Saturday, October 27, 2012

Venetian islands: Burano

The Venetian island of Burano is reknowned for its colourful houses and its lace. The houses are painted in distinct colours following in a wonderful tradition, where the sailors returning from sea in bad weather conditions would be able to identify their house by its unique colour. This was in ye olden times before electric lighthouses (another tradition now becoming defunct due to radar technology).

I spent the best part of a day in Burano. We were in a daze walking around the tranquil alleyways, hardly believing this technicolour place to be real, it felt like the film set from a 1950s MGM movie. There were less tourists than the main island of Venice certainly, and it possesses a certain magic that I didn't find in Venice. I think that was because without the overwhelming hoardes of tourists I could see the locals, and actually interact with them and exchange camaraderie!

That awkward moment when you paint your house a different colour to your neighbours but you share a window.

Quiet streets! A rarity in Venice.

I went to the Lace museum (more on that later).

The leaning tower of a church, if you look closely at the churches in Venice, you'll notice that this is very common - it is the old foundations they're built on, these are all reinforced, so they don't tilt further.

Its almost as if the washing was specially selected to fit in with the colour scheme!

This house, Casabepi, has an interesting story. In Burano, locals have to apply to the council, to apply for approval of the colour they wish to paint their house. I suppose it matters to the aesthetic effect of the whole island, but knowing this information, and realising that the beautifully kept exteriors of the houses isn't down to the individual motivation of the community, tarnishs the magic slightly! In the 1950s, the owner Guiseppe 'Bepi' Toselli (1920-2002), a candy seller, turned film theatre owner, began painting his house in these geometric patterns. It has become quite the tourist attraction, there were a few people taking photos while I was there, and I didn't want them in my picture, therefore I don't have a full photo of the facade! A quick google of "casabepi burano" will turn up loads of results!

The vaparetto journey back to the main island takes around 40 to 50 minutes. In the evening, watching the sun set is a wonderful experience.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Film Fatale comes to the North-West!

Film Fatale will be hosting a special night of vintage glamour, as part of the North-West film festival, which runs this year from November 14-25, in The Model. We will be treated to a special screening of the classic Some Like it Hot. This will be a night of cinema nostalgia and old–style Hollywood glamour that will transport the audience back to 1950s Hollywood for an evening of film, vintage music, cocktails and dancing.

The audience is invited to help set the scene by dressing up in their vintage finest, paying homage to the 1950s or dressing like Marilyn and her co-stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Well, I'm thrilled to say that this means Film Fatale are looking for ushers, usherettes, dancers, photographers and vintage hair and makeup artists in Sligo, for this special night. So if you live in and around the Sligo area, or know of anyone that would fit the bill email stating on the subject line the role you are applying for. Your email must include your name and contact details along with the following information:

- Dancers and other performers: a publicity shot and a video clip.

- Ushers and Usherettes: a headshot and information on any previous experience as a host/hostess and working with the public.

- Photographers, hair and makeup artists: a link to previous work

Film Fatale is a boutique film event that transports the audience back to the golden age of cinema through film, fashion, music and good old-fashioned fun. Screening the crème de la crème of classic films alongside entertaining live acts playing music from the film’s era. This night of cinema nostalgia and old-style Hollywood glamour mirrors the style of the films being screened. The audience are treated to a classic film screening coupled with live performances and a themed after party.

For more info visit their blog, like Film Fatale on facebook, or follow them on twitter @FilmFataleEvent.

For more information on the North West Film and Music festival please visit The Model website.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Eve Arnold in Ireland: The Hustons

Having blogged about Eve Arnold's images of Ireland before, a few months ago I came across these wonderfully poignant images of John and Angelica Huston, taken in the Huston's Galway home, St. Clarens, in 1968.

Loneliness is not necessarily considered a bad thing in Ireland. Every story, every song is nostalgic, even the place itself is soft and wet ... There are signs of the past everywhere, they are part of everyday life.

