Saturday, 30 September 2017

One Night in La Dolce Vita

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of experiencing "la dolce vita" firsthand at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.  The event, entitled,  "One Night in La Dolce Vita," merged together Italian food, fashion, music and more, in efforts to raise money for the Oakville Hospital Foundation. With acute attention to Italian details and a variety of Italian inspired elements, the evening really did feel like a trip to il bel paese!

The experience began right from the parking lot.  As I stepped out of my car, I heard the sounds of accordion music fill the air, and immediately, I was reminded of the streets of Rome!   As I crossed the lot and passed the line of valet parking attendants,  I was not only greeted with the accordion music, but began to hear sounds of opera as well.  Once inside the venue, I could see where the opera music was coming from - the SOLO choir was set up just inside the entrance, greeting guests with beautiful melodies.  As I continued to make my way in, I was flanked by beautiful faux green hedges and marble-esque statues, which led to the grand rotunda area, where a delightful faux garden was set up, complete with "stone" benches and a fountain.  For a moment, I had a, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" moment, and instead felt like I was back in Florence visiting the Medici gardens!

The statues weren't limited to just the entrance, they were sprinkled throughout the venue, as well as gorgeous lemon trees.  It was a touch of Tuscany, that melted my heart! Further to the beautiful decor was fantastic food.  The tastes included: an antipasto bar complete with fine cheese, cured meets and olives; melt-in-your-mouth truffled infused risotto; a seafood bar complete with oysters; meatballs in a rich tomato sauce; and a dessert station with traditional Italian cookies.  Then there were the drinks: a Prosecco ice bar, as well as a circular bar featuring a Tag Vodka signature cocktail for the occasion.  The goodies didn't stop there - various stores also offered tasteful delights throughout the night, such as cannoli from Harry Rosen and free coffee from Starbucks.

If you weren't enjoying the delicious food, you were definitely taking in the delightful entertainment such as posing with a Ferrari 458 Spider Convertible; watching 6x World Champion Pizza Acrobat, Jay Schuurman; having your hair cut by a celebrity stylist from Alibi Barber Shop; or having your portrait drawn by an illustrator.  Oh, and if you ever wanted to star on the cover of your own romance novel, well they had that too! Guests could cozy up alongside model and actor, Jack Greystone, for their keepsake portrait from the night.

Let's not forget about the fashion!  Various stores were featuring exclusives such as: previews of their new fall/winter 2017 collections; specialty collections curated for the evening; raffle prizes; gift cards; and small gifts with purchase.  Most importantly, 10% of sales from participating retailers was being donated directly to Oakville Hospital Foundation.  Furthermore, 100% of proceeds from the Silent Auction was being donated to the cause.

As if we couldn't get any closer to Italy that night, guests were spoiled by the sounds of international DJ, hailing straight from Milan, Gianluca Vacchi!  Making his Canadian debut at the event, his infectious energy and amazing music sets had the crowds dancing the night away!

As the event came to a close, guests were reminded of the most important reason we were there - the Oakville Hospital Foundation.  A large, $10,000 donation cheque from Raffi Jewellers, graced the stage as hosts, Tanya Kim and Brad Smith, announced that the evening had been a great success for the Foundation.   

Hats off to the event organizers as the evening was truly a night in paradiso, that benefit a great cause!

If you are further interested in learning more about the event and/or how to donate to the Oakville Hospital Foundation please visit the Square One - One Night in La Dolce Vita - event page.

Check out some great highlights from the event, below:

Thursday, 28 September 2017


Fall has arrived, and while many are mourning the end of summer, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the new season!  Aside from cozy sweaters (my fav!), pumpkin spiced lattes and mother nature's gorgeous fall palette, there are numerous festivals in the city (Toronto, that is) to join in on!

So grab that pumpkin-spice, sit back in your cozy sweater, and take a closer look at five great cultural festivals going on in the next few weeks!

