A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about parma

Castell'Arquato via Fiorenzuola d'Arda

Day Tripper's Heaven

semi-overcast 8 °C

We are loving our time in Bologna, but as we battle through this third month of a pretty long and cold winter, 'cabin fever' is setting in from time-to-time. We are therefore blessed to have so many options - almost right on our doorstep - to choose from to stretch our legs and minds, and renew our love affair with 'less-visited' Italy.

The region of Emilia-Romagna has a surfeit of beautifully preserved castles - especially in the northern provinces of Parma and Piacenza - so there is no shortage of choices for the curious. If you cross reference this long list with the shorter list from "I Borghi piu Belli d'Italia" (a guide that roughly translates as "the most beautiful villages of Italy"), you normally get a perfect match! The girls and I had already visited the awesome Castello di Torrechiara, and as a family we have also toured the enchanting towns of Dozza and Brisighella, so Castell'Arquato - helped by a recommendation from some Italian friends - got the nod last Saturday.

heading up the hill to Rocca Viscontea

heading up the hill to Rocca Viscontea

A pleasant enough regional train ride dropped us off at Fiorenzuola d'Arda - an unobtrusive town 25 minutes north of Parma - and after we tracked down the only taxi driver at the local bar (drinking espresso, not mojitos!), we were efficiently dispatched to Castell'Arquato ten minutes down the road. Like so many towns in Italy, the newer outskirts are entirely forgettable, but the ancient heart, higher up the hill, was beautifully preserved and memorable (and was apparently used in the filming of 'Ladyhawke' for those film buffs).

healthy again at last ... lovely to see the boss with a smile!

healthy again at last ... lovely to see the boss with a smile!


and again ... behind is the Chiesa della Collegiata - rebuilt 1122

and again ... behind is the Chiesa della Collegiata - rebuilt 1122

The town underwent many different rulers over the centuries until its annexion to Italy in 1860, and the highlight is the Rocca Viscontea - built between 1342 and 1349 by Luchino Visconti, a member of the ruling family at the time. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the well-reviewed Ristorante Stradivarius, including a typical plate of the local cured meats, and a glass of the very quaffable regional wine called Gutturnio, a slightly sparkling red wine made predominantly from Barbera grapes.

Ristorante Stradivarius - these amazing lunches will live long in the memory

Ristorante Stradivarius - these amazing lunches will live long in the memory


Rocca Viscontea from the other side

Rocca Viscontea from the other side


Piazza del Municipio showcasing Palazzo del Podesta (built 1293) and Chiesa della Collegiata

Piazza del Municipio showcasing Palazzo del Podesta (built 1293) and Chiesa della Collegiata


if there is any snow around, these rugrats are sure to find it ...

if there is any snow around, these rugrats are sure to find it ...

We had a jolly old time climbing the castle tower, then the kids amused themselves by pulling sheets of ice out of the nearby fountain. A leisurely stroll down the hill, a gander at the locals at play (some festa tied in with Carnevale we thought), followed by the obligatory gelati rounded out our visit. A snooze on the train home for some (Lisa came to the aid of some hapless German tourists who hadn't validated their tickets - go the parlo Italiano!), and we returned to chilly Bologna with renewed enthusiasm for the week ahead.

OH and S Italian style!

OH and S Italian style!


but Dad, did you see the size of Gabi's sheet?

but Dad, did you see the size of Gabi's sheet?


not quite Venice, but locals were having fun nevertheless

not quite Venice, but locals were having fun nevertheless


.

Posted by happellfamily12 14:12 Archived in Italy Tagged parma romagna castello castell'arquato ristorante emilia fiorenzuola stradivarius Comments (0)

Celebrity Blog - Joff & Wendy

Honeymoon II ... Big Game in Africa, Ever Romantic Venice, and then a sample of La Rossa

sunny 28 °C

Walking back with Dan to casa Happell from Bologna train station, first impression? Hot. Quite big, bit dusty. Probably exacerbated coming from all that aqua in Venice. Thankfully a gin and tonica wasn't far away, nor a cooling breeze atop one of the Happell's due terrazzi. A welcome retreat.

