Saturday, June 18, 2011

Welcome to Italia: Padova and Parma

There is not much to report about my first day in Italy. We spent most of the day on the bus from Vienna to Padova. We did make a rest stop near the border of Austria and Italy that was eventful. I’ve been avoiding paying to use the restroom because that seems so dumb to me, but I didn’t have much choice at this rest stop. So I did it! I paid to use the “WC.” It was also a nice stop because the store looked out over a lake and it was absolutely beautiful! Other than that it was a highly uneventful day.

My first full day in Italy was good though! We attended a local Italian ward. They were so sweet and accommodating. It was probably really annoying to have to translate everything into English for us, but they were all so patient with it.

After church we stopped in the city of Berona for lunch. We got to see the Romeo and Juliet balcony, eat some real Italian pizza, and happily consume our first Italian gelatos. I loved all of it! We then drove the rest of the way to Parma. Our hotel was practically in the middle of nowhere so we spent our evening playing cards and relaxing. On a happy note, I spent three rounds as “king” when we were playing scum.

The next day was our full day with Barilla. It was a really interesting business visit. We started out at their Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plant, then went to their Prosciutto di Parma plant, and finished at their pasta plant. It was really cool to learn about how Parmesan cheese is made and compare it to the Gruyere cheese plant we visited in Switzerland. Cheese making is intense! The Prosciutto plant was pretty disturbing. It was gross to walk through rows and rows of pig legs, but you should all be impressed that I tried a bite of it even after experiencing that disturbing sight and smell. The pasta plant was my favorite part of the tour. It was so cool to see them work at their core competency. I was highly impressed with their quality control and the marketing they showed us. They definitely make the best pasta they can and then sell the experience of eating true Italian pasta.

It was a great, informative day but I was highly anticipating Florence!

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