Northern Italy Short Trip Report

Jun 10th, 2009, 06:58 AM
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Northern Italy Short Trip Report

We have been back a couple of weeks, and I am still reliving our wonderful trip in Northern Italy where we arrived on May 7th.
Day 1
We started by flying on Fly.be from Manchester to Milan (direct) on the 4pm flight. I tried to gatecrash the BA lounge but I only have a silver card and as I was not travelling on a BA flight they barred us from the lounge (a gold card is needed for access when not flying a One World flight). I don't usually fail when I attempt things, but this was not a biggy..we just hung out with the masses!! What a great airline (Fly.be ...but also BA!!!). Once you get over paying for every last detail when you book your ticket online (you have to do it to understand what I mean...) you arrive to nice leather seats, happy flight attendants and we had a nearly empty plane!! By the way this airline has 20kg check-in and 10kg carry-on which is a very good baggage allowance and one of the best of the budget airlines.
We had booked the Malpensa shuttle to the Central Train Station and got our tickets before we left the USA. This is a cheap and comfortable way to go into town and far less expensive than a taxi. Buses depart every half hour and the ride is 45 minutes to an hour.
When we arrived at the station we hoofed it to the Hilton ($99 Hotwire rate and got upgraded to an executive room). This is a wonderful, modern hotel with the Metro and train station almost within view.
Day 2
I had popped a couple of packets of instant oatmeal in our bag, and as there was a tea and coffee maker in the room we had that for breakfast along with fruit granola bars. Okay I am cheap and don't like paying for hotel breakfasts when the cost would almost rival the room rate!! Off on the Metro (day pass 3 Euros) to the Duomo stop. By 9am we were in the Duomo and then on to get the elevator to the roof (no wait at that time) and spent a while walking around the perimeter and viewing the city. We were lucky to have great weather all of our trip, so the vista was beautiful. It was fascinating to view all the carvings at such close range; they are so detailed. On through the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel which has a beautiful domed glass roof and tiled floor when a limited edition Mercedes handbag caught my eye. I am happy to say that I resisted temptation! We strolled along Via Spigli and some of the surrounding streets peering occasionally into a store. I have often found that I can get designer items (okay I have a weakness for handbags!!!!!) for less in the United States......but I am sure that handbags will show up later in the report.......so we did not do any serious shopping. We had some time, so took the Metro to the Navigli (canal) district, which was interesting but not a highlight, and we had a mediocre lunch there.
Off back to the Santa Maria della Grazie church only to find it was closed until 3pm. We hopped on a tram and rode a little ways after we had picked up our "Last Supper" tickets. The entry was full of upset tourists as no tickets were available for the next two weeks (and this was early May). Luckily because of reading the forums on Fodors we had reserved these well ahead of time. I would highly recommend phoning for tickets. We tried booking online and it was very difficult and we wanted to ensure we got the English tour. The phone process (English speaking operator) took less than a minute when I called from the US, and we were given a reservation number to turn in at the desk. This process worked very well, but beware that all sorts of fees are added on and the cost is a lot more than stated on the web site ( you do not pay until you pick up the tickets). The cost is well worth it and 25 people are admitted every 15 minutes. Although only about 30% of the painting is original, it is fairly easy to discriminate the restored portions from the original. The guide was very explicit in explaining the symbolism and different aspects of the painting. Be sure to study the display in the hallway as you wait for admittance which gives a lot of details about the restoration process and be 15 minutes early. Afterwards we got the tram to the Castle where entrance to the exhibit rooms is free on Fridays from 3pm to 5pm. We were fairly tired by this point, but enjoyed strolling around a few of the many rooms which were full of paintings and sculptures etc.. back to the hotel and a fabulous restaurant recommendation when I am back online!!
Philbill is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 07:27 AM
