Friday Inspiration: Lucia Annibali and the fight to end #ViolenceAgainstWomen

November 24, 2016

Three years ago, Italian lawyer Luca Varani paid two men to break into his ex-girlfriend’s flat and attack her with acid – a vicious act of vengeance that would see Lucia Annibali undergo seven operations, leave her partially blind and alter the course of her life forever.

Smart and successful, Lucia Annibali’s only fault was falling in love with a seemingly charming, attractive man. She is not weak and she was not to blame - she could have been any one of us and any one of us, at any time, could become her.

Lucia and Luca Varani met at a law firm in the Italian coastal town of Pesaro. The attraction between them was immediate and compelling, and their professional relationship quickly became personal. 

Over the three years they were together, his treatment of her veered from passionate love one minute, to disinterest, anger and lies the next. 

Finally, she discovered his secret; he had been seeing another woman simultaneously, to which he was now engaged. She told him that she was leaving and that this time, she would never come back – a show of strength that would eventually lead to Varani being sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Lucia Annibali three years on from the attack (how amazing does she look?!) - image:

5 (stolen) minutes with Gesche Haas

November 22, 2016

I'm having another 'I love my job'  day today, although it didn't start out like that. 

I'd actually just got in from touching all the clothes in Zara - the closest I can get to buying them right now - and had got back into bed, where I intended to stay and sulk all evening. I can barely afford to pay my rent *violins, please* and sometimes being an adult sucks - the temptation to fly back home and move back in with my parents, live rent-free and be cooked for every night was strong. Fleeting, but strong. 

Then I got an email from Gesche Haas, who I interviewed at the Web Summit last week, and I remembered just why I'm here. She said she loved the article I wrote about her - which was kind of a relief, given my relative inexperience with interview-style articles.

It was just the boost I needed in the midst of one of my quarter-life, existential moments. Taking a year out is the best thing I've ever done, but it's not always easy - so sometimes, it's nice to know I'm getting somewhere. With wherever it is I'm going.

Anyway, at the end of my interview with Gesche - who is, by the way, one of the most fabulous and inspiring women you'll ever meet - I stole another five minutes of her time to ask her some quick-fire questions for this post. 

24 hours in Lisbon

November 12, 2016

Sometimes, I love my job. Today is one of those days.

I just met Julia Hartz, one of the most successful (and g o r g e o u s) female entrepreneurs, in the airport security queue on the way back from the Web Summit - where I'd just watched her speak in front of 15,000 people. When you write articles about an industry dominated almost entirely by white men for a living, meeting someone like her is a pretty cool thing to happen before 7am on a Saturday morning.

(Top tip – no matter how early the flight, NEVER go to the airport without make-up on. Because that will be the time you meet someone as fabulous as Julia and feel like a troll.)

Anyway, I’ve been in Lisbon for the past few days covering the Web Summit for the magazine I work for. Web Summit is a massive three day conference for all things tech, start-up and modern business - basically everyone from Facebook to Tinie Tempah is there so it's a big deal, if you're into that kinda thing. (Which I am, apparently.)

It doesn’t sound all that fun, I know, but it really, really was. (Admittedly, I write for a finance magazine so my view of ‘fun’ is probably a little skewed). Plus, if you're media you get treated like royalty - which means free Portuguese custard tarts!!!

But the best thing about the conference was, obviously, the fact it was in Lisbon. I've been obsessively Pinterest-ing it for ages and have been dying to go - luckily it totally lived up to my (super high) expectations!

3 things I love right now: November 2016

November 03, 2016

So as part of my effort to make more time for blogging on my 'gap yah', here I am again. Did ya miss me? Probably not.

I'm currently in England and after a few days at work in London - and celebrating Halloween, obviously - I'm back in Suffolk.

I'd been looking forward to coming back to England for the last month - but when I left for the airport, all I wanted to do was stay. It turns out that when you get home from living abroad, 'home' doesn't really feel like home anymore. Where are the Nutella croissants? And Bake Off Italia? And the rest of the people who drink ten coffees a day, and all the well-dressed women?

