Monday, October 30, 2023

Wandering in Brescia

After our busy day in Parma, we were ready for an unstructured day of looking around Brescia.

We rode the Metro for a few stops and decided on a Cappuccino stop. What a bargain this is in Italy at €2.50 a cup.

From there we climbed up to the Castello - the ancient castle- that overlooks the city.

We visited two excellent little museums, one devoted to armaments and the brand new museum devoted to the Risorgimento, the 19th century movement that led to a unified modern Italy.

We even had time notice Tom’s resemblance to a nearby sculpture.

In Trieste, we walked several miles on Sunday, thereby feeling we’d earned dinner at a pizza joint in a large modern restaurant and retail complex called Eataly.

We enjoyed the scenic nighttime walk back to the Doubletree.

Monday morning we were up early enough to enjoy some breakfast and another excellent Cappuccino (always Doppio or Double Shot) before catching a ride to Riviera.

We’re now on board and snug in our staterooms.

We’re sailing tonight toward our first port, Split, Croatia.

Bon Voyage to us!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Parma: Paradiso del Parmigiano

An early morning two-hour train ride from Brescia to Parma was worth the trip. Waiting at the station for us was Laura Panella, who showed us so much of this food paradise back in February 2020.

Our first stop was a large Parmesan cheese production facility, where we suited up and watched as workers inserted the cheese into circular containers.

The aging room was impressive. That’s a lot of cheese.

Here’s a robot that scrapes the mold off the cheese as it ages.

At the end of the tour, we visited the shop and bought enough cheese to stuff our rollaboards to the hilt.

We next visited a small but impressive winery where the personable young manager (whose great-grandfather founded the business in the 1930s) gave us a tour and offered us a variety of wines.

Next was a visit to a meat production facility, where we suited up again to visit the aging room for the famous Prosciutto di Parma, Parma Ham.

We were ready for lunch, and a plentiful lunch in the facility’s restaurant awaited us.

After lunch came a highlight among highlights, a pasta preparation class presented by a vivacious and knowledgeable instructor.

This clever Italian pasta punch saves time and makes perfect circles.

This “guitar” makes great spaghetti.

We all had a bite and had time for a group photo before Laura whisked us back to the Stazione for our return trip to Brescia.

Grazie, Laura! A great day in Parma.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Planes, Trains, and Elevators

After a night of sleep and a good breakfast at the Heathrow Hilton, we flew via British Airways to Milan.

We enjoyed a veddy British afternoon tea on this flight, the best plane food experienced on this outbound trip.

Once landed at MXP, we went through Immigration without delay, an e-gate followed by an official stamping our passports.

A free bus took us from Terminal 1 to 2, near which we checked in at the slightly “hip” Moxy by Marriott Hotel, and a postage-stamp size (but clean and comfy) room.

We enjoyed a light and tasty dinner before a few more hours of sleep.

The next morning we checked out and returned to Terminal 1 to greet Tom, Ellyn, and Greg as they landed after a long combination of flights DRO-DEN-FRA~MXP.

We took a train to downtown Milan, checked in at the impressive Hilton Milan, and enjoyed our first dinner together in the surprisingly good hotel restaurant.

After a tasty breakfast buffet at the Hilton, we trundled our bags the couple of blocks back to the Stazione Centrale to catch the train to Brescia. 

For some reason the train was nearly two hours late, leaving us with little to in the cavernous station. We killed time with Cappuccinos first at a Burger Kimg and later at Starbucks, basically buying seats.

The 30-minute train ride was anticlimactic. A fairly new metro system enabled us to ride from the station to a Hal-block from our hotel, but an uncooperative elevator in the metro station trapped us for a few minutes, and we talked to a disembodied voice through the speaker for the first time ever.

The voice promised help and fairly soon the power came on and we escaped, shlepping our luggage up two flights of stairs and over to the Doubletree.

Later we enjoyed a huge and reasonably priced dinner at La Rondinelle, not far away. Even the Italian caviar (!) was affordable.

Fish soup, a Cioppino, was Kathy’s choice.

It was all delicious, including the pizza.

Today we’re off to Parma for a reunion tour with Laura, our excellent 2020 guide.

We’re sleepy but excited.