best food for my creativity. They brought to content things to talk about, outfit inspiration, clothes and accessories to buy, everything that I do for living (sort of!). Now I often feel drained and my online world does not always fulfill the duty!
Here in Milan I have really a few markets that help me feeding my creativity: the Antiques markets of Brera and Naviglio Grande for sure, they are a classic! In the last year I also enjoyed a good walk to Remira Market on Sunday mornings as there are a lot of things about this freshly created market that I deeply love. First of all the people: the atmosphere is relaxed and fun at the same time and the sellers (some of my favorite in Northern Italy!) are super cool!
It is easy to find your best bargains there: prices are fair and sometimes, if you are a good vintage hunter, you can really find the little treasure for a very affordable price!
Personally I also love a few concepts of Remira that are very important to me: first of all they are a plastic free market. No plastic bags, bottles, glasses etc and visitors are recommended to bring their own canvas bags for their purchases, small but big change isn’t it?
Secondly, it is not just a market but a full art experience: it takes place in the garden of an artistic space, the Tempio del Futuro Perduto, where you can see art performances, participate to workshops, reading a book from their bookshelves and many other interesting activities while sipping a drink or just buying your new vintage piece!
Remira has also space for very nice young handcrafters, many of them I just met there for the first time.
I regret that I didn’t find the time to visit them in February when they were open for two dates, before they closed again, as we all did. I promise I will do it immediately when they will open again (hopefully soon!).
These pictures were taken during one of my last visits, summer 2020 with some friends: I wore a total vintage outfit, shirt and skirt from Humana Vintage plus a vintage a bag from Blondie Girl Vintage. My turban is of course handmade from Madame Ilary and my shoes are the super old thrifted Miu Miu gladiator sandals from the 2000s!
Looking forward to take more pictures in the next Remira Market adventure!
Bag: Blondiegirl Vintage
Total outfit: Humana Vintage
Turban: Madame Ilary
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I perfectly remember the day when these pictures were taken for a specific reason. During that day four people stopped me at the restaurant, in the subway, in the street just to ask about my dress: “Where did you get it? – I love it”!
This made me think a lot about the power of a dress and where it comes from: it is the pattern? Maybe the color? The shape? Or maybe just the way it makes you feel when you wear it!
I can remember how happy I was when I received this dress from Anna su Misura: a beautiful yet simple handmade piece with the colors and patterns of Africa, its lovely vintage buttons and its many ways to use it (as a jacket or as a dress!). I was excited because it was the first step that Cristiana (founder of Anna su Misura) was doing towards a complete collection of clothing handmade with wax print fabrics. Cristiana started selling skirts and this beautiful dress called Anna (the name of her mum) was the first attempt to a more complete line of clothing. After the dress many interesting pieces were created: kimonos, shirts, turbans, bags, homeware…
I decided to wear it immediately the day after at the office and the reaction was incredible: compliments, questions, requests of the creator name…
I think that for sure the quality of a handmade dress makes the difference; the perfect choice of colors and pattern did the rest. But I must admit that I felt like a queen with it (not a coincidence that I wore my handmade turban–crown from Madame Ilary) and I also received compliments for how good it looked on me! One thing is sure: clothes are powerful. Vintage and handmade pieces have super powers.
Their power lays on the way we feel when we wear them. Princesses, queens, powerful human beings, passionate, compassionate, everything that may come with it! And the effects of this power are visible also to the others, which explains why they unusually compliment with us so often!
Of course we should consider the side effects of this: negative power clothes exist too! Probably they are those that are “imposed from the outside”, those with no history, those created without love. Have you ever thought of it?
All this to tell you that when you choose a dress, choose a (good) powerful one!
Handmade earrings: Metalica Creazioni; Boots: very old Jeffrey Campbell
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When I am asked which brands are really ethical my first answer is always the same: handcrafters are the most ethical brands. Many times they don’t even know how important is their job for the sustainability of the planet but I cannot imagine a more ethical brand than an handcrafter or an artisan.
Their small production is often on demand then they really know how to avoid overproduction; they carefully choose the most natural sources, which gives quality and sustainability to their products; they produce our clothes and accessories themselves, sometimes with the help of other workers in a very transparent way and without exploitation of people and resources.
I loved what Gaia Segattini said one day about sustainability in fashion: being sustainable as an handcrafter is easy because artisans are sustainable by default, but the real sustainable ones are those who pay their taxes and their providers and workers respecting deadlines and personal needs.
Of course there are more sustainable brands in the world and I have already showed you how to find them (here) but today I want to give you an example of what we can do to support them: just buy from them and reward them for what they do for us and for the planet!
