Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Road trip! Pirates in Parma?

The Ducale Palace in Modena- now used as a
military school

Modena, a small city that Josh was dying to get to a couple weeks ago, turned out to be a complete bust. It was an industrial city that had a decent city center, but the main attraction (the Duomo in the city center) is under indefinite construction and is completely surrounded by scaffolding and barriers. You can't even see it. In addition to this, all of the shops were closed on a Saturday afternoon, and there weren't many people out and about. We were wondering if we missed something. Well, it was the weekend of Carnival so maybe everyone was sleeping off the night before? After walking around for a bit we decided to head to Parma, but not before purchasing what we went to Modena for! We wanted to pick up some good Balsamic Vinegar which Modena is famous for. We stopped by this little shop and the gentleman that helped us was very nice. He allowed us to taste it and see the different options available. It was fun because it was good practice with our Italian :) After getting the good stuff, we made our way to Parma.

A strange statue to the left of the entrance to the palace,
it seemed like a gladiator on steriods

The clock tower overlooking
 the cafe in the main square
We arrived in Parma around 5PM and the sun was starting to go behind the buildings. It was a completely different city full of life! There were many people out walking around and enjoying the nice spring weather and it seemed like the entire city was on the streets of the city center. Maybe that's where all of the people from Modena were too? The people watching was fun and we even had time to look into their main church which had amazing paintings all over! We decided to stop for some refreshments at a cafe overlooking the main square and people watch. As we were sitting there we noticed a bus on the street with the number 666. It had been sitting there for about 20 minutes. I thought it was maybe broken down, Josh just thought it was strange and wanted to know what it was for. A few minutes later, a big group of drunken people came running towards the bus and hopped on. Many of them had long hair (not sure if it was natural or wigs) and pirate hats. Some of them were even wearing eye patches. They were pretty funny! It seemed like a rock band ordered a city bus for a pub crawl. As the bus pulled out for their next destination, the group was hanging out the windows and screaming funny things at the people on the street. I guess that's what a party bus is like here in Italy!

The Pirate Bus- the number was 666...

Before dinner we walked around a bit and saw an older woman walking three Shih tzus that had their "bangs" in pony tails. It was funny because she had one leash for each of them and was holding them all in her right hand. Looking at the leashes, they were all entwined and wrapped around each other. The dogs didn't have much of a leash to work with! The funny thing is that we saw her on Via Montenapoleone in Milan the next day- walking the same dogs! We also bought some of the famous Parmigiano Reggiano, what Parma is famous for. The city is also known for it's Parma ham- wow! That was some of the best ham I've ever had!! We bought some cheese since it was cheaper in Parma than in Milan, then we had dinner and drove home to Milan.

everyone was out that night, even the dogs!

time for a break!

outside the main church- those statues are lions, they were so
old that the details of their faces were worn off

That's about it for Parma and Modena. These cities are in the gastronomical heart of Italy and the food is absolutely amazing!! This is where most Italian chefs come to study, so the region is well known for its unbelievably good food. And it didn't disappoint! Lunch in Modena was outstanding, and dinner in Parma was just as good! If you ever make it to Italy stop by these two cities just to taste the amazing food!! And also to buy some balsamic vinegar and good cheese. You may even see a Pirate :)

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