For my YearAbroad starting July 2013.

July 2013 : Paris

September 2013 - March 2014 : Ferrara, Italy

March 2014 - September 2014 : Modena, Italy


Soya Milk Rice Pudding.

Its very cold and rainy here in Italy at the moment, so here's a recipe for something yummy and warm to start your day!

When trying not to eat much gluten it can be tricky to decide what to eat for breakfast, especially something filling and interesting! I looked online and saw a really good recipe for quinoa porridge, but quinoa is not something that you can easily find in Italy so that was off the list. Rice is obviously not hard to find, so I though rice pudding would be the next best thing!

The best rice to buy is arborio rice as it is used for making risotto so gives a really nice creamy texture when cooked. I also decided to use soya milk as it's a healthier option with loads of nutrients and tastes sweeter than normal milk. (Also, the milk here in Italy is not quite the same as back home)

For my toppings, I have used tinned peaches, pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts and honey but you could use anything you fancy, that's why it's such a great breakfast because you can use anything you like to vary it up!

Also, the pudding will keep for a few days in the fridge, so maybe this is one to make on Sunday to take you through the week... Just gently reheat a portion from the fridge and add more soya milk if it get's a bit too sticky.

(Serves 4)

- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup arborio rice
- 1 1/2 cups soya milk
- Pinch of nutmeg/cinnamon

- Any topping you want! (I used two tinned peach halves, tablespoon of honey and some pumpkin seeds)

Put the water in a saucepan with the salt and bring to the boil.
Add the rice and put on a low heat. Keep stirring until nearly all the water has been absorbed. (About 10/15 mins)

Start adding the soya milk a 1/3 at a time and continuously stir until all the milk has been added (this may take a while but be patient!). The rice should be soft and creamy.

Add the nutmeg and/or cinnamon.

Stir through then pour into bowl. Put any leftovers in an airtight container and into the fridge.

Add your toppings and enjoy.

Buon appetito! :)


Chicken, fennel and rocket salad with carrot mash.

In Italy fennel is a really popular ingredient which isn't often used in England. My housemates have used it a lot in their cooking but before now I had never bought it. I decided to, and i'm glad I have
because i've seen you can do loads with it. raw, grilled, roasted, gratin.... 

So, here's a quick and easy dinner that's super healthy and gluten free.

(Serves 1)

- 2/3 carrots
- 1/2 leek
- 1 chicken breast
- knob of butter
- tablespoon of cream cheese
- rocket
- fennel (about 1/4 of a bulb)
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt/pepper

First of all, cut the carrots into pieces (about a cm thick) and put in a pan of hot water and leave to boil. 
Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and add the chicken. Once it has started to cook, add the leek (chopped up) to the same pan.
Slice the fennel bulb (only use the white bit) as finely as possible and mix in a bowl with the rocket. Add about a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste and add more or less of whatever you think it needs.

Once the carrots are soft, drain them and mash with a masher/fork. Add the butter, cream cheese, salt, pepper and mix. 

When the chicken is cooked through and the leeks are soft, you can put everything on your place and tuck in.

Buon Appetito! :) 

Health kick.

I started 2014 pretty healthily. I decided to go gluten free for January and see how long I could last. I decided to do it, not because I am gluten intolerant, but because I had heard about the health benefits of not eating gluten and how it could give you a lot more energy, which I sometimes feel I lack.

I wasn't too strict but basically cut out any flour-based products such as bread and pasta and anything else that was predominantly wheat.  You are allowed rice and potatoes though, thank goodness!

I was at home in England for the first two weeks which made it pretty easy to avoid gluten as our supermarkets have such a great range of gluten free foods, particularly asian cuisine which is often just made with rice.

But then, I went back to Italy...... all downhill from there!

My first night back, my housemates had made a birthday dinner for one of them which included pasta then birthday cake. Of course I couldn't be rude and say no, so I tucked in. It was worth it though :)

Since then I have tried my best to avoid pizza and pasta and I don't buy gluten products when I go to the supermarket. But obviously it would be pretty silly to avoid it completely seeing as the Italian food is just so good and i'm only here for another 6 months! I know i'll miss it when i'm back in Exeter!

This weekend, I have had two pizzas though, and with the rain I have done no proper exercise as I am not a member of a gym (no excuse I know).

So this week I am going to try and be creative with my cooking and try out some new recipes so that I can stay healthy but still eat yummy, varied food.

So if you want to try eating less wheat/gluten, and just eat more healthily, I hope you'll try out some of my ideas.

Buon Appetito!  :)


What to see/eat/do in Florence.

Okay, I have written about my weekend in Florence but I thought would make an easier-to-navigate list of what I suggest to see/eat/do over a long weekend.

