David and Ginna Zoellner love to travel. We live in Nice, France, half the year; the other half we live near Chicago, Illinois. We do 'home-exchanges' to explore other areas as well as taking normal trips. We'd like to share some of our experiences with you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Slovenia and Italy April 2002

We had some last-minute renters for our condo in Nice for the week before Easter, so where should we go? Slovenia sounded just right so we rented a car and took off. There may be a few of you who haven't a clue where Slovenia is - it was the northern part of what was Yugoslavia and is just east of Italy.

As we drove across Italy, we stopped at Lake Garda for a picnic and drove on to Vicenza, a favorite stop-over on an earlier trip with its beautiful Palladian architecture. There we were introduced to Aperol which, mixed with white wine and sparkling water, makes a delicious aperitif. Lunch the next day was in Grado, a seaside resort on the Adriatic near Trieste. We were searching for the restaurant where Ginna had her "best meal ever" 7 years ago but it no longer existed. Ah, well, it might have been a terrific let-down. We then drove past Trieste to Piran, Slovenia, a lovely old town on the sea. We found a nice hotel with a room with views of the sea. Everywhere we had driven, the fruit trees were in bloom, making for a beautiful drive. Piran and the nearby towns were, we imagined, like a visit to the Amalfi Coast 50 years ago.

After a relaxing stay in Piran, including a day trip to Trieste, we drove to the capital, Ljubljana, a lovely city divided by the Ljubljanica River. Along the river are wonderful walks with weeping willows, restaurants, shops, and coffee houses. We toured the city, including the arduous climb to the ancient fort overlooking the city.

We also had a delicious lunch at Pri Vitezu. A strange thing we had noticed as we drove across Slovenia was that we saw no cows, no sheep, no goats. What would we find to eat? After a lovely glass of the local "bubbly", we enjoyed a delicious entree (first course to us Frenchies) of baked artichokes topped with smoked ham and cheese. While David had fish for his main course, Ginna had her first taste (that she knows of!) of horse! It was rich and dense and served with a heavy red-wine sauce. Who needs cows, sheep, goats?

In Slovenia, their primary tourist group is Germans, so the Slovenians serve the wonderful fruhstuck (breakfast) we loved so much on our trip there - cereal, fruit, eggs, meats, cheese, breads, etc. etc. We ate our fill each morning.

After a pleasant night in Ljubljana, we drove north towards the Alps and beautiful views of snow-capped mountains. But unaccustomed as we are to winter temperatures, we vered west to Italy, to the Friuli area, home of the Pinot Grigio grape. We headed to Gradisca d"Isonzo for lunch at Il Parco, a delightful restaurant/bar where we spent a crazy evening 7 years ago. It is still delightful. Then a long, tiresome drive to Ravenna, recommended by French friends and which we'd never visited.

Ravenna is fabulous, a not-to-be-missed city full of 5-6th century churches with unbelieveable mosaics covering the floors, walls, and ceilings. Just breathtaking! We spent a long morning gasping, ohh-ing and ahh-ing. It's also a delightful city for the tourist, with limited traffic. Unlike medieval cities, the streets are fairly wide and most people are on quiet, old-fashioned two-wheelers.

Next we headed west through Modena (balsamic vinegar) and stopped in Parma (Parma ham, Parmagiano cheese) where we had another wonderful meal of pumpkin ravioli and wild boar. But nothing impressed us like Ravenna.

The next day we headed for the coast - the Mediterranean, not the Adriatic this time - for a couple of days of R & R in the charming village of Varigotti. And then home to Nice in time for an Easter Monday concert in the tiny, ancient cathedral up in Vence. A good friend was in the chorus and we thoroughly enjoyed the Bach (Cantate pour le lundi de Paques - Cantata for Easter Monday), Handel, Purcell, and Mielczewski.

Good to be home!


Post a Comment

<< Home