Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Postcard from Milano & Parma

Pastel Parma  |  Postcard from Milano & Parma on afeathery*nest  |
Last catch-up post from my month in Italy! Back to our regularly-scheduled Swedish programming soon… 

When my brother and his family returned to Milan after Easter, I traveled north with them while R stayed behind with his brother, this way we each got some solid sibling time in, albeit at opposite ends of the country.

It was my first time seeing their apartment and wow, their gorgeous home in a stately palazzo right off of a major park with a direct view of a famous arch was incredible. High ceilings, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, three (T-H-R-E-E) terraces (off the kitchen, off their bedroom and off the living room), marble everywhere and the cherry on top, one of those iron scroll old-timey elevators—all this for just under what we paid in NYC (obviously that’s not the cherry on top for us).

There’s something special about being able to step off onto a terrace while waiting for water to boil, or sitting in a patch of sunlight while having coffee and checking on your flowers and herbs. We spent mornings before heading out to explore there, and in the evenings we went to the front terrace with this spectacular view for sliced fruit, wine, and other nibblies pre-dinner.

Arco della Pace, Parco Sempione  |  Postcard from Milano & Parma on afeathery*nest  |
My first night in Milan we went to their neighborhood restaurant, La Posteria di Nonna Papera, for a very late, very delicious dinner, where I wasn’t able to give up on my ‘nduja obsession, and luckily the chef at this restaurant has ties to Calabria so his specialty was a pasta dish with a sauce made of my beloved spicy spread (and being Milan, they had gluten-free pasta!).

While my brother was working during the week, he did have the national holiday off on Friday, so he and I spent an afternoon meandering about Parco Sempione and Brera with the baby fast asleep in his stroller (for three hours!). We explored the park, went to the Castello Sforzesco and saw some exhibits there, then to the charming neighborhood of Brera where we stopped for a hearty aperitivo at Salsamenteria di Parma of sparkling red wine native to the region (served in mugs!), grilled polenta with a medley of culatello and lardo (cured meats native to Lombardy) and caciotta (cheese) on top, and a few slices of salame to satiate any bits of hunger left.

When he was working, my sister-in-law and I took the baby to a nearby cafè where we sat for a few hours with our cappuccini in the mornings, then to the farmer’s market for lunch and dinner goodies and then in the afternoons if she had errands to run or things to do around the house I was happily on babysitting duty.

For the weekend I was there before heading home to Stockholm (!) we took a little overnight trip down to Parma, an hour away on the high-speed train. I remember before the baby was born friends had told them to get their traveling in while the baby was little, but they (and I) have learned that’s just crazy. It is extremely hard to travel with someone that has to be changed, fed, burped, and put to sleep every few hours.

And since the baby was born in NYC, where they don’t have a permanent home, there was a lot of shuttling around which I know was exhausting for my brother and his family, and now that they’re back in Italy (although only for a little while), the trip to Parma was their second—and last—baby trip, apart from the long one back to the US. Then I think they’ll be staying put until he is diaper free and eating the same food they are.

Pastel Parma corner  |  Postcard from Milano & Parma on afeathery*nest  |
I tried to help as much as possible, but oof, it was not easy!

That being said, we still had a nice little trip. After we dropped everything off at the hotel we took a walk to the town center for lunch at Trattoria Corrieri, where we got our first tastes of Parmigiana food, which is abundant with meat (you’ve heard of Prosciutto di Parma?) and parmigiana (named after the city it came from). Then while the parents and the baby retreated for a nap, I walked around for a few hours, finally finding a little café to sit at to people watch and read. This was all during the time I was sans phone, so after I got over my discomfort of being completely “alone” should anything happen, I began to enjoy the freedom. No need to check my send messages, no need to take pictures and share them. No need to open Google Maps to make sure I was heading in the “right” direction.

After we met up at the hotel that evening, we all freshened up and then went to find a place to eat. I’ve been spoiled in NYC where smoking is banned in all buildings, the outdoor dining areas of restaurants, and parks/beaches. In Italy: not so, and I found that even if someone sat next to you and a baby, they lit up without a second thought.

While we walked around looking for a place to eat we saw a lot of “baby friendly” places, meaning there were lots of other children (even newborns!) sleeping or fussing in their strollers while their parents ate, but people were was smoking everywhere. We finally took a side street and found Enopolium, where we could eat inside but the wall was basically open to the street, so it was like being outside. We lingered there for 3 hours, playing round after round of hangman while we had a few drinks with our dessert and the baby slept on.

Parma Baptistery  |  Postcard from Milano & Parma on afeathery*nest  |
The next morning a friend and his girlfriend drove over from Modena (an hour from Parma in the opposite direction of Milan), and we all explored together before having the most insane meal at Leon d’Oro, one of those tavern-type places that have been around for more than a hundred or so years. We sat down and all the specialties of the area were rolled out for us to try. I started with a risotto al’radicchio and then had a bollito misto, which is basically a variety of different “boiled meats” (which doesn’t sound appetizing, but trust me it so is) served with jams, marmalades, and spicy mustards. I could barely move by the time we finished dessert so we took a long walk in the Parco Ducale before catching our train back to Milan.

A few days later I flew to Stockholm and now R and I are moved into our furnished sublet, where we’ll stay for the next few months. More on that soon!
One year ago: Fleeing the foolishness & Postcard from Mexico


  1. Sounds like it was a great trip! Their apartment was amazing. Can't wait to hear more about your new place soon!

    1. Oh right, ha, forgot you had seen it, too! :)

      [P.S. to add to your already long queue, just posted a bit about the new place! Ha, oops!]


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