The Ladybug and a dream coming true: Gorée Island, Senegal

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (6)

If I have been dreaming of Africa for more than 20 years, I have been dreaming of visiting Gorée Island for at least 15 years.

It all started when I read an article on the House of Slaves in Gorée, one of the oldest houses on the island where the African slaves were imprisoned and sent to America by boat. It is now a museum showing the horrors of the slave trade throughout the Atlantic world.

If Gorée is a wonderful island with a lovely beach and beautiful colored houses, with an ancient fort and a lot of artists and tourists, the House of Slaves experience is completely dramatic and sad. I decided to start the tour of the island from there and it was so emotional.

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (1)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (13)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (4)

A part of me was happy of finally being there, another one was ashamed and destroyed about the horrors showed and I started crying on the “infamous door”, the door from which the slaves were put on the boats to travel in cruel conditions to America where they were sold as slaves.

The house is dramatically beautiful and tragic at the same time. It took me a while to start the tour of the island by walk after the visit. Today, when I think of that visit I still feel the same feeling of shame and rage, especially if I wonder what has really changed since then.

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (12)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (11)

I walked during all the afternoon throughout the island, I stopped to talk to a lot of people, to listen to the djembe players, to visit the fort and to stop by the artists communities all around the island. I enjoyed the breathtaking views, I bathed on the beautiful sea, I took a lot of pictures of the colored houses…I really needed all these things to recover from the visit to the House of Slaves.

The boats from Dakar to Gorée and the way back are very frequent and are also a beautiful way to enjoy the Senegalese life: many people living in Dakar work in Gorée and they travel every day. Opposite to what usually happens in Europe they enjoy a good talk with tourists and I personally enjoyed too. It is a way to know each other, in every possible way.

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (7)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (9)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (8)

The Ladybug Chronicles Gorée Senegal (10)

Advertisements

The Ladybug and the African (Senegalese) Blues

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (15)

It took a while to write this blog post on my trip to Senegal last summer. It is hard for me to write about it because it was a life changing experience and even after 5 months it is still in my head and I feel the African blues every single day of my life. I want to go back and I know that I will but the urge sometimes is unbearable.

It was my first time in Africa: I have been dreaming of it for more than 20 years but I was so scared of my reaction that I postponed this trip forever until I decided that it was something that I had to do, a dream that I wanted to make come true.

I brought with me a notebook because I wanted to write down everything but I was so overwhelmed by all my emotions and feelings that I came back home with a blank notepad. Everything was impacting me beyond words and even now I am unable to express my feelings by words.

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (1)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (2)

My trip to Dakar in Senegal was a kind of test for my reaction, just for your understanding: I was tempted to stay there for the rest of my life and for the first time in my life I tried to postpone my ticket to go back to Italy. Also when I came back to Italy I suffered a lot: I missed everything from food to people, perfumes and familiar noises, the call for worship, the rhythm of mbalax, the wolof, the laughs, the constant happiness of those days, the kindness of people. I finally understood why they call it the country of “Teranga”, hospitality.

I had the chance to live with a Senegalese family (who is now my second family) in Dakar and I decided to visit the town and its surroundings during my stay. I leave the tour of the country from North to South for my next trip.

Dakar is a town full of life night and day: it is noisy and crowded but irresistible at the same time. It is easy to meet people, to talk to everyone and to enjoy the beaches, the rhythm and the food almost everywhere!  On some days I just wandered in the streets of Dakar without destination using taxis or the famous colored buses: the Medina, the Almadies area, Place de l’Indépendance, the Corniche, the beautiful beach of Yoff, the amazing markets of Sandaga, Kermel, Tilène, the mosques, the Museums and Galleries (my favorite ones were the Galérie Antenna and the IFAN museum).

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (4)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (6)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (11)

I started my tour with a special visit to the African Renaissance monument and the museum where you can also admire a wonderful view of the town, especially if you walk down the hill until the beach.

