Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mantova. Once again for Andrew.

We woke early this morning before any of Italy was awake, unless there were farmers somewhere sowing their spaghetti crop. I fired up the Alfa, oil light still flashing, and we headed five kilometers to the richest town per square inch this side of Park and 73rd, Portofino.

There, we saw yachts that would leave a Rockefeller gaping, and each had a pignoli cookie approximately the size of my thumb nail for $1.50 each. After about 30 minutes, we felt sufficiently impoverished, paid $10 for parking in the town's only lot, and hit the winding road for Mantova, pronounced Mantua.

The road took us through the mountainous spine of Italy and a truck-filled industrial stretch that looked more like New Jersey than a $4 postcard. Finally after winding in and out of all those trucks at 140 kph, we made it to our hotel, an old farmhouse just outside of the 15th Century town.

The hotel, who knows why, wasn't open until 2, and we arrived earlier than our GPS had calculated, at 1. So I chucked the Alfa into reverse and somehow found the old town which loomed over the countryside like the witch's castle in the Wizard of Oz.
Empty countryside, then this appears.

When it came to Churches, they didn't stint.
Sufficiently ignorant of Italian road signs, we roared into the old city and parked. We found out only later that there's a $70 euro fine for this indiscretion. We're hoping to enroll in witness protection sometime after we return our rental car.

We traipsed a bit through the town, cursorily taking in the Duomo, the Piazza and a few other sights, including of course the obligatory blind man with an English sign weakly playing an old accordion and asking once again of course for euros.

At one time, back in the 1600's, 8% of Matova's population of 90,000 was Jewish and housed in the ghetto, which was torn down once Napoleon's troops came through in the early 1800s. There are 150 Jewish families left in town.

I've thus far found the International New York Times.

But who knows if I'll sniff out a bagel.

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