Like many European cities based on urban planning that goes back centuries, Piacenza has a thriving bike culture. It probably also helps that the city is overall quite flat. Most of the bikes were classic cruisers, and I figured I’d make a small photo project out of capturing some of the most interesting ones we came across. They are literally lying all over town, locked up to poles, signs, walls, and pretty much anything else around.
Which bike do you like best?
I also wanted to mention that one of the photos I took in February and posted on this blog is a finalist in a photo contest over at IstanbulEats.com. If you feel like sharing a little love, you can vote for my pic here, by emailing email@example.com with the subject heading “Turkey Vote Chris Simit”.
There are some good photos entered, so I don’t really expect to win, but the prizes include some dinner in Istanbul, and since we are heading back that way in a few weeks, you’ll be helping to feed some hungry travelers. They ask you to only vote once. Thanks!
p.s. — Simit are the type of Turkish bread rings the vendor in the photo is pushing around.
I’m telling the truth when I say I’m leaving Italy with some “pasta babies” located on the thighs, hips, love handles and even one clinging around my mid-section. I’m relying on the heat and walking in Morocco to abort all the “pasta babies”.
I first started growing my pasta babies during our month visit in Lanciano which meant eating at a buffet for 99% of the meals, and I think we all know what buffet eating leads too. My pasta baby situation only got worse when Chris and I headed to northern Italy to visit my dear friend Christine who is currently studying abroad. Her university program has her living in three different countries this year: France, Italy and Spain. We were lucky enough to catch her in Piacenza, Italy.
Christine....and we are the apples in her eyes.
I met Christine 10 years ago, in Lanciano Italy, on my first day of Grade 10. We were sitting next to each other at the back of the bus. I had just turned around from waving goodbye to my parents and brother Geoff and was trying to hold back tears from the fright of being alone in boarding school, when Christine tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had a pen and paper. With that, our lifelong friendship began.
Piacenza is a 45-minute train ride from Milano. 95% of the population own and ride cruiser bicycles, nearly all of them are equipped with baskets and/or saddle bags. It is not an uncommon site to see people, of all ages, biking home with their basket full of the parmaggiano and fresh vegetables from the market.
Bikes and markets are the two main ingredients of Piacenza.
Bicycles are Piacenza.
Piacenza has many markets that set-up in the main piazza throughout the week.
The town centre has a youthful, vibrant energy even though the buildings and streets are thousands of years old. The main piazza is a wonderful piece of architecture. The facade of the main building has numerous arches. If you look closely at the detail, each design is entirely unique. The main basilica is modest compared to most with a facade made of brick, but inside its high vaulted ceilings with dark oil paintings hold a beauty that we new world people can never get enough of.
The main building in the central piazza of Piacenza, Italy.
One of the basilicas found in Piacenza, Italy. Almost every fourth building is a church.
Chris and Christine waiting for the train. We enjoyed a day trip to Parma, Italy.
Every day in Piacenza, we woke-up around 11:00, made multiple espresso’s and a luxurious breakfast consisting of Italian eggs (which by the way have the most incredibly rich tasting yokes I’ve ever tasted in my life. Apparently some chefs will refuse to make a recipe if it calls for Italian eggs and they can’t get any!) Anyways for breakfast we also enjoyed yogurt, tomatoes, apples, oranges and bread. We talked for hours. Went on casual walks and almost daily we did grocery runs, for food was our main objective.
Christine loves cooking and we love eating. Every lunch and dinner Christine, with a little bit of support from us and Jamie (the guy who wrote the fantastic cook book she used for at least 10 of the meals we ate) would create meals that made our toes dance with happiness and our bellies swell with the pride of a king. Without any exaggeration, every lunch and dinner contained garlic, basil, olive oil, wine, salt, pepper and tomatoes. 95% of the time the base of the meal was pasta: penne, tortellini and linguini. The pure rich flavour of the pasta alone would be hard to match with brands bought in Safeway. The other 5% of the time we ate the most mouth watering home-made pizza.
We ate mounds of freshly grated parmaggiano everyday.
Home-made Italian pizza, made in Italy with Italian ingredients by Christine.
Everything was from scratch, even the dough. Christine’s sore shoulders from the relentless kneading can attest to this. This flavourful dough was made with flour #zero which is specially produced for pizza and may be hard to find in regular grocery stores in Canada, so head to your nearest “Little Italia”. Each pizza had simple and few toppings. I believe this helped us appreciate the texture and taste of each bite. I hope these photos give your belly the slightest ping of hunger, for none of them do Christine’s fantastic, tasty cooking the justice it deserves.
We helped Christine make this video today. We made it so she could send some much needed lovin’ to her boyfriend Mike. Christine is studying oenology (wine!) in the Mediterranean part of Europe, and is currently in Piacenza, Italy, where we are visiting her. Mike is doing a masters in econ in Toulouse, France, and is far from here.
Mike seemed to enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it, so that was nice.
Wow! Who knew turning 30 would be such a blast. I just want to say thanks to everyone for the kind wishes (especially Laura for arranging so many neat surprises). We had another party last night here at Christine’s place in Piacenza. It was a funeral theme, and all of Christine’s international school friends came dressed in black. They also all sang happy birthday in their native tongues which included French, Russian, Spanish, Afrikaans, Xosha (which I just learned is a South African language). It was really fun meeting them. Thanks Christine.
Jon and Cam, thanks for the books. They’re perfect choices and I haven’t read either of them already. Although I’ll probably trade them for other books after I read them (the joys of traveling light). That was super thoughtful. Erin, thanks for the card. It does get better and better. We miss you too.
Kate (and crew): thank you so much for the video! I just had to share it.
I also had to share this. I got it in an email from my sister, and I gotta say, right now Uncle Chris is missing his family. It made me cry a little because I love them so much. Anyway, thanks again everyone.
Top 30 Reasons why we LOVE Uncle Chris
30. Because he is handsome (Bridget)
29. Because I have to (Dean)
28. Because he is nice (Bridget)
27. Because he has a nice haircut (Dean)
26. Because he is so talented (Kelli)
25. Because he buys great souvenirs (Ryley)
24. Because he is a great photographer (Kelli)
23. Because he is kind (everyone)
22. Because he is funny (Gregory)
21. Because he is our uncle (Delaney)
20. Because he is a part of our family (Bridget)
19. Because he is an awesome uncle (Gregory)
18. Because he is smart (Bridget)
17. Because he sends pretty cool blogs to us (Ryley)
16. Because he gives great hugs (Kelli)
15. Because he is a special kindergarten helper (Delaney)
14. Because he sends us money on our birthdays (all kids)
13. Because he plays with us (Bridget)
12. Because he gives us toys (Delaney)
11. Because he likes to play board games (Ryley and Greg)
10. Because he gives us kisses (Bridget)
9. Because he is “Ours” (Grandma on the phone)
8. Because he is super caring (Gregory)
7. Because he is supportive and encouraging (Kelli)
6. Because he likes beer (Kelli)
5. Because he is a good cook (Gregory and Delaney)
4. Because he likes Star Wars (Gregory)
3. Because he is tall (Delaney)
2. Because he got us a great Auntie (Gregory)
And The #1 Top Reason We Love Uncle Chris...
Is That He Is The BESTUNCLEEVER!!!!
Happy 30th Birthday!
Kelli, Dean, Gregory, Ryley, Bridget & Delaney
And one more shot of the Piacenza wine gang... thanks guys.
Updated April 30: Xanthos is South African, not South American (doh!) and I didn”t realize Cam went in on Jon with the book package.