Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Caffe Pedrocchi, Padua

On Friday, our class was supposed to spend the day in Venice touring the glassblowing factories, taking gondola rides through the canals, and enjoying the sunshine. And we were all very excited (except one guy named Max, who hates Venice).
Unfortunately, the rain from our trip to Bassano lasted a little bit longer than we would have liked, and after just having a seminar on the recent floods desecrating Venice and its tourism, our trip leaders decided to postpone the Venice trip until the weather dried up.
So, instead, we all woke up and had a three-hour class on patent law (which had me craving multiple cappuccinos) and were given a one-way train ticket to jumpstart our free weekend of travel.
Since Emily and I had already booked our tickets from Bassano to Bologna for Saturday and Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the free ticket and free ride to the train station to spend the day exploring another city. Our choice? Padua (or Padova, in Italian). Armed with Rick Steeve's "6 Hours in Padua" pages, courtesy of Emily's mother, and some insider information from my Italian-American friend Sylvia, we set off.

A small miscalculation ended with us walking the wrong way from the train station, but we quickly turned it around and headed in the correct direction towards the city. While I might be a bit directionally challenged, Emily could navigate her way across a foreign city while blindfolded, so she quickly got us to the right spot in the middle of all the action.
We made some necessary shopping pit stops at H&M, Zara, and La Rinascente (where I saw these adorable espresso cups:)

But our goal was to find Caffe Pedrocchi, a famous and historical spot seated right at the base of the University of Padua. When we went inside, we thought Jay Gatsby had invited us to a party at his mansion.

Established in the 18th century, Caffe Pedrocchi has three unique rooms built into it with a coffee bar in the center. The rooms are all themed after different colors, and the green room is where people go if they don't want to order anything. You tend to see old men reading their newspapers in there, along with, I'm sure, the occasional college student during finals season. I couldn't help but feel jealous of the Padua students while I was in here - the decor certainly beats the Starbucks on South U!
The large caffe only had two waiters working, which gave me and Emily plenty of time to peruse the menu.

We split a bottle of sparkling water and peeled our eyes away from the amazing selection of alcoholic coffee beverages just in time to order a sensible dinner.

We were quickly given a lovely tray of pre-dinner snacks.

And our sandwiches came quickly afterwards. Emily chose a dainty sandwich filled with meat and asparagus.

I opted for "toast," which, in the US, means a crisp piece of bread, but in Italy means a delectable ham and cheese sandwich. 

Perfectly crisp with delicious cheese. Gotta hand it to Italy to jass up a piece of toast the best way possible (and would you believe that most restaurants offer this for a mere 3 euros?).
While the sandwiches were delicious, our main reason for going to Caffe Pedrocchi was so that Emily could order the famous Stendhal zabaglione. 

A marsala wine custard served with a bowl of whipped cream and a handful of fig cookies. Apparently this is the way that the writer Stendhal liked his zabaglione, so the cafe has been serving it this way ever since.
Although I didn't order dessert, our waiter brought me this cup of coffee on the house.

What looked at first like a basic cappuccino ended up being a chocolate and mint creme espresso drink covered in froth and cocoa. Absolutely phenomenal.
We spent two hours in the cafe enjoying an extremely relaxing dinner before heading back to the train station at 8 pm.
Although the cafe was slightly pricey, Emily and I only ended up spending 20 euros on our meal (and I'm pretty sure the waiter undercharged us a bit on purpose). By the end of the day, we were both wondering whether or not the University of Padua had a graduate school.

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