Our first three nights in Italy, we stayed at a bed and breakfast on a farm in Dozza, a medieval village about 30 minutes east of Bologna.  The farm, run by a family of four (mom, dad, two young daughters), consists of a vineyard, fruits and vegetables, goats, and chickens (we got to drink wine made from the grapes and eat fresh cheese from the goats’ milk–mmmm!).  The mom was off interpreting for a meditation retreat in Tuscany during our stay, so we didn’t get to meet her, and as a result probably had a different experience than most visitors who stay at the farm.  For starters, there were no napkins provided when we ate dinner with the family, and there was no hand soap in our bathroom.  Is that a sexist thought?  Thinking that the mom would have thought about napkins and soap when the dad didn’t?  Maybe she doesn’t care about clean hands either, who knows?  Could be the reason why they fell in love.

Though our hands were unclean, our stay was lovely and we were fortunate to have spent a few days with an Italian family.  The grandmother (Nonna) even invited us into her home to teach us how to make fresh pasta, an experience that has pretty much ruined dry pasta for us forever.  So now we need one of these.  (And a bigger kitchen, please!)  One thing that was incredibly entertaining about this class was watching the steady stream of family members and neighbors waltzing into Nonna’s home.  “Mia bella!” a grandfather-like figure exclaimed with outstretched arms to one of the little girls, as the adults chattered on excitedly in fast Italian.  The second little girl yanked out a few of her eyebrow hairs, feeling rejected once again.  (Kidding.  I’m sure she got a nice exclamation from pseudo-grandpa, too.)  Later on, Nonna abruptly took a break from teaching us about pasta when a neighbor brought over a newborn baby.  As she oohed and ahhed over the wee bambino, we were but a distant memory in her mind for several minutes.  Not that we minded.  It was like watching an Italian sitcom!

The father served the pasta we made that night with browned butter and sage.  So delicious.  You’ve seriously not lived until you’ve had fresh pasta.

Anyway, Dozza has an undeniable charm.  The town center is tiny, about a quarter mile long and half that wide.  What sets this town apart from the hundreds of other villages in Italy is their painted wall festival–Biennale di Muro Dipinto–a biannual event since 1960, where painters from all over the world are invited to paint murals onto the walls of the village.  This means that Dozza is essentially an open-air art gallery, currently boasting about a hundred murals.  Pretty rad!

The largest structure in this tiny town is the Rocca di Dozza, a fortress from the middle ages.  In the cellar of this fortress is the Enoteca Regionale, the official wine “museum” of the entire Emilia-Romagna region, housing over a thousand wines.  You guys, it was the coolest wine shop I’ve ever been to!  I mean, The shop was in the freaking cellar of a freaking medieval fortress!  How can Binny’s Beverage Depot possibly compete with that?  We met an insanely cute sommelier who denied our request for a menage a trois (kidding–obviously she accepted), but not before recommending a few lambruscos for us to try.  While the lambruscos typically imported to sugar-addicted America are cloyingly sweet and disgusting, the lambruscos offered by the Enoteca are dry and robust and fizzy, like a prosecco with more depth.  Delicious.

Did you like how I strung random words together to make it seem like I actually know anything about wine?  Did ya did ya?!  Yay!  (But seriously, dry lambrusco KICKS sweet lambrusco’s ass.)

Anyway, pictures!  As I mentioned in my previous post, Matt and I are terrible at taking photos, so I had to google a couple to fill in the blanks.  If you took one of these, let me know and I’ll credit you.  (Also: get a life, why are you reading some rando’s blog?)

[Aside: my friend Jessica teaches a pasta making group class here in Chicago.  If you ever want to learn how to make pasta, give her a call.  Here’s her website and her yelp page.]


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