Tag Archives: Padua

Our Trip to Italy-Part 4

28 Mar

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites

Bill

 We had a wonderful lunch experience at the Caffé Pedrocchi.  DiVoran had “Toast” which was a grilled cheese and ham sandwich and hot chocolate with whipped cream on top, while Marcia, Erika and I had pizza, hot tea and coffee.  It was all Yummy!  After lunch, we checked out the many shops around the Prato della valle where Erika bought a copy of Taming of the Shrew in English and DiVoran bought some Italian puzzles for Billy and Renie.

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We discovered that the famous University of Padua was built around 1190 AD, and had the first operating theater in history.   I’m sure it was very primitive and unsanitary with all the doctors and spectators watching and asking questions as the doctor tried to operate

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And, it is said that Padua was the setting for Shakespeare famous play “The Taming of the Shrew” which it is believed he wrote sometime between 1590 and 1594.  We strolled around the beautiful Prato della Vallethe central square, which is lined with 78 statues of famous Italian citizens from over the centuries.

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That evening, we went to a pig roast hosted by Marcia’s friends Stephano and Roberta, at their horse ranch.  The occasion was a surprise birthday party for David, one of Marcia’s co-workers.  The party was held in a large dining hall above the tack room, where their family and friends met every Sunday for their meals.  The matriarch, Maria, had done all the cooking and had it laid out with the whole small pig as the center piece.  The food was wonderful and was served with five different types of wine and two different desserts, plus Grapa.

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I met Roberta’s 67-year-old uncle Lorenzo who, after he found out I was a motorcycle rider, took me down to the garage and showed me his 1952 single cylinder 500cc Moto Guzzi motorcycle that was in mint condition.  He told me that he and about 20 of his friends go riding every weekend, weather permitting.  They all ride vintage Moto Guzzi motorcycles of one model or another, and love them.

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On Monday, DiVoran rested while I walked into Mogliano Veneto to the farmer’s market and bought fresh bread and artichokes.  The farmers market had every vegetable you could imagine, and the fresh fish stalls had every kind of fish and shellfish including lots of squid and eels (live and dead).

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That evening we had a 5-course dinner with five of Marcia’s cast members  at the Hotel Vicenza in Mestre.  This time there were only 3 kinds of wine and 2 kinds of dessert plus Sconti.  We found out that the Italians really enjoy their food and eat very slowly-this meal lasted from 7:00 to 11:00 PM.

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On Tuesday, Marcia took the day off and we drove to the little mountain town of Asolo, at the foot of the Italian Alps.  We walked up and down the streets of the town checking out the little shops.

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The Hotel Villa Cipriani was the most beautifully decorated and picturesque place I have ever seen.  We had lunch at a very nice little Ristorante there in Aslol, and then went to Treviso to see some of the sights of this beautiful walled city.  Marcia, Erika and DiVoran cooked their version of an Italian dinner that evening and we ate in the apartment.

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—–To Be Continued—–

Our Trip to Italy-Part 3

21 Mar

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

Marcia got her wonderful second floor apartment through an agent, and because it was the home of an elderly couple that ran a business, it came completely furnished.  The owners ran an interior design firm and have their showroom on the ground floor below and live in their own apartment next door.  Marcia’s apartment was rather formal, decorated with flocked wallpaper and Persian rugs that soften and helped warm the marble floors.  The original householder was a WWII POW for five years, and after the war, when vacationing, he collected many of the unique furnishings that filled the apartment.

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Our room was elegantly decorated with objects d’ art from many European countries and some from Egypt.  The bedrooms also beautifully decorated and the beds were soft, warm and comfortable.  One of the most interesting features of the house to DiVoran, was the kitchen with its dishwashing arrangements.  After washing and rinsing the dishes by hand, you would slot the dishes into racks in a cupboard directly over the sink and close the doors, leaving the dishes  to drain discreetly into the sink.

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This is where we met Erika, Marcia’s young Italian friend and Language teacher while she was in Italy.  Erik  was 27 years old, spoke excellent English, and had a delightful sense of humor.  She was the assistant to the president of a small firm that produced radio control systems.  She had been filling a big part of Marcia’s life and heart now that Marcia was away from home and family for such a long time.  She was intrigued with the fact that DiVoran kept a daily journal and wanted to know all about the nature and advantages of the process.

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The next day was Sunday and Marcia and Erika drove us to Padua for a guided tour of the city and its sights.  Padua is called the city of (1) the Saint with no name, (2) the park with no grass and (3) the coffee shop with no doors.

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The Shrine of St. Anthony in Padua was completed in 1301 AD to house and honor the relics of St. Anthony of Padua.   Born Fernando Martins de Bulhoes in 1195 Lisbon, St. Anthony is the saint depicted in many early paintings holding the Christ child.  My study of St. Anthony reveled no reference to the term “The St. with no name”, so it’s a mystery to me why he is called that.

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The “Prato della valle” is the largest square (piazza) in Italy, and is called “the park with no grass”. The Romans founded the city of Padua in the 4th century BC and created this square for military training and gatherings. Later, in the Middle Ages, the square became the courtyard of a church, then a big open-air theatre for dramas and games and even a large open-air market.

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The  “Caffé  Pedrocchi” is known as the “coffee shop with no doors” because of the ancient tradition of staying open all night.  Founded in the early 18th century, the ground floor was completed in 1831.  Then the gothic pastry shop called “Pedrocchino” was built in 1839. During the “Fourth Congress of Italian Scientists” in 1842, the rooms of the upper floor were added, and Vincenzo Gazzotto, painted the ceiling in the Renaissance Room.  The caffé has historical prominence because of its role in the 1848 riots against the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy, as well as for being an attraction for artists over the last century, from the French novelist Stendhal to Lord Byron, to the Italian writer Dario Fo.  The Caffé Pedrocchi has been continuously open for business 24/7since 1831.

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—–To Be Continued—-

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