Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 1: Wednesday, April 27: Prato

The US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Rome is--amazingly enough--not full and we both have empty seats next to us. We arrive in Rome pretty much on time--9 am; I have gotten a few hours of sleep and Diana has gotten less. Our luggage arrives quickly and we are on the road north by 10 am.

Traffic on the autostada is pretty heavy through Chianti and around Florence but we make to it to the Prato exit before 2 pm. Our drive into town is complicated because our GPS seems to have lost its detailed Italian maps and there are no specific street by street directions to reach the hotel. We have to rely on the hotel signage, which turns out to be fine and we are at the Residence Massanei after only a couple of missed turns.

After getting into the room, I set out to find a parking space for the car. The Residence desk is unmanned at mid-day (the entrance key had been left under a doormat) and it is tricky trying to locate the streets where parking is allowed with the hotel permit. But after a while, I find one and make my way back to the hotel.

Once we get settled in the room, I head out for an exploratory walk in Prato to orient myself while Diana takes a nap. Later in the afternoon, we head out together and walk through the Piazza del Duomo

and around the "centro storico". At the Piazza del Comune, we stop to listen to an accordion orchestra--students from Germany--playing some tunes reminiscent of klezmer music before an small but appreciate audience of Pratese.

We have dinner at a restaurant just around the corner from the hotel...we need to have an early night after our very long day...and find a gem. Ristorante Baghino is terrific...the staff is friendly, the place has a nice buzz and the food is wonderful.

We split an order of antipasto Toscano and fett'unta (toasted bread with toppings of olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, liver pate, white beans and lardo). Diana has a beautifully prepared risotto with parmigiano and my parpardelle (wide flat noodles) with duck is great. The house wine is very good and Diana finishes with an order of pineapple. The bill is Euro 54 (very reasonable)...about $80.00 US.This is a place that we will return to before we leave Prato....

Luckily, it is only steps back to the hotel and we are asleep in no time. But we are very happy to be back in Italy.

Jim and Diana