First in the schedule of events? A gymnastics display. Naturally. Gabriela and Natalie dazzled us from our mattress-side seats with a series of remarkable feats, including somersaults and eventually a backflip. Bravo! Could this be why their parents moved to Europe? Access to the best coaches and 'technology'? Rio in 4 years should reveal all. Delicioso Italian-style roast chicken topped off a wonderful welcome to Bologna.

Natalia Happellova

Natalia Happellova

"molto buona" chef!

"molto buona" chef!

Day two we slipped on our tourist shoes ... time for a serious sample of the Bolognese lifestyle. And what better way to get our bearings than from Bologna's highest point. 400+ steps later we'd climbed Torre degli Asinella - the tallest of the famed Due Torri (Two Towers). Apparently a tower was the height of fashion (ed : nice one Joffa) a few centuries ago. If you wanted to impress your neighbours, a ridiculously high tower was the go. There used to be nearly 200 watching over the town, but now only a handful remain.

Wendy wouldn't blow out a candle ... not sure about the Happells but ...

Wendy wouldn't blow out a candle ... not sure about the Happells but ...

While Dan and Gabi slipped home for some schooling, Wendy and I enjoyed a stroll around town, including Neptune's spectacular fountain - just off the main piazza in town (Piazza Maggiore). And onto the quieter, atmospheric streets of the old town where the fish, meat, vegetables, and delis made a mouthwatering sight. After meeting Lisa fresh from Italian class it was lunchtime. More tasty, fresh, simple food expertly ordered by our 'local' hosts.

Il Quadrilatero - start point for any delicious home cooked meal

Il Quadrilatero - start point for any delicious home cooked meal

We spent the evening with another Aussie-in-Bologna, Mitch Dowd and family. Great to catch-up and hear them wax lyrical about their Italian adventures so far.

Dan, Jayne, Lisa, and Mitch

Dan, Jayne, Lisa, and Mitch

some good looking boys at the party Nat ... stop playing on the ipad!

some good looking boys at the party Nat ... stop playing on the ipad!

Yours truly, Mitch, and his boys Ewan and Hunter

Yours truly, Mitch, and his boys Ewan and Hunter

Next day, Dan suggested a trip to Parma, home of the famous cheese and prosciutto. Like so many interesting places, just a short train-ride from Bologna. Gabi (Nat was making her daycare debut) led the way to a delicious lunch before we found the sights, including an impressive cathedral, baptistry, attractive piazzas, and impressive gardens.

well satisfied gourmands after a lovely lunch at Ristorante La Forchetta

well satisfied gourmands after a lovely lunch at Ristorante La Forchetta

some mirth alongside Piazza Garibaldi

some mirth alongside Piazza Garibaldi

Giardino Ducale - Wendy and Gabi had a great time here in the open spaces

Giardino Ducale - Wendy and Gabi had a great time here in the open spaces

Our farewell dinner was at a local trattoria Dan and Lisa were keen to try. And what a feast! Spectacular seafood including a dish I 'couldn't possibly finish' but somehow managed to (ed : still got it Jonnie!). No wonder the waiter declared us the 'No.1 table' for the evening. For which the award seemed to be the run of the Meloncello bottle - a delicious canteloupe flavoured liquer. Found room for that too. By the time we left the restaurant, our Italian heatwave had broken. The rain was tumbling down. Not that we noticed ... Bologna's famed porticoed streets came into their own and we navigated a passage home, with barely a drop.

mmm ... still room for tiramisu non?

mmm ... still room for tiramisu non?

any more Meloncello and a map would have been required for the homeward navigation

any more Meloncello and a map would have been required for the homeward navigation

Sadly, the next morning it was time to leave. A final caffe at Dan's local then the challenge of driving to Lucca awaited. Nothing compared to the challenge of selling your house and moving to another country. Our hosts have already seen and done so much, it was a privilege to be part of their adventure. And it's really only begun.

the only way to start the day ...

the only way to start the day ...


.

Posted by happellfamily12 15:53 Archived in Italy Tagged bologna friends sites tourist guests parma Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]