First Steampunk Festival in Rome

Ex mattatoio is a place in Testaccio which used to be a slaughterhouse but has been converted in the 70s into a cultural association building. There are always interesting events held here, like open air movies, music festivals and more. Steamfest Roma 2014

Cart and I were there last weekend for the first ever Steamfest event in Rome. Steampunk, in a nutshell is a genre of science fiction meets British-Victorian era fashion. Think HG Wells or Jules Verne. Steamfest Roma 2014

We reached there in the late afternoon and there was quite a turnout. I enjoyed looking at the fantastic costumes that many of the participants were wearing. I think takes a lot of love and dedication in creating these outfits, not to mention also time and money to find the perfect fit. Steamfest Roma 2014

With the gazometro in the background, it gives a nice touch to the whole steampunk feel and I’ll bet that there were a lot of fantastic pictures being taken. Steamfest Roma 2014

Apart from admiring the different costumes, there were also booths where steampunk outfits and accessories were sold. It wasn’t that expensive and it was tempting to get a costume for myself! Steamfest Roma 2014

Apart from that, there were a lot of sideshows that I saw from our programme sheet, like,”Fighting lessons for Gentlemen”, “Cavern of horrors” as well as others. I really like how sheet was decorated. Steamfest Roma 2014

The highlight of the show was probably the burlesque by Sweety J, the winner of the reality TV show, “Lady Burlesque“. Unfortunately the timing clashed with a dinner appointment with our friends and we’d have to give it a pass so I guess this would have to do for now.

(Not very safe for work)

Anyhow here are some of the costumes that Cart and I snapped : Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014

She’s so cute! Steamfest Roma 2014

Futuristic fortune teller from the past Steamfest Roma 2014

Another cute one! Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014

This explorer outfit was one of the more unique ones that we’ve seen. Steamfest Roma 2014

Not sure if you could see it in the picture, but the photographer in there incorporated his iPhone on the sleeve of his costume. Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014 Steamfest Roma 2014

I had fun going to my first Steamfest! So many interesting things to see and do. Thank you organizers! And I am definitely looking forward to the next one :-)

Sidenote : If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy my post about Rome’s Comic Convention.

The most beautiful bicycle bag you’ve ever seen

After wanting a bicycle for the longest time, I got for myself one yesterday. It’s a B-Twin Elops 3, has a 5 speed gear and it has a dynamo light in front of it which I thought was really functional. At about 200 euro, I thought that it was quite expensive compared to the ones I see sold in Singapore, but I guess it’s the standard here. B-twin Elops 3 bicycle

It’s been a while since the last time that I’ve been cycling but it’s a skill that you never lose. In no time at all, I was up and around the neighbourhood. It’s really nice being able to reach a place in just a few minutes compared to probably 3 times longer when you’re on foot.

But the thing that I didn’t expect was how my neighbourhood is full of slopes which can be quite tiring when you’re going uphill. You don’t feel it so much when you’re walking leisurely. But I felt it today! My thighs are surely going to be sore tomorrow. At this point of time, I don’t feel too confident of straying too far away from my neighbourhood much less even think of joining a duathlon.

The bicycle that I have is a women’s version – the crossbar is lower so that the woman could cross her legs over daintily and wear a skirt if she fancied. But I noticed that on my bicycle, you need to pedal more compared to a regular bicycle. And considering that it’s a women’s bike, it’s quite heavy at 17 kg. I don’t trust leaving it outside and lifting it up the stairs is a bit of a pain since it doesn’t fit in the elevator. I’ll just think of it as a form of strength exercise. Basil Bicycle Bags

Nevertheless, I’ve been looking around for panniers which I think would be extremely useful for carrying things, like grocery shopping. Quite by chance, I found these : Basil Bicycle Bags Basil Bicycle Bags

Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? In a sea of industrial looking pannier bags, these look so feminine and charming. It also comes in blue and black, as well as other designs but I find the red one particularly striking.

This bag is from a company in the Netherlands called Basil and they specialise in bicycle assortment from bicycle baskets, bags to accessories. Basil Bicycle Bags

From the site, I also found side-bags which doubles up as regular shoulder bags. There is a hidden flap in each one which reveals a hook which you attach to your carrier. Basil Bicycle Bags Basil Bicycle Bags

I think it’s a genius idea and I wouldn’t mind getting one of that. It looks roomy enough for me to stuff a lot of things inside.

