Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Arrival and Hotel

We drove in from Lago di Bolsena sometime around 7:00 p.m., expecting to have missed rush hour traffic. Whoops: we landed smack in the middle of it. A friendly taxi driver told us Italians start and finish their workday later, and consequently rush hour traffic runs later. We followed instructions from our GPS and rolled up to our hotel, the Church Palace, oohing and aahing at the gated entrance to the generous and secluded parking around, set several hundred yards back from the Via Aurelia. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part II: Sleeping and Eating in Rome

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part I

In May 2016 we took our longest road trip yet through Italy. It was a challenge to plan, given three participants on two continents, all with their own scheduling constraints, but we pulled it off to great success.

1st Leg, Regensburg to Piombino Dese to Siena

Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part I

Austro-Slovene-Italian Triangle

After the rest of Germany came back from Easter, we hit the road for a trip through the mountains from Regensburg to Graz, Austria to Lake Bled, Slovenia on the way to Verona, Italy. We had great weather most of the time. This was our second try on a few days in Verona, and we’re glad we gave it another shot. Continue reading Austro-Slovene-Italian Triangle

St. John’s Terrace

St. John’s Terrace
http://www.stjterrace.it/
street: Via Gabi 7, Appio Latino, 00183 Rome
email: info @ stjterrace.it
phone: +39 335 63 96 671

View from St. John's TerraceWe were in Rome for the first time last month and it left quite an impression. Actually, it started leaving an impression before we even got there – shopping for accommodations took my breath away. I knew that it would be expensive, but the types of places that I usually look for were well beyond what I will spend per night. It quickly became clear that hotels were out of the question, so I started sifting through B&Bs and vacation rentals. That’s how I found St. John’s Terrace. Continue reading St. John’s Terrace

Italian Grocery Roadtrip Price Comparison

Superfino Carnaroli Risotto RiceWe did a road trip down to Northern Italy in December 2012 primarily to visit the grocery store(s) there. We ate like royalty in a fantastic agriturismo and spent the day with the best weather of the weekend exploring cute towns in the area…but to be honest, those are just perks. The whole point was to stock up on wine from Castello di Roncade and supplies — hopefully cheaper or of better quality or variety — for the coming year. Along the way down, as we approached our destination, we made note of signs for hypermarkets and followed up on them using the WiFi in our room. We settled on the Iper in Castelfranco as the closest in the area.

Hmm. How’d we do?

Item Castelfranco Regensburg
Risotto rice (kg):
Arborio
Carnaroli
€1,25
€1,35
€1,59
€3,19
€7,58
flour for pasta-making (kg):
Tipo 00
Semolina
€0,59
€1,70
€2,99
dried pasta (500g):
Tubetti
Ditali
Ditalini
€0,39
€0,55
€0,84
€1,14
€1,39
Olive oil (L):
Various medium-grade local and house brands €3,45
€3,49
€3,99
€4,83 (in a 3-l jug)
€3,59
€3,72
Cheeses (kg):
Asiago
Grana Padano (10 months)
Bella Lodi
Parmigiano-Reggiano
€9,99-11,99 €19,00
€19,90
€22,50

Okay, so we can see that olive oil was not such a big win, price-wise. But we loved perusing the selection and choosing between cold-pressed cloudy unfiltered and extra frooty fancy foil-wrapped varieties. And the freshly-baked wood-fired oven pizzas and arancini at the in-house rosticceria and pizzeria were motivation enough to stop in, even without the bulk staple purchases. Can’t wait to see how those stack up against supplì later this week.

Gran Turismo del Veneto

Well, truthfully, it was a relatively short road trip in a rented Ford Focus. But I’m working on my Italian. With just two days of lead time (I found out my work schedule would permit it, after all), Sarah rented us a car and a place to sleep at Ca’ de Memi in mid-December in the Veneto, and we were off. Continue reading Gran Turismo del Veneto

Ca’ de Memi

The Joint


Agriturismo Ca’ de Memi de Scquizzato Ottorino
via Roma 4/B
35017 Piombino Dese PD

Tel.: +39 049 93 66 516
Mobile: +39 349 69 87 953
Email: info@cadememi.it
Web: http://www.cadememi.it

For our last minute trip to the Veneto, we stayed at Ca’ de Memi, which I found in a rather roundabout way. I knew we wanted to stay near Roncade in order to pick up wine from Castello di Roncade. But I didn’t want to stay there; we stayed there last time and, while we enjoyed it, I wanted to sample some other offerings of the region. Continue reading Ca’ de Memi

Quick jaunt down to Italy

I got a chance at a couple days off, allowing me to use up all my vacation days for 2012 (not as easy it sounds!), so we jumped on it, intending to import our favorite groceries:

Sarah reserved us a car and place to sleep at an agriturismo bed-and-breakfast in Veneto and we drove through breathtaking combinations of sky, snow, and scenery in Austria. When we crossed the border into Italy, everything turned gray and slushy. We trudged on through slippery, rainy valleys until we arrived in Piomobino Dese.