The surroundings of Dakar are also breathtaking: I will write a dedicated post to Gorée Island, which was for me a very special experience but I took the boat a second time to head to Ngor Island from the amazing Ngor beach. As it was August the island was pretty crowded on the beach side but if you walk to the rocky side of the island you will be surprised by the awesomeness of the views and maybe for the first time you will be completely alone.

I also headed by bus (this was a bit more complicated trip!) to the Pink Lake (Lac Retba) where I toured the lake on a pirogue…but unfortunately that day the lake wasn’t as pink as I imagined. Its salt content is very high which gives it its pink color but only in particular weather conditions.

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (7)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (9)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (8)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (10)

So if you are not afraid of the African Blues (believe me, it’s the hardest thing) just book a flight to this amazing country and live it fully, breathe the love and buy all the amazing things that you can buy there (wax fabrics, African handmade jewels, colored baskets). Eat the best plates of the Senegalese cuisine (mafé, thieboudienne), the juicy mangoes or drink the bissap, the ginger and the buoy (the fruit of the baobab tree) and enjoy the incredible nature (you can see the most beautiful baobab trees and animals).

It can be a life changing experience especially if you decide to live it like locals: staying in small B&B instead of fancy hotels, going around by bus or shared taxis, walking, talking to people, basically enjoy the real Senegalese life.

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (12)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (14)

The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (13)

The Ladybug and the fierce Messinese poetess

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (1)

This is for sure my favorite photoshoot ever.

I love it because it represents me so much and all the things that I love and that make me are there.

First of all it was taken in my hometown, Messina, at a tram stop celebrating with a graffiti a Messinese poetess, Maria Costa just in front of the fairground where I used to go when I was a kid. My roots are there.

Then my big passions: vintage, turbans, earrings and Africa.

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (3)

When I saw this vintage dress on Instagram with beautiful tribal prints I had to have it, no matter what. It was sold by a beautiful vintage boutique in Australia, Dear Pearl Vintage. We got in contact via email and I bought this dress: when it arrived I was so happy and immediately fell in love with it, definitely one of the vintage dresses that I love the most in my closet!

I wore it with a special turban handmade by Madame Ilary especially for me and that she offered as a birthday gift…I am currently looking for a new basket to put all my turbans as I am totally addicted and I really cannot count how many I have! Honestly I don’t have space for them but I keep buying them!

I added a pair of my favorite vintage earrings: it is a vintage find from a vintage fair in Italy. I can’t remember the name of the seller but when I saw them I was over excited as I had been looking for 80s vintage earrings like these for ages!

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (6)

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (4)

Africa is not only on my dress but also on my body: my tattoo always reminds me of this place where my heart belongs to.

I am also wearing two of my favorite pieces: a Moroccan round straw bag handmade by Maluan Maroquinerie (Etsy find) and my beloved Swedish Hasbeens sandals bought in London a few years ago.

And then the colours, my smile, the summer, Sicily….everything in this shoot says something about me!

The Ladybug Chronicles Poetessa Messinese (7)

The Ladybug’s Sicilian Arabesque

The Ladybug Chronicles Arabesque (1)

Sicily, again.

I called this set Sicilian Arabesque as one of the things that I still love from my homeland is the Arab influence on everything: on food, on our physical traits, on architecture, on nature, on language…their influence is everywhere.

When I saw this building it made me think of this, although it is probably not an original Arab building, but I just stopped the car and asked my sister to take a few pictures of me!

We were on the way back from the beach so I was wearing a typical beach outfit (but I added lipstick, just for the pictures!!).

The Ladybug Chronicles Arabesque (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Arabesque (5)

I wore a handmade Heka Couture harem pants (just to stay on topic!) made with African wax fabric and a Ink your travel tee (I love this new brand that makes travel themed clothes and accessories for globetrotters!).

Round Moroccan straw bag (on topic again!) is from Etsy, Birkenstock sandals and Mango African inspired necklace.

