We boarded an early flight to Bologna and rented a car (a black Opel Astra) for our next three weeks in Italy. We parked near the town of Bologna and enjoyed strolling the streets listening to live music at several street corners. We then enjoyed a lunch of Tagliatelle Ragu and rose, but Ayaan wasn’t ready to experiment with Ragu quite yet. After seeing the church and spending time in the town square, we peeked into the Mercato and Ayaan decided to get some hand made pasta with olive oil and Parmesan. Little did we know that the wait was over an hour long, which tired us all particularly due to the early morning start. We walked back to the car, stopping at the Lego store along the way (in Europe, kids get to play in the stores), and made it to our Agritourismo, Podere Riosto. We were pleased to see our farmhouse well stocked with a very generous breakfast of eggs, baguette, parmeggiano reggiano, salami, Parma ham, yogurt, juices, pudding, pies, quiches, and a wide selection of wines. At Nani’s suggestion, we decided to stay in and enjoy some of these treats for dinner, which I paired with a few glasses of Cab.
We got off to an early start the next morning, making the 1.5 hour drive to Parma for a tour of the production of parmeggiano reggiono, all done by hand by a small family, passed down over the generations. We got to witness the production from the milking of the cows to the hanging of the cheese, and the storage for 1-5 years. The kids got to write their names on the cheese and Ayaan got to “hammer” the cheese to help detect the quality and age, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Our next stop was to see the town of Parma, where we all enjoyed a stunning cathedral. For lunch, I had reservations at Cavallino, operated by Chef Massimo Bottura. The meal was amazing from the truffled crème of parmeggiano drizzled with balsamic vinegar from Modena to the tagliatelle Ragu and charcoal grilled vegetables. Next we walked over to the Ferrari factory and we all marveled at the story, history and wonder that is the Ferrari. Ayaan purchased a small toy Ferrari. Back at the farm, Ayaan and I played a game of soccer in the field while Ariana made friends with their dog, Maia.
The next day, we drove to the city of Ravenna to see its famed UNESCO-world heritage mosaics. We visited multiple churches and after a casual lunch, decided to drive to Commachio, dubbed a mini Venice with similar canals. That evening, we drove back to our farm for the highlight of our day, a 5-course dinner in the vineyards. There was a DJ with the singers portrayed on a projector, and several courses of wine which I enjoyed as the sun set over the hills. The dinner was fantastic, with anti pasti, a light spinach lasagna with Parma ham, a pork course with a delicious assortment of vegetables and a blueberry pie for dessert. The kids got to run around in the play area and we all had a fantastic end to a somewhat tiring day! This dinner was the true epitome of the Italian lifestyle!