Europe Travel Itinerary, 1999-2000:


This itinerary is intended to capture the day-to-day activities and impressions of our trip.

Click on the asterisks * next to the day to go to that entry.

  • Sunday, August 29, 1999; The Alps: *

    Monday, August 30, 1999; Pavone: *

    Tuesday, August 31, 1999; Pisa and Rome: *

    Wednesday, September 1, 1999; Classical Rome: *

    Thursday, September 2, 1999; Rome: Vatican City: *

    Friday, September 3, 1999; Rome: Capitaline Hill, Pantheon: *

    Saturday, September 4, 1999; Rome: Ostia Antica & the Cappuchin Crypts: *

    Sunday, September 5, 1999; San Gimignano: *

    Monday, September 6, 1999; Florence (Firenze): *

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999; Florence (Firenze): *

    Wednesday, September 8, 1999; Bologna: *

    Thursday, September 9, 1999; Parma: *

    Friday, September 10, 1999; Pavone: *

    Saturday, September 11, 1999; Pavone: *

    Sunday, September 12, 1999; Pavone to Venice: *

    Monday, September 13, 1999; Mestre: *

    Tuesday, September 14, 1999; Padova: *

    Wednesday, September 15, 1999; Venice: *

    Thursday, September 16, 1999; Venice: *

    Friday, September 17, 1999; Padova: *

    Tuesday, November 7, 2000; Venitian Camp Ground and Election Day Back Home: *

    Wednesday, November 8, 2000; Venice and San Marcos: *

    Thursday, November 9, 2000; Venice and Museums: *

    Friday, November 10, 2000; Finding Sandra and Mauro in Sesto Forentino: *

    Saturday, November 11, 2000; Visiting Etruscan Ruins with Mauro: *

    Sunday, November 12, 2000; Florence with Sandra and Mauro: *

    Monday, November 13, 2000; Getting on the road as far as San Giminiano: *

    Tuesday, November 14, 2000; Visiting San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena: *

    Wednesday, November 15, 2000; Driving from Monteriggioni to Etruscan Tombs: *

    Thursday, November 16, 2000; Etruscan Tombs and Piazza Navone: *

    Friday, November 17, 2000; Museo Vaticani and walking through Travertine: *

    Saturday, November 18, 2000; Shopping and Saint Peters: *

    Sunday, November 19, 2000; So Rainy we stayed at the campground: *

    Monday, November 20, 2000; The Forum and Piatza Navone: *

    Tuesday, November 21, 2000; Leaving Rome: *

    Wednesday, November 22, 2000; Parma: *


    Sunday, August 29, 1999; The Alps:

    Finally we had a wonderful nights sleep filled with dreams of a future home back in the states complete with cats and giant bathrooms. In the morning we opened the van door to let the sounds of water hurrying between steep, stony banks. We relaxed as we smelled the clean, cool mountain air and leaned back to read our books and finish our journals.

    At 12:30 our alarm went off and we drove to the small town of Briel sur Roya. There we parked in a public lot next to a broad and gently flowing green stream filled with strange looking birds that seemed a cross between a duck and a rooster. At 1pm we called Kathleen's mother back in the States to see if she'd any more questions about how to meet us in Rome.

    Total success! She'd made reservations in Rome, Florence and Bologne and was flying open jaws. Quite the savvy traveler, Kathleen's mom. She'd reserved hotel capacity enough for all of us to stay, and so the two of us were jumping up in down in the parking lot with excitement. Not only will we have a home base in these scary Italian cities, (no carrying the 40lb packs) but we're going to have someone else to share it with!

    Suddenly the tensions and frustrations with France were gone. The weather continued cool and now, in the French Alps, we were finding the service people very friendly. We made a bee-line for Torino in the hopes of finding Kathleen's cousin Isabella Dani. At Cuneo we finally found a cash machine and made ourselves a pasta dinner on the street near the center of town. The streets were much cleaner than we'd expected, or remembered France to be. The roundabouts had modern fountains that added an aesthetic dimension to the laid back atmosphere. There were hundreds of people walking the streets window shopping. We stopped at a Gilatti store and made our first purchase in Italy: two ice cream cones. They were each a combination of three flavors and were the best tasting ice cream either of us could remember. Total cost was L4,000 (about $2).

    Once on the road again, we found an open gas station and Kathleen went in to see if they had a map that would show us Pavone. The two men inside started helping her with a passion that never ceased. Their first line of reasoning was that she was mistaken, and she wanted Via Pavone in Torino. When Kathleen insisted that wasn't the case, we started pulling out the resources from the van. First the Italian-English dictionary. Then the Sharpe organizer. Then the laptop with copies of e-mail from Frank Laraia. That finally turned the tide when they saw the whole address was Pavone Canevesa.

    By this time we'd learned that the two men were brothers, (possibly the station owners). One of them picked up the phone and called the number we'd found in our e-mail. After two tries, and amongst more theories from the other brother and a third buddy who showed up, Isabella answered the phone and we learned we needed to travel to Ivrea, north of Torino. The brother said goodbye and hung up on Isabella.

    As we drove off, we contrasted the French and Italians. We couldn't imagine a French gas station owner taking a half hour with us and certainly not with such undiminished enthusiasm. Our enthusiasm for Italy grew even greater.

    Taking the highway north we could see the Italian Alps in the distance. As night fell we stopped for gas and a map. The exit for Ivrea followed almost immediately, and Pavone was signposted from there. At about 9:30 we rolled into town. From our phrase book we'd practiced how to ask where street was: Dove si trova Via Vignali. A man on a bicycle got us there, but we couldn't find number 5. We knocked on number 3 and she didn't know where to find it. Then we walked back into the center of town and asked a family that was sitting on a bench.

    They didn't know where to find anything or anyone. As it turned out, it was because they were Kosovo refugees. When they said 'Kosovar,' we pointed at ourselves and said 'United States.' The woman's face changed. Her eyes filled with gratitude and admiration, but it seemed that her strong sense of pride kept her from breaking out in a smile. All at once we connected by history and separated by class. We shook her and her husband's hands.

    When we asked a man sitting on the prefecture steps if he knew where Isabella Dani lived, he got up and walked us to her house. It was right where we'd parked, only it was number 7, not number 5. Of course she was still waiting up for us, together with a tiny and frail looking woman named Gioconda (gee-CON-da). They invited us in with hugs and kisses and then promptly Isabella called her son.

