Gaby and Bjargey

Gaby and Bjargey
Two Michigan girls, who enjoy experiencing the world. Currently based in Iceland, Toned and Traveled is the go ­to travel and lifestyle blog for women who are looking for tips and advice on traveling, health and wellness, and life.
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Ciao From Parma, Italy

Parma Italy

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like a fish in a bowl? Well that is how I felt in Parma, whenever I went into the small town of Mozzano. Of course, my Italian family told EVERYONE that I was coming to visit. Whenever I greeted someone and told them I was American, they would reply with, “lo so” and a large smile.

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Ciao From Italy

For the past week and a half, I have been spending my time in the heart of Italy, Parma. You may not think of the city as the first destination on your list, but Parma is home to art, music, theater, Prosciutto and Parmesan cheese. I may be biased but it has to be one of my favorite places to visit in Italy.

I spent my time in Langhirano, a small town 20 minutes outside Parma, with my Italian family, The Magnanis. They own and operate a prosciutto factory and all live on the same property. It was a great week to relax, recoup and work on my Italian. I was ecstatic to have the ability to visit again. Everything was the same. Nonna is turning 98 in September and everyday she would great me with a hug and held my hand as she thanked me for visiting. The whole family is just wonderful.

I spent my days exploring the streets of Parma, playing with the children at the soccer field or eating. I honestly think I ate 4 pounds of pasta and 12 pizzas in total during my stay. I love Italian food, obviously, but there comes a point where you start craving a salad without salt – but when in Rome.

My favorite Italian food of all time is Torta Fritta. It is made of fresh dough that is fried in olive oil then smothered in butter and served with a variety of meats, cheeses and of course wine. There was one day I offered to make dinner, so I made a steamed veggie stir-fry and also pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil. When it came time to eat, I was the only one who ate the vegetables. Everyone else just stuck to the pasta.

I thought this was absolutely hilarious. The kids, everyday, would ask me to make them bacon and eggs because they thought that was what “Americans” ate everyday. So I would whip them up breakfast as I sipped on my smoothie. Luckily, Paola bought me tons of fruit and vegetables to munch on while I was visiting.

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We had dinner several times with our family friend Marylina, who made pizza the first night and torta fritta the second. She has two young girls, Micole and Giada. We went on long walks with the dogs and caught fireflies after dinner. The youngest Giada begged me to spend the night; it was the cutest thing ever.

Sadly, my time in Parma came to an end. It is always hard to say goodbye to la ma famiglia. Sara usually cries and asks to come with me. But I was ready for my next adventure. My last night in beautiful Italia, I stayed at an AirBnb right in the center of Bologna. It was a beautiful flat, owned by a retired model. As soon as I arrived, I changed my clothes and ran out the door. I walked down Via dell’Indipendenza, the main street filled with tons of shops and leads to Piazza Maggiore.

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I ate at a little family run restaurant on a side street that was packed with locals. I sat alone and could feel all the eyes on me. The waiter poured me a large glass of wine as I waited for my tortellini. I couldn’t help but laugh. I was in Italy, alone and having the time of my life.

That night, there was a movie in the Piazza and I decided to go. It was an Italian film, with English subtitles. I thought it was so cool. There was a movie every night of the week during the months of June through August. If you go to visit during that period, bring a bottle of wine and buy some gelato and enjoy the show.

Italy is one of the places I feel at home. It is home. Italy is a place I can get lost in and not worry. There is something about the wind blowing through my hair, the smell of lavender in the air and warm sun that kisses my skin and sends chills of excitement down my spine. Italy will always hold a special place in my heart and somewhere I will always return.

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