Marina Biancone, hometown — Rome, Deputy of General Director of oil and gas operating company
I came to Astana in September 2017 and living here for more than a year. This is not my first visit to Kazakhstan because I came to Almaty almost 25 years ago. Then the cosiness impressed me of the city and small buildings. I remember how much I was impressed by Shymbulak, even in summer it is beautiful and offers amazing views to the mountains.
I also came to the EXPO before moving at that time the city had many entertainments and events. Astana is also beautiful in summer.
About the difficulties
The only difficulty I have faced here is the language barrier. For example, when I buy some things or products I have to understand what product is it. Milk can be easily muddled with yoghurt. So, I tried learning the Russian language, and it is very difficult but interesting.
In some restaurants, the menu is only in Russian, but in general, the main dishes are clear: kebabs and salads. Most often, the menu contains pictures of dishes, and it is convenient for those who first came to the city without knowing the language. Also, difficulties to order in English do not arise because most o the waiters know foreign languages.
About Astana and Kazakhstan
Astana is a new city where everything is built in a modern style. Here many shopping centres. I live closer to the city centre and here as in any city, everything is well equipped. Astana is an interesting city, a lot has been done for foreigners and people are friendly.
I like ballet and opera. So, I often visit Astana Opera and Astana Ballet. Sometimes I buy a ticket and go there myself, sometimes with friends.
I also like the embankment, in summer you can cycle and ski or skate in winter, I was impressed. I used to ski in Italy but skiing in the mountains and on flat terrain are completely different things. Between the Ishim River and the Highvill residential complex, there is a small hill where skis and special shoes can be cheaply rented. I like going there on weekends if it is not so cold outside.
I have two sons, who are 26 and 24 years old, they live in Milan. One of them came to Kazakhstan, and he liked here, and he will come again in the winter to see Astana in the snow. We also want to visit Burabay during winter, where I like to go on weekends. Burabay has a quiet and relaxing environment, much greenery and trees. I would like walking on a frozen lake on skis or foot.
When my son came last time, he attended karate courses, where he made friends with guys. Sometimes he went out with them for a walk, so he liked Astana. A young person easier adapt to a new place as you can quickly find new friends than us who are older.
Another interesting feature in Kazakhstan is a large number of children, many children, much more than in Italy. All the malls have lots of shops for kids. I think it is good because children are the energy of the future. Kazakhstan is a young country, and there should be much energy.
I tried Kazakh cuisine. It's got much meat in it and I like horse meat. I like Kazakh dishes in Satti restaurant. Inside the circle of KazMunaiGas buildings many good and popular restaurants. I especially like there during the summer on the outdoor terraces.
Here many Italian restaurants. I have been many times in Del Papa, Felice, Pane&Vino, in pizzerias. These restaurants are close to my work and to the place where I live. We visit them because of the close location, sometimes difficult to get to other parts of the city due to lack of time and traffic jams.
In accordance with the safety regulations of our company, we can not use personal or public transport. We can only use a car with a driver provided by the company. I did not use buses, therefore I'm not really familiar with the local public transport system. But I was pleasantly surprised that the buses in the summer air conditioning and heating in the winter.
In general, I prefer a bicycle rather than a car with a driver, so I feel more freedom. I brought my bike from Italy. I ride it along the river when the weather allows and I love that here bike paths everywhere till the park and you can stop for a picnic.
I buy products in the supermarket «Gastronom», although it is not so big there you can find everything from Nutella to many products of the Italian brand and other international brands. All of them are of high quality. There I can walk or ride a bike. Once I was even alone in the Central Market but the language barrier prevents me from going there regularly.