Day 4: Sunday July 25th, 2004 Read Short Version View Photos

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

Today was wine-tasting day, so we obviously had to get an early start. This hotel's breakfast included croissants, yogurt, cantaloupe, crackers, crappy cereal and juice. We drove for about an hour and waited around for our tour guide. We then drove out into Italy's Napa, and up to an abbey. We wandered around there then took the bus down to a city called Asti, where there was a massive flea market happening around us. We toured a bit, went into a church that had just finished mass then were released for lunch. We went a bit off the beaten path and found a good restaurant where we each ordered pasta plus 2 pizzas to share, which was a ton of food but quite tasty. This apparently was a dog-friendly restaurant, as there was a small dog next to us, and later two greyhounds showed up.

Back to the bus we went, and headed to a small family run winery (grappary?) where we toured the facility and tried their grappa. It was pretty strong but better than ouzo. We also tried lemoncello which had a better aftertaste but a worse initial burn. Previously our tour guide had half-jokingly chewed Jessie out for talking about lemoncello, since that's a southern Italian specialty, which was amusing to everyone except Jessie. Fortunately for Jessie, she managed to find lemoncello in the store, pointed it out to the tour guide and from that point on was known as Lemoncello. After spending too much time in their gift shop, we were on our way down to some little town for some more church-touring. As we waited for the bus back at the main square, we had a prolonged but inane discussion with a friendly Italian guy. Then it was back to the bus.

Thumbs Up: Free Wine We eventually ended up at a castle that boasted the most beautiful panoramic of the wine country, or so we were told, and they weren't lying. We walked around for a bit, then congregated just outside and below the castle at a small family winery. We proceeded to have four wines, three reds and a white dessert wine, accompanied by crackers with truffle butter, some sort of cheese, and assorted candies. Most of us succumbed to the wine and purchased much; I got my favorites of the reds (read "most tolerable") and a bottle of the apple cider-tasting dessert wine (which I actually liked, all 5% alcohol of it) for a total cost of 12 euros, and Jessie got the same. We then walked back up and through the castle and back to the bus.

Thumbs Up: Eleventy-nine course meals Our bus driver then took us up some rather narrow roads to another family run place, which was a restaurant, winery and farm, where we were to have a large Piedmontese style meal. The food started coming and kept coming until we were totally stuffed. We started with an antipasto of procciuto, salami and pepperoni, followed by tomino cheese with a spicy topping that had anchovy in it, a tomato half filled with an odd tuna mush concoction, a zucchini thing with a tasty sauce, two kinds of pasta, meat, then a dessert of two custardy cakes and a hard cake-cookie thing. As always, we had the end of a table to ourselves and amused ourselves to no end, including two separate tear-inducing laughing fits (the fly and the chocolate cake).

After dinner we boarded the bus for a long 2 hour ride back to the hotel, where we arrived at 12:15 AM.