Trip Recap (finally)

Here is the long-awaited summary of trip.  Sadly, the two documents that created this were done by October 18, but we never got around to combining them and getting this done.  To the two of you that made comments to us about, “Where is your summary?”, we thank you for your interest and patience.

Our perspective on places we visited/Pros-Cons for each location

Como (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Lake is beautiful, very nice place to relax for the first few days after arriving; Bellagio is the “happening” spot; great lunch at Ristorante la Punta
Cons: Didn’t see that there was much to do other than the lake (this could be perfect for others)

Reggio Emilia (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Excellent dinner at Tabarin Osteria; easy access to Parma and Modena; nice boutiques (closed from noon-15:00); multi-block night street market
Cons: This is a very small and quiet community with little to do after dark

Bologna (absolutely would return)
Pros: Vibrant city, excellent nightlife, wonderful food, relatively close to Modena
Cons: Don’t really have any

Florence (absolutely would return)
Pros: Great city for all the visual items (museums, churches, etc.), nice food, Market Centrale is great
Cons: Lots of people

Orvieto (absolutely would return)
Pros: Jim/Anne, the Duomo is spectacular, lots of dining options, ex-pat community
Cons: Very small, not a lot to do

Rome (probably would not visit again … three times is enough. We certainly would not stay in Trastevere, again)
Pros: So much history to see, excellent food
Cons: Lots of people; pickpocket concerns; lots of graffiti

Ripabottoni (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Small, quiet community, phenomenal dinner at Nonna Maria; it was great to get a feeling for where Dave’s paternal great-grandmother grew up
Cons: Not much of anything to do as a tourist

Siena (would definitely return here)
Pros: Relatively small, but lots to see; good food
Cons: Things seemed to close early (even by our standards)

Cinque Terra (having experienced this, we likely would not return.)
This was a great place for us to visit, but we just don’t feel like we need to do it again. But, if we did, we would not stay in Corniglia.
Pros: Beautiful setting, five unique towns, excellent lunches at Trattoria dal Billy in Manorola and Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza
Cons: Corniglia was a little too quiet; hiking can be a bit strenuous … seems like the hikes between the southern cities may be less challenging

Torino (would definitely return; would spend more time in Aosta, need to time better for visiting the Alps in Breuil)
Pros: Vibrant city, excellent access to Aosta Valley
Cons: Not a con, but it was too easy to stay in the area of the apartment, need to venture out further

Mango (would definitely return to the area, like still rural, but closer to Bra or Alba)
Pros: Wine, vineyards, small towns to explore, friendly bar in Mango
Cons: Mango is in the middle of nowhere, no dining in Mango, need to plan ahead for dining better

Milan (probably would return)
Pros: Duomo, lots to do, cooking class
Cons: Big city, need to better plan what to do and where to go

Favorite accommodation: Mango/Alba; huge home, comfortable furniture, nice setting; better wi-fi would be nice
Least favorite accommodation (Okay, really the only horrid accommodation): First apartment in Torino; very small, no sitting area, just a bed, no kitchen to speak of either

Some general observations about Italy

  • They have no Kleenex and napkins do not soak things up as they are waxy-worthless
  • Cover charge just to sit at table (maybe get bread that you don’t really want)
  • Tourist women dress for comfort rather than style
  • Buy beer in grocery rather than bar
  • Buy toiletries and other consumables after you arrive
  • Grocery stores were Conad, Co-op, Aldi, and PAM
  • Italians are trusting, friendly people, but be very careful with your items in larger cities, in particular, because of the risk of pickpocketing (we were aware of one incident in the Rome train station … hold bags close/tightly when on/off bus or train)

Packing and travel thoughts

  • Two pairs of shoes were one pair too many for Dave.  He did not need the “dressy” shoes he took. His new hiking shoes would have been fine.
  • Need to think of the trip as 10 four-day trips, not a 40-day trip (took too many things that could be washed overnight)
  • Small roll along was great for trains
  • First class train probably only needed for long trips or busy lines when traveling with suitcases
  • Driving is an exciting experience; Waze was very accurate

Some recommendations

  • Recommend having Google Maps for walking around
  • Highly recommend having Google Translate on your phone (took translation books that should have been left at home)
  • Take not so nice clothes in case want to swap out for something new and you need to create space in your suitcase
  • Dave found that he took too many electronic items
    • Didn’t need laptop and tablet
    • Didn’t need DSLR camera because of phone (quality might be better with the DSLR, but didn’t need to carry it)
  • If you are staying in an Airbnb:
    • We made sure there was at least a washer; in that case, you can pack less clothing
    • Pack heavy socks or slippers, if your feet get cold, since there weren’t many rugs and carpet in the Airbnb
  • Place any meds you have in small mesh/plastic bags to save space.
  • Dave recommends this converter … it has two US outlets and four USB ports. With two of them, you are really well covered, even in this world of multiple electronic devices. (
  • Oh, and have the gelato

If you have any questions about why we said things about a certain area, observations,or recommendations, please drop us a note.

Heading home

Well, the day has finally arrived; we headed home. Jon said to Dave yesterday that it is probably with mixed feelings, but we don’t think that’s the case. Forty days away from home is a long time. We’re not sure if it’s just because we knew the end was in sight or if we were just ready, but the last two days were very tiring and we were ready to go home.

We got up early today, Dave at 05:45 and Linda at 06:30 and caught the airport shuttle at 07:30. Oh, wait, the shuttle didn’t leave until about 07:45; it’s late. This wasn’t really a problem, though, we were plenty early. When we arrived at the airport, we walked what may have been one-half mile, seriously, to our gate. Along the way, however, we had a 25-minute delay. They were only letting people through to the check-in area three hours before you flight time. Oh, well, something to remember. Check-in, security, and emigration were quick and easy. As was picking up some colorful pasta at the duty-free shop (we never found this in Milan).

We were fortunate to be able to wait in the lounge at the airport. That let us sit in comfortable seats and get some pastries to eat.