The Ladybug Chronicles Arabesque (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Arabesque (4)

The Ladybug’s vintage friendly weekend in Frankfurt

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (9)

While I was in Munich for work this summer I had the chance to spend a little lovely weekend in Frankfurt to see two of my beautiful friends living there. As usual, every time that I go visit them, our weekends are full of food, shopping and amazing walks and sightseeing in this beautiful German town that I visited four times and that I saw changing a lot in the last 15 years. Frankfurt is today one of the most interesting and sparkling cities in Germany where you can also have great vintage shopping sessions! Let me be honest: it is not full of vintage spots but if you know where to go you can see (and buy) amazing stuff for very good prices.

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (1)

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (8)

This time I visited again two of my favorite spots in town:

1.       Epiphany on the Zeil (Frankfurt main shopping street), basically a thrift store full of amazing designer and high street second hand pieces from clothes to (amazing) shoes and bags where you can also find beautiful vintage pieces. (I bought there the 70’s vintage bag that I am wearing in these pictures);

2.       The Antiques and Vintage market along the river Main that you can visit every Saturday morning: it is a lovely market full of bargains for your wardrobe and home and at the same time it offers amazing views on the city’s skyline!

Anyway we also walked and ate a lot during that weekend! The sightseeing in Frankfurt is still a great experience: from the beautiful Romer Platz to the Alte Oper the contrast of the old city with the new futuristic one is still incredibly interesting.  One of my favorite spots in Frankfurt is the Goethe House, with a museum dedicated to the German romantic writer.

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (7)

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (4)

On the eating side, the best part of Frankfurt is the brunch! Many restaurants and bars offer cheap brunch with amazing food: it is the perfect place to eat, meet people and spend a few hours observing the local habits and tastes! Our favorite brunch was definitely at Nordlicht near the lovely Berger Strasse.

If you want to eat amazing African food, try the delicious Ethiopian restaurant African Queen near the train station: the area is not great but the delicious food will make you forget about it!

PS. When in Frankfurt I received a beautiful vintage present: a long suede skirt that my friend found during a swap party! I loved it so much that I wore it immediately with my new vintage bag from Epiphany!

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Frankfurt (6)

The Ladybug goes green in Munich (part 1)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (8)

I am really sorry, I know it’s fall, I know I should wear tights, I know I should post fall outfits but No, I can’t do it! First of all because I still have loads of outfits from this summer to show you; second it is still quite warm in Milan and I want to enjoy “tightless” days as much as I can; third I am not accepting winter this year, so you will see colorful and summer outfits for a while before I surrender to the cold temperatures!

So let’s go back to Germany and Munich, where (I realized it later) I worn a lot of green.

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (4)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (1)

I wore these green wax trousers from Heka Couture on my first Saturday off in town: it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a typical Bavarian lunch in the city center, we visited again the city center as tourists would do and we did a little shopping in town (it was still summer sales season!) before heading to Mädels-Flohmarkt, a garage sale where private sellers could sell their stuff while enjoying music and beer. It was the perfect place to find a good bargain (as my sales session was quite disappointing!): indeed I found an amazing vintage leather biker jacket for just 17 euros!

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (9)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (6)

I found the event on Facebook while I was there, this is why I always suggest to have a look online before traveling somewhere, you never know if a cool event is in town when you are there!

I paired my wax trousers with Asos short frilled striped top (yes, naked belly again!) and Nike 4 & Other stories white sneakers (perfect for my long walks!).

Photo Credit: Marco di Terlizzi

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Munich green wax (7)

The Ladybug speaks Chinese in Munich!

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (3)

Although I visited Munich many times, mostly for work, I never visited the Englischer Garten until last summer. A couple of times I missed it because I didn’t have enough time and when I visited in 2015 I spent a lot of time visiting art galleries and the old city center that I didn’t make time for a visit of this beautiful garden in the city center. During that weekend in Munich we decided that it was time to fill this gap and we enjoyed a beautiful stroll in the park: the weather was amazing and the park was full of life, which made it even better.