Try and pack in as much as possible :)


1. Cathedral, Giotto's tower and Baptistry.  Buy the 10€ card on site.
Info here.

2. Uffizi Gallery. Open: Tuesday- Sunday, 8.15-18.50. Adults: €6.50, 18-25yrs: €3.25
Buy tickets here.

3. Palazzo Vecchio. Info here. Adults: €10, 18-25yrs €8
Open: 1st October-31st March,
Mon-Sun 9-19,
Thursday  9-14
1st April-30th September,
Mon-Sun  9-24,
Thursday  9-14

4. L'Accedemia. Info here.  Open: Tuesday- Sunday, 8.15-18.50. Adults: €6.50, 18-25yrs: €3.25

5. Piazza Michelangelo and Basilica di San Miniato al Monte

6. Ponte Vecchio

7. San Lorenzo market and indoor food market. 

8. The boar statue 


1. Gelateria:

- La Carraia. Info here. 
- Venchi. Info here. 

2. Snacks:

- I due Fratellini. (a hole-inthe-wall sandwich and wine seller! quick, cheap, yummy food.) Info here.
- Pane e Toscana. Info here.

3. Aperitivi: (drinks with buffet 6-10pm)

- Kitsch.(amazing buffet of pasta, crostini, etc.. and delicious cocktails, make sure you book!) Info here.
- Soul Kitchen. Info here.

4. Restaurants: (Make sure you book!)

- La Martinicca. Info here.
- La Giostra. Info here. 
- Fuori Porta. Info here.
- Trattoria lo Stracotto. Info here. 
- Il Borro. Info here. 


Last term, in November, I was feeling a little homesick having been away from home and family for the longest amount of time in my life. Thank goodness, then, I had a long weekend in Florence with my dad and step-mum to look forward to, and it couldn't have come at a better time!

Full of excitement, I hopped on the fast train from Bologna to Firenze on the Thursday afternoon. The journey only takes 30 mins and oh my word the trains! They are like (what I would imagine) first class on a flight. Huuuuge squishy seats and plenty of room. If you can, splash out the cash for a trip on one, it's worth it :)

Tip: by all means travel with trusty TrenItalia but, Italo is another great option and is often cheaper!

My dad and step-mum greeted me on the platform and after a long overdue hello, we wondered off to find our hotel and get our first look of this beautiful city.

As you walk down the main road out of the station, you start to catch a glimpse of a building beginning to come into view, covered in bright colours and an eye-catching design. Then turn round the corner and bam!! This BEAUTIFUL building in the middle of the piazza appears.

It's called the 'Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore' and I have to say, this has to be my favourite building in Italy so far.... I don't think I could ever tire of looking at it!
It also gives a pretty great first impression of Florence, and meant I couldn't wait to get exploring!

 As it was early evening by the time we had checked into our hotel, and the weather was so nice we decided to climb the 414 steps up 'il Campanile di Giotto'. Typically, it wasn't long until the sun went down so we pretty much had to run up the tower. We eventually made it to the top and just in time to catch the sun dip behind the distant mountains, and turn the sky pink.

<< Pretty as a painting.

After all that running up stairs, we felt that we had definitely deserved something to eat. We had done a lot of homework in terms of restaurants, my dad had asked friends at work and I had some recommendations from my friend Henry who is working in Florence for his Erasmus.

We decided that we would walk through the fashion district to  La Martinicca, a traditional Tuscan restaurant. The restaurant is quite basic inside but the staff were very friendly and it was full which is always a good sign.
We decided to share a few dishes as we just couldn't decide what to have!

In the end we went for:

- Pomodoro mozzarella di bufala e basilico (tomato and mozzarella salad)
- Taglierini al tartufo bianco (white truffle pasta)
- Fagottini di pasta fresca alle pere in salsa di gorgonzola (Balls of pasta stuffed with pear in a gorgonzola sauce)

The Fagottini were amazing, and although I wasn't sure about pear and pasta, I have now been converted and will order it next time I see it on the menu.
Of course, the white truffle pasta was also yummy, but how can you go wrong with truffle and fresh pasta...?!

We skipped on pudding and instead went back to the hotel for a nightcap before heading off to bed, the first night in a warm, cosy bed for 3 months and it was bliss :)

The next day we decided to go for a walk, which is a habit of any Seaton family trip. There'll never be much sitting around involved.

The walk took us over Ponte Vecchio and along the river Arno to the bottom of the path up to Piazza Michelangelo.
It is 100% worth the walk as you get an amazing panoramic view of Florence below, to see how far you've walked and point out where you've been!

recommended route! >>

 Also, if you're feeling up for it, you MUST walk up a little higher to the 'Basilica di San Miniato al Monte'. This church has the most amazing setting and I think it has the better view of Florence below.

