Piedmont, Italy: Monferrato’s Slow Food, Wine & Truffles

Motoring through Italy’s Piemonte or Piedmont region, I sometimes felt as though I’d been whisked back in time a few decades, perhaps even centuries. The dramatic hills of the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato districts were wrapped with rows of grapevines and orchards, crowned with handsome fortresses, and dotted with villages wearing terra-cotta rooftops. Large-scale industry was largely absent from this swathe of the Northern ItalianContinue reading “Piedmont, Italy: Monferrato’s Slow Food, Wine & Truffles”

Tasting Central California: A Paso Robles Wine Tour

Six decades ago, my grandparents and their then-eight children piled into the family car and drove to San Luis Obispo from Minnesota. My grandfather was to begin a teaching position there. Though the family’s chapter in San Luis Obispo (SLO) ended up being a short one (frankly, I don’t know how they bid farewell toContinue reading “Tasting Central California: A Paso Robles Wine Tour”

Magnificent Motors: The Enzo Ferrari Home Museum in Modena, Italy

Seen from above, Modena’s futuristic Enzo Ferrari Home Museum is said to bring to mind the hood of a sleek, buttercup-yellow roadster. At ground level, the sparkling-glass gallery is a state-of-the-art showroom – one that contrasts with its Old World, red-brick neighbor, the building in which Ferrari was born in 1898. Admittedly, despite having maneuvered aContinue reading “Magnificent Motors: The Enzo Ferrari Home Museum in Modena, Italy”

Growing Together: Moldova’s Family-Run Et Cetera Winery

For years, we had our sights set on participating in a grape harvest. As the golden months of the summer of 2014 dwindled, and Europe’s grapes grew plumper and riper, we decided to meander to Moldova to meet the newest vintage. It’s said that a whopping 25% of Moldova’s working population is involved in winemaking,Continue reading “Growing Together: Moldova’s Family-Run Et Cetera Winery”

A Land of Hidden Gems: Moldova’s Wine, Food & Monasteries

On a quest to discover Moldovan wine, food and culture, we embarked on an adventure in the countryside, having just left the small European country’s capital city of Chisinau. Roadside merchants sold their wares: wicker baskets, colorful mums wearing autumnal hues, and large bowls containing green grapes fashioned into a pyramid shape. Farmers picked applesContinue reading “A Land of Hidden Gems: Moldova’s Wine, Food & Monasteries”

Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum & its ‘Pet’ Exhibit, Puppy

Journey to Bilbao, Spain, and the city’s celebrated Guggenheim Museum, and you’ll no doubt find yourself charmed by the modern-art museum’s ‘pet’ exhibit, Puppy. The 12 meter-tall canine (about 40 feet), modeled after a West Highland White Terrier pup, is comprised of thousands of flowers. It stands guard in front of the shimmering Guggenheim Museum, whichContinue reading “Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum & its ‘Pet’ Exhibit, Puppy”

Where Tempranillo & Tradition Meet: A Wine Tour of Rioja Alavesa, Spain

As we motored through the Rioja Alavesa wine country in northern Spain, a golden landscape dotted with hilltop monasteries, sweeping vineyards, and walled towns with window boxes overflowing with red geraniums, I reflected on what we had absorbed that day. In a region famed for wine we’d enjoyed much wonderful vino, of course, but we alsoContinue reading “Where Tempranillo & Tradition Meet: A Wine Tour of Rioja Alavesa, Spain”

Basking in Bilbao’s Renaissance: A Walking Tour of the Basque City

As we passed Bilbao’s state-of-the art structures, juxtaposed with timeless buildings flashing Old World flair, I had a hard time imagining what the Basque Country’s largest city was like before the Guggenheim Museum sparked its economic renaissance in the late 1990s. Still new to Bilbao, I was also fascinated with what constituted a Basque identity – what makes the Basque people unique from others in Spain.Continue reading “Basking in Bilbao’s Renaissance: A Walking Tour of the Basque City”