Foodie Heaven

Trip Start Sep 22, 2013
Trip End Oct 28, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Emilia-Romagna,
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On Sunday morning we jumped on the sardine packed vaparetto for the last time and waved goodbye to Venice. It was cold and raining and I was certainly not excited about hitting the wrong side of the road in this weather.

We got our little (very little) car from the mainland in Venice and took to the road. OMG is all I can say, it was pretty lucky that I was navigating and had my head stuck in the iPad, because I really didn't want to be watching what was happening on the road.

Once we were out of the city it got a little easier until we hit the first toll booth. Not only could Waz not even reach the ticket but we had no idea what to do, and had cars behind us reversing out to go to another booth as we were just sitting there not moving. We too reversed back and moved in closer, took the ticket and the boom gate lifted up, confused about the whole experience we were unsure what had just happened and why we hadn't paid any money. Oh well. 

We kept driving. After about 90km's (just before Bologna) we hit another toll booth, this time It was occupied by a lady wanting our money, 12 euros actually, ouch that hurt, that's three times what I've been paying for a bottle of vino. Not having much choice, we paid and decided to head into Bologna to have a look about. Celebrating a rich food legacy (Bolognese sauce or ragu was first concocted here) we thought this would be a wonderful place for two hungry tourists to take a look. Driving through the town things started to look very confusing and not having any idea where to go we followed the parking signs to an underground car park. Although a little nervous to leave our car and keys with the attendant and his nude poster girls, we grabbed our shoulder bags and passports and walked away.  

On the street we wondered why the shops were all closed, but soon realised that not only was it siesta time, but it was Sunday, and everyone was either at church or watching football. We soon found a little pizza place (full of men watching football) and took a seat. Within minutes we were delivered two serves of tomato bruschetta and two glasses of proseco on the house. We shared a pizza before making tracks to see if we could 1. Find the car, 2. See if our luggage was still in the car.

All good, found the car and our luggage was intact, so we left Bologna and headed for our home for the next three nights. Although our plan was originally going to be to wing the next three days I just couldn't do it, so from Venice I found an apartment in a villa close to Modena and central to everything we wanted to do, so I booked it. Driving out of Bologna was interesting as we past numerous scantily clad ladies in very high heels standing along the highway. I didn't even click until Waz pointed out that they were out there earning their keep, Mmmm poor girls, it was very rainy and only about 13 degrees, they must have been freezing.

Eventually finding our apartment through the vineyards and apple, pear and persimmon orchards in the little country town of Gaggio, we were very pleasantly surprised. Roberta, our host, showed us around our 4 story apartment.  It was just lovely, beautifully furnished and very homely. Both the fridge and pantry were full of essentials including beer, wine, coffee, milk, juice, cheese, eggs, ham, fruit, pastries, cereals  etc..... and there was even a bowl of local chocolates. The hosts even make their own aged balsamic vinegar and nocino liquor (made from unripe green walnuts) which they left us samples to try. (The balsamic was amazing - we will never by the cheap commercial stuff again and the nocino tasted like cough syrup, so I can't see us ever buying this but it was good to try it).

Having bought a little bit of fresh produce along the way, we decided to stay in, catch up on some washing, cook a little pomodori pasta and put our feet up. The rain continued to drizzle down outside, but the internal heating was keeping us warm. The shower had great pressure, and the bed was warm and comfy, so we were very happy campers.

The cold weather and rain seemed to be set in as we awoke the next morning, but that's okay nothing could put us in a bad mood on this trip. The plan was to check out The town of Modena famous for Balsamic vinegar production, Enzo Ferarri and Luciano Pavarotti, it was a good plan at the time but being a Monday we struck a few problemos.

We decided to head into Modena, although at the time we were not sure how close into town we were actually allowed to go, but we went right into the centre anyway. By some odd chance we found a park right outside a button shop, now this may seem strange but Waz and I have both managed to pop buttons on our jackets (might have something to do with the amount of bread and wine we are consuming) and we had them in the back seat of the car, so as we didn't have Nanna handy to fix them for us we took them in. Through sign language and my limited Italian we managed to work out the price would only be a measly two euros and we could pick up the coats tomorrow morning, if we could ever find the place again.

Modena markets were next on our agenda, although we were starting to get a little nervous about parking spot but we ducked in anyway. WOW, what an overwhelming mercato, I was sure I had died and gone to foodie heaven, the fresh produce looked amazing; tomatoes, eggplants, artichokes, zucchini like we have never seen in Australia, and cheese, cheese and more cheese, plus breads, olives, sun dried tomatoes, fish, cured meats and beautiful berries. We were so overwhelmed we needed to leave and make a plan about what we wanted to cook for dinner as there was no way I was walking away from that market with just photos.

So we left for bit to have a chat about our dinner plans, but when we walked out we saw some polizia (police men) and thought we might try and ask about the parking situation. Well yes, he spoke a little English, and in short he told us we were parked illegally, and actually shouldn't have driven into the city centre as only residents had permission to do that .... Shit. We ran to try and find our car, grabbed a card from the button shop (so we could find it tomorrow) and got in the car and got the hell out of there.  

OMG, this place was getting stressful, we found a park out of the city centre, went back to the market, got some fresh produce and got out of there. Heading out of the city we decided we should try and find some of the local attractions but as mentioned earlier we spent the afternoon town hopping through vineyards only to find all of our chosen destinations closed.
Oh well we headed home, poured a vino, and cooked up a very yummy dinner with our beautiful fresh market produce. Although it was still raining and the temperature still hadn't reached more than 14 degrees, we were relaxed and happy .... and still in Italy.

Tuesday, a new day and although foggy outside it didn't seem too rainy. We needed to quickly duck into Modena, pick up our fixed jackets and then make our way back to Bologna to see what we missed on Sunday.

Arriving in Bologna we think we found a park out of the ZTL (zona traffico limitato) but we were not completely sure. Anyway we parked and set our blue parking disk knowing we would only had two hours of free parking (if we weren't already up for a ZTL fine). We headed towards town in search of the famous deli shops filled with local produce such as mortadella, tortellini, Parma ham and Parmigiano Regiano. We found the little cobbled street filled with fresh produce markets, more cheese, more hams, more of absolutely everything foodies like ourselves just adored. Walking along the street in awe, snapping pics and gasping over the delightful produce we made the decision to venture into one of the delis and see if we could try some of the delights on offer.  Well we certainly picked the right one, as we headed upstairs above the store we chose from the menu a plate of mixed produce from the Emilia region (the region we were staying in) and a glass of vino each. The tasting plate was scrumptious and we thoroughly enjoyed looking down on the happy customers choosing their favourite small goods including the hanging hams, massive wheels of Parmigiano and mushrooms of all colours and sizes including truffles.

While in Bologna we also stumbled upon the Palazzo Dell Archiginnasio - the city university from 1563 to 1805 and since 1838 it has housed the municipal library. We also sat in the very fascinating 17th century Teatro Anatomico, where public body dissections were held.

Although still cold and overcast a good day was had by all in Bologna. Home to a wander around the fruit trees, a pat of the gattos (cats) and a little tipple of vino while Waz heated up some left overs and I finished my blog. Tomorrow we are stopping in Parma to check out the Barilla factory before heading south west to the Cinque Terre ( 5 lands) on the western coast of Italiano.

Night (or morning ) all ��
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Robbie on

Really enjoying the blog. The food and produce looks amazing.

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