Wednesday :

Today my lovely school friends left! 
We had a slow start as they had to pack and Anne is a meticulous packer! 
Then Anne confessed to a very sore foot and stayed at home while we went up to Arqua Petraca our nearby hill town. It’s a lovely little place and we met a few locals , which isn’t hard with Geoff Shaw around as he talks to everyone! 
After lunch we drove them to Padova and tearfully hugged them goodbye. 
Thank you my lovely friends for coming all this way to spend time together.
Another early start – which for me is hard! 
We got the train from Monselice to Bologna, a trip of about and hour. 
This time we started with coffee and then headed for the main piazza. I was here a few years ago, on my own and probably walked most of it so I became the unofficial guide. The others took the tour bus which is a good one as it gives a great overview of this lovely city. It is a city of towers and porticos. 
While they were touring I walked and re-oriented myself and selected somewhere nice for lunch. I asked a lovely young women in a shop and she said to avoid the few near her shop- too touristico! And she guided me to an alley nearby and Tratorria Guido. 
When the others arrived back we walked the few streets to the markets. They are great little markets with the most colourful vegetables. Vivid purple melanzana, stripy beans, flowering zucchini , tomatoes of all sizes and the most vibrant of colours from red to green. The fish was shiney , the squid  ink black, prawns  all shades of orange. Geoff bought his usual sausage to keep him going and the girls bought some aged balsamico to take back as gifts. 
We made our way to the restaurant and, yes, it was a winner. Geoff and the daily special something he’s been wanting- corniglia or rabbit ! Lindy and Chris and the baked lamb and Jill had pappardelle ragu. All super delicious. 
After lunch the boys left us to our wandering and we explored  the streets and piazzas including the lovely Santo Stefano where I had a lovely drink several years ago. This time we had  delicious gelati. It was gorgeous especially my new flavour – Italian opera! As everything in Italy is something of an opera (drama) it is an appropriate new flavour. It is creamy, a little sweet, explosions of flavour from the praline crips planted inside the gelato. Yum! 
We discovered some more portico and a huge church where we rested our tired feet. We got the train back but not with out our own Italian Opera drama. We hadn’t validated the ticket and Geoff hopped off the train to do so and disappeared. We were thinking he wouldn’t make it back when all of a sudden there he was. 
We arrived home hot, tired and very happy we had left some food from last night for our snack dinner. We had leftover cheese, pesto, olives, tomatoes, bread, and even some warm pork salad.  Oh did I mention I’m enjoying the Prosecco! 
We all had a huge sleep last night and our last day here will be spent pottering in the area around our house. It edges onto the National Park and has some interesting towns nearby. There  are spas, so we might indulge in a mud bath or a ” treatment”. Perhaps a lovely lunch at an agriturismo as this area has lots to offer in the food area. It is different to Umbria and Tuscany but is so interesting and not overrun by tourists. It’s quieter and costs half as much.
The other night we had dinner at Da Mario a nearby little place tucked away in a country lane. It was fantastic and cost us all of $18 Australian dollars. We shared starters, had gorgeous mains and shared desert and vino della casa. Superb ! 

Rusticolucio- and goodbye to friends

Wednesday :
Today my lovely school friends left! 
We had a slow start as they had to pack and Anne is a meticulous packer! 
Then Anne confessed to a very sore foot and stayed at home while we went up to Arqua Petraca our nearby hill town. It’s a lovely little place and we met a few locals , which isn’t hard with Geoff Shaw around as he talks to everyone! 
After lunch we drove them to Padova and tearfully hugged them goodbye. 
Thank you my lovely friends for coming all this way to spend time together.

One of my favourite things in Italy

I love Paris – as the song goes ….. I love Paris in the rain! Luckily as it has rained almost everyday. Not really heavy just a little bit. 

Still we are getting out and seeing lots .
Some of the highlights:
Having lunch with Monique a young 26 year old friend of Peter and Carmel. She has a great job in Paris and had lots of stories to tell us about life in Paris – oh to be young! 
Tuesday night we went to dinner at Annie and Serge’s flat, with their children Fabian 27 and Camille 23. Camille did an exchange and lived at the Harrison’s for 10 weeks. They are a lovely couple and we had lots of champagne and a beautiful dinner with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We started with a black skinned faddish and page. A pork cheek dish and five cheeses and then a strawberry tart! We walked a lot today. 
Wednesday we met Annie for lunch at Madeleine and after she took me to her hairdresser to make an appointment for next week . Yes readers, I’m to have the French stylist and colourist! Just a little worried about the cost but it’s not every day I have my hair done in Paris.
Went to a Vivaldi concert at St Chappell. What a wonderful experience. Heavenly . 
Thursday we met Jill and Chris again after their Croatia trip . Lovely treat to spend the day together. We went shopping for gifts for their daughters at a gorgeous little shop in the Marais, walked to the left bank and had lunch, then explored the area I’ll be returning to the week after next.
Thursday night we had dinner at Montmartre and then went to Moulin Rouge. What an experience ! We had to queue with everyone despite booking tickets . In we went to a huge theatre restaurant style place got our good table, ice bucket with 3 bottles of champagne, and then the show started . It was colourful, fast, fun and an eyeful! Spotted Morgan Kenny – daughter of Lisa and Grant. Such a pretty girl with big …… blue eyes. 
Got home at 2.30 am so had to sleep in the next day . Took the number 69 bus all around the streets of Paris. What value for the price of a bus ticket. 
Last dinner was at the same place as the first night. Very good food and waiters really friendly.
So now it’s goodbye to Paris for a week. Carmel and I are off to the Loire to a little place called Sancerre well known for its goats cheese and its white wine. Picking up a car tomorrow and off we go! 