* * * * *

Francophone en Fête French Music Festival

OLG Stage, The Distillery
September 21st-30th

Francophonie en Fête is a non-profit organization committed to promoting French language and culture.  This festival, now in it's 12th year, delivers the best in Francophone entertainment.  Along with great music, the festival also offers preconcert wine and cheese events and educational workshops for teachers and students.

Toronto Oktoberfest

Ontario Place
September 29th-30th

This fun festival full of food, music and beer celebrates Bavarian heritage! The two day festival takes place in a Festhalle tent and outdoor Bavarian village complete with Bavarian-style communal tables and benches from Germany!

Multiple venues throughout the city
September 30th

This award-winning event has a little something for everyone!  The event takes place from sunset to sunrise, and includes a multitude of art installations situated in unexpected public spaces throughout the city of Toronto.  The event features local, national, and international artists.

Rutas PanAmericanas International Performing Arts Festival
Daniels Spectrum
October 5th-16th

This unique international performance festival features artists from Colombia, Bolivia, New York, New Zealand, Venezuela, Argentina and Switzerland.  Activities include a mix of performances, master classes, cabarets, concerts, film and art exhibits.  Also featured, is a multi-day conference regarding arising issues from artistic programming.

International Festival of Authors
Harbourfront Centre
October 19th-29th

The International Festival of Authors, otherwise known as IFOA, is "a celebration of words and ideas, of writers and readers."  Delight in the literary world for 11 days with a festival filled with readings, close interviews, panels, special events and free book signings!

Monday, 25 September 2017


This week's song is perfectly suited to the season - the song is entitled, "autumn" or as said in Italian, "Autunno."  

The artist of this song is, Noemi, a 35-year-old from Rome, who was was first welcomed to the music scene via the Italian version of the highly popular television series, "X Factor."  While she was eliminated in the 12th episode, she nonetheless went on to achieve great success with her music career, and is now one of Italy's top pop artists.

Her latest release, "autunno," has an upbeat, electropop vibe, while the lyrics speak about a cursed summer love that will make for a very difficult autumn, winter and spring.  For more about this "summer love story," check out the lyrics below! Don't forget to follow along in Italian as well, so you can learn some new vocabulary along the way!

Buon ascolto!  Happy listening! 

Monday, 18 September 2017

music monday ~ N.8

It's that time of the week again!  Music Monday! A little gift from me to you to help improve your Italian language skills, and brighten up your "favourite" day of the week! ;)

This week's edition focuses on singer-songwriter, Ermal Meta.  This 36 year-old musician, was born in Fier, Albania and moved with his family to Bari, Italy at the age of 13. He debuted on the music scene via the band, Ameba4, and eventually moved on to join, "La fame di Camilla."  Apart from some success with his bands, Meta also wrote songs for numerous popular Italian artists, before deciding to launch his solo career in 2013. Since then, Meta has received various awards from Italy's prestigious Sanremo Music Festival, collaborated with famous Italian music artists and participated as a judge on the popular Italian television show, "Amici di Maria De Filippi"

His latest hit, "Ragazza Paradiso" is currently climbing the charts.  This song is a romantic ballad, filled with praises for one's partner.  It discusses the positive impact one person can have on another, and the power of a profound love. 

***You can have the chance to see this song LIVE, as Meta will be touring USA and Canada starting Novemebr 2017. Check out for details.***

Sunday, 17 September 2017


I have long been an advocate for using music to help learn a new language. This is one of the reasons why I use music when teaching foreign languages, and why I started Music Mondays on the blog.  Not only do I enjoy the cultural aspects that music can communicate, but it also offers the chance to learn a language in a fun and engaging way!  Through my own personal experiences and those of my students, I have noted that listening to music in a foreign language greatly helps in the language learning process.

