Day 273—Betty Boop

This morning as I left for the gym, my first visit back after eating and drinking my way through Italy for three weeks, I noticed the light shining through my Betty Boop rose was quite lovely so I stopped to take a few photos to put off the inevitable torture for a few more minutes.

Focal Length 170
ISO 100
f/5.6
1/60
SOOC

Day 272- Shoefiti

On our morning walk this morning in Redding where Bobo has been staying while I was away, I saw this pair of sneakers hanging over a power line. Sue said she’d heard that this sometimes means a drug dealer is nearby but I read there are lots of meanings, some drug-related but many, very benign. Regardless of the meaning,I think the term “Shoefiti” is priceless.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 100
F/7.1
1/250
WB mistakenly set to tungsten
SOOC

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Day 271— It’s Not The Stuff In The Green Can

I discovered the joy of cooking late in life and until I got my Microplane grater ten years ago or so, I had never grated my own parmesan cheese; I knew only of the packaged variety from Kraft that claims not to have any fillers, then proceeds to list fillers on its label…go figure. In Parma, we noticed that menus all listed Formaggio (cheese) as a course and whenever anyone ordered it, a huge chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano was wheeled to the table and pieces were chipped off using a coltellino, or small knife. When we visited the cooperative that produces Parmigiano Reggiano I wanted to bring home an entire wheel of this delectable cheese: it is high in calcium and other nutrients and lower in fat and sodium than other hard aged cheeses. Instead, I purchased two large slices, each over a kilo, and a couple of coltellini. One piece is a gift for my brother who also loves to cook and who has been caring for my parrot, Bobo, while I have been away. The other is mine, all mine, and I am already making a dent in it.

I thought I had better photograph it while some remains. It is laying on a special waxed paper that I was given at the cooperative for storing the cheese after I opened the plastic shrink wrap. And the coltellino works perfectly to shave off bits of cheese that I have been enjoying with a glass of wine in the evening since my return.

Focal Lengh 35mm
ISO 100
f/1.8
1/25
SOOC

Day 270—Hip, Hip, Hooray!

I’m still not back in my groove yet; my trip to Redding to pick up Bobo was postponed to Wednesday so I did a repeat of yesterday morning: on my way to take a shower this morning, I instead went back to bed at 8:30AM and slept until past noon. I hope my malaise disappears soon and that my enthusiasm for seeking out interesting photos will return. I did make a wine run to Costco this afternoon and when I returned late this afternoon, I had to put away the garbage cans that I forgot about putting away yesterday. On the wall near the garbage cans is a white climbing rose whose name escapes me at the moment and the rose hips are starting to appear. They were the only interesting thing I saw today that I wanted to photograph so, here they are. They look like cherry tomatoes.

Focal Length 200mm
ISO 320
f/5.6
1/60
SOOC

Day 269—Bevilacqua

One afternoon in Venice, we stumbled across a tiny shop called Bevilacqua next to a small canal; we had walked by it several times at night when the iron doors were down and there was no indication that anything was behind them. The shop is filled with gorgeous brocades and damasks and tassels and I was drawn in because of my love of fabrics. It was only after I got home that I read in Fodor’s that Bevilacqua has kept the weaving tradition alive in Venice since 1875, using 18th-century hand looms for its creations. Fabrics made by this firm have been used to decorate the Vatican, the Royal Palace of Stockholm, and the White House. I purchased a few tassels to give as gifts so now they will decorate the homes of a few commoners, but I decided to photograph them before I relinquished their beauty to someone else.

It was nice to be able to spend time with my camera this morning to think about the shot and what effect I was looking for. I used my 35mm prime lens, my tripod, my black backdrop, and long shutter speeds to achieve the look I wanted.

Focal Length 35mm
ISO 100
f/9
13 seconds
WB Sunshine
SOOC

Dat 268— Was It All a Dream?

When I looked at my passport this morning, the only visas stamped in it were from Switzerland, the country through which we entered and left Europe. In my foggy, jet lagged brain, I wondered for a second if we’d ever actually entered Italy, but then I found the one wine cork I saved from a favorite bottle from Alba. That’s visa enough. Yes, indeed, we were there! And, thanks, fellow photoblogger Melinda for suggesting the subject for today’s photo. I don’t think I could have come up with an idea on my own today.

Focal Length: 35mm
ISO 200
f/4
1/60
WB, cloudy
SOOC

Day 267– Two Broads in Italy Day 23– Zurich to SFO

Zurich is an expensive city. Our dinner last night was excellent but pricey. And while we awaited our plane’s departure today, SwissAir flight 38 to SFO, we discovered that the airport also is expensive. We stopped at a bar next to the gate and ordered glasses of wine and some water to use up the 7 Swiss Francs I had left. We were shocked that the bill was $34 USD plus the 7 Swiss Francs. Well, we’re on vacation and as Linda pointed out, we saved more than $600 each on our plane tickets because we bought them in late 2010. I guess I shouldn’t bitch too much but I found the bar tab a bit over the top.

We’re now three hours into our flight and we each have had 3 glasses of wine. The a$$hole in front of me has reclined his seat so I have no room and am claustrophobic and sweating. The reclined seat makes the LCD screen dark, so I can’t watch the in-flight videos so I decided to work on my blog.

