Our Sunday morning in Padua and a yummy lunch at Vegetariamoci
Update: Vegetariamoci has closed permanently.
I'm sure you've all seen the weather forecast. Here in Venice it's summer already and, although some people around me are complaining about the usual humidity, I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled!!!! I have waited so long for this endless winter to go away that I hope the sun has come to stay. Like every year, from April to October, Venice tends to get way over-crowded at the weekend and Vito and I have learned to escape from the area we live in (5 minutes from Piazza San Marco) and either go on a short trip to the mainland or to some of the islands of the lagoon.
This Saturday we both had a little commitment in the afternoon and didn't do much (well actually, I cooked and will be posting new recipes soon), but on Sunday we went to the station straight after breakfast and took a train for Padua. Let me advise you to opt for a RV train (fast regional), which takes exactly 30 minutes and a return ticket costs about 7 euros, otherwise you could also take the normal R regional train, but it will take 50 minutes because it stops in all the little towns.
Padua has a really lovely historical centre, surrounded by walls of ancient Roman origin. It is one of the oldest cities in the Veneto, known mostly for its important -and very demanding- university, founded back in 1222! There are many things to do, like visiting the Cappella degli Scrovegni with Giotto's frescos, Palazzo Zabarella with its temporary exhibitions (Mirò right now), Palazzo Zuckermann, the Musei Eremitani and -obviously- the Basilica di Sant'Antonio. For more info, please refer to my former post A Day in Padua, where you can also find tips on nice traditional wine bars and restaurants.
To be honest with you, we just wanted to stay outdoors and do some trivial things like shop, drink, eat and relax. We didn't know that the Sant'Antonio marathon was on, thus all the streets were blocked and joggers from all over Italy were suffering from the incredible heat. Poor guys! How I understand them... I run almost everyday, but I do it early morning because after 11 am the dampness can be really unbearable! Anyway, we found it very funny to hear the so-called motivators blowing their whistles and yelling at their group encouraging sentences, which would be the thing that would put me off (I know, I know...I'm such an individualistic and horrible person). In general, though, I like these initiatives and think it's nice that people train and put themselves to test in a healthy way.
We walked around the centre, from Piazza delle Erbe we took the inner alleys, stopped -as usual- at Ventitre, a CD and LP shop, until we reached the Specola, the astrological observatory of the university, where we sat along a canal and under the shade offered by the trees for a good 15 minutes reading the papers. How nice, oozing is becoming a necessity for me (hey, Naturally is a bit under pressure lately, sorry about this friends) and the sound of the water flowing in the Bacchiglione river and of the leaves moved by the wind helped me recharge my energies. At that point Vito suggested to start heading to the restaurant and, being hungry, I did not oppose.
I had booked at Vegetariamoci, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant about which I had read a lovely article and very positive reviews. I was extremely curious to try it out, especially because I wish there were more places like this in Venice, where this sort of offer is quite limited and -with some exceptions- not very creative. The first impression was great: big, wide space with bright walls, elegant wooden tables and a minimalist design, all revolving around natural materials. The menu changes every week and there are two chefs, a woman at lunch and a man in the evening.
Well, I don't know about the evening, but I can guarantee that our lunch was amazing! To start I had a warm chickpea and artichoke hummus served with seared artichokes and a wholegrain cracker which was to die for, while Vito had a fresh pea soup with black rice and pepper. Needless to say, we shared everything and kept picking from each other's plate.
As a main, Vito had lasagna with mushrooms and scamorza cheese while I had an orzotto (risotto made with barley) with tomato topped with a ginger fennel cream and basil-infused oil. Everything was delicious! Generous portions, beautiful platings and quality ingredients worked with love. I would recommend this place to anyone who loves veggies and friendly places and, with regard to ourselves, we will definitely go back. Vito was so enthusiastic that he even ordered a dessert: a warm apple muffin with a dark chocolate heart inside, accompanied by a super tasty apple and cinnamon sauce. Y U M !!!! The lady brought us two forks and I just couldn't stop stealing from his plate.
With regard to the price, may I say excellent? We spent less than 25 each and had two starters, two mains, a dessert, two beers, some water and a nice espresso. We felt so relaxed that we stayed there a long time until Vito looked at his watch and asked me if we could go back early so he could see Inter, his soccer team, play. We paid, returned to the centre quickly so I could buy a couple of dishes and glasses I need for a set of pictures and ran back to the station to catch the fast train.
Maybe our day finished early, in the sense that once back in Venice he went to the pub and I returned home and stayed there, but it was nice! If you decide to go on a trip to Padua, take your time! Go in the morning, choose a site to visit and then explore the historical town and find yourself a nice place to eat. With regard to food, you will be spoilt by choice: from traditional wine-bars like L'Anfora to fancy restaurants, Padua has it all. A must-stop for foodies is undoubtedly La Folperia in Piazza della Frutta, open from 4:30 pm to about 9 pm, an only-standing stall known for its boiled octopus and baby octopus.