    Olivier spoke good English though his comprehension wasn't fantastic. Turns out we happened upon them at an awful time: Isabella's husband Andrea was in the hospital in Torino with an eye infection. No one knew how serious it was yet.

    Isabella insisted we stay in the house, and they opened a giant set of iron doors for us to drive inside their villa. That was when we realized how big her place was. The van fit under the arched doorway to the inner compound. The part of the house we'd been in with the kitchen, study, elevator/stairway and living room, was to the right of the drive in. There was room for at least four cars outside (though it was infringed upon by large pots holding herbs). Then to the left of the drive in, there were two large bays as big as garages back home. There were three stories going up over the whole length of the house. We couldn't tell how far back the gardens went.

    As they gave us a midnight snack, we discovered that Isabella speaks excellent French. Combined with Henry's meager French and Kathleen's meager Romanian (very similar to Italian) it gave us a rudimentary means of communicating. This slim pipeline kept us going till 1am as we poured over old albumen and sepia toned black and white photos of Isabella's family (some of whom were Kathleen's ancestors). Gioconda cleaned the dishes as if it was always expected.

    Henry took advantage of the shower and Kathleen collapsed from exhaustion.

    Monday, August 30, 1999; Pavone:

    We woke around 9am to the sound of the cocks crowing. While Kathleen used the shower, Henry went down and tried to help out. Gioconda had dragged a ladder into the garden somewhere the night before to help with opening the doors for the van. Henry wanted to return it to its place, but inadvertently asked Isabella for a tour of the garden. She could not be deterred and showed Henry the orchard, the hen's yard, the tomato field, the new plot of land they'd bought 14 years before and outfitted with even more vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Henry began to understand she had a preoccupation with money and living off her own land.

    Everything was intensively tended. Their sole pumpkin plant was growing tied up onto an arbor overhead. They'd trained a single pumpkin down onto a platform about 5 feet off the ground. It could already fill a bushel basket all alone. Large pots all about their grounds contained herbs and hot peppers. There was a wintering coop for the chickens, a root cellar and over half the actual space of the main house was empty for use as storage.

    Their cultivation wasn't at the expense of aesthetics. Huge African flowers snaked like alabaster trumpets over the cobblestones in one corner. In another spot, a pond held some watery creature of respectable size. All about large box tortoises crawled about in the morning sun but were gone by the afternoon. Altogether it was a self contained paradise covering about 2 acres.

    As we worked our way through a second day of stunted communication, we realized a few incongruities. Isabella's memory is not working well as she asked Henry repeatedly whether we had any children, how long we'd been married, and when we were leaving. Every time we said 'today' she responded with shock and sadness. Gioconda, Isabella's cousin and childhood friend, acted as Isabella's servant, fetching things, cleaning up, and tending the garden. The house, though expansive, had rooms with piles of supplies, gently rotting apples and once in a while we could catch the whiff of damp earth.

    We visited the family graves. Pavoni's cemetary is elaborate beyond anything either of us had seen. Some of the marble tombs had the look of modern corporate headquarters, with mirrored glass doors and marble countertops inside for offerings to the dead. Most of them had remains interred in drawers above ground with a porcelain picture of the deceased next to the encapsulated review of their lives: Name, Birthday, Deathday.

    Isabella also took us to see the house of the Peyla's, who were Kathleen's direct descendants (her grandmother Mary Peyla Laraia emigrated to the US when she was 6 years old). The current owner of the house didn't seem to know Isabella. But with what we were beginning to think of as typical Italian enthusiasm for hospitality she quickly brought down all her hanging laundry so we could photograph the house. Then when we asked to photograph her, she obliged with that stony face one reserves for receiving a tetanus vaccination.

    Finally, at four in the afternoon, we got back on the road. Isabella cried and waved as we pulled onto the street. We felt sad, and even sadder since we believe she'll forget all about our visit in the next few days.

    Because we wanted to meet Roberta in Rome either before or around the same time as she reached her hotel. We took the A5 to A26/4 southward through Alessandria, where we wondered if the city is named for the Macedonian conqueror of fame. The mountains were beautiful and green and our highway took us on a straight line through tall round tunnels in the earth. Kathleen read 'Search for Ancient Rome' aloud as we drove along. By twilight we had followed the A26 to the A10 at the Mediterranean . Then we continued along the A12 toward Pisa, and camped on the highway near Viareggio. The night was cool enough to be comfortable, though the traffic noise was considerable.

    Tuesday, August 31, 1999; Pisa and Rome:

    We woke around 8 and got going around 9am after using the last of our water to wash underwear and tee shirts in the sink. With the laundry blowing in our window, we headed off for Pisa.

    There we took advantage of a brief period of photographing. We found the tower striking, as much for the measures they're using to try and halt the tilt as for the tilt itself. There were enormous lead weights on the high side and hefty wires wrapped around the tower and then dropping to counterweights on a support tower. We got to experience the anxiety of general disregard for traffic lights by the motoring public (only 10 percent were working anyway). Our other errand in Pisa for camping gas was quickly accomplished, as well as filling up on Petrol and water at a friendly local station.

    The highway was easy to find and to navigate, though we found one limit to Italian friendliness. The operating assumption in traffic of all sorts seems to be: you have right of way all the time. If someone tries to exercise right of way over you, that's just plain unfair.

    We turned south at Fierenza (Florence) off the A11 onto the A1 toward Roma (Rome).

    Thought we'd beat Roberta to the Hotel, but as it turned out we got lost in the maze of streets and didn't make the Holiday in on Via Aurelia Antica till 8:30. Drove around the Vatican 3 times though.

    Wednesday, September 1, 1999; Classical Rome:

    We woke late, around 9:15, and by the time we were on the bus, it was 11am.

    Transferred from the suburban (98) bus to an urban bus to get to the Coliseum (bus 64), and were beset by gypsies who went in Henry's pockets and opened Roberta's moneybelt before we fled the bus.

    Toured Trajan's column before getting lunch from a street stand.

    Walked to the Coliseum and walked around, taking the tour.

    Walked up to the Palantine Hill and saw the remains of the houses of the ancient emperors.

    Went down into the Roman Forum and attached ourselves to a tour guide. He turned out to be giving a free sample of his companies tours of Rome, and we liked it so much, we signed up for the six hour Vatican Tour for the next day (L45,000).

