Cat here- so Baby and I just got back from our vacation in Italy, and we can’t wait to tell you about it and show you some of our photos (which we are still organizing)! Though we had a wonderful time, we did not get off to a good start!!!! Our plane was 15 minutes late in landing, and we had to take a bus and a train and walk what seemed like a mile to the terminal for our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Milan- which we missed it. Oh well. So four hours later than planned, we landed in Milan, picked up a rental car, and were back on track to begin our vacation.
On the road now, exhausted but happy to be driving to our first destination- a bed and breakfast in Alba, in the Piedmont wine region of northern Italy- we got our first lesson for what to do better next time (well, aside from not missing our connecting flight).
Lesson #1: When you book that wonderful authentic bed and breakfast way up on a hill in a rural area with vineyards everywhere- know that the address of that little dirt road leading to the B & B may not be found by your GPS. May not? I mean you will not be able to find it by their address. So you need to get the geographic (latitude and longitude) coordinates (sometimes called GPS coordinates).
Yes, our first quaint little B & B turned out to be one of those places that our GPS couldn’t find. Now if it was daytime and we weren’t tired, it would have been ok. But it now dark, and after a few attempts to ask directions, we found a restaurant whose owners tried to help us map out how to get there (to no avail)- and who even called our B & B- (no answer).
Lesson #2: Small family run B & Bs with only a few rooms do not have a front desk, and do not have someone available 24 hours. Often it is a side business or a second business to their day job.
Lesson #3: Don’t try to get by without a phone. Just pay the extra for overseas calls, and only make them when you have to. Then at least you can call when it it convenient for you, and you do not have to rely on someone else to call, or on spotty wi-fi service. (Note: I know you seasoned travelers know all this. But we did not).
On we went, thinking we were probably going to have to sleep in the car. But we decided to give it one more try. Now nearing 11:30 pm, we found another restaurant a few blocks off the highway. Fortunately for us the manager spoke english because we were too frazzled and tired to speak with our limited knowledge of Italian (though we had been studying it!)
“You will never find it” he said, and graciously offered for one of his employees to drive and have us follow to our location (it was near closing time).
How lucky that there are people like this in the world! Because I will tell you- we never would have found the B & B, three miles as it was up a winding hill, through open fields and vineyards, with no lights. So we finally get there and think- what do we do now? No one answered the phone 2 hours ago, and all is dark except a small light in the courtyard parking lot. Then our guide walks up to the lighted door that has a note stuck on it, next to a key in the keyhole. “Are your names Cat and Baby?” he says to us as he hands us the note which read “Benvenuto Cat and Baby”.
Lesson #4: There are generous, good-hearted people everywhere.
So began our Italian vacation.
P.S. We are giving you the name of this restaurant because they were so willing to help us. We did not get a chance to eat there, but it looked like a very fine gourmet experience, and how could you go wrong with good food and good people?
La Mucca Pazza Brasserie. Address: C.so Canale, 28 in Alba, Italy Tel./Fax 0173.441977 Cell.334.7087200. (Note- they also have a restaurant in Cuneo).
Here is a link to their website: http://www.lamuccapazzabrasserie.it/alba.html