As we said “arrivederci” in Rome to John and Dana, Tawni and I hit a crossroad. Our original plan was to travel/ explore new places around Florence and Parma, but after half way through we decided that for the last few days we would head back to Bari to relax and hang out with family and friends that we had to cut it short with the first time around. We were already at the airport and went to change Tawni’s ticket when apparently the taxes were never collected on the initial ticket, so in order to change the ticket they would require us to back pay the taxes, plus the change fee, plus the difference in tickets. It came out to be over $800 which was like as much as the original ticket! Forget that, back to plan A which really wasn’t much of a plan. I’m kind of notorious for just renting a car and figuring it out later, which is just what we did…no hotel reservations or concrete plans, just me and my family on the open road! First stop was Parma, back to Al Vedel (the restaurant I first interned at). We all stayed in the apartment that I stayed in while I was there alone. It was weird to have Tawni and Francesca there with me this time. We ate dinner at Al Vedel followed by dessert… and more dessert!
One of the coolest things we did though was a day trip to Venice! It was about a 3 hour drive from where we were but sooo worth it. I have heard that it smells and its dirty, but after seeing and smelling it for myself it was surprisingly clean. When in Venice do as the Venetians right? well close enough, we did indeed rode a gondola! Although quite pricy (80 euro for a kilometer!) it made Tawni happy and we can now check it off the bucket list!
Another memorable moment was in Reggio Emilia where we somehow ended up in a Balsmaic Vinegar barrel race. It sounded cool until we find ourselves signing waivers, putting on team shirts and unclear of the directions! Long story short everyone around us was in sweats and gym shoes and then you’ve got the Americans dressed decently and Tawni wearing flip flops. We had to sprint down a cobblestone road, choose a barrel, and then roll it around the piazza. It was a big piazza… We were dying… not to say but I carried our team. We got about half way when Tawni starting stringing four letter words together. After all the other teams crossed the finish line the annoncer encourage everyone to cheer on “Team Chicago” to finish too. It was not one of our finer moments. We did however get a prize… contestants that came from the furthest away.
We ended the trip with a few outlet malls, all of which were very nice, but even name brand discounted was still too expensive. You know me and Tawni, “I can get that at Nordtrom rack for less” haha. The last night we stayed at the Golden Tulip- a funny name but it was a really nice hotel less than five minutes away from the Pisa airport. All went well on the flight home for Tawni and Francesca (minus the two hour delay and 100 euro baggage charge). I took a 5 hour train ride to Alba, for the last leg of A Chefs Journey.