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (7)

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (5)

We also managed to see the famous Chinese Tower inside the Garden (Chinesischer Turm) and we took a couple of pictures of this beautiful area of Munich. We also joined the many Germans and tourists drinking beer in the park, even if we were supposed to head to Georgenhof, a famous Bavarian restaurant where we ate (personally for the second time there!) the best kaiserschmarren ever!  It is a typical Austrian-Bavarian, a sort of shredded pancake with apple sauce, nuts, cherries, plums, caramelized raisins and almonds…it wasn’t a good day to stay on diet!

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (1)

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (2)

It has to be said that before the English Garden we spent the morning at the amazing Peter Lindbergh exhibition at the Kunsthalle, so we definitely needed some sugar after our busy Sunday morning around Munich!

I wore Joanie Clothing retro tee, Dixie black culottes and two of my favorite African wax accessories: a beautiful handmade turban by my super talented  friend Madame Ilary and my new favorite wax tote from Wax Is The New Black that I found on Afrikrea marketplace. White sneakers Nike 4 & Other Stories.

(Photo Credit: Marco Di Terlizzi)

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (8)

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (6)

The Ladybug Chronicles Englischer Garten (4)

The Ladybug travels: my first time in Prague

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (1)

As many of my travels, my trip to Prague came out of the blue one day while I was on the phone with a friend of mine. She informed me that she wanted to go to Prague two months later and she asked me to join.  I was having a tough moment and I thought that a few days in a new town with good friends could help, and it helped indeed.

It was my first trip to Prague, for some unknown reason it has never been in my wishlist, but it was a mistake as I was completely amazed but this wonderful town. A vintage gal like me not knowing Prague? Nah… Prague is the perfect destination for vintage lovers as Prague is vintage by definition: its wonderful art deco buildings and doors tell the visitors a story of magic moments from the past and it is impossible not to love it.

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (3)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (7)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (4)

We started our visit by wandering with no specific destination, which is the best way to admire Prague. From the Dancing House along the river to the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Hall we walked in a total awe! Pastel buildings and belle époque doors were everywhere and we couldn’t have enough of this view!

The day after we started our visit from Wenceslas Square and we had our first stop at the Mucha museum: after visiting the exhibition dedicated to this artist in Milan I couldn’t miss this occasion. With a bundle ticket you can also visit the Kafka museum (which we did in the afternoon). 

We reached then Charles Bridge to get to the other side of the river: it was a great occasion to admire a spectacular view of Prague and to make a wish (more than one actually!). From that side of the river we reached the famous John Lennon wall, a wall full of graffiti dedicated to the artist, where street art blossoms under different forms (music, painting).   

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (5)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (9)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (8)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (10)

Our Sunday was mostly dedicated to the visit of the Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral in the morning and to the Jewish District in the afternoon. There was a lot of walking but they were both worth the sacrifice!

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (11)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (12)

Eating and drinking is very cheap if you choose typical Czech pub: portions are abundant, beer is amazing, they often don’t speak English and vegetarians will have a very small choice but we definitely preferred this type of places because you can really feel “local” there.

By the way, in the city center you will easily find small kiosks selling a typical Czech dessert called “trdlo” o “trdelník”:  I loved it and was totally addicted! I tried it classic, with fruits, ice-cream and all of them together!!!

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Prague (6)

The Ladybug’s vintage hunting in Prague

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (7)

Look at this art nouveau building in Prague: this is just one of the many examples of art nouveau and liberty style in town. When you arrive there for the first time and your eyes are already full of vintage architecture, you already know that you will love this town and that you will find a lot of vintage around!

Indeed I was totally amazed by the vintage side of Prague: wonderful art deco buildings and doors, beautiful museums, a vibrant nightlife and tons of hidden gems almost everywhere, even outside the typical touristic views. This is indeed one of the good things of vintage hunting abroad: many times the most interesting shops that you found online are not in the city center, then you have the chance to visit new areas of the town that you wouldn’t have visited.

As I didn’t know any vintage shopping address in Prague I made a quick search online and picked a few addresses to visit on Friday or Saturday (on Sundays most of the shops are closed). I had to take a lot of trams and trains to join the destinations but it was worth the effort!