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looking forward to hearing more.
jetsetj is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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We spent a little over two weeks in Northern Italy last year and loved it! Milan was a last minute addition to the itinerary and I'm so glad we added the days! Cannot wait to hear more about your trip. One of the best meals I've ever had was in Milan at a tiny place called cucina piccolo that was recommended by our hotel.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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Looking forward to more. Do you remember the name of the Navigli restaurant that was so mediocre? We were also unimpressed with that area and had a bad meal, but the rest of Milan was a delight.
drbb is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 06:32 AM
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No, I cannot remember the name of the Navigli restaurant-. However, that is a great segue to the restaurant we loved! We got the recommendation from the concierge at the Hilton so we were unsure of the price factor, especially in Milan. It was Ristorante da Berti Milano situated on a side street near no other restaurants (within walking distance of the hotel). It was fabulous. We were hungry so went when it opened at 7:30pm. The atmosphere was inviting, we were greeted warmly and a huge plate of a kind of breaded meatball was brought to the table. After ordering a bottle of wine from a reasonably priced list we strolled over to the antipasti buffet with probably 50 items on it which were mouthwatering! We piled our plates high! Later we noticed that a couple just ordered a glass of wine, the buffet and desserts. This would have been ample. However, we had ordered a couple of entrees. I remarked on how good a pickled fish appetizer was and asked if it were herring (I love roll mops and even though they were not a typical kind of herring, these fish reminded me of the texture and taste). The waiter said no and what I thought was 'it's a local blue fish' but I really couldn't understand him. The next thing I knew he had brought over a whole plateful of the fish as I started my entree!!! and then came the dessert trolley! I couldn't eat a thing (I thought) so we ogled them and talked back and forth with the waiter. My husband decided he had to try one, so the waiter suggested that my husband choose two and he would give us a small portion of each. They turned out to be 3/4 portions of each, but for the price of just one! The next thing he is back with a glass of sparkling wine (on the house) for each of us. The whole bill was only 85 Euros. We had read about leaving tips in cash and the waiter appeared to be very happy. There was a 'cover charge' on the bill (we could never work out in Italy if it included service, and when we asked we got an 'it's up to you' answer). If we had been in Milan another night we would have been back in a heartbeat. We rolled back to the hotel, called home and then to sleep.... We had picked up a phone card at the Metro kiosk but it would not work in public phone booths. However, it was 5 Euros for around 300 minutes to the USA so a great deal. At all but one hotel we had no extra charge as it was a toll free access number. We had been to several tobacconists shops to purchase a phone card, and they only had Sim cards. My computer is on the blink..so will continue later...
Philbill is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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we are planning a trip to the same area next year, would love to hear more about your trip.
samuell is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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Samuell - we also found an area near the university that has huge antipasti buffets every evening. each is complementary if you order a glass of wine so for less than 20e total, we had a great dinner and were able to people watch from the sidewalk tables.
cmeyer54 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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The 'Happy Hour' concept in Italy is a great one. Later I will mention one. I did find that there was not a lot of food in the bars but it was great to have a glass of wine and a few hors d's. I would imagine that food would be more plentiful in the university area!!! My computer is slow but I will persevere..thanks for all of the encouraging comments!
Philbill is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Enjoying your report and looking forward to the next destination.