I want to give you an example of an outfit created with pieces from an handcrafter and an ethical brand.
The outfit that I am wearing is: 1. handmade by Madame Ilary, in particular the lovely trousers and turban (I love the combo!) in a floral precious pattern in blue and dark pink that I adore! I paired the combo with 2. a broderie anglaise ivory blouse from the French brand Sézane, one of my favorite ethical brands ever! Rings and earrings are also handmade by amazing handcrafters!
PS. The shoes are second hand from Miu Miu, maybe not necessarily an ethical brand but definitely a piece that I bought used and that I have worn for almost ten years now!
What are your favorite ethical brands? Feel free to share them!
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Going back to Dakar felt more like going back home for me. Senegal is my second home and Dakar is my second city (Milan is my third, even if I live here, if you were wondering!!).
Even if I was there a few years before it felt like many things have changed in two years: new buildings, museums, mosques, highways, Dakar is a very fast-pace-moving city and I was really surprised about the big changes in just few years!
It is a very crowded and noisy city but I can’t help loving it so much. I love it for its vibrant atmosphere, the music, the people, the colored car rapides (public buses – see picture above) I love it for being so modern but so traditional at the same time, always open to renovate, to look at the future without forgetting its past. Dakar is a city of art, museums, street art, probably one of the most interesting cities in Western Africa.
We arrived from the Lac Rose, not long after lunch which gave us some time to spend in the city before going home (real home, as I spent the last few days with my Senegalese family). The first thing I asked to see was the Rail station in the city center. Why? Because I madly fell in love with the decadence of this colonial building the last time and I read some time before that it was completely renovated. I was happy to see that the renovation did not change the vibes of this wonderful building (very art deco) that has a beautiful story to tell. I was also happy that my favorite basket crafter and the lovely Malian market were still there though!
We then moved to the second big news in town: the newly inaugurated (just a few weeks before) Mosque of Massalikul Djinaane, one of the biggest mosques in Western Africa. It took 15 years to be completed but I was in complete admiration of the wonderful rich decorations of this mosque, that we visited at the sunset where its colors were sublimated by the golden light. After this amazing visit I couldn’t be happier to finally see my Senegalese family after so long.
Even if the celebrations of being with my Senegalese family lasted until late, I woke up super early in the morning to take the boat to Gorée, an island that really took my heart the last time. I really wanted to go back there and this was maybe the only place in Dakar that did not change in the meantime.
Gorée is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, because of its symbolic role in the Atlantic slave trade although it is a bit under discussion in the history of the slave trade. On the island there is the House of Slaves (Maison des esclaves), built by an Afro-French Métis family about 1780–1784. The House of Slaves is one of the oldest houses on the island. It is now used as a tourist destination to show the horrors of the slave trade throughout the Atlantic world and its visit will not let you indifferent. I cried as a baby the first time, so did I the second one. The only thing that can make you stop crying is the beauty of the island itself, its breath taking views on the ocean, its lovely super colored houses, the warmth of the people, the many artists who live there, the rhythm of djembe. The memories that I have here are priceless.
I spent the morning on the island until lunch time, then I took the boat to come back to Dakar and to continue the visit to the new “happenings” in town. Another big news was the newly inaugurated Museum of Black Civilizations, that is conceived with the goal of highlighting “Africa’s contribution to the world’s cultural and scientific patrimony”. No need to say that I was speechless in front of such a representation of the histories and contemporary cultures of Black people everywhere, even outside Africa.
We moved back to the city center to have a long walk in the Medina, the old town, to visit the “Grande Mosque” (only from the outside as visitors are not allowed) and to enjoy the real Dakar, as I call the Medina, a neighborhood full of history but also a new cultural and artistic center of the city, especially for young artists and street artists.
We then moved towards the Corniche to visit (again!) the African Renaissance Monument (Monument de la Renaissance Africaine), a copper statue (the tallest in Africa) located on top of one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and representing a family drawn up towards the sky, the man carrying his child on his biceps and holding his wife by the waist, “an Africa emerging from the bowels of the earth, leaving obscurantism to go towards the light”. In front of this monument stands one of my favorite Mosques in Dakar, the Mosquée de la Divinité. Not as beautiful as the others mentioned before but I have a special affection for it that makes it very beautiful to my eyes!
We left the last day in Dakar for shopping and believe me, it is the hardest part!
First of all because Dakar is full of amazing markets and you cannot miss many of them, not only for buying food and other stuff but also because some of them are just amazing!
