Ryan's Study Abroad Journey

17 Apr 2013

Cremona, Mantova, Parma, Piacenza

This week we took a program wide weekend trip to Cremona, Mantova, Parma, and Piacenza.  It was entitled the culture and cuisine tour.  Things have been so busy that I am writing this the Wednesday after the trip.  I won’t be very detailed as I usually am, because usually I write the Sunday after I get back from my trip so that the experiences are nice and fresh in my mind…

Anywho!  The trip was amazing and very relaxing despite rooming with Amanda.  Hahah, I’m not going to comment on that at all here, read the post below if you’d like to know about that.  Anyway, it was a great trip.

First, we stopped in Cremona and checked out the Duomo.  Every major city in Italy has their own Duomo which is like the city’s huge Catholic church and main focal point in the city.

Cremona’s Duomo: 


Milan’s Duomo:


Rome’s Duomo:


Florence’s Duomo


Next, we went to a violin making shop where a man showed us the process of violin making.  Each violin he makes starts at 3K Euro and can go up to 8 figures.  Cray cray


We then saw the theater which has burned down at least 3 times because it was made entirely of wood and candles.  Wood is a great material for great acoustic sound.



One thing I learned about Cremona was that it is famous for 3 Ts

  1. The great TOWER:image
  2. TORRONE (Nougat):image
  3. and TITIES! The women from Cremona supposedly are known to have big breast.  I didn’t see any lol  Sorry, I don’t have a picture of those…

Our tour guide wanted us to guess the last.  I instantly thought tities, but was scared I’d embarrass myself.  I blurted it out anyway and I WAS RIGHT! LOL When in doubt, go with your gut I guess…which is under your tities lol…TITIES!! The Italian word for “tities” is “tete”.  A little Italian lesson for ya’!

Okay, enough with the immaturity…Next, we headed to Parma.  Parma is a cute little city.  The first day I walked around with AJ and Brian.  Brian is that dude in my Econ class who thinks he’s just so damn smarter than everyone (there may be some truth to that statement :/.  I’m learning that my toleration for BS is increasing because even though he was saying stupid stuff like this, I still chose to walk around with him:

Brian: How much have you guys spent on postcards so far?

Me: Oh about 70-80 Euro.  Mailing and buying.

Brian: WHY!?

Me: Well I have a lot of family and friends.  I have 28 students as well.  I’m trying to encourage them to consider study abroad.  I think they’d be inspired getting a handwritten card from their camp counselor don’t you think?

Brian: Well no, can’t you just send them an email. 

-______- I just laughed.  I’m like you idiot.  You just HAVE to say something.  Can’t you just be happy and save your heartless ass comments!?


We had dinner and it was great.  I sat by Sarah and we had such great conversation.  It was so easy.  I’m so happy that we are consistently looking past the disputes we had as roommates Sophomore year and can enjoy dinner with no problems.  We even shared a desert from the same plate afterwards.


Just in case you didn’t notice, I’m in the back lmfao. They got ya’ girl in the shadows! SMDH lol

The next day we went saw Parma’s Duomo and headed to Mantova.


Mantova was boring as all get out. lol We went to one museum where they literally just had empty rooms on display.  We didn’t get it.  I’d didn’t even attempt to understand.  I had intentions of eating lunch with some other friends in the program after shaking Amanda, but these girls were with the BS.  lol Wandering around.  One even said, “I’d be cool with McDonalds.”  I’d be damned if I came all the way out here to eat McDonalds when I didn’t have to.  Call me sadity if you want!  That was the last straw.  I dipped.  I said, “Alright, bye guys,” and just went to lunch by myself lol.  It was peaceful.  I didn’t have to worry about awkward conversations, hearing people argue about frivolous topics, hearing Amanda’s mouth about how they didn’t have anything she likes on the menu.  It was SIMPLE! Plus, since Mantova was DEAD I was the only one in the restaurant besides the waiters and chefs.  UH-mazing.  After this, I met back up with the girls because the town is so damn small.  We had 3 hours and nothing to do so we grabbed some bottles and some pastries and headed to the river.

This was one of the most memorable parts of the trip.  It was cool to just sit and laugh.  Every time I get a chance to hang out with Sarah as well is great, not even because she’s cool to hang around but because it’s a constant testament of how people can throw away drama and keep it pushing and rebuild a stronger relationship.




Next we headed to dinner in the middle of frigging nowhere! It was sooo beautiful.  Being in Milan I don’t see any green.  I never thought I’d miss grass and fields so much.  Just seeing them warms my heart.  I love nature.  

This restaurant prepared meals only with ingredients they either shot, killed or gathered.  It was delicious.  We had proscuitto, wine, bread, something with radicchio,  pork, beef, fried pasta, cipollini, and desert.  I ate and drank so much that I felt so sick after.  I had to walk outside.  There I met up with Chris, one dude in the program from Staten Island.  He’s real cool.  We chatted it up under the stars and it was beautiful.

The next day we went to the Parmesan cheese factory where they make…Parmesan cheese lol.  shocker shocker.  It was cool.  First they take milk, put it in these hot baths, let it curdle, gather it in these huge cheese cloths in 50 kg bunches.  Next, they plop the cheese in molds to get it’s shape.  Then they give it a salt bath and store it.  Parmesan can be aged for up to 3 years.  All the factory workers were sweaty and top heavy because they lifted huge pounds of cheese out of water every day, 7 days a week.  The factory smelled like hot curdled milk.  I was ret to go lol but it was cool.  Because they make 50 rolls a day, they had thousands of cheese rolls in the factory which, in total, were millions of dollars.  That one factory makes 11 million Euro a year.  EURO!

I’m a big foody and love watching how it’s made so this was cool for me.  Any Food Network Channel’s “Unwrapped” fans can understand my feelings about visiting this factory.

We then headed to Piacenza which was my favorite part of the trip.  Piacenza was a small town prominent in the medieval ages that now relies on wine for 50% of its income.  It was exactly what you would assume a little Italian town would look like.  We climbed this big ass cobblestone hill to the top where we overlooked the area and breathtaking green mountains.  There was also a huge castle there called Castell’Arquato.  

We did wine tasting there and I did some shopping.  I bought the 2 bottles of wine that we tasted for gifts for my family for 19 Euro (together) aka hella cheap! I was so happy with my bottles in hand until I was shut down by one of my friends who said I could never get back in the States with those being 19.  She told me that I’d be stopped at customs.  All bus ride back to Milan I’m thinking of clever ways to hide it in my luggage.  I walk all the way down the hill we climbed, keep it in tact on the bus, through the busy ass tram and metro with hands full and exhaustion like crazy, press the number on the elevator for my apartment and drop the damn white wine bottle.  I had one red and one white.  I didn’t try the red and had no clue how it tastes so I was fuming that the first bottle of wine I bought for my family from this little restaurant on the top of this beautiful mountain in this tiny and magical Italian town is now at my feet and all over the ground.

If anyone knows where else this is sold, please let me know…

I had to ride the elevator all the way up, drop off my stuff and bring a towel all the way back down so that no one was slip on the marble and down the stairs which is where I dropped the bottle.  A horrible ending to an amazing trip lol.

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