The Ladybug discovers the beauty of Padua

Us travelers will probably face new challenges and will need to adapt to the changes if we want to continue discovering the world. Personally I had to postpone two trips and to cancel two more in Europe and in Africa and I started considering rediscovering my own country Italy in the next months.

I read a lot during the last few months that Covid-19 will probably change our way of traveling for the next months and maybe years in many different ways.

It made me think that the last time that I visited a city in Italy was in September 2019, yes long time ago, when I joined my parents and their friends in Padua while they were touring Veneto and Emilia Romagna. We spent a lovely day in Padua all together and I discovered a wonderful city that has so much more than the wonderful Sant’Antonio Basilica with its amazing decorations. The Basilica was built to house the tomb of St. Anthony, whose remains are spread through 2 of the churches 4 cloisters. The Basilica is huge with 8 domes and some bell towers and it is one of the most mystic places for prayer that I have ever visited. It is rich in traditions, history and decorations, it will leave every visitor with the mouth wide open. Also its patio is absolutely lovely.

But the Basilica is just one of the best monuments in town.

I started my visit with the amazing Cappella degli Scrovegni, with masterful frescos by Giotto. The access is very limited so don’t forget to book your visit way in advance online because it is really worth a visit. From there you can easily reach the old town by walk and reach the beautiful and vibrant Piazza delle Erbe e della Frutta with its amazing Palazzo della Ragione, full of frescos and artifacts.

Also, the Battistero – currently under restoration – is worth a visit as well as the University, the second oldest in Italy and where Galileo taught and Dante was a student!

We walked to the Prato della Valle, a beautiful park with fountains and surrounded by statues, where we found a lovely food market to taste some local food and wine!

I can say that in general the frescos and historical buildings of Padua will take your breath away: it is a very retro city, full of history and, speaking of this, you definitely need to visit Café Pedrocchi, opened in 1831, that was the largest café in Europe and was visited by artists from all over Europe including Stendhal and Lord Byron. You can go there for a coffee or for a spritz and feel like a vintage diva!

I didn’t have time for vintage shopping but if you are around, I love Foxy Brown, a lovely shop not far from the train station that you would love for sure!

The Ladybug is a storyteller: the legend of the giants Mata and Grifone

The Ladybug Chronicles Mata & Grifone (1)

A few weeks ago, while walking down the streets of Messina I stopped by the two big statues of the giants Mata and Grifone riding their horses.

The two huge statues are exposed in the central square of Messina (Piazza Unione Europea) in front of the City Hall a couple of weeks a year, usually after mid-August (after parading for a couple of days) until the end of the month, to allow tourists and citizens to take pictures of them and to celebrate the legendary founders of the city.

I have always loved their legend since I was a child because it was the celebration of an interracial and interreligious couple! They still represent to my eyes the symbol of an open town, open to migrants, strangers and whoever approaches our sea. Unfortunately this is not how the things are going lately in my town and in my country in general, that’s why I wanted to remember this story and to tell it to the world: to remind that we all come from “mixed” ancestors, we have no idea of what type of blood runs into our veins, and we should be proud of it.

The Ladybug Chronicles Mata & Grifone (4)

The Ladybug Chronicles Mata & Grifone (2)

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The legend says indeed that people from Messina come from this mixed couple: her name was Marta, she was from Camaro, one of the area of the city, beautiful and tall girl, daughter of a local landlord falling in love with a dark skin big pirate during the Saracen invasions of Sicily around 970 AD. The pirate was called Hassas Ibn-Hammar but he had to change his name and religion (he was of course Muslim) to marry Marta. His name then became Grifo (exaggerated to Grifone due to his size) while her name was changed in dialect to Mata. They founded then Messina by populating it with a lot of descendants!

This post and pictures are my tribute to them, to my legendary ancestors representing peace and connection between different cultures, races and religions. This is how proud I am to be from Messina.

For my yearly tribute I wore a vintage floral shirt from Humana Vintage Milano, Topshop denim shorts and Japanese white flats. Ghanaian bolga bag is from Sankofa Beads and Baskets on Etsy, while round sunglasses are from Valentino.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Ladybug and the African (Senegalese) Blues

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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.