Marché Kermel is worth a visit especially for the building: housed within a kiln-shaped hall built during colonial times, the market has been a gathering spot for traders to sell their wares to European settlers since 1910 and it is a pleasure to spend some time among the typical Senegalese food and drink sellers to discover more about the culinary culture of the city. If you feel at ease, there is a very rudimental “restaurant” on the side where you can eat many different typical dishes at few euros (I did!).
Marché Sanadaga is a cluttered and congested marke, full of boutiques, side streets and stalls offering really everything and very good for wax print fabrics, even if the best for it is definitely Marché HLM in my opinion: full of colourful stacks of wax and bazin you can sip attaya (tea) while negotiating the prices!
Marché Tilène in the Medina is very similar to Sandaga and also very interesting, as well as Colobane, one of the less touristic ones, specialized in second hand clothes (oh yes, even in Dakar!!).
Last but not least, the artisanal market of Soumbédioune is a sort of small village where you can buy anything locally handcrafted (perfect to buy your little gifts) but it is more touristic then you will need to negotiate more here than everywhere else.
But Dakar has also a very vibrant fashion environment that is absolutely a not-to-miss when in town: Sisters of Afrika, Adama Paris, L’artisane, Sassy Chic, Tongoro are just a few names of amazing Senegalese designers who have their show room in Dakar that I strongly suggest to visit. I got a few dresses from Sisters of Afrika and Adama Paris and I couldn’t be happier.
It was a hard shopping day among markets and designers but we took a break for lunch to head to the Almadies, also known as the surfers’ paradise where we enjoyed a good lunch on the beach at The Secret Spot while admiring the Senegalese surfers on the ocean.
I was then ready (not really) to take a night flight from Dakar that would bring me home in the early morning the next day. Now I will miss Senegal so badly until I can go back again.
What to eat
Thieboudienne: the national dish, prepared with fish, rice, vegetables and tomato sauce cooked in one pot; it is usually served in a big bowl so that everyone can eat from it, it symbolizes the famous Senegalese teranga, their hospitality.
Mafé: possibly my favorite dish in Senegal, is a traditional spicy Senegalese stew made with a tomato-peanut butter sauce. The stew can be made from beef, lamb, or chicken with variations common throughout West Africa and it is served with rice. I don’t eat meat, unless it’s a mafé!
Yassa: Yassa is a spicy dish prepared with onions and meat or fish. Originally from Senegal, yassa has become popular throughout West Africa. Chicken yassa (known as yassa au poulet), prepared with onions, lemon or mustard, is a specialty from the Casamance region in the south of Senegal. Yassa Poisson (with fish) is my favorite one.
Naglakh: Ngalakh is a delicious Senegalese millet porridge that is traditionally flavored with either baobab cream, peanut butter, or sweet yogurt. It is typically served in large bowls as a dessert. The dish is consumed chilled, and it is recommended to sprinkle it with sugar before eating.
Domoda: Domoda is the national dish of Gambia, but you can easily find it also in Senegal. It is a peanut stew made with or without meat and served over fluffy rice. If meat is used in the dish, it is usually beef, bushmeat, or chicken. If Domoda is made without meat, any available vegetables can be added into the stew, usually pumpkins and sweet potatoes
Bissap/Bouye/Attaya: don’t leave the country if you haven’t tried the best drinks of Senegal! Bissap is a fresh drink made from the hibiscus (called bissap here) while Bouye is made with the baobab fruit. Attaya is the typical sugary Senegalese tea and I can tell you that you will ask for it all the time once you try it once!
Where to eat
Everywhere, especially in the streets or small family restaurants. I have never tasted bad Senegalese food, even if when I eat it at home, prepared by my Senegalese family, I am completely in heaven!
What to buy
Handmade textiles (wax, bazin): the Dakar markets are perfect to buy a lot of typical African textiles such as wax and bazin at very affordable prices compared to Europe. Just pay attention to the different quality of the textiles. Prices are almost standardized so you can negotiate basically if you buy many (as I do!).
Handmade silver Jewelry: Senegalese handcrafters are specialized in silver jewelry that has here incredible shapes inspired by the muslim sacred jewelry tradition and the tuareg one. My favorite rings come from Senegal and have important meanings for me as many of them have religious connotations.
Wooden home decorations: masks, statues, bowls, chairs, stools handmade with wood are typical here, it is the perfect place to grab your favorite one handcrafted locally.
Rugs: rugs are made in Senegal basically for religious purposes to sit for the prayers or just as a base where people can eat from the common plate. They are very cheap but also very well crafted with beautiful colors and patterns, you will love them!
