I guess we all agree on this on; there is nothing more exciting than going travelling - exploring another country, experiencing a different culture, travelling around in new ways, sampling the local cuisine and chatting to the local people for a different perspective on life.
However during our travels we learned that there is one certain thing that you should be aware of and prepared for to make sure that the trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. We always try to see everything once we're there, but this is not always an act of responsible travelling. We always talk to the locals and we know that they have the information about just the right spots to visit and how to undertake them. It will not only enhance your experiences but also avoid any unnecessary hassles.
For me the travel tips I have written down in this section made the most of mine travel experience and I came home in the same happy, healthy state that I left.
Maybe it sounds a bit weird, but as an experience traveler I know that you every now and then need this kind of information in advance: electricity in Italy is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to Italy with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
There are three main types of voltage converter. Resistor-network converters will usually be advertised as supporting something like 50-1600 Watts. They are light-weight and support high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. However, they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices. Some companies sell combination converters that include both a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. This kind of converter will usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need both types of converter, then this is the type to buy.
Outlets in Italy generally accept 1 type of plug: Two round pins (see the picture). If your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. Depending on how much you plan to travel in the future, it may be worthwhile to get a combination voltage converter and plug adapter.
Let’s make no secret of it. We both like a nice cold glass of beer. Being at our travel pace is always a challenge to find a beer we like, which reflects our taste of having a beer. At Cavallino (and this probably counts for our entire surrounding of Cavallino-Treporti) it was rather difficult. We found out that there are a few local beers, only known in the particular area. But anyway nothing really special, which was a bit of a disappointment. Therefore we finally bought less local beer, but still Italian -> Birra Moretti!
Birra Moretti used to be an Italian brewing company anyway. It was founded in Udine in 1859 by Luigi Moretti. In 1996 the company was acquired by Heineken International. The brewing plant in Udine was sold to the newly formed Birra Castello; Moretti is now a brand of Heineken. Great taste and a bit like home sweet home as Heineken is a Dutch company.
The Diocesian Museum of Padova was opened in 2000, housed in the Bishop's palace which was built in the 15th century, but it seems that its foundation dates back in the early 14th century. In the exsibition rooms are works from the cathedral Santa Maria Assunta and the churches of the diocese, dating from 9th to 13th centuries, distributed on two levels and sorted by sections with age criteria.
The first floor of the building is dedicated mainly to scholars and diocesian library holdings. One lounge is dedicated to San Gregorio Barbarigo, bishop of Padova from 1664 to 1697. Treasure of the cathedral contains the oldest liturgical furnishings, such as an inkwell (9th c.), a panel with Jesus Christ (11th c.), a processional cross from 1228.
Sala del Belvedere houses works of art from the 14th and 15th centuries, among which paintings by Paolo Veneziano, Niccolo Semitecolo, Giorgio Schiavone, Giambattista Tiepolo and sculptures by Bonazza.
The museum is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 14 to 18 and Sunday from 10 to 18 hours. Closed in August, Christmas and Easter. Admission is 4 euros.
Angelo Beolco, called Ruzante (1500-1542), was a great storyteller, actor and writer of the Renaissance. His work as a writer-actor started early in life. He had a long and fruitful collaboration with friend Alvise Cornaro, wealthy landowner and man of letters (check my tip Loggia e Odeo Cornaro).
Ruzante, together with his colleagues set up the Commedia dell' Arte Italiana, from which great European playwrights drew much inspiration, in particular Moliere and Shakespeare. Dario Fo, great Italian writer and the winner of Nobel Price for the Literature, defined Ruzante: "an extraordinary theatrical of my land, very little known...even in Italy".
The statue of Angelo Beolco stands in Piazza Capitanato, right behind the Towns Clock.
The church of Saint Thomas Becket, located in via San Tommaso 3, was erected in the 17th century on earlier foundations. This church represents one of the Baroque jewels of Padova. Until the end of the 19th century the church was led by the order of San Filippo Neri.
The interior of the church preserves masterpieces by A. Bonazza, Bonaccorsi, Ferrari, Pelizzari, Maffei. The ceilling is decorated with 15 canvases from the 17th and 18th century, representing the Mysteries of the Rosary. The vesrty holds a number of paintings amongst which a superb Modonna on the Throne by Antonio Vivarini from the 15th century, and a crucifix attributed to Donatello.
In the sacristy is the art gallery, of the same name, founded in 1966, which contains medieval wall paintings, textiles, liturgical vestments, manuscripts, archaeological materials, jewelery and many paintings.
Prosciutto is an important food in Italy and Spain. The Spanish Prosciutto is very different from that of Italy. I am told that this is partly due to the fact that the Spanish pigs get to free roam a lot more and so their meat has less fat. The color is also a bit different. I think that Spanish Prosciutto is a bit more salty.
