Centro ("Downtown") Busseto
Giuseppe Verdi, the greatest opera composer in history, was born in the tiny town of Busseto, outside Parma. Parma, once Verdi achieved world-wide renown in the mid-19th century,
claimed him as a son of Parma. As to the Maestro himself, Verdi never forgot his humble origins (the son of an "innkeeper" and his wife - in an age when "innkeeper" was not exactly the most exalted of positions) and always claimed to be the proud son
We were in Parma during the month long Festival Verdi so it was only natural that Gio and Barbara took us to Busseto to see the house in which Verdi was born as well
as the Verdi National Museum/Villa Pallavicino. All of this was interesting enough and although Cindy and I wouldn't classify ourselves as opera buffs, we've seen a few of Verdi's operas and can recognize his "greatest hits". It's always fun to
see artifacts of the Great Men and walk in their footsteps.
But the most fun was pranza - lunch.
The simple salumeria - the menu: meat, cheese, wine - was perfect and the owner was living proof as to why places like this still exist in Italy.
She explained why she still feels separated from her "hometown", despite the fact that she lives about a mile from the town in which she was born. Her sentiments are still with her birthplace because, well, that's where she was born. This does not seem particularly unusual to her. It also explains why Verdi, over a century ago, moved his residence a number of times just so he could be on the "right" side of the road and claim
residence in "his" town. Italians have an exquisitely developed sense of place and pride of place that goes with it. It's quite extraordinary and frankly commendable. It's why places like Busseto still exist in much the same form over centuries.
It's also why events
like the Gran Gala in Colorno are held. This street festival is dedicated to the preservation of the bittersweet "tortel dols" (fresh pasta - tortelli - stuffed with autumnal fruits cooked in wine).These little delights are a seasonal dish whose production
runs from October thru March (they're a must at Christmas) and are found exclusively in four micro-villages north of Parma. The festival also features a judged contest between the local rezdore (the lady of the house) for best tortel dols.