TRAVEL | An Escape in Milan

I had not planned to go to Milan, but when my cousin asked me to go away for a few days with her as she needed a break from work, and kindly invited me, I could not say no! I had never visited Milan before, so this was really exciting. 
We only stayed four days, so I don't feel like I have quite mastered the city and discovered it properly; this was more of an introduction to Milan and to life in a busy, modern Italian city.
Unlike some other cities in Italy where you could feel like everything is marked by its past and its history, Milan is a beautiful blend of modern and old. Typical colourful houses mingle effortlessly with big modern buildings, and you will find it both a city of culture and a buzzing place to live and work in. My cousin and I both thought Milan must be a great city to live in. I'll share with you everything we saw and did there, to give you some inspiration if you want to visit the city!

What to see in Milan

Of course, I have to mention the Duomo of Milano first. It is the impressive cathedral of the city, made entirely of marble and spires. It is truly special, I can't think of any other monument that looks like it. It is obviously a very popular area of Milan and you'll have to wait a little before going inside, but it is worth the wait. I'd advise to go both inside the cathedral (tickets are 2€, and you have to cover your shoulders and legs to get in, as in most religious buildings in the city), and to climb to the terraces at the top of the Duomo. This will cost you 10€ if you take the stairs and 13€ if you take the lift, but a little tip here: do go for the stairs. When we went, there was a huge queue to take the lift while we didn't have to wait at all to take the stairs. Plus, you'll feel like you deserve the view! 
Right next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, the beautiful gallery full of luxury shops and restaurants. There are way too many tourists there (and I was one of them, I know haha) but just go in for five minutes to enjoy the beautiful architecture.

When it comes to the areas of the city worth having a walk around, I have a couple that really stood out to me. First is the Brera, a pretty area full of restaurants, cobbled streets and yellow, pink, orange, very typical Italian houses. It can get a little busy around dinner time, but it is part of the lively atmosphere, and you'll mutter a lot of "ooh" and "aah" as you walk around, spotting little architectural gems. 
Another place to visit for restaurants is the Navigli, more at the south of the city. They are artificial canals around which the streets are full of restaurants and bars. We went there in the early afternoon on a Saturday, and there was a little market/car boot sale going on, which was quite fun as well. By the way, we went to a restaurant called L'Altro Luca e Andrea, facing the Naviglio Grande and where we ate the best tiramisu ever. 

If you want to feel like a VIP, go to the Quadrilatero d'Oro, a bunch of several streets dedicated to luxury shops. There, you'll drool over the beautiful displays of Dolce&Gabanna (a personal favourite), Chanel or Cartier... a real feast for the eyes. I had never seen such a display of wealth and luxury in a concentrated area, I think it even beats our Place Vendôme in Paris! Unfortunately, my camera died when we arrived there, so I couldn't take any proper photos of the area.

Other places I would recommend visiting are the Castello Sforzesco and the Parco Sempione. The Castello is a medieval fortress that has been rebuilt (hence its amazing state of preservation) and is home to several museums of Art and History. The Parco Sempione is a relaxed, pleasant park in which Milanese people from all ages and all paths of life go to have some time off. Enjoy a casual walk, have a snooze in the grass or look out for the turtles in the lake (yes, there are turtles, and lots of them!).
As for museums, the Pinacoteca di Brera is an impressive collection of Italian paintings, where you'll be able to get an idea of how rich and diverse Italian art is. The majority of the paintings are Renaissance though, so be prepared for a lot of religious art. The most interesting thing was being able to see a restoration workshop, open to the public eye (but not to photographs, unfortunately). If you are there at the right time, you can actually see the artists working on the painting! In this museum is the painting The Kiss (Il bacio) by 19th-century painter Francesco Hayez. It is so simple yet beautiful, although it is hard to explain the fascination we can feel towards a work of art. 

There are many other museums in Milan, and there's two of them I particularly wanted to see - two historical villas - but that'll be for next time!

Apart from Milan itself, we took a day trip to Lake Como, where we spent a great time strolling through the old town centre, enjoying a lovely boat trip and eating pasta... I'll share all about Como in an upcoming blog post!
Be prepared for a lot of travel posts this summer, I'll be packing my suitcase quite a few times and can't wait to take you with me on these adventures!

Do you think you'd like Milan? Have you ever been there?


FASHION | Perfection Is Just A Concept

The day we took these photos, I was very disappointed. I felt like they were all wrong, that we just lost time and that I would only get two or three properly usable shots, which wouldn't be enough to make a blog post. It almost spoilt my afternoon then, but luckily a yummy caramel and popcorn ice cream made everything much better.
When I came back home and looked at the photos on my laptop, I actually found some were okay, others I really liked, and I felt better about myself. This whole rollercoaster of feelings, but what for? ... a few outfit photos and a blog post. One amongst many others, that wouldn't ever be held against me if it wasn't that good anyways.

This got me thinking about perfection, why we strive for it and why we should always take a step back, think things through and stop worrying about being perfect and doing things perfectly. It's normal to want to be the best version of yourself, and we should always try to do our best in everything, to be proud of what we do and who we are. However, when pressure builds up, it destroys all the pleasure we take in doing things. I love taking outfit photos, I love putting these outfits together, thinking about pretty locations, editing the photos and sharing them on Julia Speaks. I want to look my best, take the best photos, but sometimes things don't work out and that's okay. I have to learn that not doing everything perfectly is okay; it is normal and we can't be perfect because that's just a concept. Perfection should push us, motivate us, but not bring us down. When we start feeling negative about something, it's better to stop, take a minute, and reconsider why we're doing it.

