A Travellerspoint blog

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holy reservations

Never have we been so prepared for a trip. Reading the article that M shared about Europe crawling with tourists (especially American - given the strength of the dollar. €1= $1.05 at its lowest) we were scared into making many reservations. We didn't want to miss out on anything or *gasp* stand in any lines.

BOA rate was $1.18 and I got my nails done so we were ready to go:

And essential reservations made:
6 flights
2 hotels
1 agritourismo
1 free-loading advance notice
3 air bnb apartments
3 dinner reservations
1 hot air ballooning
2 rental cars
1 ferry ride
5 museums
1 bike tour

Posted by LaurendeMatt 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Hangin with the Fonzies

L clapped along with the Euros when our hunk o' junk landed safely in Roma. Our Alitalia plane was a rickety time machine mess from 1955. There was one screen we squinted to see halfway up the aisle. The legroom was built for Little People. my audio did not work and the flight attendants were phone Nazis and too often interrupted sleep with fundraising speils for "Unee-chef". They deprived us of water.

But our seats made up for it :

As did our snack bag of Fonzies during our layover in Rome and our next Alitalia flight from Roma to Milano. This plane was from this century AND we were offered water. The view was spectacular. Piedmont is definitely on our list to visit. We haven't met a wine from there we didn't like.

It is pretty darn cool to deboard the plane and be met by a man holding a sign with our name on it, and holding car keys to whisk us away to Lake Cuomo in his Mercedes Benz.

He missed the exit for Varenna. The tunnels jetted us through the mountains so quickly, he overshot it and had to traverse back along the curvy, cliff-hugging roads. We didn't mind.

Posted by LaurendeMatt 12:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Cuomo 1

"Wanna just stay here and nix the rest of our trip?" Matthew asked. "I don't know how anything can top this." The mountains are huge, the lake water sparkly and the villages quaint, nestled colorfully in the mountain nooks. Our first order of business was to appreciate our porch view, brush off the fuzz that had accumulated on my teeth, then go for a drink.

Good ole Rick! He never fails us as he directed just beyond the small tourist cluster here in Varenna. Hotel de Lac had a quiet outdoor bar on a covered veranda overlooking Lake Cuomo. It was just what we were looking for. While matthew marveled at the oleander that I mistook for a tree, I snuck-fed the swans.

You know you are in Italy when... a "small glass of wine" was actually regular size and only four Euro. That's less than a Coke.

When making our hotel reservation long ago, Albergo Milano also booked us a table at their Restaurante la Vista. The vistas were beautiful. We had the best seat in the house and gawked. m ordered one liter of the house white. once we did the math we realized if a reg bottle of wine is 750ml, and 1 liter = 1000 ml, that adds up to 1 and 1/4 bottle. we each ordered prix-fixe: L: Salted cod, Gargenelli and hare ragout, creme brulee trio. M: Perch ceviche, Oricchieti, lamb shank, and dessert wine with biscuits.
Wrapping up our three-hour meal and getting the "conto" M learned first hand about the "Coperto": six euro charge. it's for the dolce vita, sweetie. so, it turns out, we are the DeMatteises and we do pay cover charges.

word of the day: coperto (amount you pay to rent the table for a night)

Posted by LaurendeMatt 16:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Cuomo 2

We're locals. We had cappucino with breakfast and espresso for a mid-afternoon boost. We took the batello navetta. It was an all day, mid-lake ferry service. Lake Como is shaped like a man. Varenna is at mid-hip and Bellagio is its crotch, where the lake splits into legs. We saw from afar the villa that was used in Star Wars, Episode 2 and Casino Royale.

We hopped off at Bellagio with the masses. We lunched at the Metropole bar then wandered. Or rather, endured a strenuous hike up the cobbled pedestrian streets. Local geriatrics in housecoats effortlessly glided by me. We boarded the ferry feeling good that we had made the right decision: Choosing to stay in Varenna vs. Bellagio was the right one.

