The flat had two bedrooms and could have accommodated a family of three or two friends who preferred their own rooms. Although the building was probably 18th or 19th Century, the apartment had been laid out recently. A clever curved wall set with six glass bricks, three each in green, blue and yellow, and an etched glass panel above the king-size bed in one bedroom allowed light into the other, which was windowless and contained a desk and a single bed set into a wall unit with the apartment’s only clothes cupboards. The master bedroom had a coat rack and a set of open shelves but no closet, armoire or dresser. However, two little bedside tables held lamps bright enough to read by. For a couple like us, the arrangement was comfortable. We used the second bedroom for clothes and luggage
Apart from the bathroom, which contained a handy washing machine, the flat’s only other room served as kitchen, dining and living room. The table could have seated six, so it worked fine for both our laptop and for eating. The couch was a loveseat. A tall French window looked out on a small courtyard used for parking. The best features were a fully-equipped kitchen – even an oven! – and the original art and good prints decorating the walls. A bookcase to one side held pamphlets in Italian, English, French and German covering all the city’s cultural and tourist attractions. Our hosts Sara and Isabella had produced two helpful booklets, one with essential practical information (food shopping, emergency numbers, nearby restaurants), the other with a breezy and entertaining overview of the attractions they considered unmissable.
For seeing Padova, the location couldn’t have been better. The fresh fruit and vegetable market was less than two short blocks away, in front of the Palazzo della Ragione, where it had been for 800 years. Shops selling meat, cheese, fish, bread and fresh pasta lined three arcades on the ground floor of the palazzo. On the other side, the Piazza di Frutti, which had a few produce and flower stalls, mainly offered cheap clothing but also had little bars and outdoor cafes, popular for wine spritzes. A few blocks further was a full-size Pam supermarket, easily walkable. The main cathedrals, churches and museums lay within two kilometers. And the neighborhood radiated the vibrant sense of a Medieval and Renaissance city whose downtown still functions as its city center. The tab, about $100 US a night, was more than we would have liked to pay ideally; but the location made it worth the price, especially given that the fresh market, and some shops selling regional specialties to go, saved us restaurant tabs.