Tuesday, June 11, 2013

To the Nord

In February, a friend and I headed to the Nord for two things:  1. A visit to Nove, the town which produces all your ceramics you buy in America that say "Made in Italy" on the bottom of them, and 2. For me to go into Venice and buy an elephant mask from my favorite mask shop, Rugadoro. With a baby, ceramics shopping, and a delicate mask to procure, we decided to drive, so we planned a route that allowed us a sit down lunch in the beautiful, Umbrian hill town of Orvieto. We stretched our legs a little, wandered the town, took a look at the Duomo (one of Italy's prettiest Duomo facades, I think), then headed on to our evening stop, Padova. Also known as Padua, of Taming of the Shrew fame.

Loved the gorgeous, old buildings with the sleek tram in front
We picked Padova because it was a largish town centrally located between Nove and Venice, which we'd be visiting all in one day. We thought we'd have a lot of evening options for food and such. We were wrong. Padova did not impress on our drive to the hotel, but we set off gamely for dinner, very hungry. In a couple of blocks, we landed on one of the most beautiful piazzas - and this thing wasn't even mentioned in any of our guidebooks. We'd heard nothing about it at all. Yet it's huge! A center, circular park is dominated by paths and benches and little bridges that go over a moat into it. Ringing this is an extremely wide bike, skate, and walking path...with people on it, too! In Naples, this thing would hold six lanes of traffic, but here in the Nord, a few people were casually skating by. Surrounding this pedestrian ring is the traffic ring. Only two lanes and these are shared with a very modern, bullet shaped, quiet tram that takes people who knows where. We never got on it.

Turns out this is the Basilica of St. Anthony, and one of only eight
international shrines recognized as such by the Holy See - so it's a big deal...
and reminds me of why I used to actually read guidebooks instead of
just stuffing them into the bottom of the stroller.
We wandered beneath frescoed arcades and happened upon a stunning, domed Duomo. But still no food. Padova was impressing us with it's beauty, but the one restaurant our hotel had recommended was closed, and we were having no luck in our wanders finding an alternate. We finally spotted the teeniest doorway to a place that looked like it might serve food, and sure enough, upon looking in, we'd found a darling restaurant. La Bimba was fast asleep in her stroller, so we excitedly opened the door...and were told we couldn't bring the stroller in. This late at night, taking La Bimba out of her stroller and holding her while she just wanted to sleep was a guaranteed recipe for a miserable dinner not only for myself but for everyone else in the restaurant as well. The despair must have shown on my face because another lady rushed up to us and began moving chairs and tables and creating just a perfect little space for us to fit that stroller in. And so we ended our Padova day with a lovely walk and dinner and high hopes for the Nove and Venice "errands" the next day.

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