Day trip to Modena/Nonantola

Each Airbnb just gets better and better – this one near the bustle of the Piazza Maggiore – is a contemporary space with lots of natural light and a circular staircase to the bedroom and bath upstairs. It even has a Nespresso coffee machine and separate milk frother; until now, we had to go out for cappuccino.

Entry and staircase to bedroom
View from kitchen
Kitchen view

We had no plans for the morning, so we lazily relaxed to finish yesterday’s blog and start today’s blog. And consume coffee.

Somehow, we found the rental car in the parking garage with no trouble at all then, surprisingly, didn’t have to pay what we expected to be €22.

Our GPS took us on rural roads past fields of drying sunflowers and early blooming lavender. We enjoyed trying to decipher what the picture road signs meant. Skinny roads, big trucks, Lamborghini, and Maserati plants.

This says, “A place given to daytime shows”. Not too sure what that means, but it is likely a theater.
Disced field and buildings

It took us 45 minutes to get to lunch in Nonantola at La Piazzetta del Gusto. Sitting outside in 82 degrees with a light breeze, it was close to perfect weather.  After ordering wine, our waiter “brought you present” – soup of thickened chicken broth with parsley, peppered bacon, and crouton. The broth tasted much like Italian wedding soup. But that bacon… YUM. This restaurant is famous for their passatello asciutto: pasta made with parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and flour. We had one with porcini mushrooms and sausage; one with mascarpone cheese, pistachio, mortadella bologna and lemon peel. YUM.  dessert was one that Linda couldn’t pass up: White chocolate ‘salame’ with apricot, pistachio, prune, and almonds. OH MY.

La Piazzette del Gusto
La Piazzette del Gusto lunch menu
Linda at La Piazzette del Gusto
View from table at La Piazzette del Gusto
Thickened chicken broth with parsley, peppered bacon, and crouton
Dave mascarpone cheese, pistachio, mortadella bologna and lemon peel passatello
Mascarpone cheese, pistachio, mortadella bologna and lemon peel passatello
Linda with porcini mushroom and sausage passatello
Porcini mushroom and sausage passatello
White chocolate salami with dried apricots, dried plumes, pistachios, and almonds

Back in Modena, we stopped at ‘one of the region’s finest food markets’, Mercato Albinell, where we purchased peaches, plums, and pears.

Modena’s Mercato Albinell
Modena’s Mercato Albinell
Flowers in Mercato Albinell
Modena’s Mercato Albinell
Mixed plants at Mercato Albinell

We had time before our tour so stopped in Piazza Grande, the Modena Duomo, Torre Ghirlandina (Duomo’s Bell Tower), and Town Hall.

Modena Duomo
Torre Ghirlandina (Bell Tower of the Modena Duomo)
Modena Town Hall
Chapel in Modena Duomo
Atlar area in Modena Duomo
Altar area in Modena Duomo
This chapel area in the Modena Duomo seems either damaged or under repair

Then we walked to Bloom Naturalmente Gelateria (We had to … our guidebook highly recommended it!). As we walked back to our car, we happened upon a pastry shop (much to our surprise, we didn’t buy anything) and a local grocer’s display of produce.

Pastries anyone?
Maybe, these, instead?
Grocery store produce

Next was the tour at Antica Acetaia Villa Bianca balsamic farm. Quite an experience. The owner’s wife, Irene, greeted us and we soon realized it was just the two of us, so she had our full attention. We tasted white and purple grapes, which are used together and cooked down before being stored in wood barrels for 12-25 years. We met her husband Claudio then Irene took us to the attic of their Renaissance house to do the tastings. As the door was opened, once again, the aroma! There were 200+ barrels of balsamic in various states – we tasted the differences in samples that had been aged 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, 12 years, and 25 years. They only sell the 12-year and 25-year to the public. The flavors started out on the sour side and got progressively sweeter and syrupier. Our one-hour tour turned into two hours, but it was worth it.

Grapes at Antica Acetaia Villa Bianco for the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Grapes for Balsamic Vinegar; small and sweet
Grapes for Balsamic Vinegar
In the grape fields of Antica Acetaia Villa Bianca
Blsamico Vinegor aging in bearrels
Balsamico Vinegar barrels aging
Our guide and the owner’s wife, Irene, with tool used to sample Balsamic Vinegar

We drove the rental car back to the Aeroporto and took a taxi back to Bologna. We dropped our belongings and headed back out – it’s Friday night! We walked some, amazed at the amount of people in the streets and alleyways dining in what was a beautiful evening. Locating a table at Tamburini’s Deli, we decided we needed more than a glass of wine, so Dave had lasagna and Linda had caprese. The cheese on the salad plate was bigger than a baseball and so fresh. The tomatoes are always perfection in Italy and the spring greens, although good, made me wish I was home to pick some fresh basil. It’s strange sometimes to find that the way we prepare these same dishes isn’t necessarily the Italian way. Dave’s lasagna was rather strange – they used green noodles and the slice looks flat and cheeseless. It tasted good though. We’ll have to try lasagna and caprese in another town before we leave and see if they serve it the same way.

Busy restaurant and bar business at 20:10 on Friday night
Outdoor restaurant activity was really high at 2010
Dave ordered lasagna; it didn’t look great, but it tasted very good
Linda had a caprese salad
Another crowded passageway in Bologna

 Home again, we are working on the blog and falling asleep doing it.

One thought on “Day trip to Modena/Nonantola

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s