Ferrari Day

On Sunday we headed north to the heartland of Ferrari, visiting the museums in Modena and Maranello. 

Modena has two buildings. The modern one houses a collection of cars and gives a short show primarily featuring Enzo and Pavarotti, both born in Modena and good friends. The older building, which used to be the workshop of Enzo’s father, houses mainly engines and a bit more history.

In Maranello it is all a bit more spread out as there is the museum, focussing on Ferrari’s F1 and other sporting achievements, as well as numerous sideshows like tours around the factory (apparently not as good as it sounds, hence we didn’t bother) and a variety of people selling you the opportunity to drive a Ferrari around the town, drive a simulator or other ways to get money out of you.

In my opinion it is worth seeing both but if you only had time for one quick stop and you’re not a Formula 1 fan then Modena is the best bet. It cost us €13 per adult per museum and €5 for an accompanying child under 19. There is ample parking at both sites. There is a bus service from one to the other but we drove and it takes about 20 minutes. They are open from around 10-18 every day but check the websites for details.

The cars with full frame shots in the gallery are the 500 Superfast from the 60s of which only 36 were ever made and the F40 from late 80s early 90s. There will be plenty more when I process those in my camera!

For those who don’t know John Surtees, he is the only person ever to win World Championships on both two and four wheels, done around the time of my birth. He is the oldest surviving Formula One World Champion and the oldest surviving 500cc MotoGP World Champion.




Brisighella, pop 8,000, is a town in the foothills of the northern Apennines close to Faenza. If you drove from Faenza to Brisighella and kept going you would cross the mountains and end up in Florence. 

It’s a town we needed to go back to because our trip last year was cut short by a phone call saying the Volvo was ready for collection and the thought of another couple of days in the loaned Fiat 500 was enough for us to leave immediately to pick up the repaired car.

In temperatures lower than 36C and without the humidity the town offers a good deal of hill climbing treasure with interesting buildings perched on three hilltops around the town. Without the climbing the town is still a nice one to wander through. The tourbook highlight is the “donkey road” which is an old path at first floor level that was used as a safe passage for supplies as well as for defense as you could attack those in the street below from the arches above. 

The town was busy with numerous live events in the streets, musicians and market stalls, and there was a steady stream on traffic coming up from Faenza. We enjoyed an ice cream at a large outdoor cafe in a corner of the Parco Ugonia before wandering the town and returning to the park for dinner at Trattoria la Casetta. The food was good but this is a restaurant that has grown too big. It is huge, it was full and there was a queue of people waiting for tables. That meant slightly confusing and slow service, things arriving at not quite the right time and generally the feeling that it would better if half the size. It was also hot as hell when sitting outside as we were, even at ten in the evening. We returned to the cafe for a coffee before heading back home.

The journey from Roncofreddo is about an hour using the autostrada or 90 minutes using the non-toll highway. We took the scenic route there and the autostrada back. The toll of €3.30 is worth paying.

Our satnav lady gives three choices of route – fast, easy or short. You choose short if you want a bit of excitement as I’m sure she just tries to find the nearest roads to a straight line no matter how crappy they are. An example of a “short” road is seen below. 

Zosia is telling me I need to get in the pool so, goodbye for now!


Pizza, libraries and one-eyed cats

Another day by the pool yesterday followed by a late afternoon trip into Cesena for some shopping and then a pizza dinner in Longiano on the way home. Zosia was tempted by the patapizza, as you can see below. We shared a grande fantastico or whatever it was called that had four different toppings – Parma and truffle oil, mushrooms, mozzarella-tomato-basil and lastly rocket with Parmesan and tomatoes. 

Oh yes, culture, there was some culture yesterday as we visited the UNESCO listed  Malatestiana Library in Cesena. One of a few “chained libraries” remaining in the world. Very old, quite interesting, no air conditioning and with a curator who was determined we should see everything no matter how much sweat was pouring from our brows. He was, without good reason, a little embarrassed about how poor his English was and his memory of what there was in the library that might be of interest to English speakers came in fits and spurts so we’d read whatever he pointed us to and then just as we were half way to the exit he’d say “Eeenglisz!” and then point us to another manuscript or map. He gave us an audio guide, gratis, such was his feeling he was letting us down in some way. I tried to find the rewind button and then got stuck with nothing more than “welcome” in German and French. This went on for a long time but eventually we escaped and had a cold drink at a cafe watching the robot parking elevator taking cars down and slotting them into bays underground. We didn’t see any come back up.

Good news! Blanca the one-eyed cat survived the winter, which is more than can be said for the first one-eyed cat we met here. Mind you, we are told that Blanca lives next door so perhaps she is being looked after.


Swallows & Swimming pools

When our swimming pool is not being used by humans it serves as a perfect bar for the local swallows (jaskółki) whose superb flight skills, and I guess eyesight as well, allow them to run the length of the pool and just take the slightest sip of water before pulling back up into the sky. Sunbathing with a scene from The Dam Busters (1955) as entertainment.

Surprisingly, I managed to capture the moment on the iPhone a number of times but as the birds were side on they were hard to see. I did however get the one below where the bird was kindly banking away and so easier to identify – left hand side above the flippers.


Bella Italia

So here  we are again in beautiful Roncofreddo, Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

The journey down followed the usual route. Day one was a long drive out of Poland, across Czech and almost all the way across Austria, stopping in Klagenfurt for the night. Day two roughly half the distance, 500km, out of Austria, through the Dolomites down to Udine and then across to Venice, Bologna and down close to Rimini before turning right and up into the hills.

It was a case of third time lucky. The first year we had a smashed windscreen. The second year we had a massive delay in Brno and a buggered alternator. This year, so far at least, the journey has been trouble free with no delays and a car that was a joy to drive. Award for bad roads goes again to Czech. They are in ever worsening condition and the amount of roadworks on the motorways is ridiculous. The award for angry drivers goes to Austria. Either they don’t like Polish people (or Polish registration plates at least) or my driving was worsening as we got closer to the end of a long journey but it was the only place I had two people gesticulating at me to suggest they would be happier if I were not on the road. Fuck them!

Here’s Zosia enjoying our first breakfast before she headed off to the pool.



Just a quick post to wake up the blog before the new “holiday season” kicks off.

We were in town on the day of the Uprising anniversary and I snapped a couple of photos. Firstly of the Smyk building being simultaneously demolished and preserved and then of the crowds on Nowy Swiat. 

The Smyk building is on Jerozolimskie and an iconic Warsaw landmark. Fifteen years ago it was in a mess but still operated as a rambling Smyk store – kids clothes, toys and equipment. Then it stopped operating and finally someone is fixing the place up.

Nowy Swiat one of the main streets in Warsaw, on the “royal route” from the old town to the park. Closed to traffic except for buses and taxis it is where Warszawians might go to be seen taking a stroll. Not really a good street for shops as it is full of cafes and restaurants. It was really busy on this day because of the crowds following the Uprising commemorations. 

I have now finally worked out how to a) air drop between phone and pad b) find draft posts to finish them off and c) upload pictures smaller than original size in this new fangled WordPress app. So here we go!


Winter holiday

Staying for a week close to Krynica-Zdroj. Hotel is out of town, up a hill, past any other signs of life, past the streetlights, in the woods at 750m above sea level. The only sound is a distant but sinister chainsaw.

Three pictures around the hotel and one from the main pijalnia (drinking hall) in town where one can enjoy a variety of disgusting but healthy drinking waters.





Additional picture of the view from our balcony.