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Parma to Val Camonica – Day 2

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While brushing my teeth in the morning, I noticed the water in the sink turned a bit orange/brown, before becoming clear again. Scary. I wondered if it was just a trick of the light, but then it happened again, this time for longer. Worrying, indeed. I turned off the tap and turned it back again, and the water clear once more. I decided to mention it to the landlady later on.

After getting ready, I had another bash at the moka pot. Again, not a hint of coffee. I figured it might be an idea to buy some coffee of my own later on and try it again in the evening. In any case, I want to take back a few packs of good Italian coffee, even though, admittedly, you can buy most of them (Lavazza, etc) in UK supermarkets these days.

Another slight annoyance in the apartment is that the Internet connection doesn’t work, so I’ve had to resort to using my smartphone’s data plan. Another thing to mention to the owner.

Outside the apartment, it was bright and sunny. There was a lady with a pram near the front door, and I instinctively said “Buongiorno,” without waiting for her to say it first. It would just feel wrong to walk on by without acknowledging her. Funny how I would never have thought to do that in London.

I walked down to the Piazza del Pilotta, and then further south onto the long Strada Giuseppe Garibaldi. By the way, I’ve noted the street names here are often called “Strada” and “Borgo” as well as “Via.” My favourite one is the road that leads directly from the apartment towards the Palazzo della Pilotta, called Strada del ‘Parmigianino’ (Road of the Little Parmesan)!

I walked all the way to the Parco della Citadella in the south, and went for a short walk in the park. The sun was directly overhead now and very hot. I noticed some people drinking water out of a public fountain and went to help myself as well, though it’s hard to take a drink without splashing yourself in the meantime!

Back to Strada Farini, I went to the Feltrinelli bookshop for a browse–it’s interesting in that it’s a mixed bookshop and café, a format that’s catching on in London as well. Though I enjoy reading novels, I’ve always found original Italian fiction a bit hard to get into, perhaps on account of the more descriptive and introspective style that seems to be prominent.

Leaving the bookshop, I bought a lemon gelato from Gelato Grom just down the road, a great chain that has shops all over Italy, certainly in the north at least. Most people seemed to take their gelatos out, but I decided to sit down in one of the small tables, and cool down a little bit extra.

Deciding to head back to the apartment for some lunch, I popped into a supermarket to pick up some packs of coffee and biscuits. Of course, I tried out the moka pot again as soon as I got in. Guess what…still no coffee. I’m beginning to think I just bought a faulty model–it was the last box on the shelf in the store (called Coin, on Strada Mazzini, just off Piazza Garibaldi).

Back out to the Piazza del Duomo, I stopped off at Café Cavour for an espresso from the professionals. It’s funny how there are so many different ways to pay. Here, the waitress brought me a receipt listing everything I’d bought that I had to take indoors and give it to the guy behind the counter, who totalled it up to me and gave me the final bill. I wonder if this is so they can inflate the prices for tourists. Or maybe I’m being cynical… :-O

Afterwards, I did a little clothes shopping and picked up a few new shirts. There are lots of boutique clothes shops, for both men and women, as well as larger stores, including ones known in the UK as well, such as Zara. There aren’t many souvenir shops, funnily enough, though I’ve seen one tabaccheria that has a handful of items in their shop window. Clearly, Parma, just like Ancona last time, isn’t a particularly hot tourist destination. Still, I went into a novelty store and bought a limoncello fridge magnet–one of the fun series of fridge magnets, sold all over Italy, that look like tiny tins or boxes of food.

I’d previously thought of going north to the railway station to check the timetables for the early morning trains to La Spezia, but in the end it was far easier to just look it up on the phone! Ah, the blessings of modern technology…

Back at the flat, I decided to continue the saga of the moka pot, and this time leave it to brew for much longer. After about fifteen minutes, there was still no coffee, but I left it still. Twenty minutes…and then suddenly there was a gurgling sound and coffee came shooting out through the filter, through the open top and onto the stovetop with a giant splash! I hurriedly turned off the gas, and let the pot hiss and spew for a while longer like a small animal that had been disturbed. Funnily enough, the pot (coffee creature?!) was now full of coffee, though without the precious crema. It tasted OK enough, though definitely not worth the price of having to clean up a mess!

I cooked a small pasta dish, before going back out again for an after-dinner walk down to the Piazza del Duomo. Gazing up at the medieval buildings, I realised that the scene I was looking on must have barely changed in hundreds of years. That’s something that’s true of many Italian towns and cities.

Seeing as I still hadn’t had a proper restaurant dinner, I decided to stop at one of the restaurants in the narrow streets just off the piazza. I had a tagliatelle and crab dish at a place called Forchetta. For some reason, the waiter started talking in English with me almost right away–he looked mortified when I asked him “Ma perche’ inglese?” His excuse was that he’d been spending the last two weeks speaking English, though he didn’t say why. I think he’d noticed my striped polo shirt, which practically no-one wears in Italy.

Tomorrow morning, off to La Spezia bright and early!

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