Aside from 1st-hand experiences, research also proves the music and language connection.  One study in particular looked at the correlation between singing and foreign language learning. They found that singing enhanced the brain's ability to recall not only native text, but foreign text as well.  This recall of new language lasted up to 6 months after the original lesson!

Further research proves that music training in young children, greatly impacts their ability to learn a foreign language.  Musical training boosts the brains ability to detect subtle differences between sounds, which is very helpful when learning rules of pronunciation and intonation in foreign language study.  Music training at a young age benefits into adulthood as well, as the study noted that adults who were musically trained at a young age, had an advantage for learning foreign languages, over those who were not.

In addition to music, other creative ways to enhance the language learning process include watching foreign language movies, listening to a foreign language radio station and reading foreign language books.  In one of my recent blog posts, I discuss using these and other fun methods to learn language.  The post highlights the fact that these methods could easily be incorporated into ones everyday routine; this is especially important, as the key to learning new language is to try and immerse oneself in that language and culture.

I recently came across the following interview of Susanna Zaraysky, author of Language is Music, in which she explains the importance of music in language learning, as well as the use of other fun language learning methods like those mentioned above:

Happy language learning! :)

Monday, 11 September 2017


This week's new music is by non other than one of Italy greatest rock stars, Vasco Rossi.  At age 65, Rossi is still "rocking on" and producing great music.  He is a legend in the Italian music industry, providing a sound track for countless lives, young and old.

With his music experiences staring at the young age of 13, when he won a singing festival for youth, Vasco has literally grown up in the music business.  During his career, he has released over 25 albums, and written over 250 songs.  He is comparable to North American music legends, like U2 or The Rolling Stones, and just like them, he too embodies the true definition of "sex, drugs and rock n' roll," with his carefree lifestyle and provocative lyrics.  He even describes such a desired life in one of his greatest hits, Vita Spericolata.

Currently, Rossi is chart topping with the song entitled, "Come Nelle Favole", which means, "Like in Fairytales."  It's a beautifully romantic song, which describes the heights two people can achieve when in love.  Vasco describes this idealistic life with beautifully simple aspects such as laying on the couch with one another talking about nothing in particular, or drinking and laughing in a bar together. Once again Rossi enraptures his fans with his prophetically styled lyrics, raspy signature voice, and heavy-riffed melody.

References: BBC Music and Billboard
Lyric Translation: lyrics; revisions by Viva la Dolce

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fendi inspired fall fashion

With the weather turning cooler everyday, fall fashion is slowly taking over the style scene.  One of the fun trends found in this year's season is the faux fur cuff, as seen all over the European runways from Italy to Portugal to Spain. 

The Italian brand, Fendi, has included this trend in a variety of their pieces, including this gorgeous jacket below:

If you're loving this trend as much as me, you will want to check out the selection of similar (and slightly more affordable!) pieces I have rounded up below.  Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, 5 September 2017


With a Labour Day long weekend full of family festivities, this week's Music Monday got shifted a bit, however it is here nevertheless and it comes packed with a powerful message!

The latest instalment in Viva la Dolce's Music Mondays is by one of Italy's top hit makers, Giorgia.  This woman has reigned queen in Italy's music scene for years, and she doesn't look like she is stopping any time soon.  Her latest work, "Credo," is a beautiful, upbeat song, which promotes the idea of believing in oneself. It's a song about forgetting about the past, and looking to one's future and all the possibilities one can dream of. As the song's catchy chorus states, "Credo nella luce delle idee, che il vento non può spegnere, io credo in questa vita, credo in me" ("I believe in the light of the ideas, that the wind cannot burn out, I believe in this life, I believe in me.")

This song is fitting during this time of year, as the fall season and back-to-school, bring forth a time of change.  I hope this song will inspire you, as it does me, to always believe in yourself and what you can achieve!  Happy listening!

As usual, the lyrics with full translation are below the video. However, I have also chosen to feature the video with lyrics so that you can follow along as you listen.

Translation by with edits by Viva la Dolce


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