I would find it easier to read if you would introduce some white space by using shorter paragraphs. Thanks!
kmbp is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 01:20 PM
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kmpb..you read my mind! As I was doing this on Word I remembered getting feedback relating to my lack of paragraphs, so I had already made some changes when I came on to post!

I think it might be helpful to give an overview of our itinerary here.

Day 1: Manchester to Milan
Day 2: Milan
Day 3: Milan - Modena - Ravenna
Day 3: Ravenna and Ferrara
Day 4: Dozza, Carpi, Coreggio and on to south of Parma
Day 5: Cinque Terre
Day 6: Parma and Sabbioneta
Day 7: Fontellenata, Certosi di Pavia, Milan
Day 8: Train from Milan to Basel

We had scouted out the Europcar agency at the Central Station, Milan, and we wandered over on Saturday morning to pick up our rental car. We had decided to focus on Emilia Romagna for the next 6 days booking two nights in Ravenna and 3 nights on a farm outside of Parma before returning to Milan. By doing this we could have just two bases from which to travel out and see the wonderful sights as well as using our travel days to see more along the way. In hindsight we really thought that this worked well, although you will read about occasional misguided decisions as the post progresses!!

We used Kemwel on the internet to reserve an automatic car (cheaper than AutoEurope which is another good site) and much less expensive than going directly to an agency. We had prepaid the rental which prevented any haggling, and were upgraded to a Mercedes C Class (diesel). This was so easy for transporting luggage; we had purchased two new 26 inch cases for this trip. When we rent a car the 26 inch cases are easier to load plus they are helpful in keeping to that 20kg maximum weight on discount airlines. Our last two 26 inch cases had been trashed by an airline last year, so we actually got these in a closeout, markdown, additional coupon discount sale at Macys! Now one thing that must be evident is that we have never been able to and probably never will travel light, although I devour all the Fodors' postings about how to travel by carry-on only for three weeks in Europe (aside: why do the posts have to turn nasty with one person accusing another of having said that he/she must smell??!)! We had a carry-on each and a large tote which was folded and packed until we got to Milan.

Before we left I had used Michelin online and another site to plan door to door map routes. I had read that GPS did not work too well in Europe so we did not rent one. We had a good 30 minutes to wait for our car (by the way we had gone over the previous day to ensure the car would be available!!) and off we went. We managed to exit Milan but when I saw the Via Emilia route sign the romantic in me decided we would not go on the freeway...big mistake. The route is the oldest in Europe, but just out of Milan it is not that attractive and was soooo sloow.

We eventually hit the freeway and became familiar with the huge tolls, frequently in the double digit Euros. We scrapped my intended plan and eventually got off at Modena. Another lesson..center of town can sometimes take 40 minutes to reach depending on the exit you take and how many times you get lost. I got so that I didn't care if Modena went up in a cloud of smoke, but we did reach the center. By the way, a word of caution: one thing we came to accept (but not graciously!!) is that one sign might denote the village you are trying to reach and at the next intersection there might only be a sign to the next largest town or city and then without realizing you might turn around in your seat and catch a glimpse of a sign pointing in a different direction to your destination which had been placed for oncoming traffic!! We hit Modena when all was closed for lunch. We had a half pitcher of local wine ( a little raw but okay) with me drinking most of it, as Italy is so strict with their allowable limits, and a forgettable lunch. I know everyone will say that Bolognese sauce is so fabulous and so different in Italy, but I have to say it doesn't hold an edge to mine. The couple of times I ate it it was greasy and the meat was in tiny lumps!! I must have located the worst sauce in the country, and this was one of those times. Modena was very beautiful and we wandered through the archways and the square and drifted back to the car to continue on to Ravenna.

Okay, I still don't know how we ended up en route to Florence but we did. A note here: exits are often few and far between as they are in England, so don't miss your exit or end up going astray as we did around Bologna. We purposely avoided visiting Bologna after much Fodors' discussion as we wanted to make as much use of our car as possible by going to the smaller towns and villages on this vacation. We figured as we flew so effortlessly from Manchester to Milan, we might return another year and take the train to the large cities and just use public transportation.
Philbill is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 01:55 PM
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we've used neverlost in europe with great success - even navigating around and through very small villages and mountains. The only problem we ran into was in large cities where the street name is so long(at least to our ears) and the traffic is hectic so you have to make split second decisions at times. we lovingly call our GPS on whatever trip "sophie" - no idea how she got the name but it has stuck for a number of years now!
cmeyer54 is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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I have to have a Nav System here in the US!!!!
Is Neverlost only featured by Hertz?? I just looked it up.
Can one buy a portable system that will work in all of the larger European countries? It probably would not be worth our while as we only rent in Europe an average of once a year at most.
I know all the car rental agencies offer systems but I never priced them and figured it would take too long for me to learn how to program them!!
Philbill is offline  
Jun 14th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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We arrived in Ravenna at dusk. I felt so confident as we could actually locate the streets, and came right to a sign with the name of our hotel: Palazzo Galletti Abiosi (total price for two nights bed and breakfast 165 Euros). The hotel, however, despite the sign, was nowhere to be seen and we were in the middle of traffic in a one way system. We went several times around and back and up and down. This was one of the many times I appreciated having more than one map, as each map has that one little thing that helps which none of the other maps have. The AAA map of Italy (free with the 'Plus' membership) was actually very good. My Michelin map from Amazon arrived after we had left for Italy (my fault as I ordered it too late!). I don't know how but we found the hotel to discover that the parking area was full. We dropped off our luggage and back onto the one way system where we parked on the street. There were no meter charges at night nor for the Saturday.

