Happy Cadaver 2022, Italy!

Hey look, another vacation!

“Happy Cadaver” is how my host dad used to refer to Fronleichnam — the Corpus Christi holiday on the Catholic calendar — because literal translations are hysterical. We used it for a long-weekend escape to Northern Italy with some first-timers.

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We rented a car (for some extra leg and headroom, and got an unexpected free upgrade!) and took it to some of our favorite spots, and a couple new ones. We did a return to Mantova (it had been over ten years). We explored Castelfranco Veneto again. Some more. And of course we returned to Ca’ de Memi, who are always so gracious and helpful and just downright charming. Love that place!

Some impressions of Mantova

  • It’s cuter than it looks at first glance. Give it some time after arrival to grow on you.
  • We had a great location for the two rooms we rented there fore the two nights, but parking was not ideal — that’s frequently the trade-off.
  • It’s pretty easy to get from there to other neat places in the area, like Modena, Parma, or Vincenza.

We had lunch one day at La Smorfia, which, besides the cool-sounding name1 , had really cool pizza varieties on offer.

Dipping a toe into Vicenza

We’ve driven past it for years on the way to Piombino Dese and Venice and whatnot, but we’d never stopped in for a look. It’s a beautiful city. We ate at a cafeteria-style restaurant called Righetti: You gather all the stuff you’re going to need/eat and pay at the end. It was good and fast and cheap2. I didn’t detect any other tourists there; it appeared to me to be all people on their lunch breaks from businesses in the area.

Castelfranco Veneto

Our whole trip kind of centered around a grocery haul from the iPer La Grande i in this town. We brought back the usual goods:

  • cheese
  • pasta
  • rice
  • olive oil

But the town is cool by itself, even without the draw of the big supermarket. We had a nice stroll inside and outside the gates of the old town. We stopped for drinks and snacks on a city square in the shade. We had a nice meal with great ambience as the sun started to set.

Wine shopping

Check out the selection at Ferrowine! Rest assured, some of these made it home with us.

This was a nice retail experience, but we had plans to sample the bubbly goods directly at the manufacturer recommended by our hostess at Ca’ de Memi. She did not steer us wrong!

We drove towards the “Prosecco Road,” finding dal Fabbro in Valdobbiadene after a little navigational confusion. It sure was a beautiful drive getting there!

We did a visit to Bassano del Grappa, hit the Grappa Museum and marveled at the scenes on and near the Ponte Vecchio…including this very shiny rhinoceros sculpture:

Lunch was a delicious and quite priceworthy stop at Nuovo Borgo, where we took refuge from the heat in the shade of their garden. It was close to a large, free municipal parking lot, so that was a big plus. We got in there in the nick of time, right around last call for hot food before their kitchen stopped preparing lunch.

Arrivederci!

It was a great trip. The drive back was quite a bit longer than expected due to the G7 summit happening in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and all the extra police presence around the border to Austria and in the region in general. We were all exhausted by the time we made it home, safe and sound, and definitely earned a bottle or two of that prosecco.

  1. Google Translate says it means “grimace” — is that appetizing? []
  2. Those magical mutually exclusive properties in software development don’t appear to apply, which is great for the hungry traveler. []

Parte 4: San Valentino alla Muta

This is the final installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

The last part of our trip was a big change of scenery on the way back to Regensburg. Rather than going back the way we came through the mountains, we jagged west at Bozen/Bolzano towards Meran/Merano instead of east towards Brixen/Bressanone. The drive up through Bozen to the Brenner Pass is usually good for some oohs and ahhs, but the little towns along the route from Merano to San Valentino were adorable. It also took a lot longer than it looks on the map, because those are little country hillside roads getting you to Graun im Vinschgau, because those villages come with a speed limit of 50 km/h (≈30 mph) most of the way.

See what I mean?

Continue reading Parte 4: San Valentino alla Muta

Parte 3: Modena and Parma

This is the next installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

Modena and Parma were undiscovered country for us. We’d been to Bologna before (ten years ago!). We’d heard good things about Emilia-Romagna and Italian cuisine from various sources — including our waiter at Colline Emiliane on our trip to Rome. But for all the famous foody aspects of this bit of Italy (balsamico, parmesan cheese, prosciutto), we’d never actually been. Well, why the heck not? We loved both these cities.

Continue reading Parte 3: Modena and Parma

Parte 2: Ravenna

This is the next installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

It was only a few hours’ drive from the outskirts of Venice to the former capital of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna.

We’d been to the town before, but last time, it was dark, and cold, and difficult to navigate with our rental car. This time we arrived with plenty of daylight, parked the car once, and did all the exploration on foot. The weather was generally agreeable this time, too — though some fierce winds and a brief rain spell motivated us to spend a little more time under the awning at a restaurant eating piadine for lunch.

Some brief notes:

  • We stayed on the edge of the Altstadt in a cool (despite the dorky name) little boutique BnB called "M Club DeLuxe"
  • We bought the combo pass for the Basilica San Vitale, the mausoleum, Basilica Sant’Apollinare Nuovo — apparently they don’t offer just the mausoleum and Basilica San Vitale pass anymore, but it was worth it to us.
  • Watch out for tourists; there were more than we expected for the off season (second week of September)
  • Sarah reserved us a table for a very nice dinner in Ravenna at Al Cairoli: great quality, atmosphere (a table outside on a quiet pedestrian street), and reasonable prices.
Continue reading Parte 2: Ravenna

Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

It’s not every year that we get TWO trips to Italy. Last time our focus was Tuscany. This time was a mix of new and old destinations in Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, showing Sarah’s mom some stuff we knew, and some we didn’t. Clearly this is going to have to be split into several different posts. We took way too many pictures to cover it all in one post. Stay tuned for individual segments to follow.

The Route

Continue reading Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

I find traveling is a set of skills that stays sharp when you do it often, but we’ve been on a bit of a travel hiatus. After spending a couple of weeks (a long stretch for us) in Mexico this January, we pretty much stayed put for early 2018. Besides, there was plenty that needed doing here. But the drought ended with a road trip to the Cinque Terre, on the northwestern coast of Italy, south of Genoa. In blundering ahead with our rusty skills, we missed a few points on the mental checklist. Here is what we learned so that you don’t have to: Continue reading How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

Buongiorno Aosta, Ça va? Alles klar?

Mid-May 2017 we bugged out for (wait for it…) Italy again. But only just barely, kinda.

We started the trip out with a visit to Berlin to spend some time with our pal Snooker; that was in the works long before work stuff started amping up for me. So when it became clear that I needed a distraction from work stuff, we lumped a 6-day trip onto our 4-day weekend in Berlin with one stop overnight in our own place on the way from Berlin down and over to Aosta, Italy. Continue reading Buongiorno Aosta, Ça va? Alles klar?

A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work. Continue reading A week in Eastern Italy

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Catch up on the previous episodes here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Early on the morning of our departure from Naples, Rachel took a taxi to the airport and flew to Sicily to continue her adventures there. We started a long drive back from Naples to Regensburg, stopping overnight twice along the way. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii

It’s been a little hectic around here since we got back.

Our story thus far:

  • Sarah flew down to Venice to meet up with our pal Rachel
  • Cliff drove down to Piombino Dese to pick them up at the train station and eat and sleep at Ca’ de Memi
  • The three of us drove to Siena and explored for a few days
  • Then we made our way to Rome, where we walked A LOT and ate a lot
  • After five days in Rome, planned a route through Gaeta, tried some tielle there, and braced ourselves for Neapolitan traffic

It. Was. Bad. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part IV: Naples and Pompeii