Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Italy: Part 4 - Fontanellato

Hello everybody,

Fontanellato is a small province of Parma. Does it have something to do with gelato, no, but it did have good gelato and a really nice lady who helped us with our Italian diction.  The city  sits in the northern part of Italy near Parma, the River Po and is also near Piacenza and about 60 km from Milan.

It is a great small province. I believe we were the only tourists, perhaps because it’s late in the year and winter is quickly approaching, who knows, but it was nice to see the local people shopping and eating.




The town was built up around the 15th century. It has a castle which is fortified by a moat and owned by the Sanvitale family until 1951 when they sold it to the city. The castle is known as the Rocca Sanvitale.





The Yazzos wanted to see a castle and do some shopping, so after some research we all decided that Fontanellato provided both.  As you can see below the city was in full market mode when we arrived, which was close to siesta time as well. The market was wrapped around the castle’s moat and we walked around the market several times, when soon people started to pack up and rest up for the afternoon.



We found a small butcher where the Young Man Yazzo found some great culatello for his father. Culatello (little backside) is a refined prosciutto made from a heavier pig.  From what I’ve researched and read, this cut of meat is the unexercised part of the pigs hind leg and butt, thus making it quite tender. If you’re interested and have an internet translator, you can read about it here: http://www.consorziodelculatellodizibello.it/ita/consorzio.html

Purchasing several pieces of meat and cheese we later sat down for lunch. After lunch we headed back to Bologna for our last night.  We drove through some of the country side of Parma and Emilia – Romagna, before our NAV system gave up and got lost in the new road constructions of Modena, at which point we had to head back to the autobahn to make sure we were heading back to Bologna.

Below is a picture of the place where we found the cured ham.



Here are some pictures L took along our drive of the country side.







Ok, so below is a picture of a bridge, which I can’t remember the name of, but it was about this point in our travels that the NAV system started to say, “no” and ‘things’ began to repeat themselves. Thus, we felt trapped in some alternate play writing by Beckett, where we were doomed to repeat the same bridge and then thinking about it differently until we found a way to escape the circle of madness.  By the third time of being lured in by this bride’s siren call, L was able to take this great picture of ‘The Bridge of Perpetual Madness.’ Or at least that’s what I call it now.


Fontanellato was a great stop and I also recommend visiting this sleepy but vibrant province.

Next: Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Fields of Wine.



and the Yazzos…but they’re home now…lucky.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Italy: Part 3 - Bologna




Bologna, known by the Italians as the heart of Italy cuisine, was founded in 1088 and is snuggled between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains.  Located in one of my favorite regions, Emilia – Romagna:  Parma ham, Parma cheese, Modena balsamic and another favorite mortadella.



Bologna also has one of the oldest universities in Italy, actually in all of Europe. The university is as old or older than mortadella.  The place has seen many thinkers walk through it’s halls, such as, Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Nicolaus Copernicus and Guglielmo Marconi just to name a few.  I’d bore you with who they are, but I bet you all know them.


We arrived late after noon, after being stuck in a traffic jam for about two hours. I guess Italy is famous for it’s traffic jams, well someone should have sent me a memo, because instead of exiting the autobahn when I had a chance, I drove us right into the thick of a stau(German word for traffic jam, which I like saying better than traffic jam…traffic jam, sounds like a really band eighties band).


I forgot to take pictures of the place we stayed at, don’t worry you’re not missing much. After meeting the owner of our place, although we were never quite sure if we dealt with the owner or a friend anyway, moving on, we walked in the evening to get a sense of the place .

Bologna also has it’s own leaning towers. IMG_5377

The following morning we walked into town taking in the sites and sounds of Bologna. 

Below you’ll see a statue of King Neptune, which was quite controversial when it was first built for having a rather large unident…get it. So he was down graded and apparently his left hand index finger is placed in a manner as to imply what once was.



Here we were walking through the university section of Bologna and if you haven’t noticed let, Bologna is also know for it’s porticoes.  Also Portland Oregon, is know as Bologna’s twin city or sister town. How do you like that!  

IMG_5394 IMG_5395


Looks like someone else was also looking for cured meats. (below)



Downtown shopping and searching for a cure.


The food shopping in Bologna was amazing. Fresh, yummy, tasty and did I mention yummy.



The Young Man Yazzo was highly intent on finding the best cured meats in Bologna for Yazzo Senior, which he found and the chuck is now resting in my kitchen.  Or should I say was resting, I’ve hidden it, hopefully he won’t notice it missing when he returns from Prague.