Hours have passed since I started writing. It’s now more than ten hours into the flight and we’ll be landing in less than an hour. The flight has been miserable for me because of the cramped seats. I took the window seat on this trip because I had the aisle on the trip over. I was hot and claustrophobic so after a few hours I walked to the back of the plane to the galley and just stood there and stretched my legs for most of an hour. A few others wandered in, as well. They have water, coffee, juice, snacks, and are very friendly and helpful. I suspect they don’t want a riot on their hands so they treat us well. Every couple of hours the flight attendants give us water and snacks but have stopped offering wine :-(. When I finally cooled off a bit and got more comfortable, i spent a couple hours listening to piano jazz on my iPhone which helped my disposition.

This was our last day in Europe. It’s been a wonderful adventure. Italy was all that I was hoping for and more. We loved the countryside, the people, the food, the wine, the excitement and anticipation of the next stop. I hope those of you who are following “Two Broads in Italy” have enjoyed the saga. Tomorrow I’m returning to “In Focus Daily” and getting back to improving my photography skills.
Here are a few photos from today’s return to the United States and, as hokey travelogues often end with a sunset, I,too, am ending “Two Broads in Italy” with the beautiful sunset that welcomed us back to the Sacramento Valley this evening.

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Day 266– Two Broads in Italy Day 22– Heading Home

We are headed home. While waiting at the Milan train station, we refueled with copious amounts of wine and bought pannini for the trip. We had dinner in Zurich at the same place we ate when we arrived and met Hans again and Jan, our new waiter. We had a delicious dinner and lots more wine but we are ready to go home and we retired early. Tomorrow, the flight home.

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Day 265– Two Broads in Italy Day 21 — Cheese, Ham, Vinegar, Parma Style

Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and Balsamico Tradizionale to be exact. Our guide, Giulia and our driver, Pietro, picked us up at the hotel this morning at 8:30 and by 9:00 we were suited up and enveloped in the heady aromas of Parmegiano Reggiano. The facility is a cooperative owned by several farmers who provide milk twice daily to the cheese maker. Nothing goes to waste and the leftover liquid which is too acidic for use in cheese or dumping somewhere, is fed to those notorious gluttons, the pigs who will become Parma hams. We toured the factory and watched the cheese making process for a couple of hours before heading to a prosciutto factory to learn that only real Parma ham has a metal button impressed in it and other identifying factors. They even massage the exposed part of the ham with more pork fat to soften it and Linda and I are considering starting a skin care business based on it. Is the name, “Parma Fat, Sassy, and Smooth”, catchy enough?

Then off to lunch at a lambrusco winery which is produced here to cut through the fatty foods; lunch was local prosciutto, salami, a kind of cured ham not sold in the US, Parmigiana Reggiano, and ricotta stuffed ravioli with butter. That lambrusco, and a lightly sparkling white helped cut the fat but we would have devoured it all without the wine.

We ended the day at a facility that makes traditional balsamic vinegar which we learned is made from only grape juice and must be aged at least 12 years and in order to be sold as Balsamico Tradizionale, it must be bottled in a special bottle designed by a guy who designs Ferraris. In the past 30 or so years, the Italians have become very particular about the foods that represent them and they have done well.

A we drove back into Parma, Pietro pointed out the Barilla factory, but sadly, since the big Barilla push in the US a few years ago, our Barilla is made in the US and is owned by Kraft Foods.

This is our last full day in Italy. We leave by train for Zurich tomorrow and then fly to SFO Saturday.

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Day 264– Two Broads in Italy Day 20 — Getting to Parma

We left Venice this morning taking one last ride on the vaporetto back to the train station. As I thought might happen, last night’s caffè doble kept me awake, the super concentrated caffeine made my heart pound long into the night. I won’t be doing that again any time soon.

Venice has no motorized land vehicles so the streets are quiet and there is a calm about it despite the hordes of tourists. We will miss Venice. We boarded a train to Bologna which was packed with tourists on their way to Florence. We were happy to exit the crowded train, even with its complimentary white wine and peanuts, to board the much emptier train to Parma.

Our guide books describe Parma as quite lovely but did not alert us to the complete remodeling of the train station which made exiting the train treacherous. We followed a very elderly man to the exit; he took so long to get down the aisle that by the time he reached the exit and opened the door, the train started to depart for Milano. The door was heavy and closed automatically and started to close on the old man halfway down the steps. I tried to keep the door open but was overpowered by the automatic system. I kept opening it and it kept snapping shut as I kept fighting it shouting that we needed help. An Italian woman on the train started shouting to someone outside who finally came to our aid, stopped the train and got the old man, and us, off at the Parma stop. Just a little excitement in an otherwise nondescript day of travel.

When we finally got to our hotel, we were unhappy that we couldn’t get the A/C to come on plus the room was small and overlooked an ugly flat asphalt roof. We complained and were moved to another room overlooking the main street. Parma seems large but the traffic is not as frenzied as other places we have visited and many people ride bicycles instead of scooters so it’s much quieter. We hadn’t eaten anything yet today so while we awaited our new room, we walked downtown to Salumeria Garibaldi, an Italan deli, where Nìcola, the cute young deli man, served us meatballs, lasagna, gnocchi and vegetable flan with red wine to ease the hunger pangs. He was thrilled when I told him my name was Carlotta because that is his girl friend’s name. He recommended several places for dinner but now that we have already eaten and drunk so much, I’m not sure when we’ll go to dinner.

Today was an uninspiring day for photos but here are a few of the deli.

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