Without my Irish childhood I would not know the names of the plants and flowers in my mother’s garden, would not know how to ride a horse, walk in the rain, sing plaintive songs about the country I miss and love the most. I would not understand the vagaries and the delights of nature, the clouds racing overhead, the smell of turf and sheep’s wool, the cold, the black bogs, growing up with dogs, The Sisters Of Mercy, fairies, and the best Christmases in the world. The West of Ireland! The Big House, as we called it, was at one end of a fork in the avenue, across a waterfall, surrounded by meadows and a ha-ha, a sort of hidden ditch, which allowed an uncluttered view of grazing horses. It was Georgian, built of limestone, it was a good size, three storied, not huge. - Anjelica speaking of her Irish childhood.


These images are copyrighted to Eve Arnold's estate/Magnum photos, and be found here.


Cinema North West’s Adaptation Film Festival takes place on the 19th - 21st October in Dromahair, Co Leitrim. This year's retrospective focuses on John Huston.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Snapshots of Venice

Like my fellow young people, I love using instagram. I was able to keep my friends up to date on my Venetian adventures, via my twitter.

1. Enjoying my final gelato
2. Sun worshiping on Lido

3. Alexander Calder 'Arc of Petals' (1941) at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
4. Keeping track of visitor numbers at the British Pavilion at the Biennale

5. The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
6. Ceiling of the restored Sala dell'Albergo (2012) at the Accademia galleries

7. A council block sized cruise ship passing through on the Grand Canal (an all too common sight unfortunately)
8. Some unique Venetian style: a toilet print velvet frock coat

9. Venetian sunset
10. One of the many, many bridges I crossed on my walk to work in the morning

11. Post work prosecco
12. Cheap wine, everywhere!

13. Approaching rain clouds in Venice
14. A washout day at the Biennale

15. Free Pussy Riot masks concealing the faces of the female statues in the Garibaldi at the Venice Biennale
16. Front of House service with a smile at the British Pavilion with Aurora

17. Venice like a scene from Don't Look Now
18. A brilliant Turner-esque Venetian sunset (no filter!)

19. A Pope John Paul commemorative candle for sale in my local convenience store!
20. Saying farewell to my Venice flat!

If you're on instagram follow me - illbeyourmirror

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gelato Diaries

One of my vices is ice cream. I've tried sea salt ice cream, vegan ice cream, even made my own ice cream. I love the stuff. Is it a girl thing? I don't know, I don't care. In Italy, I really had the chance to indulge. Italy is famous for its gelato, particularly Venice. Here is a snapshot of some of the places and tastes I visited.

Gelato isn't merely ice cream. In Italy, handmade gelato takes precedence over industrially produced gelato. Gelato is stirred at a much slower pace than ice-cream, so less air is in the mixture, making it thicker than ice-cream. It also contains a lower percentage of fat, sometimes a higher percentage of sugar, and other sciencey details that mean nothing to me, and you just need to try it to believe me, alright? Not to mention that most gelatari take pride in how they present their dishes, and with a lot of imagination.

For me eating gelato was a rewarding experience, I'll probably never go near a "whippy cone" again, its more expensive and far inferior, and it comes out of a tap, its not scooped into a cup, with a gaily coloured spooon and presented to you. The comforting dense texture of gelato is an experience worth remembering. Have I won you over yet? Book those flights!

Gelateria Nico, Fondamenta delle Zattere
Referenced in all the guidebooks, probably the most famous gelateria in Venice. I went in here on my second day in Venice, seeking the cool comfort of ice cream and shelter from the sun. It was my first taste of gelato in Venice and it sent me on a gluttonous path! I originally wanted to have a hot chocolate gelato float (I know right?!) but I soon learnt that Venice does not serve hot chocolate until the colder weather, from mid-October onward. Founded in 1937, Gelateria Nico is a Venetian institution, and is located on Fondamenta delle Zattere, a wide waterfront promenade in Venice, and a five minute walk from the Accademia bridge and the Peggy Guggenheim museum.

