December 5, 2008
I still can't believe it's already December! It seems like the moment Thanksgiving was over, Padova suddenly transformed for the holiday season, with twinkling lights strewn between streets, Christmas trees here and there, festive signs wishing Buone Feste, and stores displaying their holiday goodies. There's even a cute little train that gives rides around the city! I downloaded some holiday tunes and have been listening to my ipod as I walk through festively decorated centro, and I can't help but get into the Christmas spirit! This is truly one of my favorite times of the year : )
On Tuesday evening, instead of having a normal storia dell'arte lecture, our teacher took us to the famous Caffè Pedrocchi next door to the study center. When it first opened in 1831, it was the largest caffè in Europe. Famous literary and political characters frequented the caffè, which seems to possess the 'spirit' of Padova. Often considered the most beautiful coffeehouse in the world, Caffè Pedrocchi was heavily damaged during World War II. It was completely rebuilt in its original neoclassical style, and today it is still one of the trendiest places in Padova, known for its dolce far niente (sweetness of doing nothing) experience while you sip a cappucinno and absorb the everyday life around you.
Other than being a trendy place for coffee, Caffè Pedrocchi also has a lot of rich history. The upstairs level has actually been converted into a museum, with a handful of rooms decorated in different themes, among them Ancient Rome and Greece, the Renaissance, the Moorish Empire, and Pompeii. Our wonderful teacher Lucia took us through each one, explaining its significance and pointing out funny or interesting quirks.
Next we went downstairs into the actual caffè, which has three rooms, each decorated with a different color of the italian flag - bianca, rossa, and verde. The caffè was also decorated for Christmas, with heavily ornamented trees surrounded by brightly-wrapped panettone in the corners : ) After our tour, Lucia and Margaret surprised the whole class by treating us to a drink on them! Gabi and I ordered the famous mint-infused "caffè Pedrocchi" while some others got hot chocolate. While the drinks there are a little pricier than most places, they do not disappoint. The presentation alone is worth the money. Our seafoam-tinted drinks were accompanied by a heart shaped cookie, while the incredibly thick hot chocolate is served in a little pitcher with a bowl of fresh whipped cream...it was a truly decadent experience! Every time I'd pass the caffè on my way to the study center, I always wanted to go inside, so it was great to check it out and get a free treat in the process!
Thursday evening was my storia dell'arte final exam. It was cumulative, which meant we were responsible for tons of paintings, but luckily I knew relatively well the 4 that ended up on the test, so I feel pretty good about it, but most of all I'm just glad it's over. That just leaves me with my dreaded 10-page storia moderna paper, which has to be written in italian! Even though I only have a couple weeks left, each day is jam-packed with things to do, places to go, and things to see. This weekend I'm planning a day-trip with Gabi to the winter resort town of Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomite Mountains, and then Tuesday I head to London!
I hope you are all staying warm and enjoying the wonderful holiday season and all the wonderful things it brings!