Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parma and Saragna

On Saturday we woke up early and took a 9am train to Parma. When we arrived we headed to the tourist office like our program director told us to, so we could get more information about transportation to il Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano, or, the Museum of Parmigiano Cheese. Yes, Italy has food museums, and they are so fun! They also have ones for prosciutto and tomatoes, but we didn't get a chance to go to those.

Anyway, the lady at the tourist office told us which bus to take, and when we got to the stop we realized that the next bus didn't come for another 45 minutes. So we waited there and it finally arrived, but after being on it for about 20 minutes, we were starting to get worried because the museum closes at 1:00pm for siesta and our bus wasn't scheduled to get there until 12:45p. Also, after a few stops, we realized that we were in the middle of freaking nowhere...

We also realized that the bus stops weren't like they are in Rome...there were extra little stops that people could get off of if need be. So our count of how many stops we needed to wait was thrown off. We were getting a little nervous, but luckily the second of the many nice people we would meet this weekend stepped into the picture. The Asian woman sitting in front of me must have heard us speaking English, and she turned around and asked us where we were going. We told her we were going to the Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano in Saragna, and it turns out that she lives there. She gave us perfect directions to the museum from the bus stop we were supposed to get off at because she "didn't want us to get lost." She also told us exactly which stop to get off, and she really tried to make sure that we understood what she was saying. She was so nice! It turns out she was originally from the Philippines, then the United States, and now she has lived in Italy for the past twenty years and her husband is Italian. So thanks to her, we found the museum perfectly, and we were able to get in before it closed. Thank God for her, because if we hadn't met her we would still be on the bus looking for the museum. :)

On our five minute walk from the bus stop

We found it!

Even though it was located in the middle of a random field...

Some tools that were used long ago when making Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Who knew there was a patron Saint of cheesemakers?

Huge vat

Pictures of the old cheese-making process

The best part...our tasting!

It was amazing

The older lady who worked at the museum was very friendly and also spoke no English (noticing a trend for this weekend? :)) [but that was okay because it's more fun that way and gives me a chance to practice] asked me to sign the guestbook because they like to know who visited the museum. She told me to write where we study, where we're from, etc. When I said New Jersey, she seemed confused, so when I told her that it is close to New York, she liked that better, haha!

Afterwards we headed back to the town center of Saragna (which is approximately 20 feet long...okay, I kid, but not by much) and had a quick lunch before we waited for the bus back. This was when another nice person stepped in. We were taking the last bus of the day back and we were waiting by the stop for about 20 minutes. An Italian woman walked up and waited for a bit too, but she approached us and, speaking only Italian, asked us if we were waiting for the bus. I told her yes, and she motioned for us to go with her. We didn't know what she was talking about, but we decided that it had to be for a good reason so we did. Turns out there was a sign near the bus stop that we hadn't seen saying that the bus doesn't stop at the stop we were waiting at on Saturdays for some reason, but instead it picks people up at the next little stop further down the road. She brought us there and we got on the correct bus...so if it weren't for her, we'd probably still be stuck in Saragna. We have no idea what we would have done if we hadn't met her, because even though it was only 4:15pm, that was the last bus of the day back to Parma. We were lucky!

When we returned to Parma we relaxed in the main square with a pastry

Walked into another cute church

And admired Parma's most famous products which were sold in practically every store...prosciutto:

and of course, Parmigiano Reggiano

We hopped on an evening train back to Bologna, and had an awesome dinner at a little restaurant we found. This was one of the best things I've eaten so far since I've been here, even though it looks pretty disgusting. :)

Pumpkin ravioli with bacon in an aged balsamic sauce

...followed by delicious Tiramisu, which I have no picture of because I gobbled it up in about five seconds.

And that concluded our time in Bologna and Parma! We headed back to our hotel and went to bed early because once again, we had an early train to catch...this time to Milan!


Anonymous said...

So I tots left you a comment on this one too, because obviously you were killing me softly with the parmesan cheese but IDK why it didn't post it. Anyhow, I want you to come back already, with a plethora of different cheeses for me to eat. LOVE YOU BOOOO


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