Back to Italy - Hit the High Road to the Mountains near Sestola

Sunday morning arrives and we’re not sure what the plan is – until I receive a phone call from Dave’s cousin, Barbara. They will meet us at the airport, at the rental car counter around noon, and we will drive up to the family farm house near Sestola.

Another plug for Hertz rental car in Europe – they set us up with this HUGE Fiat Doblo. I reserved a mid-size vehicle (the only thing they had available at late notice), and based on the specs listed, I wasn’t sure if it would fit all of our luggage. My only regret - not taking a picture of us by the car.

Note – the Thrifty / Dollar Rental Car desk was STILL CLOSED. Never rent from them overseas!!

Barbara and her husband, Robbie, identified us me right away (How many other Asian people have I seen since arriving in Italy? That would be zero. I guess there are advantages to standing out).

We throw our luggage into the huge rental car. We have a little trouble trying to start the darn thing - we thought – cars are different over here – isn’t there a button to push? Something special with the key? We over-thought the process. A rental car attendance thought we were crazy when we stated we couldn’t start the car – he showed us by simply turning the key in the ignition. Wow – this one starts up the same as the cars in the States – how novel!

We follow Barbara and Robbie up to the mountains of the Emilia-Romagna Region. Traditionally a winter ski-resort area, we climb higher and higher through winding roads. We travel to about 5000 ft above sea level, not quite as high up as what we experienced last year in Colorado, but close.

We arrive at Barbara’s family farmhouse, a beautiful property looking out to the mountains.


We are descended upon by the rest of Barbara’s family, just as if we are part of their family – with hugs and kisses on the both cheeks (kiss right first, then left). Barbara’s dad, Giovanni, has picked up Dave and Dawn in Florence and they are on their way! Yay! Oh, but they don’t have their checked luggage! Boo!

The long farmhouse table is set and the food is ready. Scott asks, “Should we wait for Giovanni?”, and the response from his wife, Elenor is “Oh, NO! We eat now!” and she points for us to sit, pours us some wine and starts putting out lots of food, including homemade taggliatelle with porcini, rabbit cacciatore, pancetta, prosciutto, salad, wine and more wine.
Table Setting

Prosciutto and Pancetta

Some Rabbit (Coniglio)

When Giovanni arrives with Dave and Dawn, we all go out to greet them. More hugs and kisses ensue. The last time I saw either Dave or Dawn was in 2004 – way too many years ago. The great thing with friends like them, you can pick up years later right where you left off. In no time, we are all laughing about their travel adventures, about the gorgeous view and taking pictures of it all.

I watch Elenor use a flat grill to make crescentine, a flat bread you eat with various spreads (bacon fat mixed with garlic and rosemary), prosciutto, and pancetta.
Later, we watch Barbara spread some Nutella on the crescentine, something that Scott then tries, and now we have a new Nutella lover on our hands.

We all sit down to eat and talk and laugh
Dig In And Mangia!
Talking with the Hands
Of the family, Barbara is the most fluent in English and serves as interpreter. I love how much she talks with her hands!

After lunch, we take time to explore the grounds, taking lots of group photos.
Dawn and Giovanni

Heading Down the Path
Dave and Scott

Goofing Off
Barbara, Robbie, Dawn, Dave

What Dawn Would like To Hit Air France With

The Travelers
The Travelers

Most of the extended family says their goodbyes (more kisses and hugs), and we follow Robbi and Barbara to Canavare, where we check into our hotel, the Hotel Gabriella. Then we drive to the town of Sestola, a quaint ski resort village to explore, take in the sights and walk off some of that big dinner!

Sestola Tower

The Street Scene

Local Jams

We finish the day with a light dinner at the Farmhouse before heading back to the hotel. Tomorrow we will explore the village of Fanano, visit the properties where Dave’s family grew up and then head to the coastal area of the Cinque Terre.

More pictures from Sestola, Fanano and Canavare may be found at my Sestola, Italy Flickr Set.

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