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Wonderful Windsor!
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Massimo’s Modena!

If you follow my blog, you might ask why we are back in Italy once again. We can’t seem to stay away from this country. It’s true and we have yet to be disappointed by any visit. The people, the history, the culture, the weather…oh, and the food! So when I asked Mark where he wanted to celebrate his 60th birthday, he hesitated for a split second and said, “Italy, of course!”

Our Monday began with an early flight from London to Milan, where we will enjoy part two of our trip…returning to beautiful Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. We experienced this incredible region two years ago (detailed in two blog posts from our Italy ‘22 blog), including the meal-of-a-lifetime, nine-course tasting menu of 3-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura. We said we would return someday to stay as his inn, Casa Maria Luigia.

Fast forward to this winter when our dear friends David & Shona, Karen & Bryan, Nan & Jeff, Kim, and Jo surprised Mark with a stay at this incredible property to kick-off his 60th celebration. And because he comes as a package deal with me, I too get to enjoy this generous and thoughtful birthday gift!

We checked into Casa Maria Luigia after a two-hour drive from Milan and were immediately reminded of the charm and beauty of this peaceful, countryside inn. The gorgeous, tree-covered grounds include a garden, pool, tennis courts, and a “playground,” which we have yet to see.

The inn is full of contemporary art - all from Massimo and Lara’s private collection. It also features a music room - where you can listen to one of thousands of their collected vinyl albums. The kitchen is open 24 hours and there you will find sweet and savory surprises cooked up each day by Massimo’s kitchen crew - you simply help yourself.

We were assigned the lovely Gucci Pink Heron suite - named after the bold wallpaper, with a contemporary yet retro pink-tiled bathroom to match!

After an Aperol Spritz on the back patio, and a short stroll through the property, we ventured into town to one of Massimo’s restaurants, Franceschetta 58. Our intention was to keep our meal light and evening short, as we already had a full day with travel. One look at the menu, however, and we found ourselves ordering the 5-course tasting menu! Three satisfying hours later, we were reminded again of Chef Bottura’s creative genius. The highlights of the meal were the Emilia Burger (check out its clever “plating”), penne alla boscaiola – an earthy morelle mushroom dish, and the classic tortellini with Parmagiano Reggiano.

We later discovered the tortellini was made fresh at Tortellante, an incredible non-profit school that was formed by Massimo and Lara to teach autistic teenagers and young adults how to make tortellini by hand. They recruited local “rezdore,” the expert women who have kept the handrolling pasta traditions alive in this region for generations. These women impart their wisdom and teach students how to property make tortellini - one of the symbolic pastas of this region. Knowing this makes this dish all the more delicious.

We have two more full days to take in this beautiful place; who knows what tomorrow will bring! Until then, buona notte!


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