I will keep taking photos, I know sometimes I won't feel 100% satisfied with them, but that's okay. I can't be perfect, nobody can. We can just do our best, and that's already awesome!

Dress: H&M 
Shoes: Gémo (old)
Bag: Naf-Naf (old)

If you feel like you're not doing well enough, you're wrong. If you feel like other people are better than you, you're wrong. Keep working, keep enjoying what you do, whether it has to do with blogging, exercise, diet, or your personal life. Nobody will ever think that you're not good enough. I certainly know that none of you will point at these photos and tell me 'ew, they're not good at all, just delete this post right now'. We are so hard on ourselves, more than other people could ever be. Let's not reach for perfection, but rather for what makes us happy, and if we spread positivity, people will always answer positively to what we share. Positivity always comes first!

What is perfection to you? What makes you feel good about yourself and how you blog/reach your goals in life?


BEAUTY | The Manicure Moment: Pretty Pastels

Using: Barry M Rose Hip & Huckleberry + Claire's pink glitter nail polish (no name)

Is it a boy or a girl? I feel like we could paint nurseries with these two Barry M nail polishes. Pastel pink and blue are among my favourite colours, and I decided to pair these two shades on a whim, and the result rather pleased me!
This is a very girly manicure, fit for a light summer look, like a white lace dress for example, or a pink tulle skirt. I don't need to tell you how good Barry M nail polishes are, I have many of them and do the job very well. My pink glitter nail polish from Claire's is a staple, I use glitter a lot when I want to add a little something to my manicures, and I don't think you need to get expensive glitter polishes. Cheap ones are great, you can stock on many different colours and types of glitter without spending too much - go to Claire's, their glitter collection is rather impressive!

Do you prefer pastel blue or pastel pink? What's your favourite glitter nail polish?


TRAVEL | Palermo, Sicily (part 2)

For this second part of my Palermo photo diary, I'd like to speak to you about the harbour and seaside areas. Although I love visiting buildings, museums and cultural sites when I'm on holiday, I also enjoy a little afternoon on the beach! I was actually pleasantly surprised by how blue, pure and clean the sea looked in Palermo. I was expecting a little dirt here and there, but the water was crystal clear and I let out little squeals of joy every time I saw it (which was, as it happens, very often).
Once again I am parting this post in two small chunks, to present you the two different seaside areas we visited. Get ready for a lot of blue and boats!

The Harbour of Palermo: La Cala & Surroundings

The harbour, called La Cala, is easily accessible if you are in the centre of the city. Only a few minutes' walk down il Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, walking under Italian flag bunting, and the blue of the sea will instantly catch your eye. There's a long, seaside promenade there, where people love to go with friends or to go for a run. From the port, where all the boats are moored, you can see the Monte Pellegrino (check out the first picture), which is apparently a great hiking spot and gives you the best view of the sea - we'll actually try to climb the Monte during our next stay, so you'll hear more about it then!).
At the very end of the port, there is a curious little spot where people go fishing. We went there twice, and both times people were sitting, waiting for fish to catch the hook. Parallel to the sea promenade is the Villa Giulia - which, as the name doesn't suggest, is actually a really pretty, peaceful park. You'll take the best palm trees photographs there, and see the curious display of four exedra (semi-circular buildings and domes), beautifully painted. These were gorgeous, and the Roman style paintings of the walls had me completely in awe. There are numerous busts and statues all around the park, which has a very typical layout of Italian gardens. We spent quite some time there, soaking up the little breeze as evening approached, and I simply didn't want to leave.

Mondello Beach

Mondello is Palermo's most famous beach. To get there, you'll have to take a bus (bus n°806 at Politeama to be precise, in case you're planning to visit), and after a thirty-minute journey in a probably full bus, you'll be there. Trust me, the tedious journey is worth it! You'll be welcomed by kilometres of fine sand and lagoon-blue water. Although it was super windy the day we went there, the sun was shining (and left me with horrible tan lines on my feet and thighs). Because it was only May, the beach wasn't packed with people and it was easy to find a nice spot to put our towels on. In the summer, Mondello is said to be super popular, but then I guess most beach areas are anyways. Once I got into the water, I didn't want to come back to the sand. I had not been on a proper beach day for ages (last year in Barcelona it was so busy that we only stayed for a couple hours because giving up), so it felt incredibly good to breathe in the sea air and look at that amazing view.

If you walk along the beach towards the west, you'll stumble upon a little port and a part of Mondello that looks like an old fishermen's village. There you'll find plenty of restaurants and bars, which I am sure, do amazing seafood - as I don't like sea produce, I don't mind too much about that but a lot of restaurants in Palermo seem to have seafood as their speciality.

Going to the sea and to the harbour were some of my favourite moments in Palermo. It feels so exotic for someone coming from the city, and I know I would be happy if I lived in a place where the sea was so close. It definitely made the trip look like a summer holiday, and sometimes we forget we were only in May!

Do you like to be by the seaside? What is the best beach you've been to?