In Parma, it rains flowers for ParmaFantasy

What an amazing place is Italy!

(But I still prefer my horrible American coffee!)

I have to keep this brief as I have a limited amount of time before we run for the train and the next town. Any typos belong to this European keyboard, not me!

I arrived in Milano to a lovely day and was picked up at the airport by Alessandro and Alice, and off we went on a drive to Parma. Contrary to what we expected, traffic was good and we sailed right through. On the way, they introduced me to ‘pocket espresso’. This, I have to admit, is a brilliant idea. It comes in a little packet taht is about twice the size of a jam packet from a Denny’s, but rather similar in design. It has with it a tiny straw that you punch in through the top. Inside is a chocolate-espresso, rather sweet and full of caffeine vitamins. (Yes, caffeine is a vitamin for me!) It was very good and exactly what I needed after a long plane journey.

After a bit of sleep and getting settled in at the Astoria hotel, I met Sara, my intrepid Italian author guide from Fanucci and we set off to find food. That’s extremely easy here in Parma, and for my first dinner, she chose food very typical of Parma. I will never use Parmesan cheese again without recalling it. The pasta was excellentò thatàs a typo, but I like how it looks! It was ‘drowned in butter and saved by the cheese’ which is, I am told, how it is best. Then we went for a stroll. The streets were full of young people.
 I think we must be near a University. We passed through a park, and the air was fragrant with the perfume from the trees. We heard an owl call several times, and many night birds. This surprised me as we were in the heart of a city.

The next day we slept in a bit, and then we were off to ParmaFantasy. Itàs held in the open air, in a lovely park, with buildings nearby for presentations of art, gaming of all sorts and shelter from the occasional rain. For the most part it was VERY sunny and I was grateful Iàd thought to sunscreen before I left the hotel. I met with a group of members from a fan-based Robin Hobb newsgroup. They were all meeting one another for the first time, and had matching Robin Hobb Italy Book Tour T-shirts. I have one to take homeç I felt like a rock-star! All very nice people, if a bit shy at first.

The ParmaFantasy festival was well attended, with many vendors, lots of LARP groups and costuming (some of the best Ive ever seen! The Avatar couple, complete with tails, won the competition.)There were vendor stalls to explore.

oops, running out of time.  Must cut this short!

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