I always thought it would be fun to live in a Peter Mayle novel. The pictures he paints of the south of France in his novels (Chasing Cezanne, A Good Year, Anything Considered, Hotel Pastis) have had me drooling for the foods and wines — his description of the truffle and that of a good cassoulet were especially inspiring)– and sighing for the landscapes and wistfully wishing I could be there.

And while I won’t echo the great Poe’s raven, I have to say I’ve gone one better. Having just spent two weeks in Italy — a week of it in the the lesser-explored Emilia-Romangna region — I got to sample all that I longed for in those books. Great food, lovely warm people, interesting characters who ought to be in books but am glad to say are real, art of course, fine wine and did I mention food already? Before I launch into any more rhapsodies (and there will be many to follow, I assure you) I have to pay tribute to Silvio and his charming cottage, Ca’ Lumacheto, which I urge anybody who wants to experience the good life but a little differently and less touristically, to try out. Here’s the link to paradiso:

Shraddha and I had an absolutely fabulous time, using the cottage as our base and tales of our adventures in and around the region will follow. But meanwhile I must keep a promise to the kind Venetian artist (Murano glass artist to be precise) who helped me. Mauro, his first name is, and he treated us to a very interesting interlude when we entered his shop in search of help, on the recommendation of the expensive if nicely-stocked bead lady two doors up (or was it down?) from his. Here’s his website and if you’re in Venice and have a taste for the unusual but authentic in Venetian glass visit his shop and help support the local artists and their centuries of tradition:

Artigianato d’Arte

Mauro’s is an interesting story, and I’ll try to tell it when I reach the Venetian portion of my holiday chronicle. Meanwhile, back at home in the Cairene batcave, duties in the guise of papers to grade, and lectures to give call, and hence I must to bed

Ciao. A presto!