    Returned down the main street, Emanuell II,found the Pantheon and looked up at it. It was closed, and late (8:30) so we walked on into the Piazza Novona for dinner. Had Italian (of course) ravioli and eggplant parmesan. Then we went looking for a bus. Waited 45 minutes at a stop marked for the 98 until we discovered it was for the night version of the 98. The day version of the 98 never goes there. After getting a phone card and calling the hotel to straighten ourselves out, we realized we needed to walk to the end of the 98 line near the Tiber across from the Vatican. There we were able to catch our bus back to the hotel where we collapsed around midnight.

    Thursday, September 2, 1999; Rome: Vatican City:

    Got our wakeup call promptly at 8am. Made it to the bus at 9am, and stepped of the bus in the shadow of Saint Peter's at 9:20. We found a small local breakfast pastry shop and Kathleen and Henry filled their need for an early morning meal.

    We followed a nun to the Saint Pietro, and joined our tour group. The first hour was the most amazing part of the tour content, as the guide explained the early history of the Christians and how Constantine adopted Roman rituals as Christian ones when he proclaimed Christianity the official Roman religion.

    Then we toured the Basilica, that magical building where the enormous feels apprehendable. As if we could somehow as human beings find ourselves living happily in a giant's home.

    Our guide shared his poetry and his thoughts on the theology of the Catholic church.

    For lunch we went to a café nearby where we had cafeteria style food (apparently the same anywhere on the planet) in an atmosphere somewhere between a nice restaurant and a tour making machine.

    Then we went on a frenetic visit of the Vatican with a positively type A personality. She actually made a joke (in two rooms we'll be in the fifteenth century), then challenged one of the tour members when she laughed. "What is funny?" she asked.

    Because her tour was so detailed, we ended up with only a half hour actually inside the Cistine Chapel. But oh what a half hour. Michaleangelo's work, just as in Saint Peter's Basilica, makes the cosmos reach out to us on the ground, and gives us mortals the feeling of ultimate nobility.

    Afterwards we walked up the 320 stairs (after the elevator) to the cuppula atop Saint Peters. Just getting to look down from the first landing onto the center of the cross was like visiting the halls of Olympus where the gods dwell. Then to see Rome and the Vatican spread out like a living map connected us again to this ancient place.

    On the Biologo Pio we found the best Italian meal yet in a local Italian restaurant. When you want local cuisine, eat where the locals eat. An uneventful bus ride back to the hotel got us in our beds between 10 (for Roberta and Kathleen) and 11:30 (for Henry).

    Friday, September 3, 1999; Rome: Capitaline Hill, Pantheon:

    Woke late after our exertions from the previous day. Got going around 10:30, making it to the market the hotel had told us about by 11. Bought film, bread, cheese and water and got to the Pantheon by 12:30.

    Had our lunch next to an obelisk then stolled over one plaza to the Piazza di Collonad, but decided against going to the Salvadore Dali exhibit. We walked back and got the ice cream a traveler had told Roberta was 'the best in Rome.' Unfortunately, we thought the cones we'd had at Cuneo was better.

    Saw the Pantheon and understood the inspiration it gave to Michelangelo -- large ornamentation and architecture belie the vastness of the space. Again we felt at home in the enormous house of gods.

    Walked on to the Capitaline hill, where we were almost glad to discover the Capitaline museums were still closed for renovations before the Year 2000. Our energy must not have been into museums. We overlooked the Forum from the Capitaline, then walked to the Republican temples to Hercules and ?. The sight of the Circus with the Palatine hill behind it filled us again with awe of the scope and scale of ancient Roman's civilization. At the Baths at Capelline, we wished there were more map like information available to us. Without a good guide, it's hard to really imagine what they were like because so much is decayed so thoroughly.

    Returned via three busses to the hotel where we had dinner at 8:30, a little bit of Ancient Lands on our computer and got to bed between 10:30 and midnight.

    Saturday, September 4, 1999; Rome: Ostia Antica & the Cappuchin Crypts:

    Woke late again and made it to the bus by 11. After stopping at the Vatican post office to get stamps and Vatican postmarks on our post cards, we headed to the subway.

    Two subway cars and a commuter train later, we were walking through the ruins of Ostia Antica by 1:30, a deserted excavation of the ancient port city of Rome. It was lightly raining as we walked over endless streets and staircases, looking at mosaics, frescoes, temples, theatres and apartments left behind by those long ago people.

    We returned to the hotel by 7, completely exhausted and had wine and Foccacia bread in our room.

    Sunday, September 5, 1999; San Gimignano:

    Woke up to a gorgeous blue sky, cool day and scenic clouds. Got on the road for San Gimignano around 10. Stopped at a grocery store to provision the fridge, then spent 2 hours trying to get outside Rome. They'd closed the Autostrada (highway) for reasons we'll never know.

    The ride of the SS2, Via Cassis, was spectacular. We finally made it to San Gimignano at 7 and got a hotel room and dinner in town. Then we walked around, appreciating Roberta's first-ever exposure to a medieval city. It had a much more spacious feel than Carcassonne and Eze. Got thoroughly lost in the streets on our way back to the hotel.

    Crashed around 11:30

    Monday, September 6, 1999; Florence (Firenze):

    Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. Drove about an hour to Florence, then worked our way through the absurd one-way traffic to the hotel. After rushing to get our bags in while blocking traffic and driving the van to a garage that works with the hotel, we went out on the town.

    Saw the Baptistry and the Duomo. Were underwhelmed after seeing St. Peters in Rome.

    Had a tragically overpriced lunch at Gillis. Walked to the Piazza della Signora and saw where the David statue stood.

    Then we walked to the Santa Croce and were amazed by the beauty of the decorations. Especially the inlaid Renaissance wood cabinets with scenes like paintings.

    Found a local restaurant on Via Del Proconsolo, two blocks from the Duomo. Got back to the hotel by 9:30 and went to sleep.

    Tuesday, September 7, 1999; Florence (Firenze):

    Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel by 9:30.

    Got groceries at Pegna on Via Dello Studio and stood in line at the Uffizi for almost 2 hours from 10:30 till 12:30. Then inside we had to stand in line again for a half hour. Only 660 people are allowed inside the museum at one time.

    Stayed inside admiring the Botticelli, Giotta, Titian and other Renaissance artwork. We were struck by how much those artists focused on grand themes like: Love, Truth, and Knowledge. Also we were happy to see the extent to which they were able to free themselves from the confines of Christian subjects (especially Botticelli). Finally left the museum at 5pm and walked to the Galleria dell' Academia.

    For all of us David was a moving experience. Having him indoors, and the marble clean does wonders for the impact of his poised stand and deep stare. Michelangelo speaks to us from half a millennia ago. His masterpiece indeed seems perfect except for the physical marble.