Hanging in the lounge

The flight from Milan to Atlanta went off without a hitch. Linda slept maybe 30 minutes on and off and Dave stayed awake for the whole trip. We arrived in Atlanta a few minutes late, but sailed through immigration, customs, and security. We think we got through all of them in about 30 minutes. We were really surprised by the Global Entry process. All we had to do was have our picture taken by the machine. We then walked up to the agent who greeted us by name and asked if we had anything to declare. That was it; they never looked at our passports until we went through security.

The flight from Atlanta to Charlotte went well, too. We departed about 20 minutes late, but arrived on time at a little before 9:00 pm. We each slept for a half hour or so on this leg. Joseph picked us up at about 9:20 pm and we headed to his house. We each did a rapid COVID test in the car and they came up negative (we didn’t think infecting their household would be a nice thing to do, if we were positive). After spending a little time talking with Vivien and Joseph, we headed off to bed at about 10:30 pm For those keeping score at home, in Eastern Daylight Time, we woke up between 11:45 pm on Tuesday and 12:30 am on Wednesday and went to sleep on Wednesday at about 10:30. Averaging it out to starting at midnight, that means we were awake for about 22-1/2 hours. That’s a long day.

Dave woke up this morning at about 3:15 and got out of bed at about 4:30. Linda slept until 6:30. We will be leaving Indian Trail around 10:30 and will stop for some groceries, so we should be home around 2pm.

We plan to do a recap in the next few days with things like, “What would we do again?”, “What did we bring that we didn’t need?”, “What will we not do next time?”, etc.

Looking forward to being home on the mountain!

It’s the Milan Duomo, again!

The day began with us doing our final packing. Okay, we will pack one more time tomorrow, but that is just throw the toiletries and such into the bag.

After getting done with packing, we headed out to the street and off to the Duomo (warning, lots of pictures). It was amazing inside. It certainly is dark, but there is a lot of beauty.  One case is the pillars in the cathedral. While there is nothing exciting about them, though the capitals are cool, they are massive and that alone made them special. Linda thought some of the panes of the stained-glass windows were maybe four feet tall. And the apse around the altar, though hidden for the most part was massive. So much so, that we decided to take pictures from outside to give you a feel for its size.

Dave in front of the Milan Duomo
Dave with Galleria and Milan Duomo in background
Looking at the altar in Milan Duomo from the nave
Capitals on pillars in Milan Duomo
Stained glass above main entry door and pillars in Milan Duomo; clearly there is restoration work needed and going on all the time
More detailed view of stained-glass above entry doors in Milan Duomo
Dide altar in Milan Duomo
Altar area in Milan Duomo
Altar area in Milan Duomo
Stained glass in Milan Duomo
Stained-glass in Milan Duomo
Main entry door with pillars and ceiling in Milan Duomo
Stined glass and statues in Milan Duomo
Dave and Linda in Milan Duomo
Tapestries in Milan Duomo
Chapel in Milan Duomo
Chapel in Milan Duomo
Milan Duomo
Milan Duomo
Statue in Milan Duomo – Does anyone else see Vladimir Putin here?
Organ pipes and sculpting in Milan Duomo
Stained glass window in the apse in Milan Duomo (note the people in the lower right for some reference)
Stained glass window in Milan Duomo
Capital and pillar in Milan Duomo
Floor in Milan Duomo
Statue in Milan Duomo
Sculpture in Milan Duomo
Stained glass in Milan Duomo
This confessional was specifically for German, French, English, and Spanish speakers in Milan Duomo
There are six confessional booths visible in the picture in Milan Duomo
Ceiling in Milan Duomo
Just about everything is here, pillar, capital, and ceiling (only missing stained glass) in Milan Duomo
Carvings just outside of Milan Dumo
Sculptures and multi-colored stone outside of Milan Dumo
Sculptures outside of Milan Dumo
Dave’s guessing Daniel in the Lion’s Den – sculpture outside Milan Dumo
Window in apse directly behind the altar in Milan Dumo
Milan Duomo apse window with roof spires
Spires on Milan Duomo roof with gilded Madonna
Gilded Madonna on top of Milan Duomo

After we left the Duomo, we visited a few stores and did some shopping. We got some more groceries to come home with us.

We went back to the apartment, relaxed, and waited for the cleaning person to show up. She came about 12:30 (checkout was 12:00). We made arrangements to leave our bags until 15:00. So, we set out to find the train station and to get some lunch. We were successful on both accounts. Rather than walk to the train station, again, we decided we’d get a taxi when we left.

Lunch was at a restaurant called Anna Muse’s Workshop (All’officino di Anna Muse). Dave had a club sandwich while Linda built a bowl with a variety of salad ingredients.

Linda’s make-it-yourself salad bowl
Dave’s club sandwich at lunch

We walked back to the apartment, collected our items and headed to Milan-Malpensa airport on the train. It was a quick 37-minute trip and went very well.

When we arrived at the airport, our next activity was to find the shuttle bus to the Hilton Garden Inn. Yes, this is the first and only hotel on the trip. We did this to be closer to the airport tomorrow morning.

Once at the hotel, it really hit us that we were done with our vacation. Dinner was in the hotel restaurant and bedtime came early. For some reason Dave was not able to complete his online check-in. “Government regulations require review of physical documents.” We had no trouble getting Linda checked in online, so it seems she’ll go home, we’ll see about Dave. We are on the first shuttle to the airport at 07:30 to get that resolved and get through security/immigration before the flight at 11:30.

If you would like to see the pictures larger or in more detail, you can click here: 2022-10-11 Milan.

Learning some new tricks

This morning started with us organizing suitcases, so we could determine how much pasta we could buy at one of Milan’s markets. We found that almost all the markets are closed on Monday and most are only open on Saturday or Sunday. After completing that we headed for the Metro to buy a day ticket and travel the city.

