Category Archives: Travels

Fall in Bologna, Italy: Sagra del Tartufo Bianco

It’s already November, but somehow it feels like summer just ended and fall has finally arrived. September seemed an extension of summer, with countless blue sky days and perfect temperatures; and October, if you ask me, passed by while I blinked. The temperatures have taken the plunge and fall coats and boots have made their way out of storage and out onto the streets of Bologna.

Perhaps it finally feels like fall because this is one of the first weekends we really slowed down; we made no plans and just simply enjoyed living in Bologna. We bundled up and biked to the Saturday morning Slow Food market. We read on the couch. We caught up with family and friends back home. We cooked a big pan pizza topped with chard and onions and took a stab at cooking the typical Tuscan soup ribollita. A friend came over for dinner bringing pumpkin puree and porcini mushroom risotto.

Then on Sunday, we finally visited our first sagra — an Italian festival typically celebrating a specific local food. We headed to the Sagra del Tartufo Bianco (White Truffle Festival) in Savigno about 40 minutes outside Bologna. Continue reading

Our Travels in Italy: Summer Fun

Ah!  It’s November!  There’s so much I haven’t shared, so much that I want to share.  I worry about the fun facts, observations, reflections, and funny moments that might go unshared because I haven’t written them down, or the foods and places that may be forgotten because I haven’t photographed them.  At the same time, I’m happy to have disconnected from social media for a while to focus on savoring the people and places in front of me.  We’re fortunate to have the problems that we do — too many beautiful places to visit, too many family and friends to entertain and keep in touch with, too much gelato to eat, too many new foods to try, and not enough time to document it all. Continue reading

WWOOFing Emilia-Romagna: Agriturismo Pian Di Stantino

In May I went WWOOFing again, my third official farm stay, while Luke was traveling in the U.S.  I stayed for two and a half weeks at Pian di Stantino, an agriturismo in Romagna about 90 minutes from Bologna.

My first two farm stays were at farms with plenty of other WWOOFers and workers.  This time around, I was aiming for a more intimate and immersive experience.  I wanted to see what it takes for a small family to live off the land and operate an agriturismo.  I hoped to improve my Italian by immersing myself in the language.

And that’s just what I got.

**

It’s 7AM.  I roll out of bed, get dressed, splash some cold water on my face, and head outside from the guest rooms.  I stop by  the natural spring fountain, fill up my Nalgene, and take a few gulps of the crisp, fresh water.  I head into the agriturimso’s kitchen, where I find Martino already heating up a Moka pot of coffee, his face still tired and his hair in its usual wild state.

“Buon giorno! Come stai?”, I say.

“Sono stanco.  Voglio dormire ancora.”  He’s tired and wishes he could sleep some more.

We sit down to breakfast — just coffee for Martino and homemade bread and jam for me.  Martino’s girlfriend Denise joins us — coffee and toast with chocolate hazelnut spread.  We gradually wake up as we sip our hot drinks.  This twenty minutes for breakfast is the slowest we’ll move all day. Especially Martino.

Pian di Stantino - view from the guest rooms

View from the front door of the guest rooms. I planted corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes in the field pictured. “Il mio mais!” I like to say.

Continue reading

Visiting Paris, France: Pop In Breaks Urban Race

Contestants check-in in front of Montmartre's La Basilique du Sacré Coeur, photo by Eric Montgobert courtesy of Pop in Breaks

Contestants check-in in front of Montmartre’s La Basilique du Sacré Coeur, photo by Eric Montgobert courtesy of Pop in Breaks

Early Saturday morning a few weeks ago, Luke and I ascended from a metro station in Paris onto the quiet streets of the Montmartre neighborhood.  We were wearing our running gear and bright colored raincoats (which we luckily didn’t need) and were searching for some fresh baked pain au chocolat before the morning’s race kicked off.  We were a little jumpy, not knowing quite what was in store for us and worried that our lack of French would literally get us lost.  A few hours later, the streets of this artsy, NYC Village-like neighborhood — famous for its Sacré-Cœur Basilica and appearance in film Amelie — would be filled with tourists; and Luke and I would be jogging through the crowds, map in hand, looking for our next challenge.

We were contestants in the inaugural Pop in Breaks, an urban race designed to let participants discover Parisian neighborhoods in a unique and fun way.   Continue reading

Tools for the Expat or Traveling Yogi

My hand on yoga mat

In the US, a consistent yoga practice for me meant buying an unlimited monthly pass at a studio and then attending class as often as I could.  Yoga studios operate a tad differently here in Italy: Unlimited monthly yoga passes are a rarity; And most studios require you to register for a specific course, registering for a period of one or three months at a frequency of either once or twice a week.  For me, this model makes a lot of sense and would be a great complement to a regular home practice, but is not enough yoga for me on its own.  Even before moving to Italy, I was wanting more of a home practice.  Yoga, after all, is a technique to become more self aware, which is generally easier to do when you’re alone.  But ultimately, the move to Italy motivated me to start rolling out my mat at home more regularly. Continue reading