Shea Butter: just the best and the cheapest shea butter can be found in Western Africa! The pure shea butter is a gift of the nature for almost everything so don’t miss that chance!
Handcrafted baskets: Senegal is famous for its amazing colored handcrafted baskets in many different shapes and sizes. I got mine in Tivouane on the way south from Lompoul but they are easy to find everywhere. PS: they will let you bring them on the plane, so don’t hesitate to buy more!
Tam tams: even if you are not a drummer you can still learn and if not, they still represent the beat of Africa’s heart and a wonderful piece of decoration (still looking for mine!)
A very last tip for all the vintage and antiques lovers: in many markets you can easily find very old men bringing old metal scrap and oxidized objects. Please stop and have a look: you cannot imagine the gems that are hiding in these little stalls for few cents if you have a proper look!
If there is a country where I would move immediately it is definitely Senegal. I am madly in love with the culture, the people, the traditions, the rhythms, the colors, the language, the dances…everything about this country truly passionate me at the point that I believe I must have some Senegalese blood in my veins, at that point I feel at home there!
If you are an “Africa beginner” I strongly suggest to approach Africa from this country as it is very modern while keeping strong traditions and because it is famous for its “Teranga”, as their hospitality is known all over the world. You will never feel alone there, there will always be someone to talk to and to help you with the kindness and smile that you will never find anywhere else!
This was my second time there and while the first time I mostly stayed in Dakar and its surroundings, this time I had a bit more time to discover part of the country.
I booked my flight way in advance as usual, there are direct flights from Milan at affordable prices and I got the chance to get a very cheap ticket also considering that I was there in November when it is less hot and flights are generally less expensive. Autumn and winter are very good seasons to travel to Senegal as the summer heat can be very hard to bear sometimes (my first trip was in August and I absolutely preferred this trip weather-wise!). I organized most of my trip from here thanks to my family and friends in Senegal who helped to find a local guide (Momo, who turned out to be the best guide I could have ever found in Senegal, if you need his contact, just drop me an email) and we organized the itinerary from here. He booked the car, the hostels and everything we needed in advance. So no bad surprises, only good ones! Yes, because for example during our long hours in the car our fantastic driver had great ideas to visit places that were not in our itinerary but that we loved so much!
I arrived in Dakar from Milan late at night and I had a taxi to Mbour, on the southern coast not far from Dakar where my guide was waiting for me. I was so excited that there was no way for me to sleep even if it was almost 2 o’clock so we headed to a bar near the beach to listen to live mbalax music while sipping a bissap and eating my first of a long series of Senegalese dishes!
Even if it was impossible to sleep for the excitement of being there again after so long, I got up very early in the morning to explore the “Petite Côte”: we rented a typical Senegalese pirogue to discover the Saloum Delta and its amazing mangrove spending the morning there, visiting the small islands of the Delta on a cart sipping café Touba and enjoying the company of the people from the villages.
After a quick lunch (always delicious, you cannot go wrong with food here!) we headed to see the famous baobab in Senegal, the sacred one, because the griots were buried within this tree. Griots have never worked the soil and, as a result, cannot be buried in the ground. It is said that if a griot should be ever buried in the land, a terrible drought will develop. I had the chance to get inside and feel the power of this tree that is always considered sacred in Senegal.
We then headed to Joal Fadiouth, also known as the Shell Island as it entirely lies on shells. The atmosphere there is so peaceful and walking on shells is such an experience! Joal Fadiouth is a Christian and Muslim village, which mixed cemetery made of shells under the shadow of amazing baobab trees is a real place of peace and symbol of religious respect. The main religion in Senegal is Islam but there is also a big Christian community: they live in peace since ever and they respect each other in a way that I have never seen before, a real example for the world!
When back in Joal we had the chance to visit Léopold Sédar Senghor house: the place where this amazing Senegalese poet and politician lived is a real museum now. He was the father, with Aimé Césaire, of the Negritude movement and first African member of the Académie Française. His fight for Africa and Senegal will never be forgotten as well as his powerful poetry (one of his most famous poem was dedicated to Joal indeed, “Joal! Je me rappelle”).
We ended our first incredible day at the sunset on the beach of Mbour to watch the fishermen back from their fishing day bringing the fish to the market. The sunset here, like in Kayar, when the fishermen are back is such an incredible experience: the colors of the many Senegalese pirogues, the crowds around them, the beautiful beach at the sunset are really a not-to-miss experience in Senegal.
We ended the day at the market of Mbour playing djembe with my “griot”, who has one of the most important roles in passing on history and traditions, especially the oral ones.
