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Padova - 21 September 2011


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In Love with Padova!

Maybe you could tell: I was in a hurry to be done with writing about Verona, because we were already in Padova, and Wow! What a great little city this is.

Of course there was another train two hours later, and the nice lady at TrenItalia got us on it without it costing a penny.


mouse over to see where in Italy we're travelling

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<p>Our EuroStar engine pulling in</p>

Our EuroStar engine pulling in

Did I mention how much I love trains? Italian trains in particular. Need it be said, they're all electric and run smooth as clouds and to-the-minute? The run from Verona to Padova, with two stops, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) took 42 minutes.

This run moves from the hilly region around Verona out onto the plain of the Veneto, a broad, flat-as-a-pancake area that used to be a malarial swamp before the Venetians figured out how to manage water. (They still have trouble in their city...) The Veneto is rich, ridiculously fertile, abundantly gentle with all manner of plants, and so the food around here is fresh and terrific. Of course they also have access to the Adriatic, so there's fresh seafood, too.

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<p>This is still northern Italy,...

This is still northern Italy, and so vineyards and agriculture share space with industry along the train line.

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Balconies in Verona, arcades in Padova. Also bicycles, students, modern shops with much less poretense than another large Italian shopping mecca I might name, and did I mention students? This city has much the same student vibe that Berkeley, Cambridge, and Boulder share. The Uni is huge, 60,000 students at a time, and they are Italian students, meaning they party, buy, sing, bicycle, flirt, tag, and otherwise don't take student life very seriously. Learning, most likely yes; life, not so much.


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For us, this was a transport-and-maintenance day. With two full days ahead to explore this city, we could afford an afternoon to find a laundromat and get our clothes clean. We did not count on meeting Miranda. Major mistake on my part, not to get a picture of Miranda. Maybe I should go back. We loved Miranda, who, without a word of English, helped us figure out her very modern laundry system. Pricey (5 euros for a wash, about $7.50) but SO worth it. 

Miranda buzzed us in; she appeared in a picture frame beside the last machine and talked us through. We amused her and she certainly amused us. As we were finishing, she popped out her frame to give us each Lava Mi shirts to wear. "How much," asked Rochelle. "Niente! E homagio (advertising), says Miranda. 

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Our hotel, Al Santo, is near Saint Anthony's Basilica -- more about his place tomorrow -- and we walked past on our way to dinner at a spot suggested by our hotel-keeper. He sure got it right! Are you bored with stories about food yet? Tough! This trip is about food more than anything else (at least on the surface) and you're in for plenty more if I have my way.

Learning any new city is a challenge, but a city like this, with a ghetto and medieval layout is a special adventure. We found a new square, a new shopping street, and eventually, we found our restaurant, Tratoria Bersagliere.


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. A flirtatious waitress with a comedienne-one is big in Italy, so minestre is soup and now you can figure minestrone out for yourself. Just in case that wasn't enough, tiramisu of surpassing lightness. And a local grappa, yellow as sunlight and just as strong.

Luckily, on the next day, there will be a lot of walking for us. Probably eating too.

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Wonderful ambiance. A flirtatious waitress with a comedienne's sense of timing in two languages who loved playing with her food ... I mean, her customers. Of course: freshest ingredients of great variety from the immediate area. We're in the Veneto. Half a liter of prosecco, laughingly bubbly. Gnocchi light as clouds in a delicious cheese sauce flavored with truffles. Osso bucco so tender it came apart with a touch, and a special delight: a big bone with a great medallion of marrow cooked to perfection slathered with aspargus sauce beside roasted polenta and mashed potatoes. (We're almost in Austria here, and the flavors cross borders easily.) A huge insalatone -- anything that ends in -one is big in Italy, so minestre is soup and now you can figure minestrone out for yourself. Just in case that wasn't enough, tiramisu of surpassing lightness. And a local grappa, yellow as sunlight and just as strong.

Luckily, on the next day, there will be a lot of walking for us. Probably eating too.

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