Not quite Phileas Fogg but an appropriate post heading because today folks, we reached that milestone. 180 days on the road. It was never a target, I mean, there were never any targets, but nevertheless, it’s now. But the drama isn’t over for us, not yet, all largely centred around Covid measures and other matters. This next week will be unpredictable, to say the least.

With our travels nearing completion, this is likely to be the final post (or perhaps last but one) and I’m happy that it centres around family. So don’t rush this post folks, do it the Italian way 🙂

So you will recall we stayed with Claudia in Rome for a handful of nights. For this last weekend, we were fortunate enough to stay with my Godmother (Teresa) – who I get to see once or twice a decade! So every visit is special, precious.

After a couple of weeks in Italy, Vivian had felt she had soaked up the culture and way of life pretty well. Then she came here and the education restarted. For me too. We were now properly in the countryside with hardly another soul around. Also it’s roasting hot (mid 30s) with heavenly blue and fields of green in abundance.

Departing La Spezia we stayed in Parma for the night before taking a 25 minute train to Fornovo. Here, Andrea, the Son of my Godmother, picked us up. I last saw him in 2010! Boy turns man. And that was the start of two full days of, well, let’s put this in absolute terms: Eating, drinking and catch-up chatting. A big difference for Vivie and I as our regular days consist of exploring and achieving circa 20,000 steps. But not for these last two days and boy, we were thankful with dry 33-35 degree heat upon us! Not nice.

Within 1 hour of us arriving, Aunty Teresa had served up fresh lasagne. We sat outside and ate in the shade in the most serene, peaceful surroundings. Surprisingly (or not) we ate everything including homemade tiramisu. Also, delightful, also devoured.

 

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We sat, ate, drank, and talked for hours before each of us retired for a siesta. La dolce vita.

Before we knew it and after some rest, it was supper time and we dined out. Lamb shank and seafood were our chosen foods along with starter and dessert. Not quintessentially Italian, but delicious all the same.

 

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Sunday morning arrives and Aunty Teresa offers us tea (PG tips) with homemade Italian cake.

Straight after the cuppa, Andrea took myself and Vivian to visit Borgo val di Taro – the village of my ancestors and in particular, my Nonna (Nan). With much of the older generation no longer with us, God rest their souls, there was thankfully an old favourite face still around 🙏

40 years apart we are. Aunty Luisa looked incredible and has thick locks of hair that even my Mother would be envious of.

 

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Look closely and you’ll see Aunty Luisa’s gangster-style hand gesture aimed at society 🤣

Joke, a complete coincidence but hilarious all the same when I came to notice this afterward. She returned with her Husband to Italy from England 30 years ago and could still speak decent English. I couldn’t believe it. It’s also hard to convey in words respect and admiration but those feelings will never leave.

We left Borgo to meet closer to Cafragna for lunch, Andrea and his partner joined. Feast your eyes on this. Felt like we were back in Brazil for a few moments!

 

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For us it’s crazy to think back just a couple of weeks ago and how in 48 hours with no prior thought of Italy, I hatched a last-minute plan from the US to get us here surprising even Claudia. And what a move that was. We wouldn’t have traded these last two weeks for anywhere else in the World.

I can speak for Vivian when I say that like me, she has had the most amazing time in Italy. Her understanding (and some speaking) of Italian impressed our hosts. She started picking more and more up thanks to Claudia’s teachings those weeks back and now, well, I think she’s now quite keening on adding Italian to her future language list.

Speaking of our hosts, they live in a house in the countryside of Cafranga within the commune of Fornovo di Taro. Mind you, not your average house. If you have both the means and ability to build your own house, you know it’s going to be special. This was very much that.

I have not placed any pictures of the house on the blog purely because I want the rest of the family in the UK that are reading this to enjoy this through their own eyes, not my camera lens when they come and visit here in the next couple of years.

I’ll show you the view from our bedroom window though.

 

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I reckon that qualifies as rural, huh? 🙂


Switzerland

Not a country you perhaps expected to hear of in this trip but yesterday that’s where we were headed from Italy. I recently discovered that the Swiss were letting in vaccinated passengers with not too many other questions asked so that got the ball rolling.

We have a couple of days here which is enough time for Vivian to bag another new country to her list 🙂

But we would have to put ourselves through one further tough travel day to get here.

 

  • Car ride courtesy of my Godmother’s Son Andrea to reach Parma train station – 25 minutes

  • Catch the train from Parma to Milan – 1.5 hours

  • Locate and board a local tram within Milan to reach somewhere else in Milan – 15 minutes

  • Find a private medical building to take a PCR test (pre-booked and pre-paid!) – 15 minutes

  • Did the deed, took a different tram to a metro station – 10 minutes

  • Caught a metro train to the other side of Milan to the bus station – 45 minutes

  • Catch a bus from Milan to Geneva – 5.5 hours

  • Endure (like every other passenger) a thorough search of all luggage at the borders – 15 minutes

     

    Two very different images at just a 90-degree angle difference!

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  • We make it to Geneva, found the fast-food joint known as ‘Subway’, paid £20 for two decent wraps. Yes, £20. Then finally began the walk with our heavy bags to a hotel. All in all, 45 minutes

Hotel arrival – 8 pm. A 12 hour travel day.

These ‘travel days’ are so exhausting, our evening’s reward was not so exhausting…

 

Bonsoir, Geneva
Bonsoir, Geneva

4 Responses

  1. Hi so happy to hear that you spent time with the lovely Teresa, Umberto and Andrea. I heard that the house is fantastic . And of course dear Aunty Louisa bless her.
    Are you hoping to see Rob in Switzerland?
    Looking forward to seeing you both soon.
    Safe travel xxx

    • Hello. Yes, a wonderful stay. We’ve been most fortunate to have stayed with Claudia then Teresa’s family. To think, only three weeks ago and it wouldn’t have been possible.

      No, after that 12 hour travel day, we need to rest and work. In fact, we have only left our room today for food and water. There is a lot to do, largely thanks to the useless British government. 😤 x

    • Haha, we wish. Although I’ve now had to show her what that place is and she’s desperate to visit 🤣

      Bugger.

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