We thought we were headed to Padua but we got distracted and spent the day looking for Petrarch’s mummified cat. There’s a unique geological area southwest of Padua called the Euganean Hills comprised of conical hills of volcanic origin. It was here, in the town of Arquà Petrarca, that the poet Petrarch retired from the world near the end of his life. His home may be the oldest writer’s house museum in the world. The dwelling has had countless visitors since the 14th century and, yes, is reputed to contain the remains of his beloved pet cat.
We find the old poet’s digs only to discover 1) it’s fucking chiuso lunedì and 2) we’re famished. Signs point to a place called L’Enoteca di Arquà and we follow ‘em. We’re offered a table by the railing of the terrace. The day is perfectly balmy. We share the meat and cheese plate and the homemade marinated mushrooms and kill two bottles of sparkling water.
Onward to Padua! Today, we will return our VW, it having served us mightily and well. But first we locate our apt for the next two nights. It’s in the middle of the outskirts of the University of Padua campus which is in the middle of Padua. The rental agent is charming and makes us feel at home. Onward! Effortlessly, I fill the tank with many litres. The Hertz folks are mildly amused to see us. The tension of the ding inspection melts away as we’re given a thumbs up. And we just walk away.
I discover an interesting osteria and make a fucking reservation. Boy, are we glad I did, because it got packed. It’s just a modest place with a two-page menu. We order the medley of Padovan appetizers (yes, we love bacala) and what’s listed simply as ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’ but is the best iteration of gluten I’ve ever encountered. Osteria Ai Scarponi – remember the name.