5 Differences between Milan and Puglia

Despite everything this year, me and my girlfriend decided to go for a holiday in Puglia. Many of my students are from the area and they always tell me how wonderful the region is. I was told of a region based on agriculture, not well developed, and a relaxed culture, but rich with delicious food and glorious beaches. They also seem to all tell me how different the south of Italy is from the north.

Now, I’m an English teacher living in Milan. My life during the year involves lots of metro rides, trains, buses, trams and walking around a vast city; attending lessons, meetings, going to bars and restaurants, shopping and then relaxing in parks, possibly taking a few trips to the mountains for a hike. I think I am living the typical Milanese life. So for the first time in Puglia I was really expecting to find myself in a different country compared to Milan. We visited Lecce and then an area around the Salento Coast near Taranto and Campomarino. Here are 5 differences between the places I found…

(The Navigli, Milan. Our school is on the left!)

The Landscape

A big difference between Milan and Puglia is the landscape. When you venture out into the nearby mountains just outside of Milan, you can really see how flat the surrounding area of the plain is, before you arrive at the mountains of course. The lakes here are wonderful and the environment in general is very green with lots of green grass and luscious trees.

But Puglia is totally different- the land is generally flat but here the land is more arid and there are the beaches. Beautiful shades of blue ocean line golden sand especially in Salento. You’re also more likely to see amazing cactuses than green forests. During August, it seems Milan and Puglia share a similar climate- it’s hot! But the land itself is very different but equally beautiful.

(The Bauxite Quarry, Otranto, Puglia)

The Food

Well what next to talk about but the food! We are in Italy after all. In Milan you can find any type of food you want. Pizzas made in the Neapolitan or Roman styles, pasta from every region and restaurants inspired by every region of Italy and from abroad like Chinese, Japanese, Indian and much more. There is literally anything you can think of here. That means there is very high quality food and sometimes some low quality around as well.

In Puglia I found there are specific specialities and they do them very, very well. Here you can find the regional specialities like pasticciotti, orecchiette, panzerotti, taralli and much more. This is the food of Puglia and as a visitor the only thing you should do is try these delicious dishes. Aside from these foods though, there is not a lot of other choice. Maybe a kebab shop or a Greek restaurant here and there. As a tourist I am in heaven because there are lots of local foods to try. But as a resident I think I would want more choice!

(Orecchiette pasta)

The People

Before I visited Puglia I heard a lot about the north/ south divide. I have a lot of Pugliese students and they are all wonderful, kind and funny people. Generally, everyone I spoke to in Milan had good things to say about the people in the south. However, a tension still exists between the regions and sometimes I heard some unkind stereotypes about the people from the south like “they’re lazy and only want to sleep during the day” for example. I am sure the same sometimes happens when southerners talk about northerners too. Maybe the stereotype of the Milanese is that we “don’t know how to laugh” and all we care about is work!

Anyway when I visited Lecce and Salento nearly every person I spoke to was also kind, friendly and usually funny as well. There seems to be a unique Pugliese sense of humour and the people there like to have a laugh and a joke. In a more local place you can feel more relaxed than a big bustling city like Milan. Both places are filled with wonderful people and any general differences were not obvious to me. Let’s forget the stereotypes. We are all unique people at the end of the day!

(Fishermen in Salento, Puglia)

The History

The first thing I noticed when I got off the train at Lecce was the old painted white train station building and walking toward the historical centre, the beautiful light coloured mosaics that cover the pavement. The abundance of white coloured buildings becomes more clear as you enter the historical centre, where all you see around every corner is beautiful Baroque churches and charming old houses lining every narrow street. In addition you have the trulli which are fantastically unique.

This is a world away from Milan with its grand and wide lanes and often modern architecture. Walking through the historical centre of Lecce is like talking a walk through the past. The influence of the Byzantines is clear here as the buildings feel closer to Greek than northern Italian. In Milan you really feel part of the centre of modern Europe, but in Puglia you feel closer to the seafaring Mediterranean past.


The Tourism

In Milan you can usually find floods of foreign tourists filling the Duomo square and gazing at the shop windows of the Galleria. Now it is less like this, with foreign tourism in general falling a great deal due to Covid-19. But anyway in Milan you can find a lot of places that are specifically designed to trap the tourists. Expensive restaurants and bars line the Duomo square and follow you all the way to Sforza Castle. To find more authentic local places, you need to venture behind the main streets and find less well-known neighbourhoods.

If you have visited Puglia in August, you know it is a very busy place to be. This year perhaps it was less so, because of the lack of foreign tourists. But even so, it was still difficult to walk down the main street in Lecce without bumping into visitors due to the crowds and have people laying their towels down right next to you on the beach! In August crowds are an issue in both places. In terms of the opportunities for tourists Lecce and Salento are well-served but definitely less prepared than Milan.

I loved my holiday in Puglia. Do you agree with everything in the article? Give your opinion in the comments below!

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Learn English with the News – Lifestyle changes could prevent or delay 40% of dementia cases.

Recent studies have shown that the crippling disease of dementia can actually be prevented if we avoid harmful lifestyles throughout our lives, most specifically towards middle age and elderly periods of our life.

The news is a consistent source of entertainment, knowledge and discovery that never ceases to exist and always comes out with more and more material each day. Because it plays such a vital part in our lives and is so important to keep up with, it is without a doubt a piece of your everyday routine that can’t go ignored. 

Whether it is to understand the ramifications of recent legislation passed, to hear about recent events and grasp the potential consequences to your country, or simply hear about what is happening in other countries in order to compare them to what’s happening in yours, the news is certainly a staple in our lives and the most consistent way to get information.

