Sunday, 25 August 2013

Moments of a Po Valley quest, with wine notes

The truth is I don’t want to write a travel story. I want to write about sporadic moments that left a mark in my mind and heart in this quest of the Po Valley, and beyond, that I made. Many of us have visited Italy and have their own personal experiences in that country. My thing will be honestly brief, random, un-touristy, oenocentric and accompanied by images. Italy is never something so fabulous to discover; but I realise now I love Italy so much that in the end here I am in front of the laptop on a Sunday, one week after I came back to Sofia, writing about it.


Why the Po Valley, or the Padan Plain, the vast lowlands in the north of the country along the Fiume (River) Po, linking the Western Alps and the Adriatic? This area, including the regions (from east to west) of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont and tiny parts of Tuscany and Liguria, is notorious for its industrial development, often branded as the motor of Italian economy. It is. But it is also home of the best Italian wines and cuisine, and the industry is conveniently away from the living space of people, even away from the traveller’s eye in a, say, Turin-Milan train. The natural beauties are everywhere. It’s the Alps, the Apennines, the plain, the Po, the maize crops, the vineyards that make the landscape. And the beautiful cities make it complete.

So why the Po Valley? First, because I never fully explored Italy’s north and its wines; second, because I was to meet some college friends; third, because I did my master’s studies in Bologna precisely ten years ago and I needed this trip at some point to see how ‘grown up’ I was; and last but not least, because Italy as an idea and a congregation of emotions and experiences is for me one of the best places to visit. Blame me for my bias. Following is a collection of momentary impressions from the Po Valley, in a chronological order, which I thought were worth ‘putting on paper.’