    Had dinner at our 'locals' restaurant, where we sat next to first a couple from France, then a Swede/Aussi couple living in Germany. Got back to the hotel at 9pm and listened to the news of the earthquake in Athens while we struggled unsuccessfully to get e-mail through noisy hotel phone lines.

    Wednesday, September 8, 1999; Bologna:

    Woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. Struggled our bags down to the checkout desk and left them in storage while we headed off for the Bargello.

    The streets didn't seem as crowded as the day before, and the Bargello hasn't even a minutes wait to get in. While we wandered around the Michelangelo room, Henry heard a women behind him say "excuse me," as she went past. He registered that there was an American behind him, then later when he turned around, he made a double-take because she seemed so much like a women we'd met dancing in New York. He went to Kathleen and said "that person looks just like that women in New York." Kathleen looked, and called out "Clair!"

    Sure enough, it was Clair and her husband Earl. She'd e-mailed us that she was visiting Florence, but we'd thought the e-mail was all about contacts in Hungary, so we hadn't read it. Yet fate insisted we meet on our journey, literally bumping into each other ('excuse me') in front of Michelangelo.

    After the museum we went one last time to our favorite restaurant, Le Moussacre, and had Rossini (re-boiled Tuscan vegetable soup with bread). It was the delicious send-off we'd been hoping for.

    Henry got the van from the garage which had stored it for the hotel and Kathleen and Roberta gathered the bags together at Hotel Paris. We quickly got ourselves on the Autostrada headed north for Bologna hoping for a relaxing afternoon of poolside museum recovery. As we rose into the mountains, the hot and humid weather gave way too cooler air.

    We found the Hotel in Bologna without much difficulty. It was on Rue Stalingrad, to the north of town. The plaza where we stopped to call for directions was named the Piazza 4 November, 1944. Our plans to take advantage of the hotel pool fell prey to our tiredness as we hit the hotel beds and moved from our room only for dinner.

    We called Isabella to get Olivier's number again, and she immediately asked when we would be there. Since she was so looking forward to it, we abandoned all thoughts of going straight to Venice and skipping a second visit to Pavone. We called Olivier and told him we'd be there some time Friday. Henry and Roberta went to sleep around 9:30 and Kathleen stayed up until 2am cropping and uploading images.

    Thursday, September 9, 1999; Parma:

    Took advantage of the Frequent Traveler privileges which Roberta has and stayed in the room until 1:00pm working on our e-mail and our webpages. Henry completed the Ancient Rome page in the morning as well as some wash in the sink.

    We left the hotel and dropped Roberta at the airport by 1:30, then set our sites on Parma, being not only directly on the way to Pavone, but also the town where Parmesan cheese comes from. We learned that they allow anyone from outside Italy to park for free in the blue spaces. That's the most tourist friendly rule we'd come across, but one that wasn't widely publicized, none of our guide books mention this (Roberta left us with her excellent 'Eyewitness Travel Guide to Italy.')

    We walked to their baptistery and Duomo to admire the architecture and the frescoes. The guide map called the baptistery the most important classic building in Italy because it shows the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. Every city has to have one of these 'most important' attractions.

    Then we walked for a half hour to find a vegetarian restaurant on our map towards the north of town. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed for holidays. So we walked a half hour back to our second choice restaurant and had the best meal of our whole trip. The man who served us did it all (we believe). He was wearing a chef's jacket, he spoke little English, but did describe with pride one of the desserts as being 'made all by myself.' He seated the customers, took their order, cut their bread, and took them to the wine cellar to pick their bottles. Knowing only that we ate 'non-carne,' he made suggestions and we ate everything he put in front of us down to the last drop of oil. Among the exotic fare was a salad made up of lettuce and Parmesan cheese with a waxy, Worchester-like sauce, and a fizzy local Lambrusco wine that made us both quite happy.

    After dinner, we returned to the van and drove ten minutes north to a spot on a side road. Very dark, but not cool. Being exhausted from the accumulated nine day's of activity and from the effect of the wine, we fell asleep at once.

    Friday, September 10, 1999; Pavone:

    Woke up at a reasonable time, around 9am. Organized the van since it had gotten neglected during our stays in the hotel rooms. Then the day started to become hot and we went in search of camping gas, a present for Isabella and food for lunch.

    In town we struck out on the gas, but got some of the most delicious Parmesan cheese ever. They were tearing up the streets in the shopping district, so getting around was more difficult than normal. Rolled onto the Autostrada around 1:30 in the afternoon.

    Kathleen drove most of the way while Henry worked on the Classic Rome webpage. We made good time and pulled up at Isabella's in Pavone around 6:30. We got to meet Andrea, who was now back from the hospital where they had removed one of his eyes because of a 'microbe' as he described it. He was a slight man, seeming to be as short as Isabella. He walked with a slow, old person's grace that immediately endeared him to our hearts.

    Isabella had food waiting for us -- eggs, cheese, bread, soup and coffee with milk. Of course, every time she asked if we wanted coffee, we said no. But then she'd forget and serve us anyway, fearing to forget to give us what we wanted. So by the end of the weekend, we'd started simply saying 'yes' when she asked us.

    Feeling tired, and wanting time alone in a cool bed, we retired just after dinner, which was around 10pm.

    Saturday, September 11, 1999; Pavone:

    Woke to the sounds of horses clopping and jingling up and down the street. Behind the horses was a strangely musical tune we couldn't identify. Turned out we'd arrived for the Fall Pavone Festival. We walked about with our cameras enjoying Italian voices babbling the same banter which one hears at country fairs back home.

    The musical sound we'd heard was the sound of a one-cylinder antique tractor running. The horses were driving carts around the village, and an ambiguous grande-dame was strolling around with her baby carriage modified to display two dozen pure bred miniature dogs. We met a pair of young boys who were wheeling and dealing in spent phone cards from all sorts of foreign countries, and bought a pair of camouflage binoculars.

    After the fair we returned to find Olivier and Suzanna and Andrea (Jr.) had arrived from Torino. It was a relief for Henry to be able to stop translating, and since Olivier had spent a year in London, his English was quite good.

    We had lunch with the whole family, the three generations of Dani and Jaconda. Everyone relaxed around the table for an hour till 3 in the afternoon. Olivier then took us for a ride to Ivrea. First he found us some camping gas (which is growing scarce because the camping season is over) and then to the Ivrea castle. There we had a guided tour (in Italian) which Olivier translated. The tour covered almost a thousand years of history regarding the castle and the surrounding area. The effort and energy the two of them gave their explanations was the most entertaining part of the day. Olivier also took us to see some of the many glacial lakes and the castles which overlook them. The scenes included local fishermen with their three-meter poles. Everything was strictly storybook.

