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. []

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

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