ITALY 2018

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino:  Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy

It had been 13 years since our infamous 2005 trip to Italy, so Tracy and I (along with friends Kim and Mary) decided to hit some spots in bella Italia that we had never explored before.  After a brief stop in London, we made our way to Milan, Bologna, Padova, Ravenna, Piemonte wine country, Torino and finally Orta San Giulio.  What a trip it turned out to be!  From bustling cities to gorgeous countrysides, our nearly three-week journey took us to some incredible places that will never be forgotten.  And the food … Wow!  The vino … spectacular!  Join us on our sensational trip to Italy.

CHAPTER ONE:  A BRIEF STOP IN LONDON

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino:  Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy After a 13 year hiatus, it was finally time for Tracy, Kim, Mary and me to return to the country where we made so many driving errors in 2005 (report here) that Italian car rental companies still have posters of us up on their office walls.   Our three-week journey took us (after a quick stop in London) to Milan, Bologna, Padova, Ravenna, Piemonte wine country, Torino and Orta San Giulio, and although we navigated the country with relative ease, another of our rental cars sadly met an early demise.                               We … Read more…

CHAPTER TWO:  THE MAGNIFICENT MILAN CATHEDRAL & ROOFTOP

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER TWO:  THE MAGNIFICENT MILAN CATHEDRAL & ROOFTOP Next: DAY TWO –  Wild About Harry, “Don’t Go To Milan”, Glorious Galleria, Tracy Renews Her Love Affair With Italian Olive Oil, Quick Encounter With Leonardo, Traversing The Roof, Should Have Taken The Elevator, Incredible Interior, Duomo Treasures, Pick A Menu … Any Menu, Sounds Better In Italian and “We Don’t Take Hotel Room Cards.” Four zombies meandered toward Heathrow’s Terminal 5 a little before 6 a.m. looking for food and massive amounts of caffeine.  Although we slept well, it hadn’t been long enough. Before grabbing breakfast at Pret A Manger,  Tracy and I ran into an old … Read more…

CHAPTER THREE – GIVE ME SOME OF THAT (REALLY) OLD TIME RELIGION

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino:  Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER THREE – GIVE ME SOME OF THAT (REALLY) OLD TIME RELIGION DAY THREE – Classic Croissants, Oops Wrong Church, Altar Altering, Four Friends And A Funeral, A Tisket A Casket, Fresco Frenzy, Why No Two Corgis?, Kim’s Lunch-O-Meter, Where’s David Letterman, Supper Time Or No Supper Time, Early Happy Hour, You Can Take Photos?, Stampede, Italian Melon Reigns Supreme and The Walking Dead We awoke on this morning to the aroma of something fantastic.  In the kitchen, Mary was already chatting with our host Walter, who had set up a lovely table of toast, cereal, tea and orange juice.  The aroma?  His homemade croissants that … Read more…

CHAPTER FOUR: NO REST FOR THE WEARY

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER FOUR: NO REST FOR THE WEARY DAY FOUR – Please Give Me The Recipe, Vertical Forest, Monumental Resting Places, Unfinished Michelangelo, The Horse You Rode In On, Park Place, The Hip District, Hey I Know This Restaurant, “We’re Not Chic Enough”, “The Louvre of Italy”, Painter & Raw Meat, Its Cup Runneth Over, Venice It’s Not, Big Balls and Bigger Cocktail It was a little before 8 a.m. when the now familiar smell of croissants wafted through our b&b.  First, a little bit more about Bronzino House.  It had to be the bargain of the century when you consider Milan’s hotel costs.  Clean and quiet, Bronzino … Read more…

CHAPTER FIVE: HUSTLING & BUSTLING BOLOGNA

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino:  Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER FIVE: HUSTLING & BUSTLING BOLOGNA DAY FIVE – Kim Gets Shafted, Fascist Train Station, Bologna’s Patron Saint, Do You Believe In Magi?, Ah Cappella, Markets Galore, Pasta … We Got Pasta, Going To Neptune, Peculiar Church, Church Or Store, Slippery Horse Stairs, Apertivo Time, Checking Out The Airbnb, Rocco Rocks, On My Own, I Might Not Climb That, You Can’t Fight City Hall, Bella Bologna, Hail Cesari, Family Affair, Best Steak In Italy … Ever, and The Golden Arches Walter had arranged for a taxi to meet us at 7:15 for our train ride from Milan to Bologna.  The only thing missing was one of … Read more…

CHAPTER SIX:  AN UNUSUAL DAY IN BOLOGNA

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER SIX:  AN UNUSUAL DAY IN BOLOGNA NEXT:  DAY SIX: – Slab Me, Pass the Junior Mints, Apollo 1, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Revisiting Pete, Frescoes Off Limits, Wherefore Art Thou, Don’t Ever Change, Leave The Gun … See The Canale, Down For The Count, Mary & Kim Take A Walk, Comeback Kid, Endless Basilicas,The Fun Drunk Kids and Hush Hush More Charlotte The crew got a little later start than usual on Friday morning.   I was not feeling 100%, because I had a pain in my gut that felt like a pulled muscle.  It also felt like the diverticulitis I had suffered from earlier … Read more…