The photo shows the one I purchased, delivered from Spain. These come in the month of November as the Prosciutto can hang in a cool place and "keep" longer.
The Custom agents will stop these from being taken into the U.S., so don't try to bring one in. It is possible to order one through a business, but I will bet that the cost will be double what I paid for mine here in Italy.
There are no words to describe hot chocolate that can be so dense as to nearly resemble pudding... made with a dash of cornflour, cioccolata densa has reinvigorated my love of chocolate-y beverages.
You can order them at the bar, but I have found convenient little sachets in the supermarket. Perfect for a late-night snack. Somehow they seem to creep into the basket every time I pop into the store. Sneaky little things.
Since I arrived in Padova, I've been on the hunt for a good Italian language course that fits in with a full-time job (not an easy feat, it seems!). I've found classes for learning the language while cooking, while dancing, while listening to opera, and even one for over-50s only (a bit age-ist, don't you think?). They were in general all inconveniently-timed, super expensive, or taught in Italian.
The one I've stuck with is through an association called VIDES. Run by nuns and volunteers, and only 7 euros/year (nope, that's not a typo), it provides a great opportunity to learn no matter what your ability or native language. You gather, get put into smallish groups loosely based on skill and language, and each group has a tutor. You get some good personal touches and lots of opportunities to ask questions. And best of all, it's at 8pm on thursday and 2.30pm on saturday, so it fits in brilliantly with work (or uni).
Just as an extra note, the benefits of the uni vibe in Padova is that there are many students (and non-students) that want to practise their English... so a great way to learn is to trade a little English for un po' Italiano. Meeting up for a regular coffee and bilingual chat means you get to teach, learn, and make a new pal all at the same time.
Ahh, I love my adopted country, the land of brilliant coffee. I haven't had a bad one yet (even the vending machine coffee gets a thumbs-up!). While I do recommend a leisurely visit to Caffe Pedrocchi (and to experience the famous Peddrochino), there is a custom or two to follow if you want the everyday Italian coffee experience:
1. Drink at the bar. You stand, have a chat and a pastry, drink your coffee, and go.
2. Don't order a milky coffee after lunch. Caffe latte and cappuccino are morning drinks only. Trust me, as a former cappuccino lover, the macchiato will take you places you have never been before.
Find a nice little bar, and go there every day while you're staying in Padova. Getting to know the staff is a great part of the experience.
The Italians appreciate a good walk, and in the center of Padova are many pedestrian walkways and piazzas where they stop and talk to their friends.
The evening is a good time to see this, but during the day you will see many of the older citizens out walking.
When you are in Padova you will find many gelato shops. Most of them make their own gelato and people in Padova become attached to their favorite shops.
The one featured here is a so called bio gelato, using only real flavors and ingredients.
The photo shows the receipt for 4 scoops of gelato, two persons.
Be prepared for the price and to not get very much gelato. The little baby spoon they give you helps it last longer.
GROM Il Gelato Come Una volta
Piazza dei Signori, 33, Padova
In Italy, good manners rule. This is practised everywhere you go, and is a bit of a shock to a Canadian, and I feel Canadians are generally well mannered.
For example, when a person walks into a store or bar, it is important to acknowledge the shop keeper by saying "Buon giorno" if during the day, or "Buona sera" if after 4pm. Customers walking into a shop will greet other patrons in the same manner.
I haven't quite figured everything out yet, but my rule of thumb is, if eye contact is made, it is safer to greet.
In a gathering of people, other than a commercial setting, it is also customary to shake hands with everyone, or do the 'cheek thing' which is usually reserved for close friends. I still feel most uncomfortable with this practice..
Remember, as important as greetings are, it is just as necessary to say goodbye. It is considered to be a slight otherwise.
Remember, when in Rome...
This is the celebration for the start of the new university year. All the students wear their traditional mantel and feluca and walk around the center in big groups.
They usually play jokes to everybody and the tradition is that they run to the center high school buildings and free the younger students. Sometimes they play jokes to the high schools too, I can remember once they put a huge lock to the school's gate so nobody could get in, the school had to call the firemen to open it up, by then we were all disappeared already :DDD
February the 8th is a big day for all Padova's University students, the celebration have a historical reason, the 8th of February 1848 Padova's students rebelled against the Austrian dominators and many of them were killed.
Over the years, around 1900 they decided to make this day, 8th of February, the day when they elect their new representative at the University and, at the same time, to celebrate those who died trying to fight the Austrian.
During the day you will see many students walking around the center dressed up with their traditional black mantel. They will have several pins on it and they will wear a hat called "Feluca". The color of the hat indicate the faculty they are graduated or students.
White is litterature
Blue is law
Black is Engineering
Red is Medicine
Green is Science