    After we returned, we had the evening meal. Isabella made us pasta soup and fried eggs again while the family had grilled meat. Olivier made his good-byes and we went to bed.

    Sunday, September 12, 1999; Pavone to Venice:

    Woke at 7 to get next door to photograph the neighboring farmer milking his cows. His and his wife's teeth were dying off in the same way their way of farming is dying from the western world. But his vigor in yanking his cow's teats showed no signs of age. His arms seemed as strong as the legs on his cows, which are kept inside all the time to keep their muscles soft so their meat can command a higher price.

    We had a breakfast of toast and homemade jam, then took a nap until 12 while the computer compressed the C drive. Andrea seemed disgustedly amused at the importance we placed on our laptop.

    Around 1pm we pulled out, saying tearful farewells to Isabella and Andrea. Just as she had before, she waved to us until we were out of sight. Just as we had before, we made the wrong turn and had to do an illegal U turn to get to the highway.

    The A4 toward Venice was uneventful. At this point we were used to ignoring all traffic signs in languages we can't understand. Kathleen read 'The Bean Trees' and finished it an hour from Venice. Henry stopped the car so we could call Claire to see if it was possible to meet her and her husband Earl. Kathleen spoke with Earl and he told us they were exhausted from their vacation; they'd probably just stay in for the evening.

    At the phone call rest stop, we bought hot sandwiches and got back on the road with Kathleen driving. We made it to Venice, and drove the 5km bridge to the parking decks at the Piazza Roma. There Venice spit our over-tall green van back out again. The woman at the tourist booth looked sadly at me as the owner of that van. But after I asked for the Hotel Iris (where Claire and Earl were staying) her eyes showed some respect.

    We drove back to Mestre where we found a parking spot near a hotel and called Claire again. This time Kathleen spoke with Claire and they had decided to meet us. We caught the bus and found them waiting on the Three Wooden Bridges outside the Piazza Roma.

    They took us to their favorite (recently discovered) restaurant and we had a delightful dinner. Exchanging 'what-do-you-dos' and 'hows-that-works' made us feel almost as if we were back in the comfort of the US. Earl and Claire also showed us a lot excitement about our trip/adventure which, being newly back in the hot van, was a much enjoyed shot in the arm. They even paid for the dinner. (Claire had an exotic looking pasta flavored with squid ink, Henry had the gnocci with four cheese dressing, we all had polenta, and Kathleen enjoyed the local Tiramasu.)

    We caught what felt like the last number 4 bus back to Mestro from Venice. Collapsed and slept hard.

    Monday, September 13, 1999; Mestre:

    Woke at 9 and honored our need for an un-day. Had croissants and coffee and a toilet at a nearby bar. Then Henry napped while Kathleen did e-mails. We then moved the van looking for a grocery store until we stopped for lunch. We ate the tomatoes from Pavone, which were too sweet for Kathleen, but to Henry they were heavenly.

    After that we crashed for another nap, and while Kathleen continued napping, Henry did a few e-mails. We decided to try and get groceries in town while doing our laundry. The grocery store was closed but the laundry was open and we got pizza while we waited, reading the Romania guide book we'd gotten in Oxford.

    Finally retired to our van, parked in a residential neighborhood. We ran the engine for twenty minutes to charge the battery, since the computer battery was dead. But a lady from one of the apartments came down and asked us to turn the car off. Then the mosquitoes came in the windows, and we settled in for a quite, warm evening. Kathleen went to sleep at 11 and Henry stayed up till 1:30 catching up on his e-mail.

    Tuesday, September 14, 1999; Padova:

    Woke early around 8:30 and got on the autostrada towards Padova. Stopped for toilets at the RistorAgip Bar.

    We made it into a terrible traffic jam outside the university in Padova. We turned around and parked on the street, waiting for the traffic to clear. Kathleen wrote e-mails and Henry took a nap. After an hour and a half, the e-mails were done and the traffic was clear. We were able to make our way to a café near the train station where we found parking for 3,000 Lire and hour with a one hour maximum. We used that spot as the staging ground for sending a package of souvenir receipts and an unused Ignatious hat back to Richmond.

    Posting the package turned out to be an interesting lesson in Italian efficiency. The first place we stopped at that said 'Post e Telecom' seemed only to be for paying bills. They pointed down the street. We found another post office and showed our bundle to them. They pointed us in an office. There the man pointed us across the street to 'Mail Boxes, Etc.' where we purchased two package envelopes, one for each parcel we were sending. The guys in Mail Boxes also copied a map for us and told us where to find two 'Phone Centers' and an Internet café.

    When we returned to the man in the office, he pointed us down the street again, telling us to go to '# 8.' Perhaps he can only handle boxes? We went down the street looking for number eight. Finally we happened upon another Post office headquarters, but it was at street number 20. There we found a teller who asked us what priority we wanted. When we explained 'non priority,' he pointed us to another window. This was number eight and she finally posted our package.

    Returning to our van we camped out in the café with the purchase of a couple of iced teas and a croissant. That lasted till 5pm while we finished the Florence webpage and our final e-mails. Then we moved the car to the train station and started looking for the phone centers. The first place wanted 500 Lire per minute, and the second place (in a worse neighborhood) wanted 800. This was highway robbery and made us mad. Then they required they dial the number first and transfer it into the phone booth. With the language barrier and the unfriendly immigrant attitude (Korean in the first place and African in the second) we knew we were gonners. Kathleen insisted we walk to the internet café, and there we found paradise.

    At an air-conditioned table with a young attendant hanging out with her friends, we connected. For 4,500 Lire the half hour, we got our e-mail and our webpage updated and walked out at 7:30. Rushing to get back before the lot closed at 8, we couldn't believe we'd spent all day accomplishing two errands.

    Grabbed groceries on the way back to the van and drove back to a more sheltered free lot across the street from the Ambassadori Hotel in Mestra, we crashed for the evening about 11pm.

    Wednesday, September 15, 1999; Venice:

    When we got up around 8, we found Kathleen wasn't feeling too well and Henry was happy with moving slow. We went grocery shopping for more essentials than we could find in the small store in Padova. We had salad for lunch and Kathleen caught a nap while Henry finished his book of awful translated French science fiction. Afterwards, we had sandwiches and Henry had a 20 minute nap. The weather was clear but a cool breeze gave us the first real taste we'd had of fall and kept us feeling nice and comfortable.

