Bassano del Grappa, ITALY

Last week I took a day trip to meet Emma in a city we had visited with friends two years before: Bassano del Grappa. 

Since I would not have phone service, we made plans the night before while we had wifi. We decided to meet at the train station: her train arriving at 9:05 am and mine at 9:20 am. A helpful iPhone app that I’ve used to look up train schedules is Infotreni.

We weren’t sure we would remember how to get into the center, but once we were there, it all came back to us. If you walk straight from the train station for two minutes, there is an entrance into the wall. Once inside the wall, go right. The first thing you will see is this coffee shop where we stopped for coffee.

  

Caffetteria Toffano is the first place you will see right when you walk inside the walls. Which was perfect as we had planned to find a place for coffee. It was a nice spot with good coffee. 


 

We walked through the various piazzas and soon learned that a lot of places were closed for Monday. So if you ever plan to visit a smaller town of Italy, keep in mind things will be closed Monday’s, in the afternoon, and for August vacation.

 

 

We took advantage of just walking the city and revisiting some of our favorite spots from our last visit. 

  

  

One of my favorite spots is this walkway of manicured trees overlooking a green valley. Bassano del Grappa is a small town that’s easy to discover.

  

  

I believe off of Via Vittorelli is this cute pane (bread) shop. Delicious for pastries, and they even had some senza glutine (gluten free) options for Emma which isn’t common for Italy. 

  

 

In Piazza Garibaldi we found this restaurant Danieli and decided to try it for lunch. We sat outside on the patio, which is typical for Italians. Last time we had visited on a Saturday and this piazza was covered with the outdoor Italian market.

 

   

  

Since the kitchen wasn’t yet open, we started with coffee.

  

About thirty minutes later we placed our food order. I ordered the gnocchi with mushroom. We spent a couple hours here hanging out and catching up and living the slow paced Italian lifestyle. It’s nice to not force too much into your days when you visit Italy, or to think too much of a time schedule, because then you will have a more Italian experience.
  

  

Padova ITALY

I recently visited my friend Marta in her hometown of Padova.  It was so good to reconnect roaming around the city after a couple years apart.

  

She met me at the train station and we walked toward the Centro di Padova and through Piazza Garibaldi.

 
We both felt quite out of it, so she took me to one of her favorite coffee shops Pasticceria Nova. It was down an alley off the Centro di Padova. I love that in Italy there are so many hidden food and coffee spots to be stumbled upon in the winding alleys thought out the city. Per usual, I got a cappuccino, and per Italian usual, she got a caffè (espresso).
   
  

Afterward we walked into the next piazza Piazza dei Signori in the Centro di Padova and got gelato at Grom. It’s a chain in Italy, so if you see one in a city you visit, definitely go. 

  

 

  

The usual this trip is the salted caramel gelato, but their affogatos are great as well. I have yet to find anything in America that’s as good as an Italian affogato, so take advantage of grabbing a few on your next trip to Italy. 

 

From the Centro di Padova, we walked over a couple streets and Marta showed me another favorite spot of hers in Padova: the Jewish Ghetto. There were a few fabric shops to peruse. 
   
  

Then walking out of that alley we found ourselves on the main shopping road. We tend to go to H&M or Pull and Bear, but this time we went to a new shop for me Stradivarius. Me and Marta love hippy (or as we tend to say “gypsy”) items, so we impulse bought such items: I some sunglasses and her a headband. 

 

She then took me to my favorite park Prato della Valle. It’s a circular park surrounded by a mote and white statues, and of course Italian cathedrals and buildings. 

  

  

 

 

The next day, while Marta had a family event that came up, I had some time to find my way into the center again. I came into the piazza we walked through the day before on the way to the Jewish Ghetto, but this time a huge market pop up. And it covered all the piazzas in the center.

  

I was really hit by the Italian culture. This experience didn’t feel so normal as most of my trip has, and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it was the huge crowds of Italians, or the Vespas riding by, or just walking upon this Italian market in a piazza surrounded by Italian architecture. It all felt so good though. 

  

 
Between the piazzas of outdoor markets, there was a large building filled with meat and cheese and pasta markets.

  

I found my way to one of the other piazzas, this one filled with the fashion, purses and jewelry markets. Surrounding the whole piazza were coffeeshops and people sitting outside having their morning caffè, so I joined in the tradition and grabbed a cappuccino at BREDA.
   
 

By noon I met up with Marta to head to Venice. On the way to the train station, we realized we were running too late for the train and had an hour to spare until the next one. So we stopped for coffee at this shop I thought was cute and wanted to try: Balentes Cafe. 

  
  

We met the owner Maurizio. He spoke English and had lived in LA for 7 years, so it was really nice to meet and chat with him.

   

Montebelluna ITALY – Gelati Roberto, Centro Coffee Crawl

Made a return visit to Montebelluna to see Emma a couple days after she arrived back. 

 

I’d like to side track on some culture. I love living the Italian train culture. It’s so foreign to my usual car form of transportation back home. This was my third train ride alone. I had assumed I’d have a lot of chances to ride with others and learn, but that hasn’t been the case, ands it’s funny how we learn the best by being forced into just doing it and surprising ourselves at what we can figure out in a foreign country. 