This is why Scrambled Eggs has decided to unite two of your biggest worlds: learning English and keeping up with what is happening in the world. We hope our challenging daily exercises, composed of listening, vocabulary and comprehension exercises in English, will satisfy both of those above worlds in a satisfactory and also entertaining way.

So enough about introductions, let’s get to today’s Learn English with the News topic:

Adapted from this article.

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Lifestyle changes could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases | Definition Match

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Full Text

“Excessive drinking, exposure to air pollution and head injuries all increase dementia risk, experts say in a report revealing that up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide could be delayed or prevented by addressing 12 such lifestyle factors. Around 50 million people around the world live with dementia, including about 850,000 people in the UK. By 2040, it has been estimated there will be more than 1.2 million people living with dementia in England and Wales. There is currently no cure. However, while some risk factors for dementia cannot be changed, for example particular genes or ethnicity, many are down to lifestyle. Lifestyle changes could reduce the chances of developing dementia in both those with and without a high genetic risk for such conditions. The report from the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care builds on previous work revealing that about a third of dementia cases could be prevented by addressing nine lifestyle factors, including midlife hearing loss, depression, less childhood education and smoking. The research weighs up the latest evidence, largely from high-income countries, supporting the addition of a further three risk factors to the list. It suggests that 1% of dementia cases worldwide are attributable to excessive mid-life alcohol intake, 3% to mid-life head injuries and 2% a result of exposure to air pollution in older age – although they caution that the latter could be an underestimate. While some actions can be taken on a personal level to tackle such issues, many require government-led change. The report includes a list of nine recommendations, including improving air quality, and urges policymakers to be ambitious about prevention. Gill Livingston, a co-author of the report, praised Boris Johnson’s campaign to tackle the nation’s waistlines and reduce Covid-19 deaths, as obesity and lack of exercise are among the risk factors for dementia. While Livingston said the 40% figure was optimistic as the 12 risk factors are unlikely to be completely addressed, small steps could make a difference. Research has suggested that the incidence of dementia in Europe and North America has fallen by around 15% per decade for the past 30 years – likely because of lifestyle changes such as a reduction in smoking – even though the numbers of people with dementia are rising as people live longer. The impact of lifestyle interventions, the team add, is likely to be greatest among the most deprived individuals and in low- and middle-income countries.”

History Time: On this day 1492 Christopher Columbus travels to America

On this day in 1492, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus left Spain to sail across the Atlantic ocean. He thought he would find Asia, but instead he made the first European discovery of America…

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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus is the name of a man most people know for his explorations during the 15th century. Columbus was an Italian explorer who was financed by the Spanish royalty to compete with the Portuguese in the “Age of Exploration”. During that era, ships sailing to Asia took long and dangerous routes. Explorers that were sent out to sea were also asked to find new lands and bring wealth back to the country they represented.

The Atlantic Ocean

Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean: 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. On one voyage he was searching for India, and when he landed in America, he thought it was India and called the people “Indians.” The 15th and 16th centuries were together called the “Age of Exploration,” and with newly designed ships, many countries were sending explorers out to find spices, gold, and other items from Africa and Asia. Spain and Portugal led the way with the most ships and explorers and it was during this time that Christopher Columbus was given ships to sail to unknown territory to claim land for Spain.

Early Years 

He was born on October 31, 1451, in Genoa, Italy, and began sailing when he was just a teenager. Columbus was married to Felipa Moniz Perestrelo, in 1477 who later died while giving birth in 1485. In his early life, Columbus studied cartography, mathematics, astronomy, and navigation. These lessons were valuable for his future voyages.

Columbus had different ideas

The Portuguese had figured out a way to make the sailing route to Asia shorter, but Columbus had a different idea. He believed he could sail across the Atlantic instead of around the African Cape of Good Hope, and then he planned his voyages. Columbus thought that the people who calculated the circumference of the Earth were wrong. He thought it was smaller than the experts said and that an easier journey was possible. Soon he realised he was incorrect, but it did bring him to other successes. Columbus approached both the Portuguese and the English to accomplish his ideas, but only Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, monarchs of Spain were interested. Their goal was more land, riches, and expansion of the Catholic religion, and they believed that Columbus had the right ideas. Columbus made an agreement with the Spanish monarchs to keep ten percent of the riches he could find as well as having a Spanish noble title, and to be the governor of any lands that he discovered.

Discoveries in 1492

1492 is the famous year that Columbus launched the ships named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, with the objective to find a shorter route to the East Indies. The first landing was on one of the islands in the Bahamas. Columbus and the three ships sailed for months from one island to the next in the Caribbean. At this point, they were searching for riches like gold, silver, precious stones and spices. By 1493 Columbus had to leave some of the men from the ships behind in a place they called Hispaniola; (today’s Haiti and the Dominican Republic) so he could return to Spain.

Detailed diary

Columbus kept a very detailed diary of the first voyage, writing about everything from daily life with the crew to animals they saw. The diary includes very racist impressions of local island people. Six months later Columbus began another voyage to America. His voyage to find riches was a failure but he brought 500 slaves back to Queen Isabella. To the surprise of Columbus, Isabella did not want to take the slaves as she thought these people were Spanish subjects.

What happened in 1498

By 1498 Columbus was on his third voyage and this time he stopped at the mainland of South America and Trinidad. When he sailed back to Hispaniola, the colonists had revolted and the native Taino population had all been killed. Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain in chains, where he was cleared of charges in 1502 but lost his noble title. The last voyage for the old Columbus took his ship to Panama, only miles from the Pacific Ocean. After storms damaged two of the four ships, he abandoned them and returned to Spain where he died in 1506.


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Christopher Columbus | Definitions Quiz

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Adapted from https://www.historyforkids.net/american-history/new-explorers/columbus.html