We headed out to the Isola Merchant Market. It is a highly rated market and open on Monday. Unfortunately, when we got to the market, it is much more of a small food market, as in restaurants, not food stands. Disappointed, we walked around the neighborhood a little bit, we each got a cappuccino, and checked out a local grocery store to see if they had anything we might want. Sadly, they did not.

Fresh pasta being rolled in the Isola Merchant Market
Fresh pasta (maybe we should have eaten here
Cappucinno in Isola (Linda doesn’t always like her picture taken, so Dave got it twice here)
Cappuccino, as good as it looks

We got back on the train and headed to the Duomo. Linda was hungry so we found a panini shop and shared a salami sandwich that had pecorino cheese, yellow tomatoes and olive pate on it – Tasty. We then boarded a tram to take us out to Navigli. This is an area that is known for its bars and aperitivo. When we were last here with Jon and Elaine in 2007, Jon and Dave visited the area. It looked much the same to Dave. It is a “pretty” area with a canal going through the neighborhood, where the restaurants and bars are located on both sides. While we didn’t have a drink, we were able to locate a gelato shop. Dave was boring and went with Stracciatella and Stracciatella di Mente (Mint chocolate chip). Linda was more adventurous and had Noce Pecan and Pecato di Gola (Mixed Nut with Caramel).

Canal side in Navigli
Navigli, bars and restaurants on each side of the canal
Nicely decorated balcony in Navigli
Dave and Linda in Navigli

After finishing our gelato, we headed for the tram back to the apartment. Well, Dave had some serious issues navigating with Google Maps. To be clear, this wasn’t a Google Maps issue, it was a Dave issue. After a delay of probably 20 minutes, we made it to the tram stop and we back to the apartment in about 15 minutes. We likely could have walked it quicker.

This evening started with us taking a tram to our cooking class located about 35 minutes away from the apartment on the east side of Milan. It should have been an easy trip, but such was not the case. About halfway through the trip, there was an announcement in Italian and everyone exited the tram. We were told that the tram was not able to continue and we were only a third of the way there. We thought we’d wait for the next tram, but we were told there would not be another and that a bus would be sent. We decided, instead, to walk to an alternate tram. Along the way, we made the decision to hail a cab. This turned out to be a good decision, as we got to the class on time and we had a nice driver.

Our cooking class had five members, a couple from Surrey, England (Laura and Des), a man from New Jersey (Sateesh), and us. Our instructor, Hillary (pronounced with a silent “h” and the “I” is a long “e” … elary), was great. She was very interactive and loved getting questions; we had plenty.

Our menu for the night was Caponata (a traditional vegetable starter), Ravioli filled with Potato and Basil with a Pecorino cream sauce and black pepper (Ravioli Cacio e Pepe), and Cantucci (we call it biscotti). The preparation and cooking processes took about two hours. It was fun to do the prep and the group worked well together. One thing we were surprised by was how “easy” it was to create the pasta. We have tried this before and failed pretty miserably at it. We will definitely try it again. Of course, the proper machinery helps.

Our kind of place, let’s start by making dessert, Cantucci. Flour, sugar, egg, butter, baking powder, almonds
Laura and Des, couple from Surrey, England
Linda whisking our egg for the Cantucci
Ready to do the first bake of the Cantucci
The vegatables to be baked for the Caponata (eggplant, celery, zucchini)
The Cantucci sliced and ready for the second bakee
The tomatoes and onion ready to be pan fried for the Caponata
Dave kneading the dough for our Ravioli Cacio e Pepe
We had more dough than potato filling, so we made some Tagliatelle
These are the trimmings from the ravioli cutting. They were also cut and prepared for the meal.
Adding the olives to the Caponata
Tomatoes and onions added to the Caponata
Final product for Ravioli stuffed with potato and basil in a pecorino cheese, milk, and pepper sauce
Final product of the Caponata
Sateeesh (New Jersey), Laura (Surrey), Linda, Des (Surrey), Dave, and Hillary (Milano – instructor)

The five of us took the tram back toward the Duomo and as we reached our stops we all departed the tram and went our separate ways. Overall, it was a great evening.

Tomorrow morning, we will do a quick visit to the Duomo and do the final pack of our bags.

If you would like to see pictures in more detail, you can click here: 2022-10-10 Milan.

You’re going to be a hard place to beat, Mango, but, oh, that Duomo

We woke to the sound of rain but it’s a travel day, so it was fine. We made coffee and had the leftover bread for toast, then packed up. While packing we heard the hound dogs barking, again. We thought last night that they were hunting dogs, as we saw some men with the dogs and carrying guns. Watching them in the fields today, it seems that their job is to just chase birds and other pests aware from the grape plants. Here is a video of them running on the road, but for some reason we lost the sound track.

Leaving the Cuneo province, we agreed that we would come back. It was quiet and charming, and all those vineyards! We drove for 45 minutes to Asti to go to an Aldi grocery store – we use them in the US and wanted to see the difference here. It wasn’t much bigger than ours but in addition to groceries, they carried some clothes and even tools. We bought a couple things then went on to a large Co-op grocery to get coffee pods for our machine at home (so much cheaper), green olives (we’re really going to miss them), pastas that we can’t get at home, chocolate, and snacks for the kid in all of us!

Aldi in Asti
Aldi in Asti

We stopped at a Caffeteria Pilone (just a small coffee shop) for cappuccinos and jam-filled croissants – ate them in the car and made a terrible mess. Realizing we had too much time (couldn’t check in till 1500 in Milan), we drove to see what downtown Asti was like and found an outdoor market that went on for blocks. We scoped it out – bought kitchen towels and cute little umbrellas for our two grandbabies.

Street market in Asti
Family buying cheese and bread at street market in Asti
Chestnuts, peppers, pomegranates, squash
The people of Asti sure seem to like their fried dough; there were at least 5 stands like this at the street market
Asti street market with banners; we can’t tell if these are neighborhood banners or not, but we saw other, different banners as we drove through town.

