Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 18: Milan to Modena

Day 18:  Milan to Modena

POTD:   Sir: Senhor

Weather: High 60s to mid 70s in Milan, even warmer in Modena - very pleasant having dinner outside at night

THB and DB get up and breakfast with the YTs, they are heading out mid-morning through Zurich for Africa and a two week safari. Since it is early, and we purchased tickets at the hotel, we’re one of the first in the Duomo. Plenty of security, guys with machine guns patrolling outside, scans before you can enter.

The obvious description: massive. Overwhelming large. Intimidating. Not quite Kiefer.

High up, across the street from the back of the Duomo

The highest point of the church

At 9, we take the elevator (you can walk up) to the terrace, basically the roof, to walk around and take in the view. THB is first off the first elevator. Milan, like many European cities, has kept inner city skyscrapers to a minimum, so you can see quite a ways. Also, we can see there is plenty of preservation work going on that isn’t obvious from the ground.

Spend the rest of the morning packing and confirming our train trip to Bologna, then lunch at Bice, another good tip from YT. Share melone con prosciutto and then THB has linguine with pesto (rich) and DB has linguine with mushrooms. With a bottle of Peroni, a glass of wine, lots of the circular onion crackers, and water: 83E.

A quick taxi ride to the train station, 10E. The theme with taxis: usually a very expensive flag drop (7E is typical) and a fast running meter, and they don’t use credit cards. Looks like Uber has another target to go after.

Final shots from around Milan:

In front of train station

The train system works with people milling around waiting for their train’s platform to post, then as a train is assigned a huge surge towards that platform. Our train is slow to post, giving us a bit of anxiety, especially since other later departing trains have already been posted, and the featured arrival city is Salerno, not Bologna.
Some sort of wifi hotspot device?

Everything self-corrects, our train is posted and, as it turns out, we have assigned seats back-to-back, in 2nd class. The hotel purchased the tickets for us the night before, 44E each (1st class was double that). Bologna is the first stop, the ride an hour.
a famous spot: Lovers Point
We struggle to find our ride, there are conflicting signs about Park and Kiss so we’re confused. Our driver is in the Park and Kiss/Taxi area; it took us two trips up the escalator to resolve the difference. Opera02 is in the foothills above Modena, about 45 minutes away, back towards Milan. Everyone felt this was better than no train and having a ride right from Milan.

As we approach Opera02, there’s a party breaking up. It’s National Communion day (that was not apparent in Milan) that seemed to change things around, though we never saw anything that implied a holiday was on. The hotel is an expansion of a winery and vinegar producer, the younger generation (Mattia) has taken the business in new directions.

We’re in room 4, and barely have time to say hello to our tour guides, scatter our belongings, find out that the hotel’s wifi needs to be rebooted, how to work the bathroom lights, check the magnificent view from our private deck, and see that our room is actually a mini-loft with a chaise longue and a desk and TV upstairs and bed and bathroom downstairs before meeting the rest of our tour group. However, one item that THB does note right away: NO LEDGES IN THE BATHROOM!! Not good…we’ll get used to it, we’re here for a week.

All the rooms at Opera02 are taken up by our tour: 3 brothers (40s to early 50s) and their wives/partners from Toronto, two couples from Houston (50s and 40s), our two coordinators (Jen from Riva Cucina and Ona a travel coordinator for out of the ordinary trips/events), and us, easily the oldest of the group, 14 in total. One of the Houston couples knows the youngest of the three brothers. Three birthdays within a few days of each other, one yesterday, one today, and DB in two days on the 24th (Bob Dylan is on Highway 75 on the 24th).

Lambrusco is huge here, known for years as the grape of sweet sparkling wine. The locals are trying to change the image and make it less sweet and more expensive

Drinks on the deck, as Mattia explains a bit about the history of the region. A short tour of the winery downstairs (basically large stainless tanks, very few barrels), more drinks and an appetizer poolside, then dining on the deck of the restaurant. (No discussion of the very large dark room full of vinegar in different size barrels across from our rooms.)

Very thin prosciutto on puff pastry

Terrific steak course (parmesan on arugula)

Dinner is excellent: fava bean and parmesan soufflé (or "flan"), tortellini in broth, pasta with cream sauce (and some unusual topping that THB can’t pin down), lasagna, steak and salad, a platter of grilled veggies, semifreddo (semi-frozen) chocolate mousse with sliced almonds. The only dish THB didn’t think was top-notch was the pasta in cream sauce (though the pasta was very unusual: short thick orange-colored sticks). Plus many glasses of the full range of the winery (with the exception of the beer that Mattia is just starting up that has 5% grape juice).

With the continual pouring of wines and the quantity of food, we’re overwhelmed, and that’s with being judicious on the drinking and eating. First impressions have been formed, THB will say more as we get a bit more “data” on our tour members.

Final note:  a gorgeous orange full moon raises during the middle of dinner. Quite spectacular!
Plus stars...we're in the country now


  1. Isn't Modena the place for Balsamic vinegar?

    1. Yes! Next post to give more info...THB