Tuesday: Beautiful Venice

An early start – down to Monselice station and a prima classe seat to Venice. We arrived in brilliant sunshine. Walking out of the station and seeing the busy waterway, the voices, the huge church opposite, the water taxi, people wheeling suitcases and suddenly you feel like you have walked onto a movie set.
We went to the ticket office and negotiated the ticket price for the new vapporetta Grand Canal ride. It was 25 euro and was good value for what we wanted. We decided to visit Burano, the lace island. Only Chris and Jill had been there before. We discussed how to get there and decided one ferry ride would be good . Well an hour or so later we had toured all the waterways of Venice and arrived at Burano . It was warm and sunny and the buildings looked gorgeous in the bright little colours- red, blue, green , pink, really beautiful. W walked, admired the lace and found a good place for lunch. After a walk around and a spot of shopping we headed back to Venice. The boys (Geoff and Chris) have been great. Very accommodating towards the 5 women. Very patient. 
When we got back we decided to separate and do what we wanted as wandering with 7 people is molto difficile ! So I headed off to tour the Opera House La Fenice. It is beautiful. I did my own little tour and loved seeing it all.
We met again at the railway station at 6.30 as the last train home was at 7 pm. 
Sadly I missed seeing friends Brian and Pauline Jordan who were arriving in Venice later in the night


Well here we are at Rusticolucia!
You may have seen the photo on the last post. It’s a wonderful place for a group and we are having lots of fun. Sorting out who slept in which room was a hoot. We finally got it sorted and we are having lots of laugh. Yesterday was spent in Padua and we checked out the huge Duomo and Cathedral.  
Last night we walked to out local pizza restaurant and had a lovely Italian style pizza. 

Bardolino to Padova

First of all please excuse typos! It’s hard to type on the iPad when you can’t see what you are typing!

Yesterday we packed up and yes dear readers,  for some it was difficult because of the extra few things purchased at the very good Barolino markets.
We drove the A1 to padova and then on to Rusticolucia about half and hour south. It was a beautiful afternoon , sun shining and the countryside looking green  due to the recent rain. When we got to the house Chris and Jill had just arrived and were having a tour with the delightful Camilla. She is the daughter of the owners and has very good English. Her parents from Verona arrived a short time later and were just the most gorgeous couple. They had wine and a beautiful marmelatta tart waiting for us.

We went up to the nearby village- yes all up hill , for lunch and a little while later  Lindy and Geoff arrived at the nearby station Monselice. So we had all made it to Rusticolucia without mishap.

After sorting rooms- there are 5 bedrooms -so we all got our own rooms in various colours , we set off for the supermarket. What a hoot. All 7 of us wandering around selecting the food for the night and the wine to be drunk!
We decided to cook one of the recipes I had done on the cooking class in Lucca. Porcini mushrooms with prawns over fettuccine !
Geoff and Chris organised the drinks using the ice ( so hard to find) to chill it down. After a lovely welcome drink on the terrace outside our holiday together had officially begun. Only thing missing was Steve!

We discussed the next few days and sorted out where we wanted to go and tomorrow it will be to nearby Padua.
Sadly my school friends Narelle and Anne ( queen of logic – sorry Ann Graham but Anne V topped the state in logic) will be leaving us on Wednesday. It’s been wonderful having them here and renewing our 45+ years of friendship. Yesterday they gave me a beautiful scarf with hand stitching- I had admired it and they wanted to thank me , so bought it as a present. It’s gorgeous. 


Today we got up early and set off for the bus at 9.30. Well not all that early for you readers. It it was for us! The crowd at the bus stop grew and grew until we realised we wouldn’t all fit on the bus. Sure enough it came and we being the little quiet Aussie girls were at the back of the queue. There was nearly an “incidentee” until the driver promised to get another bus along in 10 mins. Well sure enough it came and we got a seat. We arrived in Verona and set off for Guiliettes house Hague. It was a crush of people and completely spoilt the atmosphere . W spent the day walking and exploring this lovely small city with its churches, Opera arena, bridges and lovely bridges.

We managed to find the bus stop and returned to Bardolino in time for an aperitif .  This was followed by dinner and lots of chatting. We love having this time together and every night thank God for allowing us this time together. ( not to mention our husbands)

So many funny stories from today
The wedding in the chapel at the Cathedral ( what mother of the bride would wear homi peds at her daughters wedding – in Italy the home of the shoe) Tacky.
However in the Chapel we listened to the singer getting ready. It was beautiful. The priest came over to us ( we were by now sitting in the 15 th century choir stalls) and spoke to us about the history of the chapel .

The bus driver : stopping  at a stop : a young mother with a baby wanting to get on. Driver tells her to put the stroller under the bus! She looks puzzled: he  smiles and suggests she fold it up with the baby inside: then he hops down : holds  the baby while she folds the stroller. This was hard for her : so another young man hops off and helps her . All the while the driver is cuddling the baby. He cooes and smiles and the people on the bus all smile and clap: end of story!

Arriving back in Bardolino we went back to the same bar by the water front for a drink and the waiter remembered us and our order. This is why I love Italy!