I can still recall the smell of wine and the old rain falling from the most beautiful sky i had ever seen. It was the smell of a tiny italian city called Pavia.
Starting summer this year of 2016, i had the chance to travel as an english teacher volunteering for a children’s summer camp in Italy. My destination was Pavia, a city located 30 minutes from Milan by metro. It was my first time abroad as a colombian woman in Europe, i just knew english and spanish by then, so i didnt know what to expect. After almost 24 hours flying and taking the metro in Milan i finally reached Pavia.
Feeling Italian already…
It was midnight and my buddy was waiting for me at the station. As soon as i walked out he said “Ciao Daniela, benvenuto” and i was already feeling italian. We had to walk to the hostal with my bags because there were no buses or taxis at that time of the night, however, the hostal was very close to the station. Everything is close in Pavia.
It was a short walk to remember since i saw a huge statue of a woman in the middle of a round point street. It was a monument named after “La Statua della Minerva” and it represents a roman goddess of wisdom. After staring at this for a few minutes, my buddy told me that there is a Pavian belief about the Minerva statue. It is said that if any student or young tourist stares directly to Minerva’s eyes, he or she shall not graduate from college ever.
A college town
On the other hand, did i mentioned Pavia is known as a vibrant college town? Well, It really is and i noticed this since the next day when the sun came out and i decided to explore for a bit. I went by myself to the city centre and there were young people in every single corner as well as a lot of buildings belonging to the University of Pavia. It is in fact, one of the oldest and best institutions in Italy, specialized mostly in medicine and other carreers in which a lot of people made history. The well known Christopher Columbus went to this university, and you can see a monument in his honor as you walk through the university’s faculties and halls. The institution is by far the heart and engine of the city.
Ready for aperitivo and Gelatto!
It was Sunday and i was starting to get hungry and in the mood for some fun. I was definetely ready for aperitivo, a drink and snack prior to the real dinner. This italian experience started at 7 PM and it could be found in any bar or restaurant in town with an “all you can drink and eat” choice, just for 9 EU or more depending on the place. In my case, i chose for the very first time Annabella Cafe al Demetrio, also known as the capital of fur, located in the main street of the city center in Pavia, Corso Str. Nuova.
After a few glasses of wine, some procciutto bites and the famous spritz drink, i went for a traditional gelato. The place where i got the best pavian icecream was at the Gelateria La Romana, near the Minerva´s statue. In here i could taste delicious flavours such as coconut, blueberry and their classic sause. Yumm!
Very cheap indeed, this is the place where wine is less than 1 EU, but tastes as a very expensive and tasty one. Every single supermarket has a bunch of different wine bottles. If you travel to this tiny city and you are in the mood for a glass, you can find exquisite italian wine for 0.70 cents. I´m not kidding!
The city center, a half a day walk
Pavia has a very magical and historic centre. It took me half a day to walk around and get to know all of the shops and the most important monuments and piazzas of the centre, such as La Piazza de la Vittoria and of course, the Duomo, a beautiful and huge church with different areas inside covered with famous old catholic paintings and sacred graves underneath the place. On wednesday nights, a bunch of students and tourists come along the stairs outside the church, and get together for some beers, wine and street singing.
The Ticino river
The Ticino river was one of my favourite things in Pavia. tourists can walk by the river and by the old bridge called Ponte Coperto, crossing the river and reaching the other side full of colorful historic houses. Also, get toghether by the grass for a barbecue or a nice picnic with wine. Everyone in Pavia can locate any place, taking the river as a reference point.
Rainy but Sunny
After a few weeks getting to know Pavia, i got used to its weather and learned that not even the unexpected rain stopped me from having fun. This tiny city is known for the rain at all times, even in summer when i was living there, but the great sun never leaves so you can feel a spectacular energy that fills the whole town up. Perhaps you can feel a little bit blue in this city once in a while because of the rain, but the truth is that Pavia knows how to seduce people for its magical air and peaceful environment. It has the most beautiful colors i´ve ever seen, as well as the most epic sunsets that give you the goosebumps. Perfect things for those who seek for inner peace and inspiration.
Friendly and homy
You have got to love this place for its people. Even the most grumpy face surprises you with a nice “hello” and helps you in anything you need. I never got lost or afraid of being alone because everyone in Pavia treats people as family and welcomes you to visit their lovely town.
30 days of joy
I definetely recommend this place for those in the persuit of a new mindset and inner peace. Pavia is a tiny city with a strong personality that makes any tourist open his or her mind while walking around. I can assure by my 30 days experience, the possibility of growing as a person by meeting different people, a new way of thinking. It was by far the best place to discover the old italian culture for the very first time.
“Pavia, nel mio cuore per sempre”