Not all of them are good so let me get those out of the way. The diesel exhaust from an old car or truck. The laborer on a bus that didn't get his weekly shower yet. Enough of these smells.
Now for the ones I shall never forget. Walk into a pastry shop early in the morning and the smell of fresh baked bread and sweets. The smell of zabaione inside a freshly baked croissant. Yesterday we had the smell of Parma hams being cured in various stages of delight. The smell of Prosecco just after the owner's wife has popped the cork of their vintage of Prosecco in their small and quaint tasting room. Thursday nights smell of pizzas made only the way Italians know how.
All this brings us to today's adventure. We woke early for t least me, and drove to Modena. Found out it is pronounced "MO du ney". Or at least it was a revelation for me. We had an 11:00 tour of a place that produces Balsamic vinegar. When it comes to Balsamic vinegar, Modena is the capital of the world. We got there early so we drove to central Modena, had coffee, (expresso another great smell of Italy), then drove to what looked like another house on a back street. The minute we walked in, we knew this was no ordinary house or an ordinary tour.
Mosaics under glass under the dinning room floor.
But the reason for our visit was to learn about Balsamic vinegar and taste it's different flavors. Our host, the owner and wife of the founder's great grand son was stupendous. Her English was superb and of course her knowledge of Balsamic unequaled.
Our host and guide.
But again it is the smell that takes your breath away. The Balsamic vinegar is aged in the upper floors (attic though it really isn't an attic we would think of) because there it receives the correct heat in the summer and the right amount of cold in the winter. We were there for one and a half hours, but I won't attempt to even summarize her talk. Call me when I get back home and maybe I will share some of the heaven in a bottle that is Modena Balsamic Vinegar. Suffice it to say that we were given tastes of it by the drops and it rivaled some of the wine tasting I have done in Europe.
Drops of heaven.
The tasting room with casks of vinegar aging.
Some of this is over 25 years old. Some Balsamic in these casks was produced around the time I started working at the NYSE.
One happy tourist.
After buying some less than cheap vinegar, we were very hungry from all the ways Balsamic could be used. We drove into downtown Modena, looking for a restaurant recommended by our host. All I can say is it was the best hidden restaurant in Modena. We walked (hobbled ) all over downtown Modena, till we finally found it hidden on the second floor of building. More great smells of Italy. This place made up certain dishes head depending on availability of produce and served only those. Spaghetti with tuna has another great smell.
We eat and ride back to Parma. Naps and reading.
And one last smell that has been with us in every stop so far of the trip. Jasmine everywhere. White jasmine to be specific. And as I write this blog, 5 stories above one of Parma's street, the smell of Jasmine wafts in and becomes one of the smells I will now always assocaite with Italy.