Back at the car, we drove using the Autostrada (tollway) to Milano in the rain. The line to wait to pay at the toll plaza was a crazy 30 minutes – the Italian drivers did a bit of line hopping – they are the Worst at taking their turn (we learned that on a cruise in a food line).

Our plan was to drop Linda and the luggage at the Airbnb before check-in and allow Dave to return the rental car at the train station. That worked out pretty well – Linda sat in the living room while Dave took the car back and the housecleaner finished the bathroom. The apartment, second floor AND an elevator, is very nice and is about a fifteen-minute walk to the Duomo di Milano (the cathedral, Milan’s most famous landmark).

Entry area in Milan Airbnb
Living area in Milan Airbnb
Kitchen in Milan Airbnb
Bedroom in Milan Airbnb
Second bedroom in Milan Airbnb

Once Dave returned, we walked to the Duomo, passing shops, gelaterias and throngs of people, mostly tourists and tour groups. We hadn’t eaten much today but one of Milan’s claims to fame are their ‘aperitivo happy hours’ – some of the bars even have buffets of food and try to outdo each other! We settled for a well-known place called Camparino – all the drinks were Campari-based (bitter orange) and included a selection of five appetizer bites: crunchy green olives, pesto pastry, fish mousse in a small pastry boat, chili-spiced roasted almonds, and a tiny yeast bun with rosemary salt. Dave had a Boulevardier and Linda had a Garibaldi. This bar had a view of the Duomo and the crowd heading into the Galleria, the famous designer mall (Prada, Armani, Dior, Yves St. Laurent etc.).

Galleria in Milan
Milan Duomo
Bar at Camparoni
View from Camparoni where we had drinks and aperitivo
Aperitivo at Camparoni
Garibaldi (Orange Juice and Campari) and Boulevardier (Campari, Torino Sweet Vermouth, Wild Turkey Rye)

When we finished, we walked through the mall and out the side, watching people enjoy the Piazza there and taking photos/selfies. We walked through a few shops, looking for nothing. We rarely shop in stores anymore, so it was kind of fun. As we headed back to the apartment, Dave suggested we stop for gelato – had to get the dairy group in since it felt like all we’d had today was carbs. Dave had cheesecake raspberry and a very strong lemon; Linda had salted caramel and almond-hazelnut chocolate.

Entry to Galleria and the Milan Duomo
Duomo with stained glass lit from inside
Linda at the Duomo

Back at the apartment, we worked on the blog and talked a bit about the next two days – we are winding down and looking forward to heading home.

If you would like to see more detail on the pictures or a couple we didn’t include, you can click here: 2022-10-09 Mango to Milan.

Relaxing and checking out the wine

This morning started with sitting around drinking Nespresso coffee and enjoying the vineyards. Our peace was interrupted only by barking dogs and farm implements. Dave thought about when we lived in California and the people who bought way out in valley for the solitude of the agricultural setting. Once there, they became upset because of the smells and sounds associated with farming … lol. Dave took a little walk before stopping because the insects were bothering him.

Sunrise from the Airbnb in Mango
Grape leaves getting into autumn

Early in the afternoon, we took off for our wine tasting at Azienda Agricola Dante Rivetti. Our guide was the daughter of the owner, Dante. It was a nice adventure. Grapes were being harvested and that meant processed. It was an interesting process to see the grape skins and juice being separated from stems and leaves. We then went past stainless-steel fermenting casks. From there we went into the aging room and saw many barrels and bottles being aged. It was overwhelming to think how much wine was in this room.

Church in Rivetti from the winery
Pomegranate tree at Dante Rivetti
Harvested grapes ready to begin the process
Hopper of grapes
Workers processing grapes
Machine that separates the juice and skins from the vines and leaves
Our guide explaining to Dave how the juice is processed (the skins float to the top, five times a day the juice is pumped to the top to run through the skins)
Stainless-steel tanks
Aging room – The casks at the end are about a five-foot diameter
Special barrel at Dante Rivetti
This wine was bottled 22 years ago when we moved to California for the second time
Dante Rivetti wine barrel
Packaging area of winery

From there we headed to the tasting room. It was much bigger than we anticipated. We suspect that they do wine tours, including larger buses. As it turns out we had the place to ourselves. That was, until another couple from the US (New Jersey), showed up. They had just arrived in Milan and drove down. They knew far more about the area and grapes than we did. Last time they came to visit they shipped three cases home.

Tasting room

On to the tasting. We started with a white wine, Langhe Arneis Briccodoro. We both liked it, especially, Linda. We then had the Moscato D’Asti Riveto. Dave, not the one for sparkling wines, in general, thought this one too sweet. As he went to pour it out, Linda intervened and finished the glass. From there we went to the Dolcetto d’Alba Sitovarei. It is a red wine from young grapes that is fermented in steel. Neither of us found it interesting. Next, we tasted two vintages of Barbaresco Bric’Micca which comes from younger Nebbiolo grapes and ages for 24 months. The 2018 vintage was quite spicy (not normal for this varietal according to our NJ friend). The 2016 was much milder. We moved on to the Barbaresco Riserva Bricco di Neive. This is a 2015 vintage that is made with older vine grapes and aged for 36 months (24 months in French Oak casks, 12 months in large casks, and 18 months in the bottle). It was very good and liked by both of us. We then tasted three vintages (2013, 2017, 2020) of Barbera d’Alba Alabarda Superiore. All three of the vintages were liked by both of us, but the 2013 was our favorite. Unfortunately, when it came time to buy, we found that the 2013 was only available in magnum bottles.

Wine, cheese, meat, and breadsticks … everything looks good here

In the end we purchased six bottles to be shipped to us and took one of the Briccodoro with us to enjoy in Milan tomorrow.

As we finished up, a group of men came into the tasting room. It seemed that they must be regulars. As it turns out, it is a group of men from Switzerland who come each year. They are a group of “hobby chefs” and when they visit, they cook a meal for the people at Dante Rivetti.