  
She brought some Rose Park Roasters coffee so we had a pour over coffee party. It’s been a month since I’ve been away from home and the coffee making world, so it felt like a piece of home to pour with Emma. Plus, I love Rose Park Roasters so it was exciting that she brought it.

  

 

We made plans with Tyler that night to be introduced to their new favorite gelato spot Gelati Roberto.

  

They both recommended the menta (mint) gelato. It was amazing and I’m still thinking about it.

 

  
The next day I did a coffee crawl around the Montebelluna Centro. The first spot was obviously Caffè Cavour. I ordered my usual cappuccino and pastry in more Italian breakfast style. 

  

 

Afterward I walked around to find a new coffee spot to try. While walking around I stumbled on this boutique Le Scarpe di Aliss where these yellow leather heels were on sale, so I made an impulse buy.
   

 

The second coffee shop I stopped at was one I’d never been to: Bar Alla Loggia. It was under an archway off a main piazza. I loved the vibes: from the outdoor piazza vibes to the loud Italian community how everyone knew everyone, and the cute old man who went on and on in Italian thinking I understood him and how I wish I did, and the shakerato I ordered.
   

At this point it was lunch time and with two coffees in, I was definitely ready for food. I returned to my comfort spot Caffè Cavour to try their lunch menu. I got the spaghetti with tonno (tuna) and pomodoro (tomato).

  

I walked back in to the piazza for the third spot Bernardi, a cute french bakery and coffee shop. I spent the time editing photos, being stared at by Italians, and face timing my coffee crawling friend Michelle from back home. 

  

  

 

Montebelluna ITALY – Pizzeria alla Stella, Gelateria Ducale, Caffè Cavour, Caffè Corona

I recently made a trip to revisit the town I used to live in in Italy for my friend Sharon’s birthday. The first place we went was her favorite coffee shop, that I had never tried, Degustazione. 

It was the best smelling coffee shop ever. All coffee shops smell like coffee, but here is was overwhelming, in the best way possible. Sharon got a cappuccino, and as much as a cappuccino is my usual, I had had two cappuccinos already that day so I went for a shakerato. I tend to get cold brew back home when I’m not wanting more milk, but in Italy it’s not really common to drink cold coffee, so my option and go to is the shakerato, which much like an iced americano, is: espresso shaken with ice, water and sometimes sugar. This spot made the best one I’ve had. 

 

After coffee, we met up with some of her friends for pizza at Stella’s. It was Sharon’s birthday, but I had had such good memories and pizzas here that it felt like my birthday haha. 

 

I had always wanted to try the french fry pizza, and now two years later and being so hungry, I got it, with sausage and ricotta. A couple points of culture: water at restaurants isn’t free and it’s expected you eat the whole pizza, but the crust is so thin is more doable than it seems.

  

Much like I left Montebelluna, it was still typical to go to gelato, and we went to Ducale afterwards, which also used to be one of my favorite spots. There is nothing like Italian gelato in America, so it felt too good to be back at Ducale.

 

My old favorite was Zuppa Inglese which has pieces of cake, but I went with Amareno (cherry) in a “cono” (cone).

 

Since I was just in town for a few days, I didn’t grab groceries and tried to just catch up on all the old favorites. Like the local kebab shop just a couple doors down from where I was staying. 

I used to love grabbing one and eatting it on the 20 minute walk home though town. One night, I told the guy I wanted a lot of “olio piccante” (spicy oil) and cried all the way home as I ate it, while my roommate laughed at me. So there were sentimental reasons for returning here, much like the other spots on this post.
  

After kebabs, Sharon asked where I wanted to go that day. She was hoping I’d say Caffe Cavour, and she knew me too well because Caffe Cavour was my favorite spot in Montebelluna and I couldn’t wait to return.
  

 

I had made friends with Ada, who owns the coffee shop, back when I used to come every morning for three months for a cappuccino. I was nervous she wouldn’t remember me after a couple years, but when I had the chance to approach her, she lit up with a mutual excitement, and I was too glad to catch up with with this Italian friend.

  

 

Their cappuccinos and pastries are so good. This was the place where I got my first cappucino in Italy, but it was the best. I couldn’t find better at any of the other spots I tried in town. I had been craving this pastry for two years, and today I was lucky enough to get there just in time for the last one. It felt so good, and so crazy, to finally be back.

  
  

The next day me and Sharon met with our friends Jake and Tyler for lunch. We walked into town to our friend Francesco’s spot Caffe Corona. 

 
   
  

It was a lot of fun and laughs to be together with these friends again in Montebelluna. It felt so surreal and so nice to reminisce.

  

I got the same as Tyler: a grilled vegetable and fontina piadine with a red mayo. Piadine is like a crepe: made of piadina, a bread closest to a tortilla,  and stuffed with savory items. 

 

On one of my last days, I walked to the center of town for another visit at Caffe Cavour. As I left, I walked toward the piazza I used to walk through everyday by my old apartment. There a few old Italian men invited me to sit with them for a caffe as they sat at Caffe Centrale. It was a lot of fun to make new friends with these Italians, and so far one of my favorite moments in Italy this trip.