Bella Romagna

Fortunately timed arrival in Italy allows me to get at least one post in the month of July.

We set off from Warsaw at 07:00 Tuesday morning following the usual route straight down Poland, across Czech (what was Moravia to be precise) and into Austria, past Vienna, past Graz and stopping near Klagenfurt. We were making excellent time and would have logged an 11 hour trip had it not been for an accident on the highway in Brno that brought all three lanes to a standstill for about 2.5 hours while they cleaned up the mess. I think a truck must have been involved but was craned & towed away. By the time we drove past there was only a white van whose passenger (if there was one) must be dead and driver close to it. Also a Mercedes in a bad way and a lot of sawdust covering oil, or worse, on the tarmac.

Three minutes earlier we would have been ahead of the crash. Two minutes earlier we would have been involved in it. Such is the way the dice roll.

Having had the usual trouble finding a stop-over in Austria I had finally booked us into the Sonnenhof in Maria Rain, just south of Klagenfurt. This was a countryside option as opposed to earlier attempts in the city itself. It had all the hallmarks of a privately run hotel where the parents hoped the kids would take it over but the kids had better ideas and buggered off to work for Google leaving the parents with something they can’t fully handle and should sell but they won’t.

It did deliver on ample free and safe parking, countryside, getting a meal when we arrived and a room big enough for the three of us. Unfortunately, it also had a weird sweet smell that suggesting more cleaning was needed and caused my wife to have her first ever dream about cleaning toilets! Breakfast wasn’t up to much either. So that’s another Austrian hotel off the list. I’ve never known a country so bereft of decent hotel options (outside of Vienna).

The drive from what will forever be known as “the toilet hotel” down to our place in Italy was without incident and took roughly the expected five hours.

Romagna, in fact most of Italy, has seen more rain this July than is usual and quite a lot of it fell just after we arrived. The good news for Italians though is that we brought the sun with us. Today was glorious weather and the long range promises more of the same so we benefit from the earlier rain making everywhere green and lush but don’t have it interrupting our sunbathing. Excellent.

We are at the same place as last year, Quattro Passeri (Four Sparrows), and a search of this blog will find plenty of posts from last year. It is as glorious as it was then and Stefano’s welcome and attention have not diminished at all.

We ate at Osteria dei Frati last night where we shared an antipasti plate of great home made meats and local cheeses then the girls had pasta and gnocchi while I ordered what turned out to be beef cheeks in red wine which the chef thought brave enough to come and serve them to me in person. A sort of last rites ritual in these parts.

Tonight we go to what ended up as our favorite from last year. Report later.

The only annoyance is a problem with the inside of my left ankle. It swelled up last Friday for no memorable reason. I hoped it would go away but it didn’t so we visited the hospital on Sunday. The x-rays showed nothing wrong and they did a blood test thinking that it might be, if my translation and search is correct, gout or at least some form of joint swelling caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. My reading was within norms but only just. I was given anti inflammatory drugs and told to go back when I’m home. I’ve been taking the drugs but it is still not right and it will be interesting to see what happens when the drugs run out, tomorrow. I’m not convinced it’s gout because by all accounts that makes the skin very sensitive and painful, which I don’t have. I’ve got a feeling I have sprained an Achilles or some other ligament. If there are any doctors out there, it hurts on the inside in the space between the ball joint and the heel. Anyway, I’m trying to ignore it.

A few snaps of our hostelry:





8 thoughts on “Bella Romagna

  1. Nice writing, Ian. You have the natural writer’s gift for making even the mundane interesting, and a perfect judgment of pace. Hope the ankle clears up quickly. – Stephen

  2. “Dr.” Cunningham’s instant online diagnosis suggests Tendonitis or Plantar Fasciitis ( No, not translated as a Bolshie Gardener) but a sudden onset of quite debilitating pain and discomfort in the pedal extremity region! Both conditions last any thing up to a week and then does off under their own steam. Comes ( I believe) from constant pressure on the loud pedal of a car whilst trying to keep to self imposed time limits on one’s holyers!

    Treatment… 1 Learn to relax and take more time in crossing Continents / Countries
    2 Allow Spouse to take over the wheel for a least 50% of the journey..

    That’ ll be 50 Guineas please ;-)))))))

    Get well soon!

  3. Sorry to hear about the ankle. I have had plantarsfascitis. It was painful but don’t remember any swelling. Only hurt when walking. (some stretching excercises might help) Once when I was driving home on the thruway my foot swelled and became numb. It was the gas pedal so kind of scarry. I had to pull off at a rest stop several times to try to wake the foot up. Went to the Drs and they never found out the cause or anything else. It never happened since. It was a very hot summer that trip and d not sure if I had A/C in the car. Hope this doesn’t interfere with the rest of your stay.

  4. Ankle update – could be worse. Swelling did not (yet) rampage back after the drugs ended and whilst I don’t want to tempt fate it might be recovering. Don’t know if that’s the rest or something else. Will have to see how it holds up to our first day trip.

    The Volvo is automatic, Eddie, so the left ankle has little to do but even so I think multiple hours doing nothing much wasn’t any better for it than pressing a clutch pedal.

    Must say the XC60 is a great long distance tourer. Stick it in sport mode and it eats highways for breakfast! Most useful in terms of safe driving is that from 110 to 160 km/hr (70 – 100mph) is done in the blink of an eye and that’s the normal range for highways.

    I use cruise control as well but I never really feel safe with it so end up switching it off again. I suppose on lonely US highways with not a car in sight it might be more functional.

    The Passat, two cars ago, was also a good tourer.

  5. I think we last talked ‘Cars’ about 7-8 years ago when you were looking for a decent buggy and I was running a Citroen C5. 6 years and two replacement dual flywheels later I turned ‘er in for a 7 year old Merc ,.. a 3.5E Class CDi Some buggy, “Big Bertha” she was dubbed and came with 90K on the clock and over the next 3 years I added another 50k, In May this year ,finally smitten by all thing Mercedes, I leased a brand new 2.2 E Class Cdi ( BBII!) which will probably see me out.

    How’s my lovely ‘ Best Girl ‘Zosia? And your beautiful wife? Do drop me a line when you’ve stopped gadding about for another year!

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