Room with a view.
I just spent a few days back in Vicenza, without my boy, who was off camping with his dad and step-family. A new and strange concept this -- son going off for several days with his dad. I'm really not used to this having been flying the solo parenting jet for so many years. I have to confess, I really enjoyed myself! (And missed him too of course). I needed to return to Italy, not for any kind of mini-holiday but because I'd left a suitcase full of stuff at my friend's house when we left last winter. We just couldn't carry everything with us on our train journey to Frankfurt to catch our flight to New York.
This time I stayed in an Airbnb residence I found which was fantastic and ticked my boxes of having good wifi and walking distance from everything. I was welcomed by the lovely Lou, my Spanish-Italian hostess.
There's a lot to be said for time and distance with a place. I found it amazing that I could ooh and ahh over all that Vicenza has to offer once the pressure of trying to live there was gone. A great reminder that visiting a place is never ever the same as trying to live there.
All that said, for me Vicenza is truly the perfect sized city. Walkable, lots of cyclists and therefore, safe for cycling, stunningly beautiful with breathtaking architectural history at every turn. The Vicentini refer to it as a small town yet it is a city of approximately 120,000 people. It's geography is pretty impressive too -- Venice is 60 kilometers to the east, Verona even less to the west, and it sits at the foothills of the magnificent Dolomite (Dolomiti) mountain range. Plus it's a quick flight from London into Verona's Valerio Catullo Airport. The municipality of Vicenza has just recently implemented FreeVicenzaWifi in certain public areas. My first attempt to use it was not successful and probably required about 13 more (some things in Italy don't change) but I did not pursue it as I had other things to do once I'd left the apartment, such as eat and drink of course.
If you just happen to be going to Vicenza here are three suggestions for a triumvirate of apertivos, dinner, and dessert that can't be beat:
1. Enoteca Piccola Osteria, Via Alfonso La Marmora, 72, 36100 Vicenza (#2 bus to Via Curtatone or 20 min. walk from center of town). This little wine bar has long been a favorite haunt of mine. Last year they got used to me - the oddball American scribbling away in the corner several days a week. The prosecco is the best I've had anywhere, ever. Plus there is an amazing selection of wines from all over the country that go oh so well with their selection of spongiatta, Italian tapas-like appetizers, ranging from 'Sarde en Saor,' a regional specialty and the most subtle, delicate sardines marinated in onions that simply melt in your mouth, to marinated octopus, meatballs cooked in red wine, tramezzini, the list goes on. They have main courses as well but no menu - they'll just tell you what they have available that day. And if you really can't get motivated to travel off the beaten path, Piazza dei Signori is practically littered with cafes, as well as ones tucked away on side streets, where you can get great, cheap apertivos like Aperol or Campari spritz for 2-4 euros each.
2. Righetti Self Restaurant, Piazza Duomo, 3, 36100 Vicenza. Yes, you read that right. They forgot the 'serve' part! Warm and homey, with the decor of an Italian grandmother's rustic country home, and particularly easy on the budget, a three course meal with wine can be had at this cafeteria-style restaurant for under 20 euros per person. The grill is a big favorite here and you can usually have a choice of chicken, beef, or fish grilled to order and they invariably feature the regional specialty of Baccala alla Vicentina, which is like a mash of fish in a cream sauce served with polenta. It is not appealing to the eye and I'll leave aside the possible analogies, but I can attest that it is tasty. Just be sure to 'set your table' with a place setting first before getting your food or they will get very annoyed with you.
3. Pasticceria Venezia, Contra Pescaria, 4, 36100 Vicenza. My Italian friends told me this was the best pasticceria in Vicenza and they did not steer me wrong. I'm not a pastry hound but these were truly pretty amazing. Macaroons in many flavors and colors and delicate pastries filled with cream that would make you die happy if they were the last things you ate. There is a small coffee bar attached where you can stand and consume your treats on site or have them beautifully wrapped for 'portare via' (take away).
Check back for more on Vicenza coming soon....!
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, general renegade and rabblerouser.