Amore for Amarone: A Springtime Wine Tasting in Valpolicella, Italy

Among the verdant, rolling hills of Italy’s Valpolicella region near Verona, winemakers have been turning out wine since ancient Greek times. Once we’d soaked up Verona’s architectural splendor, and had seen Verona’s Arena and Juliet’s Balcony, we traded city life in fair Verona for a wine-tasting excursion in the countryside, replete with the region’s famed Amarone and Valpolicella wine.

Our escape took us to the Massimago Winery in the village of Mezzane di Sotto, situated in one of five valleys of the Valpolicella region. As we left Verona, the city’s pleasant hustle and bustle gradually gave way to lush green vineyards recently awakened from a winter slumber, slopes occasionally dotted with lacy cherry-blossom trees, cypresses stretching to the sky, and graceful estates.

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Savoring the Moments in Modena, Italy

 

 “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” – Cesare Pavese

As we strolled the cobbled streets of Modena, Italy, surrounded by the graceful city’s earth-toned buildings, we couldn’t help but feel that we were back in an exotic part of the world that doesn’t often see visitors. The portico-packed, elegant lanes were decidedly Italian in architectural character, but locals seemed to approach us at every turn, asking us to take their photograph, curious about our story and what brought us to Modena. The latter certainly wasn’t a phenomenon that either one of us had ever encountered in Italian tourist meccas such as Florence, Rome, or Venice, but here in Modena, we visitors seemed a bit like a rarity, and that made interactions come even more effortlessly.

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Love in the Air: A Wedding in Modena, Italy

 

Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi 

Shortly before the centuries-old bell tower tolled five o’clock, a crowd of uninvited and surprise guests huddled together on Modena’s Piazza Grande to celebrate a marriage. A crisp-white Fiat dressed in balloons stood guard on the cobbled Italian town square, ready to whisk the new couple away.

Step-by-step, in elegant unison, the two sauntered down the staircase of Modena’s town hall, the Palazzo Comunaleand the crowd sang Can’t Help Falling in Love. Perhaps in English, perhaps in Italian. Pieces of confetti danced in the air above the pair, blissful grins on their faces.

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Edible Art: The Fresh Market of Modena, Italy

In some ways, the Mercato Albinelli in Modena, Italy is less like a covered market and more like a gallery showcasing fine art. One artist exhibits his prize, plump strawberries; another her handmade golden tortelloni; while another puts the finishing touches on links of sausage.

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw

During our shopping missions at this fresh market in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region so renowned for its Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, traditional balsamic vinegar, and Ferraris and Maserati motors, everyone seemed to be plain cheery. Bakers dished out free samples of thick, braided breadsticks to hungry children. Merchants’ wide, genuine smiles squished their faces in such a fashion that their eyes were nearly concealed. And a wooly, brown and white dog even took time to smell the flowers.

The atmosphere was undeniably happy. An outgoing baker named Enzo welcomed Shawn with a complimentary, lightly-sweetened Tortelli Forno. As I snapped a picture of an overflowing basket of luscious sun-dried tomatoes, another friendly gentleman stopped by. Initially worried that he thought I was trying to covertly capture him in the frame, the man pointed to himself playfully, insisting that I do include him. He was proud to tell us that he was in his nineties.

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Photo du Jour: Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese on the Move – Modena, Italy

A Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese-maker transports approximately 230 kilos (500 pounds) of the prized cheese at the Hombre Farm outside of Modena, Italy. An organic wheel of this magnificent cheese sells for approximately 700 Euros ($975 USD), and is typically aged for 24 months. Hombre is able to produce about twelve of these wheels a day.

We were fortunate to have toured parts of the Hombre Farm yesterday, savoring several pieces of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mingling with the pampered Friesian cows that produce the milk that goes into making it.

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Photo du Jour: Hello, Sunshine! – Udine, Italy

sunshine clock face in udine italy copy

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” -Victor Hugo

A glimmering sunshine greets passersby from the clock tower of the Loggia di San Giovanni. The graceful, 16th-century structure commands a prime spot on the Piazza della Libertà, in UdineItaly. I was lucky enough to explore the elegant city in Italy’s Friuli region one spring ago, while my husband attended class not far from Venice. La dolce vita indeed!

Where in the World?

Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Vivacious Venice: The Third Time’s a Charm

It is often said that the third time’s a charm… Though I don’t believe that even the most hapless travel endeavor could ever be classified as a failure – because the opportunity to learn about oneself or the wonderful world is so great – my third visit to Venice was still certainly the most enchanting.  My first forays past Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Bridge of Sighs were too hurried and the second jaunt was too claustrophobic given Carnevale celebrations. However, my most recent visit was just right: riding in a gondola with sensational spring skies overhead, racing against the blazing sun to devour glorious gelato before it melted into a colorful canal of its own, and pondering all the vignettes that for centuries have unfolded on Venice’s waterways.

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