PADOVA + LEAVING

6/5/2016

My last day in Italy! What to do?

Well, spend it in Padova, of course! (Thanks to Sophia for the lovely photo! <3)

Well, spend it in Padova, of course! (Thanks to Sophia for another lovely photo! <3)

The most amazing part of the city—St. Anthony’s church—unfortunately didn’t allow photography, which was a bit disappointing, as there was some amazing art in there. Shrines large and small lined the walls, painted in all sorts of bright colors and decorated with statues and mosaics. The most beautiful, though, was the Tomb of St. Anthony—it’s a three-walled room built of white marble, with angels carved from black stone at the four corners of the coffin, holding up sparkling red candlesticks. What a beautiful juxtaposition of colors! Honestly, I found the whole church on par with the Kölner Dom.

That’s something to aspire to!

That’s something to aspire to!

We window-shopped, we ate some lunch…

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I’m sad they are no Montaditos branches in the U.S.!

…and then headed home so I could pack, and say my good-byes.

I had such a lovely weekend with Sophia’s family—it was not only good to get out of my dorm room, but also so important to see another part of the world, to do a short homestay, and to experience some true language-immersion. Everything I ate in Italy was Amazing; everything I saw was Beautiful. The cities are so old—so storied, yet so maintained. The history is respected, even when crumbling structures need to be repaired. The stonework, the Alpini, the umpteen bachelorette parties…and let’s not forget the elegant language! OR THE FOOD.

I’m sad to be leaving, but these memories will stay with me.

I’m sad to be leaving, but these memories will stay with me.

New life goal: learn Italian? (The current extent of my vocabulary is: Ciao, Italia!)

Xoxo,

Susan

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PIZZAs

6/4/2016

Sometimes you just have to take a day off, you know? Take it easy, sleep in, and make plans to eat pizza later that evening. Today, for example, I slept until almost 11:30—something that’s happened maybe two other times in my life! Despite another amazing and very filling lunch (potatoes and cuttlefish in tomato sauce!), Sophia and I were ready to meet up with her friends for some pizza that evening. Thing is, this wasn’t just any pizza…

Before that, though, we had something else on the agenda: a visit to Camposampiero! It’s Sophia’s hometown, and a really lovely little town with a lot of history.

For example, who knew St. Anthony actually lived here most of his life? Who knew this city hall was almost a thousand years old?! (Photo Credits!)

We saw some historic buildings, ate some ice cream, and sat in the sun. It was a lovely afternoon.

After getting ready, we were off to meet Sophia’s friends in the nearby town of Bassano, where I enjoyed Spritz, an Italian early-evening, lightly alcoholic, fruity beverage.

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Pre-Spritz fun times! (Photo credit Sophia Marostica. <3)

It was delicious, and, aside from that, the view from the big town bridge was SO AMAZING.

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There are NO mountains anywhere near this beautiful back home! (No mountains at all, for that matter…)

I know what you’re thinking: pizza, pizza. Where is the pizza? That was my question, too, and made more pressing by the fact that I don’t speak any Italian, so it was basically impossible to follow people’s conversations and to understand the evening’s plans. After a leisurely stroll, some time spent chatting, and an early-evening drive through the countryside with those amazing mountains in the distance, we arrived at the pizza place, waited in line, and spent about an hour figuring out what we wanted.

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I got a two-person pizza and shared it three ways…the other six or so people in our group ate a pizza meant for SEVEN! My pizza featured fried zucchini blossoms, burrata and another amazing cheese, olives, tomatoes, more cheese, and SWORDFISH!

And of course, we couldn’t forget dessert—especially not with it being my first chance to try some sorbetto!

And of course, we couldn’t forget dessert—especially not with it being my first chance to try some sorbetto! I got lemon 😀

We stayed late into the night, chatting and laughing, and drinking after-dinner liquor (strong, tiny shots—I had lemon!) in a beautiful garden out back of the restaurant.

What did I do to deserve such a PERFECT weekend? To be surrounded by such beautiful things?

What did I do to deserve such a PERFECT weekend?

However, I don’t think I can ever eat American pizza again…or ice cream, for that matter! LE SIGH. (It was WORTH it!)

Xoxo,

Susan

VENICE

6/3/2016

The city of my childhood dreams, a city that my German friends told me was a Märchen, truly a fairy tale…

And I finally made it!

And I finally made it!

HELLO, VENICE!!!