The Palazzo is a lovely hotel which has large rooms with sitting areas, and although quite minimally furnished they were lovely. There is a chapel and a huge courtyard with seating areas. Oh, and complimentary internet and the computer was located on our floor! The staff were helpful but very busy. The included breakfast was sumptuous, with an electric juicer where we squeezed our own orange juice each morning! The pastries/cakes were divine and seemed homemade or from a local bakery. Not to mention cold cuts, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, yoghurt etc.. The location was excellent and following breakfast we started on our 'mosaic tour'.

The mosaics are absolutely incredible. We bought a combination ticket and started at the Basilica di San Vitale at 9am. I would highly recommend purchasing the ticket which includes the Mausoleo..breathtaking. The advantage of early arrival was that we were in the Mausoleo all by ourselves. Time is very limited and guided groups are requested (actually required!) by the 'guard' to leave after a certain number of minutes. We wandered around Ravenna discovering Dante's Tomb by accident when we saw a large tour group hovering in one of the squares. I purchased very little on this trip (okay, once we got to Heathrow that changed) but one item I did get was a 2010 calendar of the mosaics of Ravenna as they are so beautiful. We picnicked in the hotel garden (there was an upscale supermarket by the hotel) and on to Ferrara.

We parked easily in Ferrara (what a surprise!) and visited the Castello Estense. The dungeons were quite formidable and one had to bend double to enter them! The public rooms had strategically placed mirrors to save on neck strain! A word of advice regarding the castle: use the restroom in the courtyard outside before entering (50 cents), as the visitor restroom in the castle is situated at the end of the 'tour'. We had assumed that facilities would be located at the beginning after having paid the entrance fee, so we decided to save 50 cents each!! Not so, so after communicating distress that we needed a bathroom sooner rather than later, we were directed up and down the back stairs and through corded off areas to use the facilities, and then had to make our way all the way back to the beginning! After the castle we wandered the streets viewing the Palazzo dei Diamanti and the Duomo. By this time ABC was setting in (Another Boring Cathedral, or as the British would say Another B----- Cathedral). Not really, but we had seen a staggering number of churches in just a few days! We ended up at the Osteria Al Brindisi (Europe's oldest wine bar). We discussed our wine preferences with the bartender and after inquiring as to the price range we were interested in (3, 4, 5 Euros a glass) he recommended the wines he thought we would like. It is an amazing place with so much history and so quaint. The complimentary happy hour hors d'oeuvres were on the bar, but when we sat down with our glasses of wine the waiter brought us a plateful of mixed hors d's. We ordered a great pasta dish which we shared (and another glass of wine for me) and then returned to Ravenna. A note of interest is that we considered Italian drivers to be very courteous; they do not run the lights and do stop at pedestrian crossings! My husband did all the driving, and would recommend driving in Emilia Romagna.
Philbill is offline  
Jun 14th, 2009, 05:47 PM
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Hello Philbill, I am loving your trip report and your comments! I am so familar so far with everwhere you have visited. You are making me miss Italy so much! But I sure look forward to your next installment.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 03:03 PM
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I forgot to mention that the Palazzo also had a manned commercially outfitted coffee bar at breakfast where lattes, espresso..whatever kind of coffee drink you wanted...were made to order and delivered to your table. Well, after a short night's sleep and a gourmet breakfast we were off to Dozza.

When scheduling we had to bear in mind that many of the towns are closed on Mondays or at least until mid-afternoon. Dozza was well worth a visit. Its buildings are covered with beautiful murals (the mural competition takes place in September of odd years) with many different themes. Most of them, although not all, are dated so it was fun to track them down by decade! We parked on the hill just outside the gate (another benefit of travelling in May was that there were relatively few tourists wherever we went). The scenery was gorgeous, and when we trekked up the hill to the castle the views were stunning. The castle was technically closed, but because there was a regional meeting being held inside the castle the turnstile and doors were open so in we went. More fabulous views and some interesting rooms..oh and a nice restroom with a lizard climbing up the wall. We had read of a good restaurant but as it was Monday it was closed.

We then drove on to Carpi and Corregio. Again most places were closed but the buildings and squares were fascinating. Each town had mediaeval section with quaint streets and a Jewish ghetto area. We strolled along streets under covered archways and eventually left to drive through Reggio del' Emilia and on to our destination S. Maria del Piano. At the time we had no idea as to how long that would take!