 Basilica di San Miniato al Monte >>

On the way back down, we stopped off at a restaurant at the old city walls. Fuori Porta is fairly hidden but at a great spot for a break after all that walking! The interior is dark but cosy and they don't have a huge menu but you will still struggle to chose! There is also a great beer and wine list, very important!

What we ate:
- Insalata siciliana (Sicilian salad)
- Carpaccio di manzo di nostra lavorazione (Beef carpaccio)
- Patate arrosto (Roast potatoes)

They also do crostoni (grilled, open-faced sandwiches) which we didn't try but looked great.

The food was fresh and clean, a perfect light lunch to set us up for the afternoon!

We then carried on with the walk, which took us to the Boboli Gardens and Palazzo Pitti.
The weather was lovely and sunny and with the golden autumn leaves and blue skies, the gardens were beautiful and well worth a visit if you have a few hours spare. We didn't make it into the Palace but I would like to go back next time!

That evening we made our way to Santa Croce as there was a Christmas market going on. After finding the essential mulled wine stand we had a wonder around only to find a 'British' stall. Selling Cheddar. Result!!!!!!
That was an early Christmas present to myself sorted!

We then met up with Henry and after a couple of cocktails, went to La Giostra for dinner.
Word of warning for this place, you MUST book. It was crazy busy when we got there, with a queue spilling out the door and even though we had booked we had a loooong wait for our table. This was only made better by complementary glasses of Prosecco and nibbles. Eventually the waiter took us next door (there are in fact two separate restaurants but they both do the same food/wine) and finally we sat down to eat!
What we ate:

- Carpaccio di Carne Chianina, Parmigiano, Rucola (beef carpaccio)

- Carpacio di Carciofini Morelli e Parmigiano Reggiano (artichoke and parmesan salad)

- Spaghetti di Mare alla "Versiliese"(seafood spaghetti)

- Ravioli di Pecorino e Pera William Fatti a Mano da Noi (pear and Pecorino ravioli)

- Pennette Gorgonzola Pera e Pistacchi (penne with pear, Gorgonzola and pistacchio)

The food was amazing and it felt like the ingredients were of the best quality! I had the Pennette and as I had eaten so much of the starter, I couldn't manage to eat all the pasta. It was very strong with Gorgonzola and I was already nearly full from the starter :/
The wine list is also amazing and the waitress basically put on a performance when pouring our drinks. Lots of swilling and waving about of glasses!

Apart from the long wait, and the lack of table for ages before our meal, I would say definitely take a trip here for a modern twist on classic Italian food.

The next day we took a trip to the Uffizi Gallery for a bit of culture. This gallery is always a must on any list of what to do in Florence as it has a vast collection of important Renaissance art and sculpture. You will need to give it a couple of hours to visit! It's also better to book your tickets in advance, especially if you're visiting in busy periods as I've heard that the queues can get extremely long.

The museum was really worth a visit, they have some amazing paintings including Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus'. If you're looking for Renaissance art, this gallery will not disappoint!

We then went back to the main Duomo and climbed the stairs once again but this time up the dome of the cathedral. This is probably the better 'tower' one to go up if you only want to do one. Although it gets a little claustrophobic, you get to see the amazing painting inside the dome up-close and at the top you see the dome beneath you. Not good for people who are afraid of heights...

The baptistry has the most amazing gold interior of mosaics so make sure you don't miss it out!

To do all these, you can buy a card for 10€ which gets you in the Cathedral, Tower and baptistry for free as well as a couple of other churches/museums. There's more information on the card here and you can buy it from any of the ticket offices in any of the mentioned attractions.

We also made a trip to the San Lorenzo market where you will find leather stalls and gift stalls in abundance. Off to the side of the main street there is an indoor food market and if you're a food lover like me, it is heaven, even just to wonder around.

That evening we went to a restaurant called Il Borro which is a fairly new restaurant.
They say

'The Tuscan Bistrois a real real concept shop halfway between restaurant, wine bar and store, an innovative space that has as primary essence, excellence, in all its various forms .Small, subtle fragments capable of giving colour to our journey.
A lunch, a cocktail or a simple breakfast, go to Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, sit back and try what is our vision of emotion.'

Our waiter was really friendly, having lived in England for many years and the interior is really bright and modern with the kitchen at the back on full show.

We all decide to have the 'Chianina arrostita, serivita con patate al sesamo ed insalata' (roasted Chianina beef with salad and potatoes with sesame) which was really nice, if not a tad dry.

I then decided to go all out and opt for the 'Torta di cioccolato' (chocolate cake) for pudding as it was the last night. It was more of a trio of chocolate truffles but it was amazingly rich and definitely hit the spot :)

Really great atmosphere in this restaurant, make sure you book though as it's not big.