HELLO, VENICE!!!

Sophia (who also took most of the pictures in this post) and I spent most of our day touring the Palazzo Ducale—now a museum, it was the former palace of Venice’s Doge, the city’s chief magistrate. It was beautiful, too lovely to be done justice by pictures and words. The art, the art, the ART…!

Trying to blend in with the other tourists...

Trying to blend in with the other tourists…

Across a canal from the Palace is a jail where, we imagined, many prisoners spent a lot of lonely, LONG long days. The two are connected by the Ponte dei Sospiri, or “Bridge of Sighs,” so named because that’s where the prisoners would catch their last glimpse of the water as they were led down.

And what a last glimpse...

And what a last glimpse…

 It’s called the Suefzerbrücke in German!

It’s called the Suefzerbrücke in German!

A lot of walking and most of the morning was involved in that museum tour, and while it was ABSOLUTELY worth it, we were both really hungry by the end!

Sounds like the right time for a late lunch!

Sounds like the right time for a late lunch!

Our next step was a quick trip to a beautiful bookstore, Alta Acqua Libreria, that Sophia had heard about from a friend. It’s so named (the phrase translates as “high water” or “high tide”) because the back of the store opens into a canal, and every morning the water rushes in!

There were books everywhere, yet I couldn't read any of them... :(

There were books everywhere, yet I couldn’t read any of them… 😦

Our final goal before heading home was to get to one of the islands, and also to buy me a necklace! How can you leave Venice without buying some glass, right? So, one REALLY long boat ride later,

…we stepped off and found ourselves in Burano!

…we stepped off and found ourselves in Burano!

It was evening, the streets were mostly empty of tourists, and the houses were all so bright and beautiful.

The German word would be bunt—colorful!

The German word would be bunt—colorful!

But the best part was the necklace I managed to find. 😀

For just 3€! Score.

For just 3€! Score.

We rode back as the sun set over Venice and rain began to fall, and we took a second boat through the city streets, passing under bridges while everything glowed, wet under the streetlights in the dark. So, I can officially say I’ve taken a boat through Venice, even if it wasn’t a gondola… 😉

Those cost like 80€ per hour, man! Not this time.

Those cost like 80€ per hour, man! Not this time.

It was a little chilly when we got back to the train station, but since when is that a reason to pass on ice cream?

It was a little chilly when we got back to the train station, but since when is that a reason to pass on ice cream?

So, the city of my dreams—did it fulfill? Yes, definitely. And what’s maybe best about the trip was just how much there STILL is to see.

Venice…one day, I’m coming back!

Venice…one day, I’m coming back!

Xoxo,

Susan

WELCOME TO ITALY

6/2/2016

One thing that I’ve always wanted to do is visit Venice. So when my friend in Camposampiero, a tiny town half an hour from the city of my dreams, invited me to come down for a weekend, there was no way I was going to turn that down.

Not even if it meant getting on a train at an ungodly hour of the morning!

Not even if it meant getting on a train at an ungodly hour of the morning!

I arrived in Campsampiero in good time, and Sophia picked me up and whisked me away to grab coffee and pastries. (Has anyone read Relish by Lucy Knisley? One thing I absolutely HAD to eat in Italy was a croissant filled with orange marmalade, something she described with such…er…relish? Anyway, by chance, that was exactly what I ordered!)

IT WAS DELICIOUS.

IT WAS DELICIOUS.

That was the general theme of the meals in Italy—too amazing not to enjoy utterly and completely. On the first afternoon, Sophia and I made our way to Citadella, a beautiful city with ancient walls that you can walk along.

Hi, Citadella! Hi, the corner of Sophia’s red umbrella!

Hi, Citadella! Hi, the corner of Sophia’s red umbrella!

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A little windblown, but having fun!! 🙂

After that, it was time for some exercises in language immersion…I succeeded in ordering my own drink in a bar, and fell in love with peach juice, something which I’m pretty sure exists only in Italy. I didn’t take any photos of it, but it was succulent and smooth as silk. This is the kind of juice you can live off of. I mean, I would come back here just to drink this stuff again.

We also visited Sophia’s friends, who spoke mostly Italian and little English. One guy spoke German, and while he wasn’t in the mood to do German with me just then, he was very impressed with my pronunciation of the 2-3 words I knew of Italian!

Can you say “pizza?”

Can you say “pizza?”

What a great first day!!

Xoxo,

Susan