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August 4, 2011

After a fabulous night out with Keli, Cate, and Pia, and four hours of sleep I said goodbye to my fellow students, packed my little bag, and set off on the real vacation.

Walked to the train station in Rome, spent 2 ½ hours at the post office to mail my very large package home (not fun…and they had no way to classify the package as fragile and no packing supplies to purchase like bubble wrap or packing paper. And believe me I needed it. Ended up just putting some of my clothes in it to provide cushion…guess I’ll have to go shopping… but I’m going to stress until it reaches home safely ☹ ).

Purchased my ticket to Parma and got on the train at 1:00. After two beautiful and relaxing train rides I arrived at the station in Parma. Soon after my cousin Roberto picked me up, took me for dinner, to his home to relax a bit and then to the little hotel right next door.

When I last came to Parma to see Roberto, his meat and cheese shop was just that. Meat and cheese – the smell was wonderful. Since then he closed the store for three months for renovations. It’s so beautiful! With a full service café, and outdoor seating area, a bar, juices, sandwiches, wine, and more! Certo, ci sono ancora carne e formaggio.

The hotel is very nice and quiet and provided the second best breakfast I’ve had in Italy.

Around noon I just sat outside of Roberto’s shop doing a bit of work, taking in the calm of Parma, and enjoying my first real break from school or work since the summer of 2009. Seriously.

Roberto fed me a lunch of Parma ham, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, ricotta, and raw horsemeat. Yeah. I ate it. And I liked it. Would I ever ask for it again? No. Would I eat it if put in front of me? Yup.

Since it’s such a beautiful day, around 3pm Roberto will take me to the country on his motor bike to revisit the house my great (etc.) grandfather was born in and his family lived in until they made the courageous journey to America. The story of their lives is one of my favorites – tied for first with that of my momma’s family.

These next few days are going to be great.