Monday, February 25, 2013

Remember That Time We Hung Out In Venice?

I got to return to Venice! It's definitely my favorite city in Italy so far.

My reason for going was even better than the place itself, though. I got to see Michelle and Sam who are visiting from London!!!

Oh, and I got to leave this freezing, snowy city behind for a day.

I'm just glad they don't stop public transit here when it snows. It made me a little nervous to see the trains traveling on tracks covered in a few inches of snow, but I guess it's not a big deal.

I love Venice, but it is incredibly hard to get around. I used google maps on my phone and still had an insane amount of trouble. I got lost when I was about a minute away from the hotel. After 30 minutes of wandering, I asked someone if he knew where the Hotel Bartolomeo was. He pointed around the corner. Yup. It was literally 20 seconds away around some little side street.

I waited in the lobby about an hour for Sam and Michelle. Then the concierge got a phone call and I knew immediately who was talking quite loudly into his ear and asking how on earth to get to the hotel. Luckily, I was able to help. Sam and Michelle got lost 20 seconds away from the hotel just like me.

After that ordeal, we picked up some pizza (a piadina for me) and a piece of Sacher torte and a scone thing-y.

I tried to warn them that Sacher tortes are not like chocolate cake, but they found out the hard way. I have to say, I wasn't the biggest fan of the Sacher torte at first, but it's growing on me.

Sam being a creeper in the morning.

A mystery item from the free breakfast.


I love all the tiny packages they have here. Tiny nutella packets, tiny cheese packets...

Anyways, back to the fact that we were in Venice.

Hanging out in front of the Duomo.

The Palazzo Ducale (Doge Palace).

Me pretending to almost fall in the water and then actually almost falling into the water.

I'm classy.

Michelle and Sam being in awe of laundry hanging in the streets and then proceeding to take one thousand pictures of it. So many pictures that Michelle managed to run out of memory on her camera.

We stopped for cappuccino and espresso as I told them it was a necessary experience to have in Italy.

These cute little birdies joined us.

Look at those smiles.

Sam discovered the beauty of the two-liter water bottle.

And we went on a gondola!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our gondola guy is totally photo-bombing our picture.

It looks like I took a picture of the same thing over and over but I swear I didn't. It's just that each canal is so pretty.

After working up an appetite by sitting in the gondola, we went to lunch.

I got the 4 stagione pizza--one of my favorites. I liked this one even more than usual though because it had spicy salami instead of gross sausage.

Michelle had simple pasta al pomodoro.

We parted in some random piazza.

It took me ten minutes to figure out which way to go to get to the train. Record time! I do love looking like an idiot as I walk around to each pathway and then turn around to try a different one, all the while staring intently at my phone and cursing at it under my breath.

I miss them already. Actually, I missed them 30 seconds after they left.

So, on the way to the train, I drowned my sorrows by ogling at all of the bakery windows.

They had so many different kinds of torrone.

And, of course, Sacher tortes were all over the place.

Those weird gummy things.

BIG meringues.

I went ahead and got some torrone even though it was super expensive. It was caramel flavored. I'm using past tense because I finished it already...

When I return to America, I will be 500 pounds.

Have fun in Rome and Barcelona, Sam and Michelle!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Are All The Stores Closed?

Yeah, they definitely won't be happy about that picture. I'm not doing well with taking flattering photos lately. Well, anyways, this is Brad and Melissa enjoying their first ever gnocco fritto! And they totally doubted me when I said it was really yummy. They thought it would be greasy and disgusting.

Which begs the question, do I usually enjoy food that is greasy and disgusting???

Considering that half of my diet consists of apples and pearled barley, I think not.

Most of Melissa and Brad's visit to Modena involved eating. And not necessarily because that's the only thing to do here. More because it was snowing and we were freezing and soaking wet and just wanted somewhere warm to sit.

For lunch, we went to Pizza Al Taglio.

They got pizza. I got a salami and parmigiano panino. I've had so much pizza that I usually go for a sandwich.

Those are faces of joy.

Around 3 o'clock, Melissa and Brad discovered what it's like to live in Modena. We were cold and full and wanted to do some shopping.

I didn't realize that it had not reached 3:30 yet. As we walked around and saw all the shops that were closed up, I mentioned that a lot of stores are closed Thursday afternoons.

Melissa said, "Meri, it looks like everything is closed."

Me: "Oh, wait, what time is it?"

Brad: "3"

Me: "Oh. Okay, the stores will be open in a half hour."

Melissa and Brad: * stare at me looking dumbfounded *

Me: "Yeah. They have a 3 hour lunch break usually. Closed from 12:30 to 3:30."

I'm pretty used to the schedule now, but these guys could not believe it.

We eventually got to go to aperitivo, Brad's new favorite thing on the planet. Basically, you pay for a beverage and then get access to the buffet of finger foods for free.

Good deal.

Melissa had Lambrusco wine and Brad had a vodka martini I believe.

I had Planter's Punch. Melissa called it the "lollipop drink." Yeah, it was pretty sugary.

Free food! Sort of.

Then we went to Da Danilo for dinner--the same place I went with Alex. They were impressed.

I got the gnocchi.

Melissa, the house made tortelloni.

And Brad the radicchio risotto.

For dessert, this thing. Sort of like a semi freddo with a lot of crumbled candy in it, and doused in hot chocolate. One of Brad's favorite desserts of all time!

And of course, gelato with balsamic vinegar.

I hope Melissa and Brad have fun during their final days in Italy!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brad and Melissa Are Here!

Yay! Brad and Melissa are here!

That is the Duomo in Milan. Wow. Right when you come out of the Metro, you see this. It's pretty incredible.

But, before heading inside, we needed to get some foodsies in us. Rick Steve's recommended this amazing pizza place. I got a prosciutto panino. Oh my god that bread is so amazing.

Melissa is going to hate me for putting this photo online.

When we did go into this Duomo, we lit a candle for our Phillies starting Spring Training!

This was a cool walkway thing.

We went to the Museo Teatrale Alla Scala, except that the theatre part wasn't open that day. I think they were showing a play.

Melissa and Brad sent me to scope out the museum to see if it was worth it. They told me later I did a bad job of deciding. They didn't find it very entertaining.

Well, I was happy. This guy is totally making a grumpy cat face.

Then some cappuccino for my very tired companions. They were not happy when I told them we had to wait until at least 7 pm to eat dinner.

Next, we visited the castle.

It was super cool.

We visited one of the many museums the castle offered.

I love stained glass.

Finally, it was dinner time. Another Rick Steve's recommendation.

To start, prosciutto crudo.

Then, a lovely vegetable soup.

And then three pastas, two of which I failed to capture on my camera. This one was my favorite, with zucchini and baby shrimp.

The next day we took the train into Bologna, which I like a whole lot more than Milan. Milan reminds me of New York City too much.

Bologna is like Modena, just on a much, much larger scale.

The guy in charge of Melissa and Brad's breakfast is awesome. He made us espresso. I want to be his best friend. It stinks that he's in a different city.

Another castle-y type thing in the main Piazza.

More fun architecture.

One of the two towers of Bologna.

I left Brad and Melissa around 5 to catch a train back to Modena. I hope they enjoyed a relaxing aperitivo and dinner bolognese.

I was more than happy to bring back to my room some goodies that Melissa brought me from home.

Peanut butter, how I've missed you.

Don't get me wrong, nutella is great, just not 100% of the time.

Melissa made me these absolutely delicious cookies. I've almost finished them already.

My all-time favorite tea. I enjoyed my first cup today.

I should be seeing them again on Thursday when they visit Modena. We will eat gnocco fritto and many grapes.