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The cycling in Parma was ...

Updated: May 3

I've just got home from a week's holiday in Italy, staying first in Parma (famous for the ham) and later in the much smaller town of Bazzano. We managed to go cycling almost every day but some of the routes we chose around Parma weren't much to write home about – they were a bit too built up for my liking.

What we did enjoy in Parma was a great little music bar, Borgo Santa Brigida 5A, where we caught some Friday night jazz and a brilliant concert on the Saturday night featuring Stella Burns. We also watched a free concert by Dargen D'Amico in the Piazza Garibaldi on 25th April, Liberation Day. Admittedly I couldn't see much as we were so far back (and I'm quite short) but there was a cool atmosphere and it was good to experience a bit of Italian rap/ pop. So Parma was good for music but not so great for cycling.

In the area near Bazzano, on the other hand, we found two lovely bike rides. True, we did cheat a bit by doing the first 8km on Tuesday's ride in the car but that left plenty of time and energy to explore the paths along the River Panaro in nearby Spilamberto. These were single tracks – so different to what I'm used to. We were cycling along narrow paths with slightly overgrown vegetation providing some added fun, ducking under low tree branches and skirting around the edges of puddles or cycling through them, hoping not to fall in. We met the occasional walker and saw a couple of other cyclists but mostly it was just the two of us and our bikes enjoying the gorgeous weather and lovely countryside.

Other highlights of our trip to Italy included a trip to watch Tosca in Bologna which was good but not quite as enjoyable as the Stella Burns concert. We ate some great food, especially our picnic lunches, and some not so great food. We got to see wild hares in the nature reserve along the River Taro, a few musk rats (similar to the ones we saw in The Camargue last year) and lots of birds. The weather was surprisingly cold in Parma but warmed up nicely later in the week. One thing that couldn't be missed when cycling in the countryside was the quantity of white fluff floating in the breeze. If you look at the picture below, you can see them caught up in the trees. I've no idea what this is, so if anyone knows, do tell.

Language Tip

Did you notice the idiomatic expression 'to write home about'? We use this to talk about doing something special. However, it's most frequently used in a negative sense, to emphasise that something wasn't particularly special.

  • It wasn't anything to write home about.

  • Is wasn't much to write home about.

Do you have a similar expression in your first language?

Want to discover some more English tips? Click here.


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