Larry's mother has been playing the "I'm turning 80 and want to go to Switzerland" card for a few years. She doesn't have friends who travel, didn't want to join a small group tour, and isn't the sort of person who would enjoy solo travel. So, Larry is escorting her to Switzerland for 9 days; and then his sister is flying over for a week and to escort her back to New York. I'm showing up in Lugano toward the end of Larry's stint, and then he and I are escaping to Italy.
We had a very short visit to Bologna in 2005, and have wanted to return ever since. I rented what looks to be a nice apartment in the centro for our first 8 nights.
Olympia Apartment. http://www.perfectplaces.com/host_view_dtl.cfm?ref_num=168536
Besides wandering the streets, museums, food shops and restaurants of Bologna, we've planned a few things. I booked a market tour and pasta-making class with Maribel of Taste of Italy. http://www.taste-of-italy.com/ I also booked a day-long food tour with Italian Days to visit a Parmesan factory, a Prosciutto producer, and a small Balsamico producer. The fee was (in my opinion) on the steep side, but as we priced out renting a car and paying for gas, plus time, and the challenges of making arrangements...ah well, why not.http://www.italiandays.it/ We're also planning taking the train for the short hop to Parma; and possibly Modena or Ferrara, perhaps a return to Ravenna. I've made a Google Map, which I found very helpful for our London trip. https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=203608144991816870682.0004d70d1da16c9c1f07e&msa=0&ll=44.491301,11.328878&spn=0.050023,0.111494
At the end of our time In Bologna, we're picking up a car and driving to Piemonte. We loved this region on our last trip to Italy. This time we're staying north of Asti, in a less-touristed part of the Monferrato. I had contacted Toni, the owner of the lovely house we rented last time, but her places were already booked. She had a friend who was renovating a little house in the village of Cocconato. The village is lively, the house (which is finally just about finished, this was an act of faith!) has magnificent views and is extremely reasonably priced. Ca 'Ginota. https://www.facebook.com/CaGinotaHolidayRental
We're planning on a relaxing week of wandering, maybe revisiting some of the cities and towns we enjoyed last time and the little villages, some hiking, good food and wine. And here's my Piemonte Google map. https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=203608144991816870682.0004d89feb10008d77f2c&msa=0