We got lost in Reggio (oh how I now dislike that place!!). We had great directions from the bed and breakfast owners, but they didn't quite explain how to circumnavigate the center so we ended up at a laundry in a suburb. I, with no Italian but a map, was greeted with a hug and "O Cara Mia"!!!!!! Luckily a customer spoke minimal English and as all three people inside the laundry stood shaking their heads I began to get concerned. I was told our destination was far, far away but we got directions to get us out of town: something like go left and on for three lights and turn right and when you see the supermarket keep in the left lane and then go three traffic signals and turn left and left again and so on...... By this time we weren't quite sure but clutching what I had written we attempted to merge back onto the street and into traffic (no mean task) amidst horns blaring (just about the only time the Italians were upset with us, and quite justifiably!) and up the street. Wow, there was a Europcar sign so that meant local maps. We crossed traffic and pulled in only to find that is was an administrative office with no maps but there was a girl who spoke a little English. The hilarious thing was that when we asked her the way out of Reggio in the direction of Santa Maria della Piano, she gave us the exact same directions (right down to using the supermarket as a locator) and off we went.

Perfect! We went miles and miles through lovely countryside and found our farmhouse: B and B Cancabaia! I cannot recommend this venue highly enough..more tomorrow.
Philbill is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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We were greeted by Bruno and Simona, the owners of B and B Cancabaia. They provided juices and water and gave us information about local sights. They also made a reservation at a local trattoria (nowhere opens before 8pm in this area whereas Milan had been 7:30pm). They have an addition attached to the farmhouse and the three rooms are on the upper level. One bedroom is ensuite and the other two share a bathroom (perfect for a family of four where the children could share the smaller room). There is a very large covered veranda with table, chairs, small pool table and a refrigerator with water provided for guests. Guests could also eat outside in the farmyard area if they had brought their own food. The veranda was perfect for a glass of wine (we took a couple of bottles with us). The trattoria's clientele was local, and no English was spoken. We had some interesting dishes (including onions in balsamic vinegar) and the food was excellent. We shared the onion appetizer and a salad (more than enough for two people) and had a couple of entrees, one meat and one pasta and a bottle of wine. The owner brought us a complimentary dessert and off we went, exhausted but full, back to the farm.

The rooster crowing did not wake us up, but we wanted to be up early to drive to Cinque Terre. But first, the most delicious breakfast with Simona's home baking and cooking, homemade preserves and a choice of different cuts of ham and cheeses. Each day we had a cooked dish (always egg-based from her own chickens). I cannot tell you how great the breakfasts were. We also ate different ages of Parmigiano Reggiano..oh am I hooked on this cheese. This was the only morning we could see the cheesemaking, so we went across the road to the buildings where the Parmigiano Reggiano is made. Four local farmers pool their milk and the cheese is made right there. It was fascinating as this is one of the places where they determine the rate of the cheese making process by the feel of the 'cheese in making'. The huge vats and paddles do the main work, but to see the amount of human effort which is also needed plus that intuitive feel of the hand as to when to proceed was amazing. The cheeses are stored in the building next door, and we watched as the robotic machine turned and scraped the rounds. The cheeses are stored for various lengths of time (I think 30 month old cheese was the oldest we ate for breakfast, and so different from the 3 month old cheese).

