Transport is all about getting from A to B. Travel, instead, is all about what envelops us, physically, mentally and emotionally, while we are getting from A to B and then again when we eventually get to B itself. It is a learning process. It is a matter of zen. Since it involves some kind of change (rather a lot of change, actually), travel forces us to be “in the now”, to notice more things, to be more sharply aware, to be more receptive and open to notions that we don’t normally have time to contemplate. I think of travel as being a pursuit of the imagination as well as a physical one – combine the two and we end up with a marvellous experience.
And I think of museums as Alice-in-Wonderland like geographical portals that enable us to indulge in a little virtual travelling of our own. Time, and the concerns of time, tend to stop still at museums. We are engrossed in what lies before us, seduced or repelled by what we are invited to observe, and prompted to make interesting or unexpected synaptic connections via the stimulation of the museum’s exhibits. I have always loved museums for this reason, for the many stories they tell.
One of the stories we are often told is that the EC (European Community) is all about waste and bureaucracy. That is as may be but for once, to my mind, something intelligent came forth from the organization. And this is a project that the EC co-sponsored known by the name of “AdriaMuse”, one that seeks to unite museums and points of cultural and gastronomic interest in a network of five countries all along the Adriatic coast. I think they ought to have given it the byline “The Amusing Muses of the Adriatic” because the museums in question are as far removed from boxed-up, soulless, ivory-tower embalmed emblems of erudition as chalk is from cheese.
As mentioned in a previous post (https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/cant-forget-italy/), I was invited to participate in a road trip study tour in Emilia Romagna that formed part of AdriaMuse. Considering this cultural gadding about was mostly food oriented, you can imagine how much arm twisting it took to convince me. The destination cities and museums were: (1) Forlimpopoli (The Casa Artusi Museum), (2) Dozza (The Fortress and Regional Wine Cellar of Dozza), (3) Spilamberto (the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar Museum), (4) Cervia (the Camillone salt marsh and MUSA Salt Museum), (5) Cesenatico (Maritime Museum), (6) Anzola dell’Emilia,near Bologna for the Carpigiani Ice Cream Museum, (7) Parma (the Barilla Academy), (8) Felino (the Salame Museum), (9)Langhirano (Parma Ham/Prosciutto Museum) and finally, for me at least, (10) Cozzano for a visit to a family-run parmesan making factory.
It is my wish to draw readers’ attention to these noteworthy establishments – not only because they are indeed so worthy of note in their own right but because although Emilia Romagna has undergone such suffering and damage on account of earthquakes, it is an Italian Region that continues to bring out the best in people and in the art of excellence – think Parma ham, mortadella, tortellini, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan for starters. Think Motor Valley production as in Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Ducati. Think beautiful and historic towns including Ferrara, Modena, Parma, Ravenna, Rimini and Bologna — Europe’s oldest university town, founded in 1088.
Emilia Romagna is the birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi, of Arturo Toscanini and Luciano Pavarotti, of Federico Fellini, Rossano Brazzi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Bernardo Bertolucci, and, since I am mainly a food blogger, of foodwriters Pellegrino Artusi and Marcella Hazan.
The point is … if you get the chance, do go and visit Emilia Romagna and make sure to include some of its 500 plus museums on your itinerary – they are both welcoming and stimulating, not to mention fun. And what’s life without a little bit of fun? I shall be writing about my experience on the road trip and hope you already like the heading: “CultureQuake in Emilia Romagna”.
Hats off to Laura Carlini, of the IBC (Istituto per i Beni Artistici Culturali e Naturali della Regione Emilia Romagna) and to Giulia Pretto of the Regione Emilia Romagna for having thought out and put together such a richly diverse and action-packed itinerary, and for taking such good care of us and making us feel such welcome ‘guests’.