It was time to get braided at a friend of a friend’s house and to spend the night there chatting with new friends until it was time to get back to the hostel with a new amazing braided hairdo!
Freshly braided I spent the next day relaxing on the wonderful beach of Saly, still on the Petite Côte, while drinking ataya (traditional Senegalese tea), bouye (made from baobab fruit) and eating fresh fish wonderfully prepared by Daouda, owner of La Paillote de Daouda on the beach of Saly. It was such a relaxing day, chatting and discovering while admiring also one of the best African sunsets ever.
After such a relaxing day it was time to leave to Petite Côte to start a very intense trip through part of the country.
We left very early the morning later, to reach Touba, the sacred city before lunch time. I missed this experience the first time and I really wanted to visit the Sacred Mosquee of Touba, considered the most important in Senegal. It is the holy city of Mouridism and the burial place of its founder, Shaikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacke. At the heart of the Mouride holy city lies its Great Mosque, purported to be one of the largest in Africa. Since its completion in 1963 it has been continuously enlarged and embellished. The atmosphere here is really peaceful and I was very happy to find something that I was really dreaming of: a blessed muslim tasbeeh. It happened exactly how I imagined it, even better, in full respect of the religious tradition. The Mosquee is partially open to visit and you will find a nice guide at the entrance to tell you the story and try to explain part of the magic of this place (because the rest of it you just need to feel it).
From there we headed directly up North to reach the beautiful city of Saint Louis, another dream of mine! We rented a small house on the beach for two days there and as we arrived early enough we immediately visit the center of the city on board of a traditional cart. Saint Louis is a very open and blossoming city with a great artistic life. It is known for the Jazz Festival but also for one of the most interesting Photography Museums. It is also called the mixed city (ville métisse) because since the colonization many Europeans live here and the mixed community is very large. Although during the colonial years it was known as a center of slave trait, the colonial buildings and the wonderful colors make it one of the most attractive cities of Senegal. I strongly suggest a visit because you will find here colonial and traditional treasures that will really have you floored!
The next day we decided to reach one of the most amazing natural areas of Senegal: The Langue de Barbarie (French for “Barbary spit of land”, named after the Barbary Coast) is a thin, sandy peninsula between the ocean and the final section of the Senegal River. The National Park covers an area of 2,000 hectares and it is home to an abundant variety of bird species and three species of turtle. You can see them from a typical pirogue and then enjoy a beautiful walk of the wonderful beach.
We enjoyed a real “ndar” lunch before hitting back the road towards the South, in particular to spend a night in the desert, in a Lompoul camp. On the way south we had a very interesting lunch stop on the beach of Lompoul: we enjoyed an amazing yassa poisson before heading to our camp. Lompoul is very famous for its small desert not far from Dakar, where it is possible to spend the night in a Mauritanian camp. We arrived there early enough to enjoy a dromedary walk in the desert and to enjoy one of the best sunsets ever. After the sunset, we ate an amazing dinner and we enjoyed a beautiful night around the fire listening to the rhythm of Africa’s heart: the sound of djembe and sabar. That night was very important for me and for my life. I felt at what point I wanted to dance sabar. I’ve always thought it was too difficult for me and I’ve never started it before. But that night I felt that it was necessary for me, it was my sabar call. I don’t think that it was a coincidence but I found the way a few months later, without even looking for it. It was just meant to be and today I can say that it was the best decision I’ve ever taken as it totally changed my life.
The Mauritanian tents are very modern and comfortable, compared to the Bedouin ones they are open and it can be a bit chilly and windy at night! Nevertheless, it was such an experience that I loved!
After a good breakfast in the desert, we continued our way back to Dakar. With a few interesting stops proposed by our amazing driver, Moussa. First we stopped at Ngaye Mekhé , very famous for the handcrafted shoes. This small town is full of little shoe makers’ shops and I finally found a pair of amazing yellow leather slippers, Senegalese style (very proud of them!). Then we stopped at Tivouane, the best place to buy the typical handcrafted baskets in many shapes and dimensions at the small market of women full of baskets to die-for!
After a few hours we arrived at Rufisque, not far from Dakar, near the last stop of our tour before spending a few days in Dakar. Before heading to Lake Retba (Lac Rose = Pink Lake) we stopped there for a Jeep tour on the sandy beach and for a yassa poisson. We arrived on the Lake just after lunch and it was an amazing surprise for me because this time it was really pink! The first time that I was there I had a pirogue tour of the lake but I couldn’t see its pink color.