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The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (1)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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The Ladybug Chronicles Dakar Senegal (13)

The Ladybug in vintage Vienna


In September I had the chance to spend a few days in Vienna after a very long time. I was amazed by the vintage vibes of this city: its glorious and luxurious past is everywhere and the atmosphere has a melancholic touch that I enjoyed a lot

I didn’t have too much time for vintage shopping but I visited a few shops and to made some interviews in town to some very well informed vintage lovers to find interesting addresses to share here!

There was no doubt that the not-to-miss vintage address in town is Vintage Flo, a beautiful shop in the trendy Freihausviertel where you can find incredibly rare pieces from the 20’s/30’s. Maybe you won’t buy anything (the prices are quite high because of the great quality of the clothing and the shop is famous also for providing clothes for TV movies, films and theatre) but you will definitely enjoy the visit.

Vienna is full of interesting thrift shops if you look for designer second hand pieces: in Bocca Lupo you can find amazing bags and shoes from Chanel, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik and many others; in Déjà Vu and Silvia Milano luxury designers bags and shoes; in The Berliner Das Neue Shwarz you may find very interesting Balenciaga pieces.

If you are more on the “trendy” side don’t miss Kleider gehen um, Fräulein Kleidsam and Extraschön (where you can also find an “outlet” room for more affordable items).



If you are there to buy here you can find more affordable pieces:

Polyklamott for new pieces by Viennese designers and vintage 60’s/70’s and 80’s; Bootik 54 for European and American vintage clothing and accessories for men and women; Burggasse 24 for incredible bargains and a lot of rummage fun; Catrinette for adorable vintage pieces from the flea markets of Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen; Uppers and Downers for a huge variety of statement pieces (for those you want to dare!)

Charity shop lovers will adore Carla (Caritas Laden), a huge shop with clothing (also designer pieces) and furniture where it is easy to find incredible bargains and where you can be sure that your money will be used for supporting good causes!

If you are in Vienna during the weekends don’t miss the experience to visit some antiques and flea markets in town like the Naschmarkt (a real institution in Vienna!) and Time Travel Antiques Market (every second and fourth Sunday in the month at the Ringstraßen Galerien and every first and third Sunday in the month at the Ekazent Hietzing).

If you visit the city in September, make sure to see the Vintage Salon, one of the biggest vintage event in town!

Let me share also a couple of my best finds in town for eating and drinking in Vienna: I had a great time (and cocktail!) at the Do & Co, a beautiful and elegant bar and restaurant (also an hotel) with the best view on the Saint Stephen’s Cathedral.

I know that sushi is not the typical dish that you eat in Vienna but I can tell you that I found there one of the best Japanese restaurants I have ever tried in my life: Daihachi. I tasted the best butterfish sushi and I really thanked my friend for such a great advice! In any case, on your way back to the city center you can stop to buy a Sachertorte at the iconic Sacher Hotel or the original Manner’s Neapolitaner wafers in their tempting shop in Stephansplatz!

(Blue wall picture: Benetton trench, Topshop palm shirt, & Other stories trousers, brogues; Mozartplazt picture: same with YesStyle heart print shirt)






The Ladybug and Her Berlin Liebesgeschichte!

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In my last post I told you about my long experience in Munich and about how great it was to live it… even if just for the weekends! And although I really enjoyed my time in Bavaria, my colleague and I decided to fly to Berlin for a little weekend since neither of us had been there before and we were both very curious.

It was a windy, freezing and quite snowy weekend, but this this didn’t prevent us from enjoying this amazing town!

I know, you are thinking that I was in vintage paradise, and I was indeed, but I will leave this part for the next post… today I just want to talk about Berlin!

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It was such a special weekend: we walked a lot and tried to enjoy as many things as we could: from our first stop at Brandenburg Gate, to a long walk to see the famous Victory Column, Potsdamer Platz, a guided tour through the German Parliament (the Bundestag), the touristic Checkpoint Charlie, a long walk along the Eastside Gallery (enjoying the street art in the longest part remaining from the Wall), the Jewish Memorial, the Fernsehturm and the beautiful Cathedral- our day was quite busy. We just had a quick stop in a lovely Thai and Vietnamese restaurant near Checkpoint Charlie to recharge the batteries and warm our cold feet before going back to our busy tour! As you can imagine, we didn’t enjoy the Berlin’s night as much as we intended to! (if I’m not wrong, we fell dead in our bed at 9:30pm!)

