M√ľnchen

Or Munich as it’s commonly known in English. We had a beautiful train journey from Verona yesterday through the alpine valleys through to Munich where we’re staying with one of my friends called Dave. He lives in a shared house in Munich’s equivalent of Park Lane. We just got up at 7:30am to go into the Octoberfest tent to start drinking. Apparently the tables are all full at 10:00, which makes this craziness necessary. Dave and his girlfriend Ellie are dressed up in the traditional Bavarian outfits. I’ll let you know how the event goes later.

Piemonte

The reason for the unusual shortage of posts this holiday is due to the almost complete internet vacuum that we’ve been in this week in Piemonte. Yes really, no Facebook.

Rural Piemonte is not an obvious holiday destination for English people, because it doesn’t have the usual sightseeing or sunbathing opportunities. I’m not sure why Katie picked it as a destination, but I’m glad she did because it’s full of vineyards, hence lots of wine tasting, grape stealing, and arguing with Italians over wine prices.

Well, perhaps not the arguing, it’s really not necessary. They sell the wine by the litre from petrol pumps, and at about the same prices as petrol, and the locals bring their jerry cans to fill up. I tried to persuade them to send some to England, but they weren’t having any of it, so instead, I’ve currently got my arm in traction carrying four bottles home. One is a fizzy red.

One day we braved the tourists and drove down to the Cinque Terre on the coast. These are five villages originally devoted to fishing, now devoted to feeding Americans, Germans, Italians and a pair of Brits. There were some nice walks, one of which we left a bit late, so it became (to quote a passing Italian Granny), “Tutto buio” (all dark).

Now we’re in Verona where we’ve already completed the obligatory sightseeing (Juliette’s balcony and the Roman amphitheatre). That didn’t take long. Now we’re off for a drink.

In Italia

It was the usual route – Birmingham to London to Paris to Milan, where we collapsed in a heap for a night, but only after enjoying some excellent Cucina Milanese. We ate and drank next to the canal, where the seats point inwards to face the people walking along “in passagiata”.

Yesterday, after a stroll through the city via a regional food festival entitled “Butchers for Children”, the delights of which we elected to avoid, we picked up the hire car.

We arrived at our destination for the next few nights, a beautiful guest house in Piemonte. It is immaculately finished to a scary degree and owned by a British couple who also operate a vineyard. And yes, the local Barbera is excellent. I just wish my Italian was better.