    Finally got on the bus at 5pm for Venice. There we caught the number 1 Vaporatti for a tour of the Grand Canal. Then we walked the touristy streets of central Venice, admiring the classical bands on the Piazza San Marco, and the masks in all the shops. Turns out it seems Venice supports a lively arts culture which pays the bills by making objects of art for tourists.

    Had ice cream in the Campo Saint Margherita and dinner food at the restaurant where we'd eaten with Claire and Earl. Kathleen was feeling more and more sick, so we jumped back on the number 4 bus to our camper at 9:30.

    The van had turned stuffy again since the breeze had disappeared. Our neighbor in his camper was watching TV for the second night in a row. He didn't seem to be a tourist, but probably one step away from homeless. We see him walking the streets in our neighborhood with an intense stair and a strangely tilted head.

    Henry downloaded images, worked on the itinerary, and drained the computer's battery until 10. Kathleen played cards to get sleepy.

    Thursday, September 16, 1999; Venice:

    Woke around 9:30 to a day as cool as the day before. After breakfast we hopped right onto the number 4 bus and landed at Piazza Roma by 10:30. We took a slow pace as Kathleen was still not feeling well. We purchased all day Vaporatti tickets and caught the bus to the Piazza San Marcos. On the walk to the Piazza there's a small park where we found some shady benches under a grape arbor and Kathleen laid down to rest while Henry read the Herald Tribune. Stories filled the news about Hurricane Floyd bearing down on the Carolinas. The paper said it should hit around Thursday morning. Henry looked at his watch and it was 1pm, meaning the storm could be hitting at that moment. The calm green Venetian waters with fragile gondolas plying the water seemed suddenly precious.

    When Kathleen was more rested, we toured the San Marcos basilica. It was decorated with huge overdone glittery mosaics in the same way kid's art is sometimes gaudy. The endless displays of ornament and gems and gold for the Doge's personal basilica came in part from the law that insisted every vessel returning from afar bring a gift to adorn San Marcos. We weren't able to find the Titians which we understood were there, probably because we didn't have the stamina to visit the museum. Afterwards, we rode the vaporatti back to the Academia where we decided not to visit the museum, and that the glassed in exhibition next door (where we saw paintings we really wanted to examine more closely) wasn't open to the public.

    Moving on, we took the vaporatti to Piazza San Campo where we had ice cream that was delicious. Almost as good as the cones in Cuneo. Then we went into Santa Maria Gloriosa del Frari, which Claire and Earl had recommended. Inside we found the beautiful Venetian Basilica experience we'd been looking for. The place was a Franciscan monastery, which may explain why it was so much more tastefully decorated than San Marcos. The Titian paintings were indeed beautiful, and we got to see many of the Renaissance altarpieces in the natural settings, which increased our appreciation for that art form. But as we appreciated the fine wooden carved choir, and the immense marble monuments (including one that featured blacks in tattered clothes straining to hold up a monument to someone, dated 1479, and including two skeletal figures) we couldn't help but imagine Saint Francis rolling in his grave at the show of wealth.

    Finally we retreated to the internet café we'd found on our first evening in Venice. It was just the relaxing experience we'd been hoping for. We finished the Pavone page, wrote some e-mails, had café latte and cruised the web. At 7:30 we headed for the toilets, snapping some goodbye digitals of Venice that turned out to be too dark.

    We got back to our van around 8:30 and had the gnocchis we'd bought at the store the previous day. We stayed up till 11:30 working on e-mails, a contract on Kathleen's condo (the renter is interested in buying), and reading the Herald Tribune.

    Friday, September 17, 1999; Padova:

    Woke about 9:30 and went shopping. The excitement came when Henry left Kathleen in line to get money to pay for the groceries. Henry thought Kathleen was going to wait till he got back, and Kathleen thought Henry was going just around the corner. Henry returned to find the woman at the checkout counter just telling Kathleen the total. Kathleen had been trying to play it cool bagging her groceries. Whew, close call!

    We packed up the van and scurried along the freeway, getting our water (now completely empty) filled up at the freeway station. We started hopping parking spots (trying to stay in the shade) because even though the air is cool, the sky is clear and the sun is hot. We traded naps and worked on the webpage and Henry's Santos story, for which a publisher had sent him feedback.

    After dinner (pasta a the Barillo Olive flavored sauce) we walked two blocks to the same internet café we'd used before to hook up and uploaded the pages and our e-mail. We cruised the web for a few minutes and found out about the making of the movie for Tolkien's the Lord of the Ring.

    Then we exited Padova heading for Trieste. At the third rest stop we found showers and it was a glorious feeling getting the accumulated travelling oils off our bodies. Knowing we are going to leave Italy within hours makes us feel wistful for these strange days we're having. Pumping gas in Lire and watching the numbers roll in the thousands, crossing traffic and feeling the scooters passing like water on either side, listening to conversations only for the tone of voice -- never the words used. Having this part of the trip end and the next part about to begin makes more real for us the day when this entire trip will end and the next part of our life will begin.

    Tuesday, November 7, 2000; Venitian Camp Ground and Election Day Back Home:

    Took us most of the day to get to Venice and check into the camp ground. Went into the town to walk back about the lovely green water avenues. We realized that we could get anywhere we wanted without using a boat. We jumped at realizing how much money we’d save!

    Walked to the old bridge and market area.

    Went to bed early and woke up at midnight to listen to the BBC radio, only went to sleep after we heard them forecast Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania for Gore, meaning he’d win the presidency. We went to bed happy at 2am.

    Wednesday, November 8, 2000; Venice and San Marcos:

    Woke to the bad news that George Bush had actually taken Florida. Listened in sickened fascination as the numbers in Florida got closer and closer until they realized there’d be a recount and nothing would be know for several days.

    Revisited San Marcos Basilica using Rick Steve’s guide book Mona Winks. The horses were wonderful. The pigeons were not. The Doge’s Palace was closed before we got there, so we went to the Acadamea and again using Mona Winks we got a quick education in Venetian art. It was wonderful.

    Ended the day at an Internet café reading up on the election.

    Thursday, November 9, 2000; Venice and Museums:

    Checked out of the campground, went back into Venice and visited the Doge’s Palace museum and the San Giorgio Maggiore museum across the canal. By the time we caught our boat back to the parking area it was already dark and raining.