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But the atmosphere of this sad yet modern and vital town is incredible and I didn’t believe it until I visited it myself! There is this space for the past, to remember, to keep the memory alive that contrasts often with the modernity and of the future towards which the city is going.

Walking along the wall was also a sad experience: although the street art is amazing (Bansky and other great street artist have made their artistic home all around the town), it is impossible not to think of how life was until just 25 years ago.

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The Ladybug Chronicles - Berlin Love Story 08

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These are my favorites of the pics I took there to share with you.

On my first day I wore my inseparable Woolrich parka and Ugg boots, Acne Studios jeans, Dixie beige sweater, Max& Co bag and Madame Ilary handmade black turban.

More about Berlin and our vintage tour next time!

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The Ladybug’s Tips on How to Enjoy (and Survive) 3 Weeks in Munich!

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Let’s be honest; traveling is amazing, but when you do it for work and it happens in January in the freezing and snowy Munich winter- it’s perceived to become a hard to survive three weeks!

But believe or not, I not only survived, but I thrived! Apart from vintage shopping, here are my tips to enjoy the beautiful Bavarian town, which has a lot more to offer than you think!

1. Be Bavarian! Bavarians are really proud people: they call themselves Bavarians and then Germans, but as it is hard for us foreigners to understand the story and the reasons, so for the most part, we settle for enjoying the fun and touristic part of it. First of all the food: a typical Bavarian dinner (and beer) in one of the many excellent restaurants in town (we had more than one… dinner and beer!) is a very good start! It’s better to pick the restaurants that locals advise (we loved Hofbräukeller) over those you’d find in guides: food is excellent and the ambiance less touristic. Speaking of food, don’t forget to order the famous Kaiserschmarrn (even better if you try it at Georgenhof) one of the best desserts I’ve ever tried! If you want to go further, head to the incredible shop Holareidulijö where you can try amazing handmade typical Bavarian costumes and understand how they look good on you and on your curves!

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2. Be International (at least when you eat!): Surprisingly, Munich has a lot of international restaurants, definitely more than Milan! We ate Turkish, Persian, Thai, Israeli, Korean, Japanese, Indian and we could have done a lot more if we had the time! But the best surprise was the Afghan cuisine: Chopan was one of the best ethnic restaurants I’ve ever tried and really loved from the Afghan community in Munich- not to mention its very cool ambiance. We also tried the famous vegetarian restaurant, Prinz Myshkin, were you can eat a delicious Tofu à la Stroganoff!

3. Visit the Museums! During the freezing snowy days one of our best activities was visiting the museums: Munich offers a great art and cultural panorama and you will be surprised of the hidden treasures that you can find. The three Pinakothek (the old “Alte”, the New “Neue” and the Modern “Moderne”) not far from one another can be really surprising… and they are just 1 euro on Sundays. You can find Van Gogh (the famous “Sunflowers”) to Klimt, Gauguin and Picasso- plus a huge quantity of paintings from the XV century to modern art and great contemporary exhibitions to feel extremely satisfied!

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4. Go the Opera! The Bayerische Staatsoper is one of the most famous and popular places in Munich. This beautiful place is, for sure, an unique experience that you must live. When we were there, we were invited by our colleagues to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet and we not only enjoyed the piece, but also the German experience. What I loved most was the long break where you could have drinks and sip your wine while admiring the incredible interior and the lovely women wearing their typical costumes in a very modern way (for example with a simple white shirt!). (I wore Marks and Spencer white shirt, Benetton white cardi, Imperial culottes, Tosca Blu ankle boots, Max&Co bag, Miu Miu frames and Rodedal earrings)

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The Ladybug Chronicles - Bavarian Winter 07

5. Leave it for a weekend! But this will be in my next post… stay tuned!