Its pink waters are caused by a specific algae that produces a red pigment to assist in absorbing light and is known for its high salt content. The color is particularly visible during the dry season (from November to June) and is less visible during the rainy season (July to October), which explains why I couldn’t see it the first time. This beautiful landscape really amazed me, also because I still had a beautiful memory of this place from my past visit.
This was the last stop before heading that same afternoon to Dakar. But my lovely Dakar needs a specific blog post that you can read soon!
I cherish these photos because I totally cherish this moment!
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon beginning of summer (June or maybe beginning of July) I met one of my best friends in Porta Genova for a great vintage shopping session! After three long months of lockdown we could finally meet and try to get back to our usual activities, although in this “new normal” situation!
We started of course from Humana Vintage last shop in Milan, just near Porta Genova, definitely one of my favorite so far! We had a strong vintage session, leaving the shop with tons of vintage clothes and I was especially proud as my friend is a “vintage beginner” but she found so many interesting pieces at very good prices (Humana is one of the best places to visit for vintage bargains!).
Near Porta Genova during a couple of months Wundermarkt had a very special edition of its traditional market due to the Covid-19 situation in a beautiful space, even if with very few stallers compared to the usual markets. The very good thing about this session is that my beloved Francesca from London Corner Vintage was there and we could finally meet for real! Also, I had the chance to see part of their great vintage collection and of course to finally buy in person and not just online!
In fact, however I use to buy online, I still find buying vintage in person a completely different experience! Not only you can try the pieces but you can touch them, feel their story and have a better view of the patterns and fabrics, which is super important and rewarding when we buy vintage!
We ended the shopping session with plenty of new vintage clothing but we decided to celebrate this fruitful session with a lovely dinner with other friends on the Navigli!
My sustainable outfit of the day: vintage dress from Humana Vintage (I got it during the inauguration day of the same shop we visited that afternoon!); also the vintage navy bag is from Humana Vintage but from their shop in Turin! Vintage headscarf from La Maison G, Vintage belt from London Corner Vintage (online!) and thrifted Ash sandals from the lovely A bag of Chips shop! Handmade rings and earrings (from Made in Camper!).
Sometimes I like writing about sustainability and vintage related topics to try to better analyze them; other times I just love to share examples of sustainable outfits that I wear to show how I practice what I say and how easy it can be to embrace a new different lifestyle regarding fashion.
It is the case of this set of pictures, taken some time ago, during a short moment of relax and “free time” in 2020 (free meaning free from lockdowns) in one of my favorite parks in Milan.
As usual I am wearing a sustainable outfit, made of vintage, handmade and very old pieces (+ a little fast fashion piece that I am still wearing!):
Vintage: it is easy to understand which piece is the vintage one…of course the tangerine 80s jumpsuit, an amazing piece from London Corner Vintage that I loved at first sight!
Handmade: both my headscarf and my necklace are handmade from small business. The first one is a handmade (in England) scarf in soft rust gauze and it can be worn as a scarf or of course as a headwrap! The second one is a beautiful necklace, made with love by the amazing Paola Brunello of Rossocuore, one of my favorite Italian brands because of its story and the story that she tells through her pieces. First of all, the story of the traveler Nelly, inspired by the American journalist Nelly Bly. The piece that I am wearing here is not related to the Nelly collection but it is still a beautiful piece made with attention to detail and quality materials by Paola. It represents a lotus flower, which is also my favorite flower for its meaning and for what it symbolizes;
Old pieces: the shoes that I am wearing here are a very old pair of sandals from Miu Miu: I have them since the year 2000 and I love them so much that I keep repairing them and I will wear them until they will decide to leave me for good! They are beautiful, comfortable, match every outfit but…hey! I am realizing now that you cannot see them!! LOL
Fast Fashion piece: I paired my jumpsuit with one of my very last fast fashion buys 3 years ago. I still remember that day in a Mango shop how I felt uncomfortable. Even if I had a compulsive shopping session I think it was my very last one. All the pieces that I bought that day (this belt, a dress and two jackets) are still in my wardrobe and I will try to make them last as much as possible!
PS: as you know my other jewelry pieces are always vintage or handmade!
Is it a sustainable outfit that you would wear? Let me know how you feel about it!
Welcome to the second part of my Peruvian adventure, maybe the most exciting part of this whole trip!