Continue reading Quick jaunt down to Italy

Italian Road Trip: Part Six, Roncade and the drive back

This is the sixth and final part of our road trip through northern and central Italy in mid-November, 2011. See Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five to catch up from the beginning.


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Arriving at Castello di Roncade was, thankfully, much easier than all the rest of the places we stayed combined, and multiplied by ten. Look how easy it was to park!

Sarah picked this place for us to stay because it was an apartment — not just a hotel room — in the right price range and the right part of the country. We’d changed plans with not much notice; the last leg of the trip was intended for the Cinque Terre region, but the floods there put us off that idea and so we ended up in Ravenna and Veneto on our last two days. Thus we didn’t know anything about this place upon arrival. For example, that

  • It’s a castle.
  • And a winery.
  • Owned by nobility.
  • It’s so darn pretty there.

When knocked on the door to the office to announce our presence, an older gentleman kind of abruptly showed us to our apartment, insisted we’d be staying more than just one night, until he asked us our name and checked his records and realized he’d confused us with someone else. Then he instructed us to go visit his wine shop. We started unpacking the car and saw him pedal off on a tiny bicycle in the direction of town.

Our curiosity piqued, we moseyed across the grounds from the apartments to the wine shop and learned a little about the history of the noble family, the castle, the vines from the salesman and suddenly realized that we’d been dealing with the Baron. Taking advantage of the slow season, we got as many details about the cultivation and production process of the wine as we wanted, all while sampling away. We resolved to purchase 3 different sorts of reds:

And our helpful, friendly wine guy then offered an impromptu (and free!) tour of the wine production center — the vineyards, fermentation vats, oak aging barrels, bottling machines, the works. We were wowed by the process, equipment, and history, and that put us in a hungry mood for our last evening meal in Italy on this trip.

Next time, I’d like to develop more language chops before we head off on a week’s journey through a region. We needed mostly no help, restaurant-wise, but even those situations weren’t fool Cliff-proof. On our last evening in Italy, we followed the our host the Baron’s recommendation for a stroll into Roncade’s center to eat at La Rocca. I decided, since I was hungry and it was our last night, to follow the Primi/Secondi dinner courses, and I saw an offering for local-style sausage and polenta…and [Italian word outside my limited vocabulary]. “Hmm,” I thought, “I don’t know what those are, but I know I’ll like the sausage and polenta, so why not? It’s probably some kind of grilled vegetable nicely complimenting the sausage, which is nice, because you don’t get a whole lot of vegetables when you order just primi (starches like pasta and rice) and secondi (meats).”

Those unknown menu items? They were ribs. I seem to recall from our road trip to Croatia and back through Udine that our pals at This International Life have a book specifically about Italian regional cuisine terms — would you guys care to share the title/author with us in the comments?

After a pleasant breakfast in the Castello’s kitchen the next morning, we bid the Baron and the winery staff arrivederci and set out on the road back to Regensburg. We were driving the toll roads, mostly, in order to get our rental car back on time. However, a secondary (secondo?!) objective (obiettivo?!) was to stop at an Iper or IperCoop or perhaps a CarreFour and stock up on groceries. But from the toll roads, this is not easy. You see a suitable market from the highway and then have to figure out how to get there on your own. Our GPS was worthless for seeking out supermarkets on the fly. After a couple attempts in different cities along route home, we nearly gave up, but the third time (near Vicenza) was a charm, and we put our cooler and ice packs (thanks to Castello’s apartment freezer) to good use keeping our newly acquired cheeses and a few meats cool until ready for our deep freezer. Those supermarkets also offer excellent, cheap lunch items: arancini, pizza, grilled vegetables and plenty of other prepared dishes to go or for consumption on premises.


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So, that was our Italian road trip. I’d say we enjoyed it much more than previous experiences would have led us to believe. Some bullet points:

    Favorite parts of the trip:

  • Driving through Chianti
  • Impromptu wine tasting (good thing we were done driving for the day…)
  • How kind and accommodating people were with our attempts at Italian
    Lessons learned:

  • Try not to blow fuses, but if you’re going to do it, do it where the staff is energetically helpful, like at La Reunion in Ravenna, and have that travel flashlight handy
  • the street signs don’t agree with directions don’t agree with maps — be prepared
  • ask hotels where to park before you get there, and don’t forget to bring all that helpful info you printed out to paper with you
    Stuff we’d do differently / on the list for next time:

  • Keep going further south, or maybe start with a flight in and drive from there (if we can bear to not schlep home a carfull of groceries, that is)
  • Bring friends
  • Make a mix CD, or make sure the rental car’ll take audio in out of an iPod