The gang from Switzerland is in the house

We decided to drive into Neive (we were here briefly yesterday) and walk around the town. It is a cute town. Though Dave does not understand why, Neive seems to have quite a draw for tourists. There doesn’t seem to be that much here; though, there are two churches.

View from vineyard road
View from Neive
St. Michael’s Church
Cheisa San Michele – this church was odd; seems more like a museum now
Mary in Chiesa San Michele
Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Neive
Sanctuary of Church of Saints Peter and Paul
Altar in Church of Saints Peter and Paul
St. Michael, the Archangel statue in wood
Back of Church of Saints Peter and Paul
View from Neive
Flowers adorning the street in Neive
Chimneys on old palace in Neive
Downtown Neive

Since we attempted to make reservations too late for the restaurant we wanted to visit in Barbaresco, we needed to make other plans. So, what do you do if you can’t get into the white tablecloth restaurant? You get take-out pizza, instead. We stopped in Santo Stefano Belbo to get the pizza. While waiting for the pizza, we checked out a grocery store. Dave told Linda that he thinks grocery store walk-throughs are like walking through a museum for Linda. Dave wandered down the street to the local church, but realized it was about 18:00 on Saturday and there were a lot of people starting to enter to attend mass.

Church in Santo Stefano Belbo

We got our two pizzas for a total of 12.50 euros and, well, it showed. They tasted okay, but there was not much quantity of toppings. Such is life; we’re on vacation.

Linda navigated us home the back way, avoiding the early evening Mango traffic (that’s a joke). While Dave didn’t get to see much (the road was narrow and the edges dropped off), what he did see was beautiful.

View from road near our Airbnb
Vineyards along the road by the Airbnb
View of maturing vineyard

At the house, we put the pizza in the oven to warm it back up and settled in for the night.

If you would like to see the pictures in more detail, you can click here: 2022-10-08 Mango-Neive.

Well, this certainly is different

The morning started with us finalizing our packing and getting ready to head out for our Airbnb in Mango. Mango is in the Piedmont Wine Country near Alba, Bra, Asti, Barbaresco, etc. To finish the packing, though, Dave had to go to the market and buy that extra suitcase. We need to bring some things home with us and there isn’t any room in the two suitcases we have.

Once packed up, we stopped at our cafeteria for one last cappuccino and a crème croissant. Well, it turns out that the one croissant they had when Dave was coming back from the market was gone. Instead, he found that they sell a piccolo crème croissant. It’s a little over half the size of a regular one. That’s what we should have been eating all along.

Picolo crema croissant
Other patrons at the caffeteria and our barista on the right

Once done with breakfast, it was time to retrieve our bags and head to the car. That all went smoothly, but driving out of the city was, again, a challenge. Dave only missed one turn, but the stress of the trip to the highway was unnecessary. 😊 After we left the city, the trip was very easy. The topography of the area was a significant change from yesterday. This land is flat. The cities are on plateaus, but there are fields everywhere. The land around Torino/Turin seemed to be corn and other similar crops. As we neared Bra, we could see that there were more vineyards coming into play.

We parked the car in Bra, stopped at the ATM at the post office (Jim taught Dave that there are no fees charged at these ATMs), and started walking. Well, wouldn’t you know it, there is a morning market in Bra. We picked up some coffee pods and a felted necklace. Continuing on we came upon, wait for it, a church. This one, Chiesa Sant’ Andrea, was so dark inside that we had no idea what things looked like. Fortunately, the camera on our phone does a nice job of “illuminating” things without a flash.

Bra market and Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Altar in Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Chapel in Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Chapel in Chiesa Sant’ Andrea
Sculpture of Jesus being baptised by John the Baptist

We walked on to our lunch reservation at Osteria Boccondivino, one of the “slow food” restaurants in Italy. Here we had Steak Tartare with White Truffles, Tajarin “40 egg yolks” with butter and sage, and Tajarin “40 egg yolks” with meat sauce. Everything was amazing, but we decided that the white truffles with the tartare was not necessary. The flavor of the truffles was very subtle, though aromatic. The tajarin was rich. The richness was especially noticeable when combined with the butter and sage. We also had a glass of wine. Linda had a local Timorasso “Dethona” ’20 and Dave had a Barolo from 2017. The wines were outstanding.

Street in Bra
Street scene in Bra
Entry to Osteria Boccondivino
Dave at Oseria Boccondivino
Slow Food Movement logo
Steak Tartare with White Truffle
Tajarin and bread
Tajarin with butter and sage (notice the varieance in the width of the noodles; definitely hand cut)

We then walked back to the car. Well, we attempted to walk back. It turns out there’s more than one post office in the area we were. Oddly, we both found the same post office on our phones and we took off walking. After a while, we went, “Hey, none of this is familiar.” We looked, again, and found the right post office and started off, again.

St. Rocco’s Church
Bra street; – death notices are posted on the bulletin board on the right

Back at the car, we took off for Alba. This is truly a vibrant city. So vibrant, we couldn’t find a parking space. We may get back there tomorrow or Sunday. We continued our drive to Mango. It was a beautiful drive through more vineyards than we’ve ever seen. The curvy roads made the journey slower than expected, but it was worth it. Unfortunately, the skies were hazy, so we didn’t get much in the way of pictures.

Vineyards along drive to Mango
Vineyards along drive to Mango

We arrived a little early, so we had to wait for our host to drive down from Torino/Turin to meet us. Since we were a bit early, we drove to the house a looked around Mango. This feels a lot like our visit to Ripabottoni. A smaller downtown area, but in this case more housing and buildings in the vineyards, than the fields in Ripabottoni. We returned to the gas station where we were to meet Silvano and his mother, our hosts. They arrived within 10 minutes and we were on our way to the house.

Oh, my … this house was Dave’s splurge for the trip.  This was the only Airbnb that Dave didn’t ask Linda what she thought about it. While we have had nice places to stay up to now, this place is over the top. It’s probably a 2,500-3,000 square foot house that is immaculate. It’s good we didn’t start with this.

