Tuesday, May 22, 2012

An unexpected, but exciting weekend in the country

This past weekend we went to the country with our friends Ilaria, Francesco, Marina and Andrea. Ilaria’s family has a house just outside of a small medieval town named Montagnana and she invited us to stay for the weekend. What an incredible weekend!! We now understand why the people of Milan retreat to the country whenever possible- beautiful flowers everywhere, history, nature, it's quiet, and green! It was a nice break from the never ending concrete and noise of Milan.

The yummy pasta!! The city also has amazing prosciutto.
Francesco found some armor that's his size...

We ate at small restaurant named Palio, and they had the BEST pasta! Pennette and Bigoli are the local specialities and they are soooo good. We also went up into the tower of the medieval fortress at the city gate, and had some amazing views of the city. Ilaria also organized a tour of Villa Pisani. This Villa is the current home to a senator for the Veneto region and the house only opens one weekend a year- the weekend we visited. The house was built in the mid-16th century by a famous architect Andrea Palladio. The ground floor is pretty much the same as it was at that time (with the exception of electricity), but the second floor where the family lives has been updated with new kitchen amenities and a beautiful modern bathroom. It was strange to see the new designs blended with the medieval designs. The family has enjoyed travel and had many souvenirs from their trips- beautiful Asian vases, Ivory tusks, even a bear rug! Literally… a bear skin on the floor, head and all! The fur was surprisingly soft.

On Saturday we also went to the Duomo of Montagnana. The church is beautiful and enormous! Josh and I were very impressed with this particular church- it wasn’t ornate like the Duomo of Milano, but it had a very calming and impressive effect on me. We lit a candle in memory of Josh’s dad, Danny. It was an unexpected, but touching moment.
The Duomo

That night, Ilaria invited her local friends to her house for a big BBQ. This was so special to me! Spending time with our Italian friends, making new friends, and enjoying the moment, it was amazing. Everyone was so nice and fun! They gave us recommendations for places to visit, and also let us know of an American grocery store in Vicenza that I’m VERY excited about visiting!! The food was amazing- a HUGE fillet, ribs, local sausages, grilled vegetables, etc. It was quite the feast!
Andrea and Francesco
Sunday was a little crazier with some unexpected surprises… We woke up at 4AM to a huge earthquake hitting the area. It was a 6.0 (although some reports say it was a 6.1), and there was a 5.1 aftershock later that afternoon. There was major damage sustained to the local historic buildings (not in Montagnana) but in other cities. Poor Marina was scared to death after the initial earthquake. She was shaken for the rest of the day. It was scary to wake up in the middle of the night to the bed shaking and everything around us rattling. The window curtains were swaying like there was a breeze coming through, and the windows were rattling. Luckily there wasn’t any damage to the house except one broken window on the porch. It’s not attached to the house, so it’s something that doesn't need to be fixed immediately.
The hostess, Ilaria

All in all, it was an exciting weekend in the country! Thank you to Ilaria and her parents for inviting us to their country home! We look forward to future visits to the city and hope to get back soon!! And for the rest of you, Montagnana is a really great medieval city in Northern Italy- I would recommend making this a stop on your next Italian visit if you enjoy old medieval cities within the original city walls. It's fantastic!

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