My parents wrap up their trip in Padova

I neglected to finish the story in my last post about Venice, but my parents finished the last leg of their two-week vacation in Padova with me. I was happy about their choice to do this because Padova really is an authentic, Italian city, and by that I mean there aren’t any tourists, no one speaks English, and people aren’t out to scam you.

I met them for lunch on a Thursday afternoon, and they planned to spend Thursday and Friday nights in Padova. Unfortunately, I had classes on both of those days, but I directed my parents to key points to see in town, as well as some shops to keep them occupied. If I remember correctly, they saw the Basilica Sant’Antonio, the Basilia Santa Giustina, and the Prato della Valle. Then, after truly introducing them to the aperitivo tradition in the Piazza dei Signori, we had dinner at the restaurant where Boston University took us on our first day — Donna Irene. It’s a really beautiful restaurant tucked away in a quiet part of town with an artsy inside and a beautiful outdoor oasis for dining outside. Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly to have dinner outside, so we ate in. I remember enjoying my meal the first time I went, but I was so glad that I took them back! It truly is one of my favorite restaurants in Padova, and my parents really enjoyed their meals — at quite a reasonable price, I might add. I then spent the night with them in their hotel (relatively far from the center of town), since they had upgraded to a suite with a pull-out sofa.

The next day we took a trip to see the Botanical Garden which I hadn’t even seen yet. It was really beautiful, but maybe not as lush as some other gardens I’ve seen in the past. I think my mom really enjoyed it, especially the indoors-portion with the more exotic plants.

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After having lunch, I had to leave them for classes. That night, I took my parents to Brek, which is a local place that is sort of like an Italian chipotle, where you can pick you pasta, sauce, extras, etc., and also it was like Wegmans, where you could purchase other things ala carte. It was fine, but instead of ordering our own, unique dishes, the chef decided to cook three plates worth of what my Dad ordered. Part of it was as a result of translation error, but part of it was the chef’s fault — he probably didn’t want cook for three people.

Later that night, we went back to the area near my parents’ hotel, because there was an Oktoberfest celebration at what was most likely the Padova Convention Center (La Fiera) that my Dad wanted to see. At first, it didn’t look like there was many people, but when we went into the convention center, we saw that it was packed with

Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest

college kids . . . and us. To my Dad’s satisfaction, he was able to get bratwurst, sauerkraut, and other german delicacies (and of course german beer!). It was actually kind of fun. It was interesting because the band was basically a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band, and of a town in which no one speaks any english, all of the kids knew the¬†english lyrics. Strange . . .

Anyway, on their last day, I took my parents to the markets that are always held in the Prato della Valle. She didn’t buy much, but I think my Mom enjoyed going through the markets. There are a lot of things there that you might not find at your average Florentine market ūüôā To finish the day off, ¬†we had lunch at Donna Irene again (since we loved it for dinner), and I got to watch my parents try out the traditional¬†caffe corretto (a shot of espresso with a shot of grappa) before heading back to the train station.

It truly was very nice to see my parents for as much as I did in Italy. Such as it is here in Padova, I enjoyed seeing familiar faces (and speaking a familiar language). I hoped they enjoyed the trip as much as I enjoyed watching them enjoy Italy.

A Night at the Opera — Il Barbiere di Siviglia

The Barber of Seville (not an image of the performance I saw)
The Barber of Seville (not an image of the performance I saw)

As many of you know, I very much enjoy listening to opera and going to performances. Lo and behold, I saw that¬†Il Barbiere di SivigliaI¬†(The Barber of Seville) by Gioacchino Rossini was going to be performed IN PADOVA at the end of the month. Naturally, I couldn’t resist. I’m actually glad I bought the tickets, too, because I learned that the

Gioachino Rossini, the composer
Gioachino Rossini, the composer

planned opera trip to Venice’s famous Teatro La Fenice to see Mozart’s¬†Don Giovanni was no longer viable because o issues with the tickets.

Anyway, a fellow student/opera-buff and I went to the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi to go buy tickets — nosebleeds costing $28 a pop. Not too bad for an opera. When we got there, we learned that there weren’t any tickets left at that price. HOWEVER, somehow, the ticket-lady “found” two seats in the center-middle of the gallery (which is all the way at the top). I was convinced she used magic, but we bought the tickets anyway, and off we went.

Fast forward to the day of the opera, a Sunday matinee, my friend and I arrive at the opera house just before the overture began. We found our seats — only to discover that they had been taken by two men! We spoke with the usher, and she told us to kick them out — so we tried. To our surprise, the two gentlemen were able to produce real tickets, just like ours, with the same seat numbers! There was nothing we could do but go back down to the box office and explain the problem. By now, the overture was in full motion, so needless to say, we were stressed to the max.

Panorama of the inside of the theatre
Panorama of the inside of the theatre

The lady at the box office actually ¬†wasn’t that surprised about what happened. We explained that we bought the tickets the Wednesday before, and that they were legitimate. It sounded like this wasn’t the first time they double-booked seats — now I understand the magic behind why we were able to get the tickets!

Anyway, to their dismay, probably, they found two open seats in the back of the ORCHESTRA level, and within a matter of seconds, the IMG_0966lady produced hand-written tickets for those seats, and rushed us to the seats just before the overture ended.

Insomma, we loved the opera. Unfortunately, though, we were expecting supra-titles with the english translation or the italian lyrics. What were we thinking! It turns out that, harkening back to the early days of opera, the ushers had produced libretti — the actual text of the opera — to the audience before the show. We didn’t get them because we were late, but I wasn’t too worried, since I had already since Il Barbiere. In reality, italians would have read the libretto beforehand (although this isn’t the case today), and they wouldn’t have had a need for the libretto.

 

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This opera, like many operas today, had a modern interpretation with a modern backdrop and costumes. It didn’t detract from the performance too much, but as a traditionalist, I prefer period dress and staging. The singers were very good, especially Dottore Bartolo and Count Almaviva. The Barber was pretty good and the Rosina was just okay — I’ve seen better at the met. All in all, though, i really enjoyed the performance, and it was worth every penny — especially since we got orchestra level seats! I still can’t believe it!

 

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