Front of Airbnb
Roberta and Silvano, our Airbnb hosts
View from kitchen in Airbnb
First floor living area
View to loft area
Airbnb loft area
View to living area from loft in Airbnb
View from loft area
Green bedroom in Airbnb
Blue bedroom at Airbnb
View from bedbrooms

For dinner, we went into Mango to the Poli Bar (in fairness, if you were going to eat, it was the only place to go). We each had a glass of wine and we had a mixed meat and cheese plate. It was great and the owner of the bar was the sweetness guy. We communicated through Google Translate and he so wanted to make sure we were happy, it made us glad we came. When Dave said maybe we’d see him tomorrow, he said, “No, we are closed on Saturday and Sunday. I need to be with my family.”

Mortadella, ham, cheese, salami
Dave and locals at the Poli Bar in Mango

After dinner we returned to the house and relaxed.

Exterior of Airbnb lit up
Airbnb at night
Nealy a full moon
Wall in Airbnb

If you would like to look at more details on the pictures or additional pictures you can click here: 2022-10-07 Torino to Mango

Those Are Some Impressive Mountains

Dave started the day trying to get the extra suitcase issue resolved. But it will have to wait another day as we had a date with Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn).

We had our usual breakfast at our usual caffeteria.

Two cappuccinos, a chocolate croissant, and a crema croissant

We then headed out of Torino around 10:00 by rental car, carefully navigating the busy streets. Quite nerve-wracking! It seemed a bit hazy as we drove north, hoping it would clear so we could get some good pictures in Breuil-Cervinia, a small ski town just south of the Italian border with Switzerland. It took almost 2 hours to get there and the most difficult, of course, was getting out of Turin. GPS works wonders and it is funny to listen to the same dude you hear give directions at home, rattling off the long names of these Italian streets. Then there are his distance directions, all in meters and kilometers. Can’t he just say six blocks?!

Just like on the train the other day, the terrain turned quickly to mountains and as we exited the freeway ($12 for a 1+ hour ride) onto two-lane roads, we were on the lookout for snow-covered mountains. It took less then 15 minutes to find them and then we rounded a corner and There It Was: Monte Cervino (The Matterhorn). At 14,700 ft in elevation, it is part of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Because part of it is in Italy, they can claim that it is their tallest mountain. The air was crisp, about 60 degrees and the sky was clear and blue. Perfect for picture-taking.

Homes in the valley below the Italian Alps
Town in the valley on the way to Breuil
Autumn colors and Alpen Mountains
Buildings on the way to Breuil
Italian Alps and changing colors
Italian Alps … we don’t know what these bicyclists are thinking pedaling up this roadway
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery
Alpen scenery

We parked the car on the street and walked around, snapping selfies and long-range mountain views. The architecture here is totally Swiss Chalet. Being a very small town, there were more hotels than anything (winter ski season is coming next week), some nice boutiques and shops, one church and only one restaurant serving lunch at this time. We stopped at the Eden Pub, which was packed with men who looked to be mostly 30-something guys, who had come in from work for lunch. Dave figured that they were ski lift employees getting things ready for the coming season. We were bummed that the tram wasn’t in service yet – we could only imagine the view from up there – and getting there would be something special too.

Linda, Dave, and Monte Cervino
Linda, Dave, the valley, and the Italian Alps
View in Breuil
Italian Alps from Breuil with church in foreground
Breuil, Italy (we planned, at one time, to stay in the upper part of the building on the right)
Breuil, Italy
Dave, Linda Monte Cervino, and Breuil
Dave, Linda, the Italian Alps
Breuil, Italy
Alpen View
Panoramic view of Italian Alps

We ordered off the menu (unlike the workmen who appeared to get all the same thing – lasagna followed by a meat/potato/vegetable plate). There must have been 50 guys stopping in for lunch and they were gone again 30 minutes later. Linda had a beer and homemade raviolini soup (small rectangular ravioli filled with meat and cheese in a chicken broth, served with parmesan cheese). Dave had red wine and pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and shrimp.  The bread has improved coming north – the crust isn’t nearly as hard and the soft white inside is holey and chewy – and there were also breadsticks in the basket. Everything was delicious. We decided that we couldn’t not get dessert as they had Apple Strudel on the menu: YUM – perfect apples and raisins in a dark sugar and cinnamon sauce covered in flakey pastry with thick whipped cream on the side. It was a favorite of ours when we were in Austria years ago and we never pass it up. Too bad we needed to drive back; we could’ve used a nap.

Workmen having their lunch in Breuil
Beer, bread, and wine at le Bistrot de l’Abbe
Pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and shrimp at le Bistrot de l’Abbe
Linda eating her homemade raviolini in chicken broth at le Bistrot de l’Abbe
Apple Strudel and cappuccino at le Bistrot de l’Abbe

We got back to Turin around 4 pm. Linda worked on the blog wording while Dave navigated the hundred-plus pictures. Then we talked about what to do on our last night in Turin. We have hit a lot of the nearby restaurants but the closest one and it is always busy. So busy that the noise can be heard through our windows four stories up. We took a little walk then got to Poormanger just after they opened. As it turns out, their claim to fame are baked potatoes with different fillings. The potato inside the skins are soft, like twice-baked. We each had wine, red for Dave and white for Linda, then ordered: Dave got one called Carbonara which had a creamy cheese, tons of bacon and pecorino; Linda’s was Thai Pollo which was large chicken chunks in a creamy Thai chili/yellow curry sauce with yellow pepper. Both were outstanding and very reasonably priced. We walked along the main shopping street to window shop then went to our favorite gelato shop here – the girl who helps us spent 3 years in Canada and could converse well. Dave had salted caramel and cookies & cream; Linda had mango and raspberry. 