But while Italy feels more like home than the UK right now, until I can speak the language fluently I'll always feel a little like an outsider.

So I'm currently in the throes of a weird, existential crisis, which I have largely dealt with by drinking too much wine snuggled on the sofa in front of the fire (yes, winter is coming) and binge-eating all the free food in the fridge.

Which has given me plenty of time to get really, really into a few things...

Some *limited* advice on learning a language

October 14, 2016

Did I mention that I'm learning Italian?

Yeah, thought I might have. Once, or twice, or maybe a few times...

Anyway, I've now been 'learning' Italian for a year. (I'm using those little quotation marks because I've mainly taught myself - possibly, now I think about it, a major reason why I'm not yet fluent).

I've never been much of a languages kinda girl - I dropped French after GCSE because my accent was so bad even my dad was surprised I passed. I've never imagined I could speak a foreign language and never been passionate enough about it to put in the effort - and BOY does it take effort.

A year ago I pictured myself gliding through Italy, throwing a casual 'ciao' out here and there, stopping to chat to good looking Italians as I passed etc etc. In reality, I still stumble when I ask for something and they don't immediately comprehend, then say something incoherent and go red and start speaking English. Good job Mir.

Dublin, Ireland

October 09, 2016

It is finally October and I am back in Italy, which means my odd, nomadic summer is finally over. After a month living in a hostel in Vietnam followed by an unexpected period of homelessness in London, it feels surreally good to be writing this from my own bed, perched atop of my excessive cushion collection and surrounded by scented candles. (Yep, I'm pretty basic.)

And so, my 'gap yah' begins. After 15 years straight of education is feels a little weird to know that, this year, I can do anything or go anywhere at the drop of a hat just because I fancy it. At the moment I'm settled in Bologna until February but after that, I don't really have a plan. It's all very #yolo and spontaneous... and slightly scary.

The one thing that is going to be difficult living back in Bologna is the fact that my best group of gal pals aren't going to be here; we were inseparable since Day One for the entirety of last year so not having them around for coffee dates/emergency wine/emotional support is a major downside. Luckily, however, I got a whole four days with them last weekend in Dublin - cue plenty of Guinness (surprisingly strong stuff), questionable dancing to Galway Girl in a club at 3am and overall great craic.

Vietnam, the final chapter

August 09, 2016

I know it sounds clich├ęd, but it’s a well-known fact that one of the worst things about travelling is saying goodbye to all the fabulous people you meet. When I first met Kacie we were complete strangers, and within just three weeks we were arguing like we’d been married for years. Our friendship had endured through one spiked drink, three days of hideous sickness, and a mutual hatred of the Aussie lads that came in at 3am and woke up every single person in the 28 bed dorm (three things that bond people, apparently) – and I was unexpectedly gutted to have to say goodbye, adding her to the list of friendships I’ve made this year that will have to conquer several time zones.

Vietnam, part two

August 07, 2016

So, after two cancelled flights, one night bus back down to Ho Chi Minh, two hours sleep at the airport and a last-minute flight, I was a) ready to jump on a plane back to the UK and/or kill myself and b) finally in Hanoi.

Out of the two main cities, Saigon and Hanoi, Hanoi was the one I was most excited about. Having not been as badly destroyed in the War, a large part of its charming Old Town is still standing. Exploring the tiny little streets was one of my favourite parts of the trip - whilst trying to avoid getting run over by the swathes of entire families on rusty motorbikes honking and beeping around you. There were French colonial buildings, trailing jungle trees and copious amounts of Bia Hoi: all of which made for a good couple of days.

Good morning Vietnam

August 06, 2016

One month ago I was sat on a plane, nervously watching the miles clock up on the TV screen in front of me as I sped towards Vietnam on my first trip alone. Twelve hours is a long flight - it provides plenty of time to ask myself why the fuck I chose to spend my summer alone in a foreign country. At that moment, I was pretty close to calling it off; but I eventually did the grown-up thing and pushed my apprehension aside, ordered a gin & tonic (the first of many, obviously) and settled down to watch a romantic comedy on my teeny, tiny TV.

