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Published: June 28th 2011
Before going into my weekend trip I wanted to tell you about a wonderful dinner Jackie and I attended on Thursday to celebrate Saint Giovani which is a traditional celebration that takes place in Parma. A woman from work invited us over to her friends house to celebrate this day. The house was located out in the Parma countryside on a farm was it was great to get out of the city (especially since it has been 90-100 degrees everyday). Our hosts mom made 250 tortelli for the 20 guests to eat. Tortelli is like a large ravioli but its stuffing changes depending on the city you are in. For example, Parma's tortelli is made with ricotta cheese and spinach, but in Reggio theres' is stuffed with pumpkin. The homemade tortelli was TO DIE FOR. OMG it was so good. The pasta melted in your mouth. We also had homemade salami which was delicious. After that course we moved on to steak which was about 2 inches thick. For dessert we had fresh melons, currants, and strawberries which is grown on the property. Also our host loves wine and just got back from wine tasting in France. We got to taste all of the many bottles he brought back. Which included actual Champagne, and I can now never go back to our sparkling white wine champagne imitation. It tastes nothing like real thing. After many many glasses of wine and tortelli we finally got back home at 1:30am.... I don't know if I can ever get used to eating dinner so late!
For my last weekend in Parma I decided to spend one night up at Lake Como. Lake Como is about an hour from Milan and a weekend getaway location for many people in Milan. The area has 3 main lakes but I decided to visit Lake Como only. I wanted to make it back to Parma to be able to spend my last Saturday here, taking a short break from all the traveling I have been doing. But anyway I went up to the Lake on Friday, unfortunately my hostel closes for 5 hours during the middle of the day so I was forced to sight see with my backpack on. Though I arrived in the morning it was already very hot outside so it was grueling walking up the hundreds of steps it seems that every town in Italy has.
But the lake itself was so beautiful. The mountains surrounding the lake are so tall (literally the peaks are thousands of feet up)and many still have snow on them from winter. There are no beaches so everyone just rents boats and sails on the lake all day. Considering the boat traffic on the lake the water was very clean and was so clear in some parts that you could see the huge fish that live in the lake. The train arrived in Varenna so I walked around there first. It was a very small, cute town. Not very much to see here but I did eat the best crepes ever!! The crepes were stuffed with spinach and ham and then smothered in warm melted cheese (had to be served in a bowl because of all the cheese 😊. Oh there were delicious. From that town I took the water ferry to the other side of the lake to Menaggio where my hostel was located. I walked around that city and again not too much there. I debated going into the public pool, which is a private beach that you pay to get into. It was the only beach on that side of the lake but paying 9 euros for a lounge chair seemed a bit extreme so I opted to lay on the dock instead.
That night at the hostel I had a delicious 3 course meal that was served by the hostel. The first course was an olive and caper spaghetti, next was fish from the lake which was covered in a marinara sauce and served with fresh vegetables, last was a caramel flan for dessert. While finishing our dessert a loud bang scared us but soon we realized that it was fireworks that were going off over the lake. Since once again I will be in Europe for my birthday and thus missing out on all of the 4th of July activities I was so excited to be able to see my fireworks. The show was amazing and literally took place on the bay that my hostel was directly above. No doubt we had the best view on the lake. During the fireworks the whole town comes out and music is played and the festivities last for hours. All taking place beside the lake with towering dark mountains surrounding you.
The next day I visited the famous Bellagio... This city is famous for its world class 5-star resorts and for its expensive shops. This city is the best one by far to walk around and to do some shopping. However given that I could not afford anything in these shops I did a quick walk through and then just laid by the water for the next few hours until my train arrived.
Lake Como was so amazing but next time I go I will definitely take the time to rent a boat so that I can go around all the lakes and then just relax in the water. But this trip was great because I got a taste of this beautiful place. Oh and unfortunately my train was delayed in Milan so I wasted time shopping at the train station and found a buy one get one get sale!! Bad idea and I now have 4 dresses and two more pairs of shoes to stuff in my backpack. Oh no! Haha. It is worth it 😊
On Monday my work had their annual dinner for the EFLIT program, this is the program that I taught the real estate seminars with. The dinner was held in a castle right outside Parma and was truly one of the best, if not the best meal I have had in Italy. The meal started with the local tortelli which was covered in Parma Parmesan cheese. Next we had risotto which bacon and peas. Then for the main course we had eggplant Parmesan, arugula salad and some egg cheesy thing that was delicious. All during dinner we drank delicious local white wine which had a hint of passion fruit taste in it. About 150 people attended and we all seat outside on the cobblestones at long tables which overlooked the Parma countryside... With the bright moon and stars and the lit castle in the background the views were breath-taking. Such a great experience meeting the students and their spouses.
On Saturday I leave for Rome and start the next phase of my trip. In Rome I will be meeting with two girls from school and we have a week to visit Rome and Florence, with a side trip to the west coast of Italy for some sun before we leave for Austria on Saturday.
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