Potato Jacket at Poormanger filled with carbonara sauce, pork cheek, pepper, and pecorino cheese
Potato Jacket at Poormanger with Thai chicken, coconut milk, yellow peppers, ginger, onion, coriander, lime and chili

Back at the apartment around 20:45, we finished up the blog and talked about tomorrow. We’ll be heading south to some of the best wine country in Italy later in the morning.

Markets, markets everywhere

The morning started quietly and with thanks. Thankful for a good night’s sleep and a quiet, clean apartment.

We left the apartment this morning to walk across the piazza to our morning coffee and pastry shop, Caffeteria Palazzo di Citta. Thankful, again, that they were open today. We each had a cappuccino, one crema cannoli, and one crema croissant. The croissant blew us away and we look forward to coming back tomorrow to get two of those.

Cappuccino, Crema Croissant, and Crema Cannoli

From there, we started walking to one of the two markets we’ll visit today (opposite directions, of course). Along the way, we stopped at a cioccolateria (chocolate shop). We checked out the local chocolate candies that were available and said we would return later.

We continued our walk to the market and, lo, and behold, we came upon a church. This one, Chiesa di San Domenico, felt much more like a neighborhood church, not a tourist stop. We thought it was pretty on the outside, so we walked in. The interior, while not lavish, was very nice to see. After leaving the building, we worked on getting some exterior photos. One older woman, seemed quite upset with Dave for taking pictures. She just stood there looking at him. When he stopped taking pictures, she continued on her way. Not really sure what that was about.

Chiesa di San Domenico
Mosaic floor in Chiesa di San Domenio
Altar in Chiesa di San Domenico
Stained Glass window in Chiesa di San Domenico
Stained Glass window in Chiesa di San Domenico
Neither of us could find a light shining on this painting, so between how the artist painted it and the light from the window above, Mary and the baby Jesus jump out at you.
Close-up of Mary and Baby Jesus in painting
Dave was surprised by the Star of David design in this light in Chiesa di San Domenico
Chapel in Chiesa di San Domenico
Exterior of Chiesa di San Domenico with lady who either wanted to be in the picture or didn’t like Dave taking pictures

We made our way to the Porta Palazzo market. This was a huge market with everything ranging from used (I mean consignment) clothing to housewares to luggage to food of all kinds. It was a fun market to stroll though. Dave is looking for a piece of luggage for us to bring some items back with us. Our only purchase was some green beans. The market was exciting for all its sounds and characters.

Used clothing items at Porta Palazzo Market
Porta Palazzo Market
Porta Palazzo market inside food market
Linda checking at the bakery at Porta Palazzo Market
Meat market and bread vendor at Porta Palazzo Market
Fresh pasta in Porta Palazzo Market
Butcher shop in Porta Palazzo Market
Did someone say they needed a calf’s head … sorry, Norman
Seafood in Porta Palazzo Market
Seafood in Porta Palazzo Market
Butchery and sausage trailer in Porta Palazzo Market
Butcher shop in Porta Palazzo Market
Produce vendors at Porta Palazzo Market
Pumpkin or zucca is a very important crop here
Porto Palazzo Market
Porto Palazzo Market

Staying true to our word, on the way back to the apartment we stopped and bought our chocolate candies. Fortunately, we didn’t need to buy much at this price.

Candies at the cioccolateria
Candies at cioccolateria

We stopped at the apartment and rested a little bit. All the activity is taking a toll on us physically, especially Linda, for back and hip pain.

We then headed the other direction from the apartment and went to another market, Market Valdocco Palestro. This market is similar, but smaller than this morning’s market. It is set up on a boulevard with stalls on either side of the sidewalk. The big item of interest here is the Nescafe coffee pods. Vivien and Joseph have a machine for them, so we are checking to see if they have any interest. Dave liked the morning market more than the afternoon; Linda felt the afternoon market drew a better clientele.

Neighborhood near Market Valdocco Palestro; seems a bit more upscale here
Neighborhood near Market Valdocco Palestro; seems a bit more upscale here
Tables in Market Valdocco Palestro
Tables in Market Valdocco Palestro
Tables in Market Valdocco Palestro

On our way home we stopped at Pasticceria Tamborini (this name is similar to the salumeria we went to in Bologna … Tamburini, but clearly different. We decided to have a bicerin here, since the place we wanted to go to is closed today. A bicerin is a hot drink made with espresso, drinking chocolate, and milk/whipped cream. It is an expensive concoction, but very tasty. We became aware of it in Stanley Tucci’s show “Searching for Italy”. One thing we knew was you didn’t stir the drink, you just drank it. Well, one of us had to stir it to get it all together. The other just created a channel through the whipped cream to let the other liquids through it.

Bicerin at Pasticceria Tamborini
What we expected to be biscotti, but turned out to be more like a lady finger

We continued to the apartment and relaxed before Dave headed out to get our rental car. We aren’t leaving until Friday, but it was cheaper to rent the car on Wednesday than on Friday or Thursday. We’ll use the car to go to Breuil-Cervinia tomorrow and then over the weekend in the Bra-Alba-Mango-Asti area. Dave came back slightly unnerved as there were detours along his route to the parking garage and what should have been a ten-minute trip turned into a 35-minute trip. His only hope is that with the re-routing, he didn’t end up in a limited traffic zone.

After Dave got back, we started to get ready for dinner. It’s been a while since we ate dinner, we’ve typically done a heavier lunch and skipped dinner. Tonight’s dinner was at Porta di Savona, a location recommended by Lonely Planet. The food and service were great. Linda had a mixed salad and trout with hazelnuts. Dave had veal tartare with caramelized onions, Caprino cheese, and hazelnuts and agnolotti with meat sauce. For dessert we had Bonet Langarole (chocolate and macaroons pudding).

Tonight’s house wines of choice
Mixed Salad
Veal tartare with caramelized onions, Crapino cheese, and hazelnuts
Trout with hazelnuts and fennel
Agnolotti with meat sauce
Bonet Langarolo (chocolate and macaroons pudding)

After a nice walk home, where we saw a cool church, we settled in for the night.