    Got on the road late and stopped at the first rest stop to sleep for the night. The rain and wind was so intense it shook our van and woke us up from nightmares of falling off cliffs into the sea.

    Friday, November 10, 2000; Finding Sandra and Mauro in Sesto Forentino:

    Woke up early and drove through thick fog to find Sandra and Mauro’s condominium in Sesto Forentino (the name means six miles from Florence).

    Saturday, November 11, 2000; Visiting Etruscan Ruins with Mauro:

    Went to the market in Sesto Forntino and were struck by the similarity of the occasion to our usual Piatzas, but the difference of the wares for sale and the prices for the wares. The content of Romanian and Hungarian markets focused on fashion just like the Italian market, but the Italian market actually achieved fashion, and at a price we’d compare to anything in the states.

    Visited Fiesole and the Etruscan and Roman ruins with Mauro. Went inside the Museo Faesulanum. Saw Boris’ apartment.

    Had dinner in the countryside with their friends.

    Sunday, November 12, 2000; Florence with Sandra and Mauro:

    Visited Florence, the Pitti palace and the old town with Sandra and Mauro. Met an American photographer with a large format camera. Because of his tripod, he was considered a professional and was being asked to stop taking photos by the grounds guards. But they were very friendly and just said the rules were the rules. Reminded us of Katherine Harris in Florida. But the young man and woman projected a much more friendly sense than Harris and in the end agreed to look the other way. Mauro and Sandra figured him for a professional, and seemed a little skeptical of us believing in him

    We watched Mauro’s ‘Diaporama’ show. We realized it was its own art form, accomplished by using four slide projectors tied to a machine that plays them under the direction of a computerized cassette with music playing in the background. His show on Easter and Mary’s festival in Maramures were moving and of professional artist quality.

    Their friends met We all had dinner in the community center in Sesto Forentino.

    Monday, November 13, 2000; Getting on the road as far as San Giminiano:

    Used the morning to take care of e-mails. Mauro seemed amazed at our appetite for the internet and asked us what we did while in the village. Sandra came home at midday and after a great goodbye lunch she gave us a bag full of table wine, biscotti and olive oil.

    We made slow progress through the weather that seemed to have turned perpetually grim, but made it to San Gimignano in time to find a tranquil spot in the bend of a road where signs indicated that campers were expected to park for free.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2000; Visiting San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena:

    Walked around San Gimignano, visited the frescoed church that was featured in ‘Tea with Mussolini’ and saw the fresco they rescued. Also visited the Civic museum where the Maestŕ fresco brought us home to the images of George W. Bush showing himself as planning to become president -- the powerful have always maintained the image of themselves as powerful to cow the masses.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2000; Driving from Monteriggioni to Etruscan Tombs:

    Reveled in the countryside of Tuscany, with its distinctive tall cypress trees and the fan topped evergreens looking as if an artist cut their profile with a razor blade. The rolling hills tinged with autumns browns called to us again, asking us to drop our lives and buy a shack in the Italian countryside, learn to pick olives and make bread.

    Thursday, November 16, 2000; Etruscan Tombs and Piazza Navone:

    Woke early and were the first ones into the Etruscan Necropolis. It was like being inside the game of Myst. The rounded shapes of the burial mounds, their mossy aged colors and the mostly cloudy, windy sky made us feel as if we had woken to an alternate dimension. We stayed there all morning and through until 1pm.

    Drove the SS1 to Aurelia and turned into the Roma campground just where the guide book said it should be. After situating ourselves, we took the bus into town and began revisiting some favorite old spots. The Pantheon was first on our list. Second on the list was the Piazza Navone, where we enjoyed the now fully restored fountains and a fantastic Gelatti. The Internet café wasn’t where it was supposed to be on the map -- Coming Soon! We backtracked to the Piazza Firenze past the Pantheon, and from there we walked to the Piazza Spagne and caught the metro home.

    Friday, November 17, 2000; Museo Vaticani and walking through Travertine:

    We managed a very early start and were in the doors of the Vatican museum at 9:30. We surprised ourselves with a full day there spending some time in the Egyptian, Etruscan and classical sculpture museums before heading onto the "Long March" as Steve calls it, followed by almost an hour each in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel. We left the museum at 4pm, having museumed for a full six hours.

    After leaving, we hiked cross country to Travertine, taking an unfortunate route via ______ and ending up feeling like we were going to become road kill in the narrow section just prior to the Piazza Aurelia ???

    Made it back to the campground after shopping across the street around 9pm.

    Saturday, November 18, 2000; Shopping and Saint Peters:

    We took it easy in the morning and made it into Rome by 10:30. Spent until 2pm between the Plazza Barbarini and the Plazza Venezia shopping for boots for Kathleen. Had lunch in front of the Pantheon. We finally found what we were looking for, bagging a pair of lovely boots for $36.

    After shopping, we went by the number 64 bus (managed not to be pick-pocketed) to Saint Peters. We were grateful we’d had the chance to visit it last year, because this year its Jubilee 2000. This means it not only the turn of the millennium, but the pilgrimage year that comes once every 24 when they open the rightmost bronze doors.

    Got to the supermarket at camp by 7pm.

    Sunday, November 19, 2000; So Rainy we stayed at the campground:

    Basically because it poured cold rain on us non-stop from morning until night, we decided to stay in the van. We worked on updating pages on our website and playing Tetris.

    Monday, November 20, 2000; The Forum and Piatza Navone:

    It was still raining miserably when we set out around 10am. Fortunately it meant we took our umbrella with us, because a half hour later it cleared up, and if we’d left then, we might have left the umbrella behind.

    Took the 247 to Cipro stop, and after waiting ten minutes inside a stopped train, it took us one stop to the Vatican stop. There we heard an English speaker explain that there was something stuck in the tunnel further down the line that was preventing the trains from getting too backed up. This meant we had to get out and walk to a bus. By happy accident we picked the 81 and it turned out to be an excellent tour bus. We saw the Piazza Venitia, the Theater of Marcello, The Temples of Foro Boario, the Circus Massimo, and lastly, the Collosseo.

    We took the free tour of the Forum again, and took more rolls of film. It was nice being back after the renovations were done as there were a lot of ruins we hadn’t been able to see before, such as the inside of the Curia and the Basilica Maxentius. Now we understood, looking at that massive missing structure, what Michaelangelo meant when he said he intended to put "the dome of the Pantheon on top of the Basilica Maxentius."

