Cinque Terre and Parma
West of Florence along the Liqurian Coast (part of the Mediterranean Sea) lies five authentic and charming villages amongst or at the base of rugged hillsides. The “Five Lands” composed of quaint villages are another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a part of the Italian Riviera. The persistence of the villagers to make a home amongst the steep landscapes is admirable and makes this a uniquely beautiful area and popular tourist destination.
Linking the villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore is a rail line that runs along the hillside. In the alternative footpaths and boats connect these villages as cars cannot reach these remote areas. The lack of commercialization is striking and you will be awed and thrilled at this area’s authenticity.
Focaccia is a common bakery item to the area with grappa and limoncello popular drinks.
The Parma Panthers have been the dominant American football club in Italy for most of the past decade. Founded by an American student in 1980, the club grew to challenge the Bergamo Lions as the premier team in the country. After some down years under the leadership of their new American coach, Andrew Papoccia, in 2005 the Panthers once again began their ascension to the top of the Italian Federation League – the highest level of American football in Italy. They have won four of the last five IFL championships.
In 2007, highly successful American author John Grisham took an interest in the phenomenon of American football in Europe and spent time in Parma eventually featuring this team and community in his book “Playing for Pizza”, a favorite amongst ex-pats from the US who play club football in Italy after the college or professional aspirations expire. The Panthers also support a highly successful youth program and have been a positive force in growing appreciation for the American game in Italy.
Parma also features one of the oldest universities in Italy. It’s Romanesque Cathedral houses one of the more remarkable frescoes in the country. Of course, the area is also special for its outstanding Parmesan cheese and ham.