DAY 8: We arrived very early in the morning after a long overnight bus trip from Bolivia in Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire where you can really learn a lot about Inca civilization and get completely addicted it, my word! The same name comes from Qosqo or Qusquin that means center, navel in Quechua; in fact based on Inca mythology, it was the center where Underworld met the visible world and the Superior World. The city is called the navel of the Universe and you can feel the magic of this perfect place in many places of its valley, which are perfect for meditation as the connection with the Universal power here is stronger than anywhere else in the world (which I can confirm). We spent the morning in the area of San Blas before joining a free walking tour of the city that was very interesting to know more about its history, Inca civilization and the different areas of the city, including its famous San Pedro market. We booked it online as the other free tours that we joined in Peru and I must say that they are all very interesting and well managed, with very good tour guides. The tour is free but it is suggested to leave an offer because they really deserve it.
DAY 9: First personal dream came true during this trip: the visit of the Rainbow Mountain! La Montaña de Siete Colores is located in the Andes with an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level and it’s a two-hour drive from Cusco, and a walk of about 5 kilometers (you can use a horse for most of it, like I did). We had to leave the hotel at 3 in the morning to get there around ten in the morning but as it was winter time in Peru we were super lucky to see the mountain in all its beauty without snow! This rainbow-like appearance is created by the sediment of minerals throughout the area giving the mountain the different colors from turquoise to gold, from green to brown. It was hard to get at such altitude but I cannot name anything that impressed me more than that! The bad part of it is that the mountain was completely unknown to the locals because it was constantly covered with snow. It is only in the last decades that it was “discovered” as the climatic changes made it visible to people because the snow started to melt due to the planet higher temperatures. We booked this trip from Italy with Rainbow Mountain Travels and we found the agency very serious and helpful so I really suggest it. The prices are around 30 euros, including transportation from and to the hotel, breakfast, lunch and equipment for the trek (oxygen masks, doctors and Agua de Florida of course!). Being at 5,200 meters was a bit hard for those like me who are not used to it but with a good dose of Agua de Florida and a lot of mate in the morning I made my way to the mountain and back, although it is recommended not to stand more than 20/30 minutes on the top as it may become harder to breathe normally. We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon but we were so tired that we slept all the afternoon before getting out for dinner and come back immediately!
DAY 10: When we arrived in Cusco we booked a whole day tour of the Cusco Sacred Valley that was really one of the best discoveries ever, not only for the magic of the valley as I said before, but also for the places that we visited and the possibility to know more about Inca civilization that totally hooked me. We started the visit with the Archeological Park of Chinchero and of Moray containing Inca ruins, especially several terraced circular depressions with incredible modern irrigation systems. On this tour of the Sacred Valley we also visited Maras, famous for its amazing salt evaporation ponds, which have been in use since Inca times, offering a magnificent view. The last stop of our tour was Pisac, another amazing Inca village where the Inca created agricultural terraces that are still in use today. They also created terraces here by hauling richer topsoil by hand from the lower lands to enable production of surplus food which they used to store in incredible natural storages.
DAY 11: We left Cusco very early in the morning to reach Aguascalientes at lunch time on the typical busy Machu Picchu train. This small village lives around Machu Picchu tourism as it is the place from where all the buses to Machu Picchu leave so it is full of hotels and restaurants for tourists. We spent the afternoon hanging around, buying bus tickets for the following day “big visit”, imagining the Machu Picchu adventure and preparing to the trek with a good massage!
DAY 12: Finally meeting the Machu Picchu! After the Rainbow Mountain another dream came true during this trip, my third World Wonder! The lost city has still many mysteries to be solved but of one I am sure: the atmosphere of this place is incredible, the magic is tangible and the view over the valley is breathtaking! You can walk for hours and never get tired of it! I suggest to get a local guide at the entrance because it will tell you so much about this magical place that keeps its magic despite the huge number of tourists! Everything from train and entrance was booked from Italy except local buses (they sell in the afternoon for the day later) and guide. Make sure to book at least two months in advance as it is very hard to find the tickets. Consider also that due to the tourist emergency it is under discussion the idea of limiting daily entrance tickets. PS: if you practice meditation it is an amazing place to stop for a good practice here!
DAY 13: After the Machu Picchu visit we concluded our Sacred Valley with the visit of Ollantaytambo that we reached by train form Aguacalientes the night before. Ollantaytambo is part of the Inca Trail path and one of the most interesting Inca archeological sites. It was built as a ceremonial center and the visit of the city will make you discover some more interesting things about Incas. I was very impressed by the Storehouses, built out of fieldstones on the hills surrounding Ollantaytambo. Their location at high altitudes, where more wind and lower temperatures occur, defended their contents against decay. They are thought to have been used to store the production of the agricultural terraces built around the site. Grain would be poured in the windows on the uphill side of each building, then emptied out through the downhill side window. Our fascinating tour of the Sacred Valley finishes here, just in time to catch our first domestic flight from Cusco to Lima and then to Trujillo, in the north of Peru where we arrived late at night in the fantastic original Hotel Colonial that I strongly suggest if you are in town.