    We were also struck by the strangeness of having a US president in limbo, with trouble in the middle east all in the year 2000. Again Roman history seems to stand, ruined, as a cautionary tale for our own times. They too had thrown off the yolk of oppressive kings long ago, before living memory. They too had a long history of democracy with long established laws similar to our own. But in the end, their good life led them into complacency and corruption, and they applauded as a charismatic figure took control in exchange for promises of a good life.

    Pantheon trinket fashion had changed from hand powered jumping furry spiders, to battery powered walking and mewing furry kittens.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2000; Leaving Rome:

    It started thunder storming in the night and continued with prodigious rain throughout the day. Leaving Rome made us feel all of a sudden how close to the end of our trip we really were. Rome was the last destination we’d had that wasn’t on a direct line towards home. As we turn our sights north, we turn our sights toward our return. What will it bring? How will we make money? We talk on the road about applying for a grant that will let us travel again back to Romania to photograph the Gypsies.

    We made it onto the road at 10:30 and proceeded north on Route A1 to Firenze. Our original intention was to keep going to Parma and have our farewell dinner there. But with the rain making headway slow, difficult and stressful, we decided to stop again at Mauro and Sandra’s.

    They welcomed us with the same enthusiasm they’d shown before. Though we couldn’t communicate much better than before, they treated us to dinner, visitation and internet. We learned that Gore won his case in the Florida Supreme Court and were obsessed as we’d been before finding and reading information on it.

    Wednesday, November 22, 2000; Parma:

    Our morning was taken over by more time spent on trying to connect the computer to the internet than we would have thought possible. It is no longer acknowledging the option to ‘not wait for dial tone,’ and even though we’ve de-installed and re-installed the software several times, we’ve found it won’t dial because Mauro’s dial tone sounds like a busy signal.

    Mauro ended up having to insist we leave, because he had an errand to run for Sandra to Florence. We packed into the van within five minutes of his announcement, and watched him get on his scooter. It was a fine looking machine, and we appreciated their style of having few things, but all of them being of great quality. It also seemed a fun life to have a scooter for excursions to Florence’s city center.

    On the road, we faced intense traffic on the A11 headed north. The trucks seemed to have no patience with us driving less than 100 kph, and the fog added to the trucker’s antics gave Kathleen so much stress I had to take over driving and leave behind reading the news from America.

    In Parma, we found a blue line parking space and walked to the information center. They gave us directions to a cheese factory where we could buy direct, but they didn’t think we could take a tour. We also asked them for pointers on where to find a latteria like Sandra’s. They said they’d never seen such a thing in a store on in someone’s home, but they did tell us where to find the home furnishing stores on the main streets of Parma.

    Walked around Parma during the day to while away the time while siesta wore away. At 3:30 we were able to get into the stores, and after only two tries we found the exact same latteria that Sandra has.

    After that we jumped into the van and drove about looking for the village of ____ where the folks at Tourist Info said we could find a caseifiche -- a parmesan cheese factory!! It took us a while to find it. We finally turned down a long lane and pulled up in front of a three story industrial looking building with active construction all around, and no sign of tourists. We figured it was going to be closed.

    But turns out it’s a grocery stop for locals. There was a constant stream of people coming in, buying two or three kilos of cheese, then leaving. We oohed and aahed at a small view we could see of shelves of cheese rolls in the back, and the attendant behind the counter immediately gestured for us to head into the back. Suddenly we were in!

    Behind the scenes, the building was full of shelves going up over a hundred feet stocked full of giant rounds of golden parmesan cheese. We saw a man feeding some of the large rounds into a machine which seemed to be sanding it with round brushes. After we’d watched the man for a minute, another man in a long white jacket came out and started giving us a tour in Italian. It took him only a couple of minutes to realize we weren’t reacting properly to what he was saying -- he’d probably cracked a small joke. He asked us what we spoke, and then tried to continue the tour in what was clearly a difficult language for him.

    He carried on with a fortitude that left us quite grateful. Turned out the man was hand brushing the rounds because they were on shelves that couldn’t be accessed by the automatic brushing robot. He took us to the back of the warehouse and started a machine that looked like a cross between a forklift, elevator and a bowling ball sorter. The machine reached out to the roll, picked it off the shelf, fed it into the mouth of a brushing monster, then turned the wheel over before placing it back on the shelf. He explained that the cheese ages for 28 months before it’s sold.

    We walked to the beginning of the process, a giant room with huge conical machines where a large amount (about 40 gallons) of milk can be poured in to be swirled and mixed with rennet and distilled down to a five gallon cylinder of cheese. Across from the machines was a shelf with the rounds sitting under weights to dry for the evening. In the morning, plastic molds will be attached to the sides of the cheese to imprint the date of manufacture, the lot number, the factory authorization number and the authenticating imprint of Parma. That imprint will stay on the side of the cheese throughout its 28 month aging lifetime. The plastic molds are controlled by the Parma association of cheese manufacturers, and that’s how authentic parmesan cheese can be recognized.

    The next step happens in another room, where the cylinders are given their slightly curved shape on the sides with stainless steel bands around them, tightened with rope and blocks which are hammered to keep tightening the top and bottom. After several days in the shaping/drying room, they get moved over to the soaking room.

    Under surreal orange light, and with acoustics reminiscent of Roman baths, there is a cavernous room full of long troughs full of floating cheese rounds. For two weeks the cheese will be soaked in a heavily salted water bath, faithfully turned every few days. It makes for the introduction of the third and final ingredient of their cheese. Total ingredient list: milk, rennet, salt. After the salt bath, the cheese is given it’s place on a shelf to wait and be brushed for two years until ready to be cut up and served to salivating mouths.

    After the tour, we returned to the store front and he explained that for a dollar and a half less per kilo, we could walk away with cheese that has ‘defects’ verses the highest quality. The ‘defects’ are visual only, he said, and didn’t affect the flavor. They consider a cut that results in a crack, or a round that turned out to have a hollow tear inside to be substandard fare. No wonder all the imported parmesan in America is so expensive. We bought six blocks of cheese to have some for us and lots for gifts.

    Outside, we considered staying until the morning so that we could watch them start the process and create the initial cheese rounds. But a quick look at our map and our calendar told us that would be a mistake. So with a final goodbye to one of our favorite places, we turned onto the highway toward Milano. We slept at a rest stop on the west side of Milano, just short of the Swiss Alps.

    Home Page || Meet Kathleen & H. Woods || Purchase Photographs
    Kathleen's Fine Art Photography || H. Woods' Reading Room
    Our Favorite Links ||