Chalkboard at Crispigna's Italian Market, Iron Mountain, Michigan

We just got back from a few days visiting Amy‘s sister in Pembine, Wisconsin, near Iron Mountain, Michigan.

Before we went, I did some Googling and came across a fantastic little Web resource: Hunts’ Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Having once maintained a similar site about Kenosha, Wisconsin, I really appreciated all the detail about local history and cultural gems. Especially interesting to me was Iron Mountain’s Italian North Side, home of coaching icons Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo.

Thanks to Hunt’s Guide, we spent a delightful hour at Bimbo’s Wine Press, sampling their Porketta and Santini sandwiches. We liked the spicy Santini a little better, but we were really blown away by the tender Italian sausage in “the Boat,” and by the friendliness of the people there.

Prior to our trip up north, my sister-in-law asked us to bring some Genoa salami and good parmigiano from Tenuta’s in Kenosha — a couple of delicacies she had never encountered so far north. So it came as a wonderful surprise to find Crispigna’s Italian Market just off U.S. 2 on Margaret Street, and loaded with lots of Italian good stuff.

We also picked up some good rustic loaves at The Bakery Shoppe downtown, and pored over its wall of photos of old Iron Mountain, including the Chapin Mine and Thomas Edison posing with Henry Ford and E.G. Kingsford — yes, the same Kingsford as the charcoal briquets, which were made from the leftovers of Ford “Woody” wagons.

Anyway, if you’re thinking of visiting the U.P., Hunt’s Guide might be a lot of help.

You may even want to buy the book it’s based on — Hunts’ Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — and the companion map, Hunts’ Map Guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.