Tag Archives: Prato della Valle

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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