We had great plans for today. A quick side trip to the town of Carpi, followed rather closely by an orgy of parma ham and parmigiano reggiano tastings in Parma. We almost made it too.
Carpi is the simpler part of the journey. It’s a small town north of Modena, with a large piazza surrounded by historic buildings, including the vibrantly painted theatre.
We arrive, as is our modus operandi, at lunch time. Now I’m not sure if it’s post summer busy season, or the fact that Italian shops like to close for lunch, but Carpi is almost entirely desserted. The Piazza Dei Martiri lies utterly empty
and despite it being a weekday, all the shops are closed, as is the Cathedral de L’Assunta.
We’re lucky to find a place open for a quick bite for lunch.
It’s a bit disappointing in truth. The shops look lovely, full of gorgeous winter fashion, but window shop is all I can do. People dress very well here, men especially. The season’s swag is expensive but beautifully made, designed to last. The fabrics are exquisite.
I forgot to mention that in Bologna there were a series of high end fabric stores, with the latest runway collection fabrics their window displays. It doesn’t get much more up to date than that. There were quite a number of tailors, too. Wouldn’t that be fun, walking in with concepts, fabulous fabrics to hand and planning a new wardrobe. But I digress…
We debate a tour of the Palazzo Dei Pio
but decide to pass in favour of driving on to Bologna. There comes a time in all trips where you get a “toured out”, where the thought of one more cathedral or one more castle becomes a little too much. Parma and its culinary delights it is. Which in retrospect, probably was a mistake.
Back on the road it’s another 60 km or so to Parma. What should be a relatively quick trip takes a lot longer – the roads in this part of Italy are truly awful: pot holed, cracked horrors that execute a bone jarring, wheel rim destroying, slow ride.
If ever there was an effective indicator of a country’s economic circumstances, without reading what passes for the local Financial Review, it’s its roads. These are not in good shape. It makes for a stressful drive.
To add to the drama, when we get to Parma, despite all the tools to hand, we can’t find anywhere to stay. The only motorhome site has such awful reviews that it’s not an option and we’re too big for the other possible stops. They don’t look particularly safe either, on the edge of the old city. Sometimes, you just have to trust your instincts. Chris does his best, driving to various options for over an hour before we concede defeat. It’s just not going to happen.
Somewhat disillusioned, we peel ourselves off the endless ring road around Parma, now in peak hour traffic, to head further west, somewhere quieter where we can stop for the night. The roads are truly awful and it’s late very afternoon, time we were well stopped for the day, hours ago.
It’s a disappointing end to the day, despite the pretty farmland that surrounds us. I really wanted to visit the cheese makers. Feeling somewhat robbed, the day ends.