If you aren’t already away for the entire Easter weekend, it’s likely that you (and everyone else who isn’t working Easter Monday) is either in your car or on a train to visit some location. Museums are open, the weather is good (hopefully) and Easter weekend marks the beginning of a series of Spring holiday weekends.
Many years ago (ok, so it was only maybe 8), I made the mistake of going to Como on Easter Monday. That’s how I discovered that basically every other Italian was taking advantage of his day off and going there too to walk along Lake Como and eat gelato. The old, dusty, rusty double decker train was packed. It was hot and stuffy and unexpected. The town was uncomfortably crowded, nothing like I had remembered it the first time I’d visited. But it was a learning experience.
Since then, and since getting married, we’ve chosen less popular destinations for our Gita di Pasquetta. This year, we decided that since it was nice, but not too hot, we would go to Pavia, about an hour’s drive outside of Milan. Pavia is a beautiful town with a lot of late Medieval and Renaissance architecture remaining. The grounds of the university have beautiful courtyards and the piazzas are full of traditional Italian cafès (as well as a few “Neapolitan” pizzerias) with al fresco tables under the sun. Milan isn’t so much like this (at least no longer to me now that I’ve lived here so long), so seeing these smaller cafè crowded piazzas reminds me of my first visit to Italy in 1995 visiting the main tourist sites… Florence, Siena, Rome, Venice… It’s now sparked my interest to revisit some of these locations now that I’ve been living here long enough that people either mistake my accent as French or don’t even notice I’m foreign until I make a grammar mistake. (At this point, my spoken English is unfortunately heavily inflected by Italianisms!)
These were some of my favourite details and impressions of Pavia this trip. I finally got onto Ponte Vecchio, but was saddened to discover that it wasn’t a footbridge. All my romantic ideals were shattered as modern cars wizzed by. But the anthropromorphic carvings on the outside of the Basilica di San Michele, the beautiful street views, the incredible (and totally unexpected power) of the marble in Pavia’s Duomo and views of the banks of the Ticino River more than made up for it.