I like to share mom and my hotel adventures as a little reminder to plant seeds that all will work out—that the unexpected can turn into a cherished adventure. And that sometimes a little wild goose chase results in one of mom’s favorite highlights. It began with yet another of our “where do we stay tonight?” conundrums during a road trip in Italy. Though we’ve also learned to go with the flow and trust that everything will work out in a unique and perfect way. (At least I have, mom still struggles with that one a bit…)
This particular adventure started at the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena, Italy. Though getting there was an adventure in and of itself since we were without a GPS or an international data plan on the cell phone. Luckily, a kind stranger had us follow his car as we went winding through the city streets. I’d never have been able to find it on my own, and I’m grateful for his kindness.
The museum commemorates the life of Enzo Ferrari, the founder of Ferrari. I had no idea of the impact Ferrari had on the car racing world and its history. I quite enjoyed the museum, much more so than mom. Antique race cars and Ferraris, mom can live without.
It was getting late and having already been lost once in the city, we asked for hotel suggestions from a guy working at the museum. He first told us about a hotel less than a block from the museum. Mom and I walked over to take a look. It looked dreary, depressing, and run down. I cringed. Mom, surprisingly, said she’d be OK staying. I gave her a look of: Did aliens kidnap my mom? If I’m mortified, she should be doubly so, but it was close by and mom was trying to be amenable.
Our new friend at the museum wasn’t surprised by our reaction. He did a Google search and asked us if we’d mind staying just outside of Modena about 20 minutes away. Then he handed me a printout around 6 pages long, apologizing for the length.
Mom and I thanked him for his help and hit the road. We easily found our way out of the city center, but after a while, we began to wonder if we were lost. Then it started raining. Having no concept of how much further the hotel was or if we’d even passed it already, we decided to stop at a couple of hotels along the way. The first reeked of cigarettes, and I walked out immediately. The next one wasn’t much better, so we trudged on.
The rain continued to come down. I decided to stop again for directions, crossing fingers that we would at least still be going the right direction. I pulled into the next building I saw and parked. Then I looked up and laughed. “Look at the sign, Mom!” We happened to have pulled into the very hotel we were looking for!
The Touring Hotel in Carpi is a business hotel with a fabulous restaurant. The rooms are small by American standards, but it was perfect for mom, who likes a cozy room. After our adventurous drive, we were ready for dinner. We didn’t know what to expect from the hotel restaurant, but knew we were in for a treat when we walked into a vibrant, bustling restaurant filled with locals and non-tourists. This was not merely a hotel restaurant—it’s a destination in it’s own right. Our waiter described the menu, cuisine, and high quality ingredients with great passion and pride. We took his advice and had a lovely dinner.
It turned out that the hotel is owned by Anna Molinari and the Molinari family. Anna Molinari is a noted fashion designer known for her Blumarine fashion line. (I happen to have a Blumarine sweater in my closet.) The front desk asked us if we wanted to go to the showroom and do some shopping, complete with a special discount. I excitedly looked at mom. “Please, mom, I know you don’t love clothes shopping, but can you PLEASE make an exception!” Ugh! Mom had absolutely no interest, and I couldn’t change her mind. Still, it was quite cool to be staying in Anna Molinari’s hotel. Even mom agreed.
The next day we explored Carpi. We headed over to the Piazza dei Martiri, which is the third largest square in Italy. It’s a huge, open square and many of the cultural highlights of Carpi are there. Mom loved that it wasn’t as busy and crowded as other squares in Italy. (Yes, as mom ages, she seeks out places that aren’t too crowded.) We visited the parish church of Santa Maria in Castello and the adjacent Bell Tower. We’d hoped to visit the beautiful Municipal Theatre (Teatro Comunale di Carpi), but it wasn’t open when we went by. We finished our stroll with some pastries—an excellent finale to any outing.
For mom, it was the perfect unexpected escapade. When we returned home, she made sure to tell everyone about our trip to Carpi. Her fondness and delight shined through with every word. And to think, we nearly missed out on this fabulous memory. Thanks to the gentlemen at the Enzo Ferrari Museum for coming up with such a marvelous suggestion. Mom and I were grateful for yet another one of our happy random adventures. And to many more!