And there is also the milk-basket which gives you the convenience to put which ever bags and items you want in.  And it still looks cute. Basil Bicycle Bags

Which one would you get? At first I wanted the pannier, then I thought the bag would be great, then the basket …  I can’t make up my mind!

Nevertheless, anything that is imported from outside Italy, almost always costs a bomb with the additional tax and whatnots so it’ll have to wait for a while …

A pretty hot Chilli festival in Rieti

Rieti is a city in Lazio and is about 100 km away from central Rome. After an idyllic road trip accompanied by greeneries and the rolling hills, you’ll find yourself  there. Chilli festival in Rieti

It’s such a pretty place and everywhere you go, is such a postcard perfect shot. Being near this river made me feel so tranquil. Chilli festival in Rieti

The mountains in the background should be Terminillo, where Cart and I visited some time back. Chilli festival in Rieti

There is a spot in Rieti where you could stand, to be right in the middle of Italy. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

But apart from the picturesque view, Cart and I were here for their annual Chilli festival. This year is their 4th edition and we were excited to attend our first fiera del peperoncino. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

I loved seeing the fresh and vibrant colours of the chilli. Growing up in Singapore, I was used to and  cultivated a love for eating hot food. Walking around, the thing that came to mind, was how my family would have loved being here. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

Did you know that chillies actually originated in the Americas?  It then spread around the world and now India is the largest producer and consumer of chillies. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

Despite what I initially thought before living here, a lot of Italians, especially those from the South, appreciate and love chillies especially seeing the sheer amount of visitors there, carrying along with them their bundles of newly purchased pots of chilli plants. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

The types of chillies that I saw came in a variety of strength or the level of capsaicin, from the mild, to the very hot. This level even has it’s own measurement called the Scoville heat units or SHU. For example :

  • Bell Pepper – 0 SHU (Not hot at all)
  • Jalapeño – 2,500-8,000 SHU
  • Habanero – 100,000–350,000 SHU (Hot!) Chilli festival in Rieti

Cart and I managed to try some Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia and Naga Viper at a friend’s house the other day.  Each one of these are more than 1.4M SHU. At first bite, you don’t feel it so much but the heat intensifies and grow bigger as time passes by and your eyes will tear up and your nose will dribble and you’d question yourself about the meaning of life. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

Non chilli eaters would probably ask why torture yourself and inflicting self pain to yourself, but after you get over it, you get the blissful feeling of euphoria. Kind of like a jogger’s high. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

When we reached there, there were a number of award winning chillies for sale and you could get for yourself, your own pots of chilli plants from 5 euro and above. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

There were so many varieties that it boggles the mind that after a while, I just could not keep track of the kinds that I saw but there were a number which was unique to me, such as the purple chilli as seen in the picture above, as well as these white, round ones. Something that I’ve never seen before. Chilli festival in Rieti

These are called “Capezzoli di Scimmia”. Ask your Italian friends to translate what it means in English :-) Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

As we walked past a restaurant, and while we didn’t eat here, I was amused to see the menu. Chilli in at least one of the meals, even the dessert! Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

In the end, Cart and I got two pots while our friend Stefano went all out and got I think 4 big pots altogether. Chilli festival in Rieti Chilli festival in Rieti

There was hardly any space in the car as the chillies instead took more space than me! Haha

All in all, I had a most lovely time exploring beautiful Rieti as well as enjoying the chilli festival with our lovely friends. Chilli festival in Rieti

What other festivals will we go to next?

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Much ado about Watermelons

Cocomero (pronounced as ko-ko-mehro) or watermelons are a favourite summer fruit.

Juicy, sweet and refreshing, it’s the perfect fruit when you want to cool down in the hot summer days. Plus, it’s quite cheap to get them – costing about 30 cents a kilo, you could easily get a large, whole one in the market for less than two euros.

Something interesting that I’ve noticed is how watermelons are served in Rome. In the eateries here, people eat them with a fork and knife. It’s something usual to me personally as it seems quite refined for such a humble fruit.

You could also get cocomero by the slices at kioks by the roadside. There are lots of kiosks like these in Rome and this one where we visited, is somewhere in Via Aurelia.

Getting one costs more compared to if you get a whole one at the market. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience for me, eating a huge slice of watermelon next to the roadside.

You pick the watermelon slice that you want, take a knife from the small bucket and cut the flesh and enjoy the cool, sweet freshness.

I thought that the whole situation reminiscent of the roadside stalls in Asia – you could even sit at the plastic tables while you enjoy your fruit.

