Sunday June 2 Bologna, Milan, Mandello Del Lario

This morning we packed up, had an espresso and caught the train to Milan. The central station has had an upgrade since we were last there in 2003. We left our baggage at the airport (€5 per case) and caught the metro to Lanzo station. We went to Castello Sforzesco which we stumbled upon when we were on honeymoon. It too has had an upgrade. Sadly the Da Vinci painting we came to take a picture of is not on display as the room is being ‘renovated’. Historians are trying to recover fresco’s painted by Da Vinci in the room. We did however manage to get a picture of the Pieta. This is the work Michalangelo was busy with when he died. On Tuesday this section of the museum will be closed for historical work. We then got the metro back to Milano Centrale and caught the Malpensa express to the airport. We bought lunch at the Carrefour and collected our car to drive to Lake Como. We drove 65km before getting out of the urban region and now we can see the snow capped mountains.  We are spending one night in Mandelo Del Lario in the house where the first Moto Guzzi was built. The house is owned by the son of the man who helped Guzzi get started.  After a tour of the workshop and cellar we sat and had a glass of wine with Gianni and his friend. We then walked around the old city and the kale, stopping for gelato on the way. Dave had chocolate and I had biscotto del nonna. The restaurant we were recommended, 20m away was closed so we walked to the old city. We had supper at Bar Roma. Dave had pasta arrabiata and I had pasta with salmon. We shared a bottle of red wine and salad and the bill came to $40.50. We then walked back to the B&B and checked in to our flights back home.

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Saturday June 1 Bologna

After a relaxing morning of coffee in bed and scrambled eggs with pancetta for breakfast, the day has begun. We bought a 24 hour bus pass (€4 each) and caught the bus to get to the market area east of Piazza Magiore. We bought clams from Pesceria L’Adeiatica(€3) and taglietelle from Paolo Atti & Figli (€4.59) for supper. We also got bread rolls for lunch to go with proscuitto and cheese from Simoni (€7.58). We then walked back to the apartment and attempted a short cut which took us down homeless ally! Unfortunately the gate was locked and we had to walk past the ‘toilet’ where some dude was taking a leak and smiling at me! We walked past the ‘bedroom’ and the dining room – a couple were having their lunch. Back to the main road and we walked in front of the walkway back to the apartment to drop off the shopping and have an early lunch. We caught a bus to Via Saragozza and walked down to Villa Sparda where we should have caught the bus to the top of San Luca. Instead we got the bus to the bottom of the steps and walked up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca 269 meters above sea level. We missed the down bus by 10 minutes and so we walked the 2.276km back down. There are 350 arches on the walk and a LOT of stairs. At the top I filled our water bottle from the taps that exist all over Italy. These taps run constantly and supply cold fresh water to everyone. In Venice we saw people collecting the water in buckets! We then caught a bus so we could get close via Santo Stefano. In this street is the Cremaria Santo Stefano and we had the best gelato of our trip. Dave had a limone granite medio (€3.30) and I had cioccolato del santa – dark chocolate, and pistacchio di Bronte – gelato grande (€3.80). After that we caught another bus and got off near AF Tamburini, where we shopped this morning, before walking to see the canal at Via Piella. This and trying to see the waterfall at Caffè Opera e Tulipani on via Alessandrini were not worth it due to the scaffolding. We then took a slow walk back to the apartment stopping at Swine on via Augusto for prosecco (€12) and then watching a protest march. The riot police were in full force and the protest was against austerity measures. We could see very few Italians in the group. Mostly Indians and Blacks. I would love to be watching Sky news tonight! We then did some shopping at the Coop before coming back to the apartment. Tonight for a change we are drinking Birra Di Frumento non filtrata. Crackers to go with topped with salame Milano. We decided to have prosecco with our meal. We chose a bottle of Rocco dei Forti. Dave made a sauce of shallots, garlic, chilli, tomato and courgette to go with the clams and taglietelle. The clams were steamed with prosecco and made a fantastic broth. We finished our meal with kiwi fruit and strawberries with cream. We then finished the cheese and pesto on a few crackers before calling it a night!

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Friday May 31 Bologna and Modena

The traffic barely stopped through the night. I have forgotten how noisy cars are! Woke up after an interrupted night’s sleep, bright and early. Dave made coffee for us to drink in bed while reading our books. Breakfast of scrambled eggs with pancetta with cheese was followed by sorting out the laundry, the suitcase and the kitchen. We caught the train to Modena and walked to the Ferrari Museum. After looking at world championship F1 cars, and the house where Enzo was born, we walked to the old city. We found an amazing market and I bought some balsamic vinegar from Modena at Messerotti R & C. We then went to Osteria Francescana for a 6 course lunch. This is listed as the third best restaurant in the world and has 3 Michelin stars. I met Massimo, the chef owner, last year and he came to say hello to us when we arrived. I will blog a review when we get back home. After lunch we walked back to the station and caught the train back to Bologna. We did grocery shopping for supper. We got fresh hand made tortelloni from Il Piacere Del Gusto. After getting supplies at Coop we came back to the apartment. Wine tonight is Corvo Sicilia Rosso Vendemmia 2010. Dave made a sauce of shallots, garlic, courgettes, tomato and cream to compliment the ricotta filling. Dessert tonight is strawberries, kiwi fruit and cream. Followed by crackers with Gorgonzola.

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Thursday May 30 Venice to Bologna

I did not sleep well last night! Funny given how much exercise we are getting and how much we drank last night! Got up at 7 and made coffee, then scrambled eggs with pancetta for breakfast before tidying up and packing. Went for our morning espresso before shopping for lunch for the train. We had our last walk around and after an hour and a half checked out of the apartment. Our utility bill for the 6 nights was €23.13. We had gelato before going to the station. I had moccacino and Dave had hazelnut. We caught the fast train to Bologna and checked in to our apartment across the road from the station. We walked to Piazza Magiore – which we did not find as easily in 2003! We stopped for prosecco on our way back. There is a big Coop close to where we are staying so we did most of our shopping there. We got some cheese from a local shop. After 3 hours of walking around Balogna we came back to the apartment. Wine tonight is Santa Cristina Toscana 2011. We had crackers with cheese and salami, and cheese and pesto before dinner. Dinner tonight is tortellini freschi con proscuitto crudo with a sauce made from shallots, garlic, tomatoes, pancetta and cream. We ended the meal with strawberries and cream, and crackers with salami.

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