After this visit we set off for Cinque Terre. Most of the drive was via autostrada (and those tolls!!) and we parked at Riomaggiore, taking one of the last spaces. The parking was very expensive by the way. I would suggest that if you were staying in Parma that it would be less hassle and cheaper to take the train down to CT (no tolls, gas, parking and quicker). We walked down the steep hill and had a hard time finding the actual beginning of the trail. The classic hike to all five villages takes 5 hours and is 8 miles long. We hiked from Riomaggiore to Manarola and to Corniglia. The scenery is beautiful and we had perfect weather. Even between these villages the incline can get a little steep, and the high is certainly more intense from Corniglia onwards. The entry fee is rasonable; I want to say 8 Euros but don't hold me to that. The disquieting thing to me was all the souvenir shops and tourists. I think the villages were probably much more interesting a few years' ago before the surge in popularity of this region. In Corniglia there is a very steep climb to the village, but the local shuttle bus ride is included with the park fee and not just the train ticket. We were about to pay as the guidebook mentioned the fare, but we presented our park entrance ticket and we were waved onto the bus. I was a little 'pasta-d out' so we ordered seafood salads for lunch at the restaurant in the square. I was thrilled to see a huge serving of seafood, but only a quarter of a lettuce leaf and a piece of tomato and I was so looking forward to a leafy salad!! It was quite the opposite of the States where we would have been served with a huge bowl of greens with minimal seafood! The seafood was excellent, however. In all the villages we drifted around the streets and churches. All the villages have their individual differences. We hopped on the bus back to the station where we decided to buy a train ticket that would take us to Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare and then back to Riomaggiore. We got one ticket which covered the whole journey after explaining our route to the ticket salesperson and it was very inexpensive.
Philbill is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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Enjoying reading your TR -- I remember some of your posts while u were planning it. Glad u liked Dozza -- its such an undiscovered gem.
yestravel is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 03:14 PM
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Thanks for the heads up on Reggio, which I plan to visit (with a car) sometime soon. And Dozza too. I've never even heard of Carpi and Corregio, or heard people so enthused about the countryside around there.

There are some villages not far from Cinque Terre, some right on the sea, some set up in the hills, that tourists don't visit and thus don't have the tourist tat. Since you are adventurous, maybe someday you'll visit them.
zeppole is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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yestravel and zeppole..you both have responded to posts before we went on our trip, and I thank you again! People on the boards have really helped in planning our travel by giving helpful hints and suggestions of little known extras, so I am doing my little bit to give back (hopefully).

A shock was the hole in the floor toilets, but I don't know why as we used them in Provence not too long ago. Of course we found them in the public restrooms in older towns but also occasionally in old restaurants. All in all I would say all the restrooms were very clean (I'm not really passionate about restrooms though it may seem so..I just plot the closest McDonalds for emergencies!!!!)

Thanks for the CT hint for next time. And yes, 'yes' Dozza is a true gem.

Thanks to all of you who have 'joined in' and contributed to this posting; I appreciate your encouragement!
Philbill is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2009, 09:12 AM
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The following day another fabulous breakfast. Bruno recommended that we park in the free parking lot on the south side of Parma and take the bus in. This worked out very well. The people on the bus were so helpful as we anxiously peered through the window to determine the center of town. Parma was so easy to wander around on foot; just like all of the other towns. We visited the Duomo, Santa Maria della Steccata church and the Battistero which has beautiful carvings. My husband needed a museum fix so off he went to the Galleria Nazionale while I went off for my shopping fix at the department store. I tried on a few dresses but to no avail. I raced back to the museum, getting a little lost on the way which is of no surprise, and ended up about 5 minutes late.

I then decided we would visit Sabbioneta, a quaint walled town on the way to Mantova. Parking was relatively easy but alas the gelato was just okay. I forgot to mention our gelato quest (although I really am not an ice cream eater). Since tasting gelato at Blue Ice in the Piazza Navona in Rome a few years' ago we have been anxious to find its equal. It was not to happen on this trip.

We got back to the farm in time for milking (before 5pm) so my husband had a blast watching Bruno and his mother milk the cows and his father feed them! Simona put out carbonated water and fruit juices for us (she always went above and beyond). The milk van came to transport the milk across the road to the cheese manufacturing building. It is very important for a consistent temperature to be maintained, so the milk was tested at the farm as well as after it had been transported. I went with Simona to buy some cheese (stepping over her chickens on the way) but the shop had closed early. I was assured that the cheese would be waiting for us before we left the following morning. We purchased 600gms. which was about the minimum, and ate all of it over the next couple of days. I wondered if we would ever be able to eat supermarket cheese again??

We were hungry and not wanting to wait until 8pm, so Simona suggested the lcoal pizzeria in the village. We purchased a fabulous pizza, each third of which had a different topping. We set up on the balcony, and Simona gave us a gift of a bottle of the local wine (sealed with a bottle cap). It was the carbonated Lambrusca variety and went fine with the pizza. A small dish of chocolate candies were in our room, and voila dessert!!
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