Cheisa della Santissima Annuziata – sorry, not interior pictures … lol

Same city … new place

This morning started with us cleaning off more dirt that settled over night and packing our bags. Dave thinks unlike at home where his clothes shrink, they seem to have expanded in the suitcase, because it keeps getting harder to close the suitcase.

With the blog in decent shape and everything packed up, we decided to get pastries and coffee at our new favorite place, Caffeteria Palazzo di Citta. Oh, can the day get worse? They are closed. We tried a place called Coffee Joint. They had mediocre doughnuts and coffee. We won’t be back. They did have Wi-Fi, though, so we got the blog uploaded there.

Chocolate filled doughnut, apple pastry, brownie

We then set out for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. We know you thought you were through with churches. Dave says, sorry, no such luck. The Cathedral is beautiful and it holds the “Shroud of Turin”, the linen in which Christ was supposedly wrapped. While that notion has been proven to be false, it doesn’t stop people from believing.

Cathedral fo St. John the Baptist in Torino; the structure in back is actually part of the Royal Palace
Sanctuary of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Altar at Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (look through the windows behind the altar … remember that image for later)
Last Supper painting in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Last Supper painting in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Chapel in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Crucifix in Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Statues and frescos in Side Altar in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
Side Chapel in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

After visiting the Cathedral, we headed off to the Royal Palace of Turin. Matt warned us that it was gaudy, but we thought, heck we’ve been to Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg and the Biltmore. Well, never underestimate Matt’s advice, some of the palace is absolutely gaudier that the other two. Actually, it was nice to walk through the palace and art museum connected to it. Additionally, the free garden area outside was very nice.

Dave chasing woman with camera (seriously, she asked Dave to video her as she walked and then twirled)
Entrance to Palazzo di Reali (Royal Palace)
Chapel of Royal Palace in background
Royal Palace Gardens
This art in the gardens represents the author being in the center of the damaged marble (representing the fire in the Chapel in 1997) fallen around him that now allows him to see.
Your greeting at the Royal Palace
Grand Staircase in Royal Palace
Arrival room
Nothing sets off a gaudy pink room like the addition of bird statues
Wooden floor in the Throne Room in Royal Palace
Armor/military display in Royal Palace
Ceiling in Armor room in Royal Palace
Ceiling and wallIt is essential to protect your horse, too.
With the ostentatiousde display within the palace, we were surprised by the common royal carriage
Armor for horse and knight
Everyday dining at the Royal Palace
Ceiling in meeting room in the Royal Palace
Chapel in the Royal Palace
Chapel in the Royal Palace (you may have seen this in the picture of the altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist)
Dome in Chapel in Royal Palace

From there we started back to the apartment (we left our luggage in the old apartment and had to pick it up at 14:00). We decided to stop at “Candy Lisa” after seeing gummy bears half the size of your hand. Linda walked through the store selecting some unique items and Dave talked to the check-out girl. She was quite surprised that we were from the USA and we chose to visit Torino. She wondered why we weren’t in Venice, Milano, or some other tourist location. We said we preferred to visit somewhere that had more of a feel of how the locals lived, though there are plenty of tourists here. As we continued, we stopped at Gelmarket. This place pretty much sells just frozen foods. This means everything from fruit to pasta meals to “second plate” meals, “international foods”, etc.

Palazzo di Madama
We decided we could live in the corner unit of this building
Pizzeria in Torino
This is what cause our pain in our apartment

We arrived at the old apartment at about 13:55, just in time. Since we couldn’t check-in to the new apartment until 15:00, we decided to have lunch in between the two apartments (please remember that the two apartments are 150 feet apart). We had a very good meal at Ristorante Conte Verde. Linda had Spaghetti Carbonara (no cream) and Dave had Spaghetti Bolognese.

Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti Carbonara

The women checking us in arrived while we were eating. After Dave finished his meal, he walked over to check in. We really like this new place. It has a couple of sofa/loveseat places to sit and a desk on which we can do the blog. When Linda got to the apartment, Linda asked Dave, “How is the bed?” Dave thought, “How the hell should I know?”, but instead responded that the girl checking us in asked if I wanted to check out the bed, but he told her, thanks for the offer, but my wife is downstairs. Linda couldn’t stop laughing. Dave didn’t get why she thought this was so funny. Lol

Entry hall
When we lived in Little Rock, we called this a “Keeping Room”
Kitchen, duh
Another, duh, bedroom

After settling in here, we went out for a little more looking around. That involved checking out some men’s stores to get Dave a new shirt (Dave appreciates no comments about his repeat clothing). Not finding anything for that and a Telecom Italia Mobile store that was of no use, we went off to check out a new area. Guess what, they have a church. It is the Church of St. Francis of Assisi (Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi). It is a blasé church from the outside, but has some beauty to it inside.

Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Altar in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi
Chapel in Chiesa di San Francesco d’Assisi

From there we walked a little more, stopped at Pam grocery to pick up some things, and then dropped them off at the apartment. Dave got a message about where to park the car we are getting tomorrow, so we went to check the location; it’s really close. In fact, it’s very near where we had dinner on Sunday, so we went to Il Molo, which is across the street. We had beer and wine, a meat and cheese plate, and sausages. It was a fun experience.

Meat and Cheese plate
Sausages and potatoes

We then came home (Dave thought … hey, we haven’t had gelato today). As it turns out, Dave didn’t have to twist Linda’s arm too hard to get her to say yes. Dave had Crème di Nonna Elide (kind of an orange flavor) and Cuore di Panna (core of cream … kind of plain). Linda had Gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut) and Mascarpone with Fig and Caramel. While it was good to try somewhere new, it just didn’t measure up to our standards and we won’t be back.

After gelato, we called it a night and settled in for a quiet night.

If you want to see more pictures or more detail in the pictures, you can click here: 2022-10-04 Torino