Arrivederci Emilia Reggio, buongiorno Bologna e Modena

Packing day and it’s harder each time we do it. We haven’t added anything; why is it so hard to get things in, now?

We left Reggio Emilia at about 11:15 and arrived in Bologna at about noon. We then walked to our Airbnb to drop off our luggage. The apartment won’t be ready until 15:00 (need to do thorough cleaning and sanitizing). We’ll check in at about 19:00.

Old diesel train in Reggio Emilia
Bologna train platforms
Bologna Train Station

As we mentioned yesterday, there will be an 8- hour strike on Friday by the train workers (thanks, again, for that information, Jim). Since we are headed to Modena this afternoon and Friday, we needed alternative transportation. So, we decided to rent a car.  It is expensive, but it will let us do the things we want to do without having to do significant re-scheduling, even if that is possible.

We walked to the apartment.  It was another 15-minute walk from the train station.  Unfortunately, the lady who was to meet us was slightly delayed, but all worked out fine.  We dropped off our two bags and had our host call a taxi for us to take to the airport to get the rental car.  We rented from Sixt and it went very well.  Dave wasn’t sure how driving in Italy was going to be, but he was sure he could manage it.  Then he got in the car and remembered it was a manual transmission.  Fortunately, it’s like getting back on a bike and we took off with no problem at all.

Linda found a pizzeria for us to have lunch near the airport with good recommendations, so we headed there before going to Modena.  The insalata mista (mixed greens salad) and fungi pizza were both delicious.  And, since we were having pizza, Linda had to have a beer.  We shared a Moretti lager.

Insalata Misto (mixed greens salad)
Fungi pizza (someone was a little hungry)

After lunch, we headed to Modena for the Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese tour we scheduled at Bio Hombre before we left.  It was a nice drive through the farm fields between Bologna and Modena.  It was very pretty and an easy drive.  We did a little driving in Modena, but Dave is really paranoid about driving in a pedestrian only area.  After a little city driving, we headed out to the farm where we were going to have our tour.  We know going into it that we wouldn’t see the actual process of making the cheese, because that takes place in the morning, but thought the other information we’d receive would be good.  Oh, not to mention the cheese tasting.

Well, the tour did not disappoint.  Linda was thrilled to get to pet some calves and it was just fun to be on the farm.  This farm, which is an organic producer, uses three varieties of cows to produce its Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Two are Italian cows, one from the Modena area, and one from Belgium.  The Belgian and the Italian cow produce about 30 liters each in a day and the Modena cow (the all-white one you may be familiar with) produces 10 liters.  Milking is done twice a day, 12 hours apart.  Morning milk is processed to skim it with the skim used for ricotta cheese and butter.  The evening milk is not skimmed.  The next morning the two milkings from the previous day are combined.  And the process begins.  Each 90-pound wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese requires 550 liters of milk.  The wheels are aged a minimum of 12 months, but this farm also has 20-month, and 36-month cheeses.  The 12-month cheese is usually used for grating, like in a restaurant.  The 20-month is generally the only cheese used in cooking for things like risotto.  The 30-month would usually be for something like the dessert we had in Como.  We tasted all three of the cheeses.  Each was good, but the aging clearly increases the flavor content.  When the wheels of cheese are put in the aging warehouse, they already have all the information related to when the wheel was produced and which vat was used to create it.  We then visited the aging room; aroma as we entered was amazing.  You can certainly tell the difference in the aged and new wheels.  There is certainly an increased color to the aged wheels.  They do, however, have wheels that have defects.  If this occurs, they “bleach” the information related to being Parmigiano Reggiano, since it does not meet the standards.  This cheese is what is sold in stores as “hard grating cheese” or little bags of “parmesan cheese”.

One of multiple feed yards at Hombre
Resting cows (those who are between milking schedules)
Can I hear an “aw” all the way in Modena?
Calves waiting their turn to be able to provide milk
Linda makes a new friend
From left to right (30-month, 20-month, 12-month)
One row of the eight rows of wheels in this warehouse
Linda with wheels of cheese
Dave with wheels of cheese
Only places within this region can make Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano and organic seals on a wheel (created in February 2021)
New wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese created in July 2022 (note how white it is compared to the previous picture)

In addition to the cheese, there is a car collection, Collections of Umberto Panini Motor Museum. Umberto is the person who started Bio Hombre. His collection includes about 40 cars, primarily Maserati with some Alfa Romero. it was impressive to see some “one off” vehicles.

Mazerrati and Alfa Romeo car museum (some of these cars are one of a kind)
Lamborghini tractor … I bet we can’t afford this Lamborghini, either

We then headed back to Bologna.  This time we used the tollway.  It is fun going 130 kph (about 81 mph).  It was “funny” that at one point the car warned Dave that he had exceeded the 130 kph limit.  He then decided to keep in at 130.  We encountered traffic, but made it back to the apartment in time to check-in at 19:00, just like we told our host.

After a little time relaxing at the apartment, we took a short walk.  The city was certainly alive near us.  Large numbers of people of all ages out walking and enjoying the cooling of the night.  We enjoyed some of the sights we planned to see during the day on Saturday, we stopped for a Moretti Blanca birra for Linda and an Aperol Spritz for Dave.  We sat in Piazza Maggiore and enjoyed the evening air while people watching and taking in the architectural sights. After ordering our drinks, Dave thought about taking the picture below, but worried if he left Linda alone, she’d be snuggling with our waiter Giovanni (a young handsome man) when he returned. Even Dave had to admit, he was stunningly attractive and had a great personality.

Palazzo d’Accursio (former town hall)
Basilica di San Petronio – the color difference is not caused by shadows; the stone above is different
Looks like a couple of days to the full moon

At about 22:00 we noticed a real drop in the number of people out and about.  Ah, yes, tomorrow is a school and workday.  It was time to head home.

San Petronio Bell Tower (Campanile di San Petronio)