DAY 14: We decided to spend the day in town walking around this amazing colonial city that I really wanted to visit and that was a great surprise for me as it is probably one of my favorite cities in Peru. We reached the sea level and breathing became easier also as we are finally near the sea. The city center contains many examples of colonial and religious architecture and its colours clearly tell the story of the long Spanish domination. I was constantly in a awe in front of the beauty and colors of its buildings (the Tribunal for example), churches (the Cathedral is just a wonderful yellow and white church that I totally fell in love with!) and simple houses and bars. I couldn’t stop taking pictures almost anywhere because my love for bold colors really blossomed here!
DAY 15: On day 14 we manage to arrange a one day excursion in the surroundings of Trujillo, as it is close to two major archeological sites of pre-Columbian monuments: Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the ancient world, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986; and the temples of the Sun and Moon (the largest adobe pyramid in Peru). They are both great examples of prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before the Inca conquest and subsequent expansion. These sites deserve a visit as they will keep you open mouth after the Sacred Valley experience! Our tour included a lovely lunch on the beach of Huanchaco, very well known small fishermen village and surfers’ top destination in Peru. We took a night bus to Lima (our last one!) that same night, our trip is about to finish…
DAY 16: We arrived in Lima early in the morning and we decided to have a last tour in Miraflores to breathe for the last time the Peruvian air (not the best air in Lima though as the city has very high pollution levels), eat our last Ceviche and get ready to catch our flight back to Milano!
Before giving you my best of (Food, Restaurants and Shops) let me give you a very last advice concerning traveling by bus: I was a bit skeptical at the beginning and I must say that it was hard not to sleep in proper beds and spend many hours in the bus BUT: i) Cruz del Sur buses are the best, super comfy and almost always on time; ii) it is the easiest and cheapest way if you want to travel all around the country; iii) the Andean landscapes by bus and priceless, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of these landscapes and the powerful energy of these mountains; traveling by bus is the only real way to enjoy them in all their beauty!
What to eat
Ceviche: the national dish and one of the most popular foods in Peru, ceviche can cause instant obsession as this cooked fish served cold traditionally includes sea bass (corvina) marinated for a few minutes in lime juice, onion, salt, and hot chilies (aji) is Peruvian to the core! Try the longstanding tradition of taking the leftover marinade of salt, lime, and chilis, mixing them with Pisco (a Peruvian brandy) and drinking it as a shooter!
Potatoes: Peru has dozen of potatoes variants and they use them all. If you are a potato addict please try them all (like I did), you will be amazed! Best discovery: Papas a la Huancaína, also in its variant with purple potatoes! It may look a bit like a yellow soupy mass topped with chopped soft-boiled egg, but don’t let that fool you.
Fried trout: If you are traveling around the Titicaca lake you will totally fall in love with this simple yet tasty recipe: the best thing is that most of the times the trout is fished just for you…can you get fresher fish that that?
Lomo saltado: Coming in second only to ceviche in popularity, lomo saltado is a mix of Chinese stir-fry and classic Peruvian cuisine. Tender strips of beef (occasionally you will find it made with alpaca meat) are marinated in soy sauce and add to onions, tomatoes, aji chillies, and other spices.
Queso helado: Traditional ice cream of Arequipa, nothing to do with cheese but super tasty, you can find it everywhere in town!
Where to eat
Amaz : amazing Amazonian cuisine in Lima
El Rincón del Bigote: the best traditional “cevichería” in Lima
Victoria Picanteria Democratica: traditional food of Arequipa in an historical restaurant that reminds us of the revolutionary past of the town
Faustina: Historical familiar restaurant following the tradition of the “abuela Faustina” that mixes tradition with modern in Cuzco
El Celler de Cler: modern and traditional cuisine in an historical Spanish building of Trujillo (ask for a table outside if possible, you won’t regret it!)
What to buy
(if you can don’t get these items at the markets as they are often not really handmade and not really traditional; if you do, choose carefully and make sure you buy from a local handcrafter)
Traditional Handmade (wool) blankets, rugs, scarves and tablecloths
Traditional Handmade Peruvian Hats
Traditional Handmade silver jewelry representing Peruvian elements: the Inca Cross, the Pachamama or other traditional representations (better if antiques)
Original alpaca wool ponchos, sweaters or accessories