Combo Catering decanted to the town of Vercelli last week to sate the hunger of braying arty types at the launch of a new Guggenheim exhibition in the local museum. Whilst the horribly underpaid and viciously overworked minions sweated away, I was able to take some time out for a gentle stroll around Vercelli, famous for being the rice capital of Italy, surrounded on all sides by flatness, utter flatness, and squillions of hectares of rice fields, each carefully flooded in the spring and summer creating a vast patchwork of mirrored geometric shapes when seen from the comfort of an airliner (get on with it, ed.). Anyway, because of all this, the town is renowned for the size and hunger of its mosquitoes in summer and the impenetrability of its fogs in winter. However, the centre of the town itself is an absolute jewel, with some sensational food shops and beautiful bars like this one:
The establishment is 120 years old, unchanged and still in the keep of the same family. The bar itself is not zinc but a mixture of tin and antimony, whatever that is. That's my coffee bottom right (on duty hence damned abstinence).
Well worth a visit to neck a few Campari and sodas (when not on duty) and soak up Italy's living past.