CHAPTER SEVEN – PERAMBULATING PADOVA

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino:  Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER SEVEN – PERAMBULATING PADOVA Next: DAY SEVEN – This Station’s Not So Hard, Stabilizing The Microclimate, Giotto Cycle, Get Off Your High Horse, Churches And More Churches, Astronomical Timing, Did It Really Say No Photos?, The Sculptor’s House, Chill Out, Down For The Count (Part Due), Dinner At The Drug Store, Dining With A Unique Owner & Where’s Agent 86? It was time to get out of town, albeit just for the day.  Up very early, we hopped in the taxi Rocco had ordered for us, and in a few minutes were at Bologna Centrale for our 7:16 a.m. train ride to Padova, who some … Read more…

CHAPTER EIGHT:  THE FOOLS ON THE HILL

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER EIGHT: THE FOOLS ON THE HILL Next:  This Ain’t Your NYC Eataly, Taxi Time, A Mass Of People, Tell Me If You Like The View, No Taxis, Da Nello, You Have One Hour, San Francesco Open Your Giant Doors, I Doubt OSHA Would Have Approved Of This, We’ve Got The Meat (And Cheese) and Dinner With A View Sunday morning … and the streets of Bologna were empty except for four people in search of a latte.  Amazingly, after 14 hours of deep sleep, Tracy was once again feeling fine.                   .        After wandering around finding virtually nothing open, we happened … Read more…

CHAPTER NINE – THE MARVELOUS MOSAICS OF RAVENNA

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER NINE – THE MARVELOUS MOSAICS OF RAVENNA Day Nine – A Case of the Benz, That’s The Ticket, A UNESCO Beauty, Of All the Galla, Cole Porter Inspiration, The Neon Bishop, I’ll Have 10 Orders of Ravioli Please, Where’s Steve Martin, Monument To A Poet, Fish & Crypts, Falling For Tracy, Umbrella Policy, Some Good Deeds Are Not Punished, A Rainy Night In Bologna and Unintended Candlelight Dinner Full disclosure … when I plopped my head down on the pillow the previous night I was beat.  Part of me just wanted to bag our day in Ravenna and actually have a relaxing day eating mounds … Read more…

CHAPTER TEN – FEELING AT HOME IN THE VINEYARDS OF PIEMONTE

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER TEN – FEELING AT HOME IN THE VINEYARDS OF PIEMONTE DAY TEN –  Death Of A Rental Car (2018 Edition), Maybe We Shouldn’t Have Left Them Alone In The Garage, Mary & Tracy’s Wild Ride, Can’t Get Enough Of That Sage, Exploring Neive, Introducing Greg & Gloria, A View To Kill For, Wine Time, Mary Gets The Boot, My Love Affair With White Truffles and Now Greg Gets The Boot We awoke early on this Tuesday morning filled with trepidation.  For the first time since 2005, the four of us would rent a car in Italy.  To quickly recap that rental nightmare, upon picking up … Read more…

CHAPTER ELEVEN: DOGGING IT WHILE TRACKING TRUFFLES

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER ELEVEN: DOGGING IT WHILE TRACKING TRUFFLES DAY ELEVEN – Get Me To The Station On Time, Going To The Dogs, Don’t Tell Where We Are, The “Ronaldo Of Truffle Dogs,” Wandering The “Capital Of White Truffles”, Crushed In Barbaresco, Praying For A Wine Choice, One View Better Than The Next, Stamp My UNESCO Card Again, Terrace Time Picnic, Truffle Time & Dinner Amongst The Boxes Another gorgeous day in paradise … aka La Morra.  After gazing out at a beautiful sunrise, we gathered for a feast in the Rocche Costamagna breakfast room.  Soon we would be out in the wild for a little hunting expedition. … Read more…

CHAPTER TWELVE – THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SMELL OF VINO

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER TWELVE – THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SMELL OF VINO DAY TWELVE – Roll Out The Barolo, Right Out Of Disney, Snow In Piemonte, A Hill Of A Climb, This Might Have Been A Mistake, 18-Wheeler Dead Ahead, It’s A Movie Set, Guided Tours Only, No Bra, A Poplar Spot and That’s Using Your Brain The fog in the valley cleared early, and after a hearty breakfast at Rocche Costamagna, the caravan was ready to explore more picturesque Piemonte towns.  I had planned out our route before we left.     . First stop … Barolo, the capital of “The King of Wines.”  This village … Read more…

CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THE UPS AND DOWNS AND UPS OF PIEMONTE

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER THIRTEEN – THE UPS AND DOWNS AND UPS OF PIEMONTE DAY THIRTEEN – Up Up Up, Would You Like To See My Elevator?, I’m Not Going Back Up, A Slight Parking Error, “Master Of The Manta”, Exploring Fossano, Is There Anything To See Here?, This Will be Cool When It’s Finished, International Restaurant Of The Year, 40 Red Eggs and A Very Generous Umbrella Policy It was simply another gorgeous day in Piemonte paradise. Greg and Gloria slept in to get ready for their day of wine tasting. Meanwhile, Hope, Crosby and the two Lamours were on the Road to Saluzzo, located about 40 minutes … Read more…

CHAPTER FOURTEEN – MAI TAI TOM’S INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

We Still Didn’t Drink All The Vino: Mai Tai Tom’s 2018 Return To Italy CHAPTER FOURTEEN – MAI TAI TOM’S INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR BOVIO – LA MORRA, ITALY Long before we left for Italy and knowing we would be there at the beginning of White Truffle Season, I decided we should end our four days dining at a very special restaurant.  Of course, never having been to Piemonte, what should that restaurant be?  After researching site upon site, I came to the conclusion there was only one choice … Bovio in La Morra.  To make sure we secured reservations, I made reservations seven months in advance.  Yes, you read that that correctly … seven months!  Some things you … Read more…