Here’s L admiring all the great olive oil at one of the many shops that line the streets of Bologna. IMG_5385

Cured pork leg anyone…anyone. IMG_5387



Food and more food.


We were told about this pizzeria by the owner of the place we were staying at. She was quite convinced that it was the best Bologna had to offer, as she said, is da best, better than the stuff in Napoli.  

So of course we had to try it, below is the best I could do for a picture of the pie.  The light in the place cast long shadows for that special mood.





Below was our favorite place to eat. We eat there when we arrived and then we eat there again on our last day.  We realized that the chef offered all the great local food, plus his cooking had that extra sparkle of Italian pizzazz. Earlier during the week we went out to a fancy Italian restaurant and while it was good, it wasn’t as good and inviting as this place.

Circolo Mazzini, if you find yourself in Bologna and want a place to have good local inspired food visit this place, it’s on Via Emilia Levante 6, and if I remember correctly it’s hidden from public eyes, one has to search for this place. It’s easy to find once you realize where it is, I’ll give you a hint it’s behind a big center where people buy groceries.


The Yazzos  IMG_5492


The Food


Pasta Perfecto, just ask the locals eating there, I’m sure they’ll let you know.



Bologna’s famous Bolognese



Kidney and Liver with tagliatelle. 



Gnocchi with Radicchio



Just in case you didn’t know, Italians reataurants don’t serve all your food on one plate, which is a tradition that started many years ago. Sooooo there is:






Formaggio e frutta




All served and dressed by themselves. Think you can hang?

IMG_5509 IMG_5510



Searching for Bologna’s world famous gelato shop.



Don’t let the name fool you. I know it says Sorbetteria, but I think I only saw five sorbet flavors, the rest is all gelato all the time.  Words can’t describe their gelato…hold on pausing for the memories to rush back…yes, no words.  I don’t think I can give the place the right adjectives it deserves, you’ll just have to visit.

ice pan

We were lucky that night, we arrived before a horde of about forty bikers moseyed on up to the gelato bar.  I didn’t quite capture how busy this place was.  But you can see some of the bikes and people lingering outside of the shop.


We had a great time in Bologna and similar to Lyon, where the French go for vacation and to eat good French food, Bologna is the same, Italians fill the streets and restaurants, it’s still one of those places where the locals aren’t put off by the tourist.

IMG_5420With that I’ll finish this post with a picture of the three stooges eating their gelato.

Next: Fontanellato near Parma.



and the Yazzos

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Italy: Part 2 - Bardolino


After a long night of playing cards and wine drinking, we left early morning from Vipiteno and headed for Bardolino. 


Bardolino near Lake Garda in Italy, was once famous for it’s wine, also named Bardolino, but when demand declined so did the quality.  From what I hear from the locals, in true Italian fashion, one can only get the best Bardolino in Bardolino.  I would later hear such statements about food and wine from the locals in Bologna.  I wish I could say I tried some of the wine, I never really got a chance and besides we had started our hunt for gelato.  Wine would come later.

originalI did not take this picture.  

This was our second tasting of gelato in Italy, the first one being in Vipiteno, which was also good, but the gelato near Lake Garda was something else, after tasting this gelato it became our mission to try as many gelato shops along our way to Bologna. I’ll come back to this gelato in a later post, when I post our gelato champion.


The town of Bardolino was the  main headquarters of various invading armies and people in Garda - the Lombards, Franks, Goths and others, it eventually came under the control of the Venetians and Scaligers.  The city is said to be named after a Lombard princess, although I don’t know if this is completely true. Bardolino is also near Verona, where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was set.


Speaking of Juliet, here’s my Juliet now. After arriving in Bardolino, searching for parking and getting out maps in place, we walked along Lake Garda.  Lake Garda was bigger than I had thought and L kept daring me to jump in.


After our walk, we headed back to the city for a quick bite. Which, you guessed it, I forgot to take pictures of.  We had some quick pizza from a local hole in wall. Well it really wasn’t pizza, more like foccacia(spelling?) bread smothered with a red sauce and cheesy yum-yum and mushrooms as a topping, or as our waiter had said in Vipiteno, you canna put da capers upstairs.  Which I'm going to steal and use when I order toppings back home.




We had our fill of food and headed out of Bardolino quite happy.  Little did we know, but we were about to head right into the biggest Stau ever.

Next: Bologna.

Hugs and kisses,


and the Yazzos