Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Things We Learned
Traditional balsamic vinegar is not the stuff we think of as balsamic vinegar. It is thick and is sometimes almost as old as we are. It is made through a long process of transferring vinegar to smaller and smaller wooden barrels. New barrel sets are started with the birth of each daughter. Balsamic vinegar farmers always have a day job because the process is slow and not labour intensive. Many people in Modena and Reggio-Emilia have barrels in their attics.
It isn’t worth driving along the coast of the Mediterranean unless your prime interest is seeing restaurant after restaurant in long narrow lots that obscure ALL VIEWS OF THE SEA!
Italian drivers are surprisingly predictable, if aggressive. Truck drivers are accommodating and stay in the right hand lane. Vespas are scary and I’m just glad we didn’t kill anyone weaving in and out of traffic on the roundabouts.
You can drive through a mountain for two kilometres.
Our kids rose to the occasion of our absence. Our parents were wonderful to the kids. God answered our prayers. We felt home was in good hands.
There are smart, sensible, useful ways to build strollers and bicycles so that they are useful for life in all weather and needs.
The city of Parma is not fond of prostitutes so they stand on pastoral country roads, day and night, waiting for truck drivers. They build little fires to stay warm at night. They keep me awake thinking of them at night.
I am glad it is not my job to dress like a gladiator and wait for people to take my photograph. Seriously. That is someone’s job.
People are kind. Especially Marco, who met us on a scary roundabout, took us on a guided tour of Modena, charted and paid for a fabulous Modena meal, and presented us with bottles of balsamic vinegar.
It’s nicer not to be crammed into the middle seat for a transatlantic flight.
Wine is cheaper than water.
Traveling is not cheap, even when you take buses and walk everywhere. It is false economy to skimp on good food though.
Exploring a country is a lot of fun.
We really like each other. After almost 18 years of marriage.
And we are a great team.