On our walk back we admired the fauna. Greenery and flowers sprout from every crack. We made a reservation at Ristorante il Cavatappi, a restaurant a few doors down from our albergo. We reserved the very last table. Lucky table #8 was just outside curbside, five tables maximum could fit inside.


M ordered a bottle of white from Lombardy. We each got a primi and a secondi and we shared the dolce. L needed a moment with her ravioli stufffed with eggplant, then white Lake fish fillet with tomatoes basil and olives. M had gnocchetti with three tomatoes, the Sicilian eggplant parmigiana. Dessert was creme caramel and crumbled amaretto biscotti. Every bite phenomenally delicious.

It was logical to then get a glass of amaretto. We wandered the streets and decided on a little bar on the square. We quickly became BFF with Claude and Mimi from Switzerland. They bought us a round. They insist we come to Bern to stay with them at their farm.

Italian phrase of the day: assagio du vino (taste the wine)
English word of the day: satsier (sah-tsi-er) - to be even more satsia

Posted by LaurendeMatt 13:00 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Dovè Carpineti?

Paying a taxi ten euro was such a ripoff, yet worth every cent if it saved us from lugging our luggage up the mountain to the Varenna- Esino train station. We were warned to validate our tickets before boarding, or face a hefty fine. We were never checked. We had to switch trains in Milano Centrale. The train cruised at 300 km/hr.

We went to pick up our Audi-or-comparable Avis rental car just outside the Bologna train station. The rental lady apologized, "Oh sorry I have just one automatic car (that's really a piece of crap) in your category, but for just a little bit more euro a day you could get a BMW" no brainer there. Then "it takes only diesel petrol". And "you have two drivers now, it is €7 / day more. Oh, and you want to increase your coverage to be full... Oh and..." I tried to slip her my AAA card, but she's never seen one before.

Matthew was gps coordinator and l was the driver. Somehow we weren't in the center part of the autostrada and we got off at the wrong exit. But really it couldn't have been more right. It took us on quite the journey. The hills were gorgeous, but I couldn't get a good gander because I was busy taking crazy turns. Like the ones you have to beep the horn first. One after another, after another. M called them 'N-turns', all on inclined roads barely big enough for one car, never mind two.

Somehow, not sure how, we arrived at the place M has been salivating about for years - since the first time we watched Tony's Emilia Romagna episode: the legendary, Trattoria Fita, in Borgo Tossignano. It was the real deal - wood fire stove and a woman making Talgliatelle from scratch at one of the tables. We HAD to get the Florentine steak and we HAD to get at least one pasta. The server advised us to stick with one primi. With one glass of light red for pasta, and another heartier red from Tre month to hold up to the steak. We ordered the minimum poundage for the Florentine. The steak was mammoth. 1500 grams = 1.5 kilograms = 3.3 pounds = A lot. M assures me that that was partly bone. It was still a lot! In order to be Florentine, it must be four fingers thick and cooked rare. It was charred crispiness on the outside and red in the middle. Sprinkle a little olive oil on it with some salt and pepper and it was delicious.
We came kinda close to conquering it. M was in a meat-sweats-coma. He shimmied over the bench to get up. But just like seesaws work, he picked up the rest of the bench. It was time to leave.

Matthew fibbed on his match profile- he is far from fluent in Italian. Between the two of us, we couldn't really understand any of the three sets of people we stopped to ask for directions to our agritourismo. We found an old couple in front of their home, a bunch of guys at a bar in the centro of carpineti, and lastly a woman walking her dog. I think they each had it right, but the whole kilometers thing threw us. Oh, and the language thing.

We finally found il Casante on Via La Costa in Carpineti. How silly of us not to know the different names: Agritourismo name, street name, province name.

Stefania greeted us and upgraded us to the "Laura" house. We lucked out- a whole floor to ourselves. At the moment a whole house actually, wooden beam ceilings and stone walls, a stacked spread, and gorgeous views. And quiet.


Posted by LaurendeMatt 02:00 Archived in Italy Tagged romagna emilia agritourismo Comments (0)

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