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (6)

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (5)

My favorite shop in town was Bohemian Retro in the Zizkov area (one of the most interesting areas, a bit complicated to reach but absolutely stunning!). I found there a lovely British lady, Becky, who has been living in Prague for more than 20 years! When I asked about her shop (that I really adored, typical English style vintage shop!) she told me that she wanted to create the kind of shop where herself would love to buy and go back again. I think that she definitely succeeded as her tiny shop, full of gems of clothing and accessories is really a not-to-miss in Prague. I really had the feeling of being in Brick Lane in London!

My second favorite shop in town was Boho Vintage, completely different style, more like a concept store with beautiful vintage pieces (especially dresses and bags) and some new interesting handmade pieces. Beautiful location and vintage homeware completed the atmosphere. I knew that they opened a second shop with a café but I couldn’t manage to visit it. The shop is very elegant and classy even if the pieces are totally affordable and good quality.

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (2)

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (3)

Nearer to the city center (not too far from Wenceslas Square) is another tiny little shop, Fifty-Fifty.  There is more stuff than place for walking (if there are more than two people it can be a bit complicated) but it is full of affordable vintage pieces, one of those places where you will definitely find something to buy!

Just one little advice: if you walk in the city you will see a lot of second hand stores; second hand is very popular in Prague but not as interesting as it may be in London. You won’t find anything vintage and after trying a few I just stopped, so if you are tempted by a huge Second Hand sign, don’t waste your time!

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (4)

The Ladybug Chronicles Vintage Shopping in Prague (1)

The Ladybug vintage shopping in Ljubljana

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-5

What do you know about Ljubljana?

Personally I could barely point it on a map when I was invited by a friend to spend a weekend there with her! She told me that the city center was lovely and that the view from the Castle on top of the hill was worth the trip and then she told me that I would love it because of the tons of beautiful vintage shops .

Vintage shops? In Ljubljana? I was speechless!

I was even more speechless when I arrived there: the town was lovely and the visit to the Castle was worth the trip (especially the tasty lunch at the Castle restaurant on top of the hill!). Even if it was snowy and cold, the lovely bars and shops along the river and the atmosphere of the little streets in the city center were awesome and I was seriously amazed about the amount of interesting vintage addresses in town!

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-2

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-4

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-3

I made a quick research before traveling there and my friend was absolutely right! So if you are planning a trip to Ljubljana (better in summer but winter is ok too!) here is my list of vintage shops to visit (and the prices are incredibly affordable):

–          Vintage Divas: definitely my favorite vintage shop in Ljubljana! The shop itself is beautiful and the antiques furniture makes it look like a castle interior. I found there the best selection of vintage clothing and accessories in town, but I can definitely put it in my top ten list of vintage shops in Europe! There is a lot of research and taste and the pieces are incredibly rare although they’re not pricy at all. I spent a couple of hours looking for rare gems and I got lost in their huge collection of vintage clothing and accessories!

–          Moje Tvoje: it is a vintage and thrift/second hand store in the main street of Ljubljana and you can find there thrifted and vintage clothes for very good prices. Look for their 80’s dresses: they have a huge amount of incredible dresses from that decade! When I was there I found a special “50% off discount” and it was possible to buy a dress for 10 euros!

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-1

–          Vintage Galerija: definitely one of the top vintage shops of Lubljana! It is situated in a small street of the old city in a lovely location and it is quite small but full of vintage gems (especially from the 40’s and the 50’s). Clothes, bags and jewelry form my favorite eras…I couldn’t help spending hours inside this tiny shop to find my perfect match: a beautiful 50’s raffia bag that is still one of my favorite vintage objects ever!

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-6

–          Gvant: if you are not scared of getting out of the city center for a trip to this second hand store you won’t be disappointed! Not only you will discover new areas were only locals go (the area is not interesting at all, but it’s still an experience!) but you will be surprised to find this huge second hand shop with a special corner for vintage items (especially 80’s dresses and huge jumpers) for less than 10 euros. It will be impossible to go back home without a bag full of vintage and second hand bargains!

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-7

the-ladybug-chronicles-vintage-ljubljana-8