The next morning my dad and step-mum left to catch their flight home but I thought as it was a s
Sunday and I didn't have any plans I would stay for the day to make the most of it.
Henry and I went to the 'Giardino delle Rose' which is a little public garden just below Piazza Michelangelo and a lovely place to wonder round and was a lovely end to my weekend in Florence!!

Florence is an amazing city. It is not as big as, say, Rome, but it has so much to offer and so is the perfect place to spend a long weekend, soaking up the Italian culture!

I will do another post with all the essential information on the restaurants/attractions I have talked about.
I hope if anyone does take a trip to Florence, this is helpful and gives you some idea of what to see and do.

Buon Viaggio! :)



Next on the list was Padova (Padua in English!)

'Known as Padova in Italian, Padua may be the oldest city in northern Italy, if you believe the claims of its 12th-century BC founding by Trojans. It certainly has history, including its famous university (one of Europe’s oldest, from 1222), the 13th-century Basilica di Sant'Antonio (resting place of St. Anthony), and Scrovegni Chapel, with Giotto’s famed 14th century frescos. The magnificent Prato della Valle, a 950,000-square-foot elliptical square, is thought to be Europe’s second-biggest.'

Padova is 25 miles from Venice and so is often overlooked but the city has loads to offer!
We went on a Saturday which is market day, meaning that all the piazzas were full of stalls and the hustle and bustle of tourists. 

We stopped for lunch in the main square opposite the Palazzo della Ragione, great for people watching! We then went for a wonder and found the Prato della Valle which is an amazing square with a circular canal dotted with statues. It was a shame that it was a Saturday though because it meant that market stalls blocked a lot of the view!

 There is an amazing huuuuuge building called the Basilica di Santa Giustina but it was closed so I would like to go back and see what its like inside although even the outside provides an amazing backdrop to the Prato della Valle. We did manage to go inside the Basilica di Sant’Antonio which is a really nice church with a pretty cloisters and all for free, bonus!

We then decided to go to the Botanical Gardens which are at the side of the Prato della Valle. These are the oldest botanical gardens in the world, dating back to 1545!! It probably wasn't the best time of year to go, but even though not much was in full bloom, it was still a beautiful garden and a nice tranquil spot to sit and let our lunch go down!

Padova is a great city despite being given some negative information from local italians before I went. I think it needs another trip back, maybe on a week day, to be able to explore it fully as it seems that there's a lot more to see!

Here's a couple of websites with more tourist info:



I apologise for not having kept up to date with this blog. It's fair to say I have been TERRIBLE but I have bought a journal/scrap bookback from the xmas holidays and having looked through everything that I have collected from my various trips I will hopefully now find it easier to update this.

This was the third on the list and I went here waaaay back in October '13 for the day with 4 friends.

We arrived and surprise surprise our first stop was lunch. I had done some research (which I thoroughly recommend when visiting somewhere new, especially for the day) and after wondering around trying to find the place I had seen online, we were about to give up and give over to our rumbling tummies and go to the next place we saw. Thankfully we found the restaurant, and thank goodness we did!

The place is called Trattoria Corrieri on Via Conservatorio which is a fairly empty street behind the university, you might need a map!

This place was highly recommended on Trip Advisor and by Italian locals and rightly so!
It was a saturday when we went and even though we hadn't booked there was one table left, the place was jam-packed with italian families, which is always a good sign!

As we were in Parma, we just had to have the shared starter of torta fritta (or fried pillows of bread) and a platter of prosciutto crudo (parma ham) and parmigiano reggiano (parmesan). What a treat to have parmesan and parma ham in Parma!!!!! We were pretty full up after all of that food but went on to have some tagliatelle al ragu, all washed down with a bottle of red wine, of course.

We then thought we had better do something cultural, or rather I forced the others into it.

They thanked me however, as the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Steccata
in Parma is beautiful with a dome painted to look like the ascension into heaven.

We didn't pay for the basilica but it's still a pretty good view from the outside so it's enough to just wonder around so you can save the pennies for something else. i.e. food.... ;)

The Duomo has a crypt so make sure you find the stairs down to it once you get inside!

Round the back of the duomo I had heard of a gelateria who's ice cream was supposedly made by nuns. Much to the amusement of my friends. Its called K2 and is on Strada Benedetto Cairoli. We didn't see any nuns unfortunately but the ice cream was pretty good, although that might just have been because they made it in a cool flower shape on your cone. 

The beautiful architecture of Parma!

Make sure you stop off at the deli shops on the way back to the train station!

For me, it doesn't get better.. Parmesan and Parma ham from Parma. mmmmmmm...

All in all, Parma is a lovely city with plenty to see and do in a day. I can't wait to go back!