Time for a change

August 03, 2016

And suddenly, its August. A scary enough thought on its own - where has this year gone? - but for another reason too: it means I've had this blog for three. whole. years.

Three years! Admittedly, I've written very sporadically and at some points nearly given up, but I can't think of anything else I've managed to do for three years running - including my degree - so its still quite an achievement.

When I started it, back when I was 18 and still in school, I was a very different person. I had very different ambitions - mainly to get a job in the city, work hard and buy a lot of nice clothes. (Nice, wasn't I?) Hence the name citybitch.

Now, I don't recognise that person at. all. Three years of studying a degree I ended up hating in a city I didn't love meant I ended up feeling completely lose - nothing turned out how I expected. Since being in Italy, however, I've started to figure stuff out again, and in June I made the decision to drop out of uni for the year and go back to Bologna for a bit longer. Even if the only thing I gain is a slightly better knowledge of the Italian language and a few more stone, if I'm happy, it'll be worth it.

5 things no one tells you about your Year Abroad

June 27, 2016

So officially, my year abroad in Italy has finished. I made a decision a few weeks ago to stay for another year (thankfully, since after that we'll be leaving the EU - but don't even get me started on that) but I'll be a fully-functioning, rent-paying, non-Erasmus Adult, so I'm still pretty gutted that the best year of my life so far is over. 

I had plenty of time to think about this post on Saturday as I waited out my eight hour delay in Bologna airport - cheers Ryanair - and decided to keep it as simple as possible. I could get very emotional but to avoid embarrassing everyone, including myself, I'll keep it short. 


June 18, 2016

So, I've been living here nine months and I STILL hadn't been to Venice. Which is pretty shameful when it's only a few hours away on the train. Secretly, part of me wasn't too bothered - I had the feeling it was overrated, and would be full of tourists and 15 euro pizza and seagulls.

But Katherine was staying a few weeks ago, it was a beautiful sunny day and the Instagram needed a bit of a boost - so we decided to hop on a train and spend a day in 'La citta galleggiante'. 

And it was BEAUTIFUL.

La Citta Eterna - Rome

June 16, 2016

I won't even bother apologising for how infrequently I've been posting - all I can say is that I've been pretty busy with exams (amongst other things!), which I appreciate is a lame excuse. Oh well. 

More importantly, a few weeks ago I finally made it to the city I had been dying to visit since I landed here: ROME. 

And OH MY GOD was it worth the wait. I think I nearly died a few times wandering around it I was so in love. It's the only city I've visited that might (I said MIGHT) beat Bologna. 

It was Harry's birthday so Harry, Anna, Na'ama and I had booked a little Airbnb in a great area, just around the corner from Campo de' Fiori. (A great little spot, would recommend.)
It was pretty budget, so we weren't expecting much - we DEFINITELY weren't expecting it to be, literally, right opposite the Pantheon. This was our view from the bedroom window. Not even kidding. 

12 Hours in Madrid

March 15, 2016

OK, so 12 hours might not be the perfect time to spend in a capital city - especially a city as cool as Madrid. But we're all pretty busy people, so if that's all you have - this itinerary has it down. 

Florence - a mini guide

February 28, 2016

Valentine's Day is the day after my birthday - which is always a nice excuse to prolong celebrations. This year, since Katherine was in Italy anyway, we decided to go to Florence for a couple of days to continue the celebrations in the best way possible - drinking plenty of red wine in one of the most beautiful cities ever.

This was my second time in Florence, so I'm not going to pretend to be an expert - and, since it rained the entire weekend,  we didn't get to see as much of it as we would have liked. But, since the weather was so miserable, there was little else to do but eat and drink - and for that, we were in exactly the right city. 

21st Birthday in Bologna

Shit. It's been a while since I last wrote a post, and I've pretty much got no excuse - I've had the last three months off doing absolutely nothing. Oops.

I say nothing, but I don't entirely mean it - I've filled my copious amounts of free time with various trips including skiing, Florence and a little jaunt to Spain. AND it was my 21st birthday. I'm finally an adult! 

I had the best birthday weekend I could have asked for, filled with my favourite people, pizza and prosecco... and balloons.