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Once again, I have to say, it is simply easy by car to get to some beautiful parts of France, Spain, and Italy from our base in the Roannais, Rhône-Alpes.
This time, a fast auto-route with stunning, mountainous views through part of the French and Italian Alps to the north east of Lyon, straight in and out of the very long Fréjus Tunnel (over 8 miles, to be pretty exact!) and you are in Italy.
At the end of July we journeyed over to our friends, Mike and Pauline Wright, and their grandson, Max, in the little village of Cerré Marabino near Toano, close to the main township of Reggio Emilia, Northern Italy – an hour or so from Milan.
Great mountainous countryside with stunning panoramic views around every corner !
Also very near to Parma, this is a region famous for, of course, parma ham and parmesan cheese. And not far from their village is an amazing, family-run delicatessen, and wine boutique called Ferrarini’s. You just have to go in and fill your wicker basket, which they provide as you go in. It is an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of goodies – very difficult to resist ! So, don’t !!
Begun in an ancient villa set in ‘classic’ Italian countryside, among green hills in Reggio Emilia, Ferrarini’s, an historically very succesful family business, was established in 1956, primarily as a speciality cooked ham producer. Now they provide a whole range of high quality Italian products, including cheeses, preserves, wine, vinegars, and much more, and is a wonderful source of regional delicacies. They are a major group operation now with their own extensive range of branded goods.
There is no doubt, when in Italy, you eat and drink very well, indeed !
During our few days stay we also went to Mantua, a very attractive medieval city, with a typical Italianesque ‘old empire’ style, with old merchant houses, and a slightly decadent ‘feel’. A beautiful place, full of history, architecture, and some excellent restaurants.
Mantua (Italian: Màntova ) is a city and commune in Lombardy Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua’s historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family made it one of the main artistic, cultural, and notably, musical hubs of Northern Italy and the whole country itself.
Mantua is noted for its significant role in the history of opera and the city is known for its several architectural treasures and artifacts, elegant palaces( palazzi) and its medieval and Renaissance cityscape.
Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes created during the 12th century. These receive the waters from the River Mincio which descends from Lake Garda. The three lakes are called Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo, and Lago Inferiore.
Well worth a visit !
Our Italian sojourn did not stop there, though. We also managed a short visit to the remarkable town of Carpi.
Another superb historical place in the Emillia-Romagna region of northern Italy, north of Modena city.
Carpi is distinguished by its great piazza, in fact, the largest in the region. Notable landmarks also include the Renaissance town hall, formerly the castle of the Pio family, lords of Carpi from 1319 to 1525; the cathedral (begun 1514), with a Baroque facade (1667); the Romanesque church of St. Maria in Castello, or La Sagra (altered 1515); the former cathedral, with a Romanesque campanile (1217–21).
Our visits to this part of Northern Italy are always a delight, and we just adore the gastronomc pleasures to be found in this beautiful country. We are glad our friends, Mike and Pauline, have chosen to live there, and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity it has given us to see the sights, and enjoy the wonderful cuisine amongst some absolutely stunning countryside. I think we will be putting them in the diary again for next year !!