Nevertheless, the idea of paying to cut your own melons is quite bizarre. Perhaps it’s just me? In Singapore, hawkers always cut watermelon slices right in front of you when they are sold.


Quick thoughts on the LG Nexus 5

As much as I love my Galaxy Nexus, it was starting to get obsolete. Even with it being rooted, it was starting to take such a long time to start programs and even worse, gets unstable with more than 3 apps open.

It became so cumbersome playing games like ingress on it, and I guess that I’ve been complaining so much about my phone being slow that Cart got me this for my birthday. I really love my new toy! LG Nexus 5

I’ve enjoyed the Nexus experience tremendously since I use a lot of Google applications and was really happy to be upgraded to a Nexus 5.

We happened to also be ordering a pair of USB cables so when the delivery guy arrived to pass me the box, I was surprised to see the phone instead of the cables when I opened the box as it was deceptively small and very light.

This was probably my first LG phone and the Nexus 5 comes in 3 colours – black, white and red. I asked for the red one as it’s an usual colour in a sea of black mobile phones. Seeing it in real life, the red isn’t a true red though, more like orange-red. Nevertheless, I absolutely love it, the phone is just so sexy. LG Nexus 5

(The LG Nexus 5 next to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus)

Everything about the phone is just so seductive – the colour, the shape, the sleek look. Just touching the matte back is just so inviting. Suffice to say, I think this is the most attractive smartphone that I’ve ever owned. LG Nexus 5

First I had to get my SIM card cut as it needed a Micro-SIM, and then get it updated to the latest android version which is Kitkat 4.4.4 at this point of writing.

The first time I first used it, I was ridiculously emotional at how speedy it was. With a 2 GB ram, opening apps was so fast that I can’t imagine how I managed to survive with my old phone. I almost cried happy tears in the mall when I managed to get memory intensive apps like Ingress started in just a few seconds instead of minutes.

Everything feels so smooth and basically just works. In the several weeks that I’ve been using it, I’ve never had any issues. Even though there is the extremely rare chance when the phone decides to restart by itself, at least it doesn’t take a lifetime to start again. LG Nexus 5

There are a few changes that I see. For example, SMS messages are now combined with hangouts which is great as every messages are in one place.

And now all pictures taken is now updated to “Photos” – I quite like the auto-backup which saves all your images to your google+ account. It’s a peace of mind in case something happens to the phone or makes a smooth transition when changing phones. LG Nexus 5

I really like the camera. There are different interesting functions like Photo Sphere, Panorama, Lens Blur and HDR+. Considering that the camera is just 8 MP, the quality of the images are quite impressive. Here are some of the snapshots that I took recently, not forgetting the ones I took in Orvieto. LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5 LG Nexus 5

Admittedly, these pictures are slightly enhanced using Snapseed. Nevertheless, you’d need to have a good picture to be edited into an even better picture. The roasted seafood picture especially, looked as if it could have been snapped using a DSLR :-)

Another awesome function is “Ok Google” which runs really smoothly on the phone. But the part which I like a lot about Google Now  is the ‘Location’. Using this function makes you keep track of your friends all the time. I like this function a lot as I’d always know where Cart is so I don’t worry about where he could be.

I probably might talk more about this function in the future about how this affects relationships :P LG Nexus 5

And I finally am able to do … emoticons! Probably something quite frivolous, but I’ve been waiting for this for the longest time. I can’t believe that this couldn’t be done in earlier phones. I didn’t want to install additional apps like Swiftkey which at 26 MB seems like such a bloatware. LG Nexus 5

To end this post, I just have to say that I really love my new phone. The irony is, I don’t use it much for talking and instead use it more for social media, ingressing and taking photos. I don’t even carry my point and shoot camera with me much any more.

Thank you so much Cartcart :-)

Beautiful Orvieto

Cart and I were with a group of friends in Orvieto during the weekend. Orvieto Orvieto Orvieto Orvieto

This place is like a dream, the view from up was so breathtakingly beautiful with rolling hills and teeny tiny houses from far away. Orvieto Orvieto

The buildings look so charming and every where you go here is a picture perfect view. Orvieto Orvieto

In the heart of the town, there is a church here which reminds me a lot like the one in Firenze, mostly because of its black and white stripes.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to spend too much time here as we had to rush off to other places, but I’d love to come back here again and explore the area in a calmer manner :-)

P.S. All the pictures in this post were snapped using my mobile phone by the way. Either my pns camera is getting obsolete or phones are getting so much better!

Diary of a Singaporean now living in Rome, Italy