If going here I'd recommend that you get a coppa or cono (cup or cone) of gelato to take away, as a sit down and glass of ice cream can vary from €4.50 to €9.50, and the interior has seen better decades. Eat it at your own pace sitting on the waterfront (or standing, as I did one day when it was raining but I needed my gelato fix!). Its extremely well priced, a coppa of ice cream with panna (cream) made inhouse cost me €2.70 (€2.20 for the two scoops & 50c for toppings). The staff on the other hand, well you'll forget about their rudeness once you tuck into your gelato, as you can see, the portions are generous! I noticed on tripadvisor that someone recommended to ask for the gianduiotto ("a paper cup filled with whipped cream and a bar of the most delicious chocolate hazelnut gelato inserted into the cream with more cream plastered on top" WOW). My "usual" from here was the chocolate and amaretto, with cream. My Roman friend informed me that you can tell a good gelateria by the quality of its chocolate ice cream, and this place passed her test! This was my favourite and most frequented gelateria.

GROM is a chain of organic, artisan gelato shops in Italy. There are 3 in Venice alone. I went to one in Padua, and the other near Campo Santa Margarita. Their prices are a wee bit higher than that of the generic gelato places, but you can truly taste the difference. They are suitable for coeliacs, and contains no nasty artificial colours. I love how the staff procure the ice cream from their sleek metal tubs, they skillfully and rapidly scrape their spatula around the tub and transfer it artfully to your cone. The first time I chose the pistachio and dark chocolate in a cone. The combination was interesting, as the chocolate was so rich and dense, which I loved, while the pistachio tasted almost savoury. The cones themselves are lovely to bite into, and of great quality, not like the foamy, cheap ones we have here, that I'd rather cast aside than eat.

My second experience at GROM was in their Santa Nuova store. I chose a Marsala wine flavour (it being a quintessentially Italian flavour) with the dark chocolate again. It was my last full day in Venice, while we were on a leisurely stroll towards the Ghetto part of the city, and I decided to go in on a whim. I wish I'd eaten more of it sooner. The marsala wine gelato was divine, not too sweet and all, wonderfully thick, and a perfect accompaniment to the dark chocolate. Yum yum yum!!

Gelateria il Doge, Campo San Margarita
I tried this place on two occasions, the first time I wasn't awed and then on a late night stop off on my second last night in Venice. Myself and two of my friends both had gelato cravings at the same time, amazing. My most uttered phrase was probably "So... gelato?" We were hanging about our favourite Campo (San Margarita) and our favourite gelato places were too far to walk, so we stopped by here, as I remembered seeing it mentioned in a guide book (gives you an idea of what sections of the guide book I prioritised). They had a generous chocolate gelato section. Around 5 different flavours of chocolate gelato! Finn got the orange chocolate, which was like Terrys Chocolate Orange in gelato form (aka heaven) and I got the chili chocolate which had an intensely chocolate flavour, with a musky aftertaste. Lovely! Pretty good value too, around €1.20 for a cone.

Gelateria Paolin, Campo San Stefano
Recommended to me by a friend initially, I soon came across this place more than once in the guide books. On our first visit, it was the evening, so we decided to be decadent and get a table. The deserts in the menu are expensive. My glass (though amply filled) was €10.50, including table charge. On my next two visits, I got a cone, which was an incredible €1! Alledgedly the best pistachio gelato in Venice, pistachio being a favourite flavour of mine, I complied and found to my pleasure, while i can't speak for all the gelateri in Venice, it was certainly the best I'd ever tasted. The right side of sweet, with a gorgeous texture created by crumbled pistachios crumbled through the mixture. On one late night visit, I went back for seconds!

You can reach Gelateria Paolin in the bustling Campo San Stefano, a ten minute walk from San Marco, and on your way to the Accademia bridge. They also serve food.


Generally, I'd recommend that you avoid the gelato places around San Marco and the well thread tourist areas. The garish colours and quantity of gelato on display should be a hint to their quality really.

Most of the photo credit for the charming Finn MacLeod!