Tallinn Through Italian Eyes

We want to start showing Tallinn through different angles and with out first interview, we had a chance to sit down with the lovely Gioia Cini. We talked about, what places make up the city for her and her favourite places in Tallinn!

Tallinn Expats Gioia

So where are you from?

I’m from Italy, from a smaller town called Fano. Currently I study Poli Sci at the Bologna University and with my course I had the opportunity to do a third year abroad with Erasmus. Tallinn University was one of the options and I move here last August.

I did not know much about Tallinn or Northern Europe before, when I was choosing a place for Erasmus. I could’ve gone to France, or Spain or other places like even Turkey, but I chose to come to Tallinn instead. Even though I didn’t know much, a friend of mine recommended Tallinn for me. I really love my hometown and Italy, but I liked the thought of something really different and a change, so I ended up here.

First impressions

When I arrived here last August, the weather was beautiful and it was really nice here. My first thought of Estonian people was that they are very different. A lot of people seem distant and maybe not as open as Italian people. Even now, I’m still getting used to this. I stay myself when I talk to people, so it’s not a big problem, but it’s different to what I was used to growing up in Italy.

Tallinn Expats Gioia

“I always try to find something interesting”

I think there are many great places in Tallinn. With restaurants, I think there is a lot of choice. Maybe the Italian restaurants in Tallinn are not exactly the same as the ones back home, but there’s still a couple of Italian restaurants in Tallinn I like to go to. For example there’s Pulcinella with their pizza. Maybe my favourite one is this small and cozy EHE Maitse wine bar in old town. I like the owner there, who is very friendly and you can always have a nice conversation there, with him. It’s maybe not so cheap, but it’s definitely a good place to go to and have a good time.

In terms of other restaurants in Tallinn, I think there’s a lot of variety. Me personally, I like a lot of sushi places so I often go to these places. I also like a place called Kompressor - I love the atmosphere there and going there for breakfast. They have these really big pancakes, that are very very good and overall it is a nice place to go to. It has a free atmosphere and I think it’s also good for young families to go to.

Going out you also have different options. Weekdays, you have Club Münt or Club Hollywood that are good for going dancing and I also like Red Emperor’s on Mondays. They have a karaoke and it’s always been fun, every time I’ve been. For techno music or more alternative, I like this new place called ASUM. It’s a bit further away from the city centre, but it’s still worth going to. There’s other places like Von Krahl or Kelm, that are alternative and offer something different also so it is not too difficult to find good places in Tallinn for going out! So you really never get bored!

For day time, I really recommend going for a run or just walking by the sea, on the way to Pirita. Also the Kadriorg park is very beautiful and a nice place to be at. Of course, the old town is great to go for a walk - there’s many sights around and nice little streets. Not exactly for sightseeing, but I also really love going to the Radisson Hotel sky bar. You go all the way up and when the weather is nice, you can really see very far away and it has a great view. So if you’re tired of walking around, then going there for a coffee or a drink is really good.

Tallinn Expats Gioia

Explore around

For me personally, my Tallinn life centres around the university. What I like about the Tallinn University, is that I think it’s really well run. Compared to Bologna, the teachers are a lot younger and they have a warmer approach and come up with new ways of teaching. Studying with Erasmus is great for connecting different people from all parts of the world and it is really fun to meet exciting people.

ESN (Erasmus Student Network) helps to organise trips around also and makes it simple to go explore other parts of Estonia or Northern Europe. We’ve gone with friends to Keila and see the Jägala waterfall. Also a short drive away from Tallinn there’s Paldiski and Rummu. Here it’s a lot cheaper for me to go explore and get a feel for nearby cities also, for example it is really easy to get to Stockholm, Riga or Helsinki from here or even St Petersburg.

Tallinn Expats Gioia

Seasons

I think the best time to come visit Tallinn is the warmer parts of the year, so you can really enjoy Tallinn. Then it’s more lively here and more things to do. However, winter here can be beautiful also, when it starts snowing. In Italy when it snows, it can stop everything. There would be traffic jams, but here there’s less stress about snow and life goes on. I heard you can even go see the islands by car and drive on the ice on the sea, when it’s really cold.

Main thing in winter time is make sure to get yourself a warm coat and protect yourself (laughs). Funny thing about Estonians, is you never see them sick. I’m used to a lot warmer weather, so here I can often have a cold, but I never see Estonians with a cold, even in the winter time.

Living abroad, stupid things can always happen and you’ll find yourself in funny situations. I went to the Russian market to get fresh food recently and one lady there almost tried to force me to buy something like two or three kilos of meat, even though I just needed a little. So you try to show with your hands that no-no, I just need this amount. Or the other time, it was raining outside and we were about to go out and I put this scarf around my head and kept getting called Turkish mama the whole night.

In general though, I love Erasmus and the choice to study abroad and I’ve had a good time here in Tallinn!

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