Stepping to Salso

My head is finally clear from the 21-hour torture of the plane trip but actually it is still spinning… from the differences in place and culture and language in which I am to be immersed for two months.

I am staying with my friend Paola at her mother’s house in the hills above Salsomaggiore Terme, which is a most beautiful town in the region of Emilio Romagna, so recently flooded in its lower areas. It is a town of leafy trees, parks and plazas, narrow streets and wide avenues, of boutique shops and cafés, of buildings quaint or grand.

My usual readers will not be surprised that the first photo I took here was not of the grand view above, but of a detail: a public rubbish bin. Apparently of ancient beauty, but of modern design, make and function.

The walk down to the town is via steep paved steps, bordered by weeds like the orange papavera poppies I had seen growing wild by the train line from the airport to Milan station. Even the stones in the edging drains here are aesthetically laid, diagonally. 

Naturally the walk back up is more of a strain; I could choose to follow the longer winding road instead. Italians drive on the other side of the road, very fast, and often one-handed, as, if in company, they are usually speaking — also fast — which necessitates gesticulating.

From the train I had also remarked on the many abandoned large farmhouse complexes, old and partly vine covered, in the midst of fields. People prefer to live near services now I am told. Yet on my walk down to Salso I pass quite a few mansions similarly falling into disrepair.

The first was Poggio Diana, once a sort of resort, a nightclub, a place of hospitality, of dancing and fun, with a pool and overgrown tennis courts below. I fall in love with the windows, the shapes, the shutters, and begin to feel the sadness of history’s changes. I think of the Hydro Majestic at Katoomba…

The road runs below the large tree-filled grounds of half-hidden, once grand villas. I think I see the one I want to rescue most. I am told many were built by owners of vineyards elsewhere in the region to take advantage of the higher air and the thermal spas, as the latter were the reason for Salsomaggiore Terme’s establishment.

Armies of gardeners would be needed for any of these, like this imposing rare one clearly still used by its wealthy owners.

Of course most Italians do not live in grand villas, or even separate houses, but in apartments, and I love that so many beautify them with flowers, roses and geraniums especially.

Most of the houses I do see are tall and narrow; colour abounds, particularly yellow. The house where I am staying is of three levels; I am in the attic.

I am getting used to tiles, and stairs, and even Italian TV. The latter is overly glamorous, bright and lively and I now better understand why the Eurovision Song Contest is so glitzy. But it is a good way to learn Italian…

12 thoughts on “Stepping to Salso”

  1. Thanks Mara, I will. There are so many beauties here it is hard to know where to wander next.

  2. Hi Sharyn,
    So pleased you get to immerse yourself in true Italian culture.
    Be sure to take a walk up “Strada Communale Bargone”…. Beautiful cemetery & church at “Chiesa Bargone”.

  3. WOW – Sharyn- that all looks amazing. You’re really experiencing a very pretty region. Your blog reminds me of the movie – Under The Tuscan Sun – glad to be along for the journey ?

  4. Hi Sharyn Loving all the beautiful photos and had a little chuckle about the coffee order I will enjoy travelling the country side with you

    robyn xx

  5. Yes Sue, it seems incredible that people suffer such plane trips often. I am enjoying the markets and trying to grasp Italian traditional ways of cooking certain vegetables; P’s Mum has a lot of zucchini growing, so a familiar challenge. The organic strawberries are divine here. Am getting used to lunch being the main daily meal… with wine!

  6. Hu Sharyn,The journey over must have been horrific, and its a relief to see these beautiful and very interesting photos of ancient and natural parts of Italy. (The devastation from the flooding lower down must bring memories to you of floods you have been in yourself.) I have a weakness for red or orange poppies. What wonderful weeds.! i can imagine the fun of experiencing the kitchen fare is equally great,
    Sue xox

  7. Glad you will be enjoying my adventure too. For now I am in the one place; so much to see, and am helping my friend Paola help her mother here.

  8. What a beautiful area to be staying in. I look forward to your posts over the next two months. Enjoy

  9. Hi Sharyn, glad you have recovered from the long flight. Love all the photos.
    Are you off adventuring elsewhere yet or just enjoying this beautiful place.?

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