The morning after our Opera experience was late and leisurely since we did not get home until after 12:30. The hotel we were staying in (Hotel Verona) is much more luxurious than our usual accommodations. It had a separate kitchen / small living room area in addition to the bedroom and bathroom. When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed to procure some sustenance, we stopped by Pizzeria Doga, a small pizza stand for lunch. We both got Panzerotti, a small calzone-like creation, while definitely not healthy, was delicious and restorative. I had the spinach and Dr Husband the pepperoni it was exactly what we needed to fuel our trip to Padua.
Luckily we had assigned seats on the train as it was quite full. We arrived in Padua an hour later excited to see what the "oldest" city in Northern Italy looks like. Turns out the area next to the train station is quite modern and not very remarkable. Boldly we purchased tickets for the streetcar and attempted to navigate the new town to find out hotel. This didn't go quite as smoothly as planned, partly because we got off the streetcar two stops too early, and partially because our hotel is not close to a main street. Nevertheless, we were able to find it and get checked in.
Unfortunately for us, and Hundie, our new hotel room was maybe half the size of the one we stayed in the night before. It was difficult to walk around the room because the bed took up most if it, and it was not even a queen size bed. With us, the dog, and the suitcase, it definitely felt pretty cramped. Nevertheless, the we were determined to explore Padua, home to the second-oldest University. That first day / evening there we explored the two main piazzas in the city center, one of which is boarded by the Palazzo della Ragione, 800 years old!
We were able to get cheap drinks at various locations which helped to lucubrate our exploration. Time got away from us however, and we soon realized most restaurants were either full or they were closing. Luckily, there was a very nice restaurant (Trattoria Al Prato) that was still seating people and we were fortunate enough to get a a delicious meal there. We got two antipastas (beef tartar and prosuito) and two prime piattas (tagalioni and ravoli) and split a bottle of Merlot (it's okay, even the Italians drink French wine). It felt relaxing and romantic and Dr Husband got the benefit of the view of the Prato della Vella. We were happy to be on their covered patio as it had begun to rain. There was no English menu and our server didn't speak any English but as would learn pointing is a very effective means of communication. After dinner we returned to our shoebox so that we might rest for our trip to Venice the next day.
The next day we journeyed to Venice (see here) but returned by the evening where we turned in early because exploring Venice is exhausting. The next morning we slept in and decided we'd rather spend a day leisurely sightseeing in Padua than returning to Venice. We got two croissants and cappuccinos at a nearby cafe where we took bar service so that we didn't have to pay a table fee. I would describe ordering breakfast at an Italian cafe for bar service as orderly chaos. There must have been some sort of system in place but I could not understand it. Luckily, Dr. Husband was not a novice to the cafe ordering system so he seemed to know what to do. Then we took turns going into the Abbey of Saint Giustina since dogs and "scantily" clad women were not allowed. Dr. Husband claims he saw a women get yelled at because you could see her shoulders. I can neither confirm nor deny this, but I wouldn't be surprised. This abbey is massive. If the goal was to intimidate and force the perspective that you were small then the goal was achieved. Additionally, there is a small basilica attached on the side with lovely paint and stonework.
While the abbey was colossal and awe inspiring, the grandeur of the Basilica of Saint Anthony cannot be understated. There was a long line of catholic pilgrims there to pay homage to Saint Anthony whose remains?? are in the attached Chapel of Saint Anthony. There is a saying - if you've seen one cathedral in Europe you've seen them all, This is absolutely not true for the Basilica of Saint Anthony. The Byzantine/Islamic style of the interior domes which were painted dark blue with gold stars was so captivating for me that I stood there looking up for an indeterminate amount of time.
After exiting Dr Husband, Hundie, and I went to a nearby cafe to have second cappuccinos and a famous canoli (not technically a desert from Veneto, but I digress). Feeling better with more sugar and caffeine we went again to the city center. There we walked around while I delved deeper into my new found admiration of campari spritz and Dr. Husband tried some of the Italian craft beer. When it was time another meal we headed to the fish market street stand a few feet away where Dr. Husband picked out some seafood similar to the cicchetti we had in Venice with the exception of the the two people speaking zero English. The fresh fried calamari and scrimp scampi were delicious.
Next we went to the Padua Cathedral. As Dr. Husband would say it was the least inspiring but still impressive of the three cathedrals located in Padua. A block away was a more college-aged bar where the weekend of campari spritz continued, but this time with a side of sandwiches. Earlier we had stopped by a local craft beer store which came in handy for enjoying the Prato della Vella in the twilight - a common and traditional practice for students and others in Padua.
Overall it was a delightful and pleasant day in northern Italy's oldest city. It was the cherry on the cake of a lovely vacation in the Veneto province.