Saturday, 27 July 2013

Third time lucky

Last Sunday after three attempts, Stefano finally made it to Pavia for lunch.
In November last year one of Stefano's colleagues recommended a day trip to Pavia, a university town known not only for its beautiful architecture, but also for its fabulous regional cuisine. Back then, when he was super busy at work, I did a quick search on Trip Advisor for a restaurant in Pavia specialising in local food and wine.  Caffe Percivate, a restaurant specialising in beer, but with an emphasis on regional produce was given a top 3 ranking. So Stefano made an email booking and looked forward to lunching on delicious cuisine from the Lombardy region, washed down with some amber ale rather than his usual vino rosso.
But Stefano's first attempt to visit Pavia was thwarted as deadlines at work intruded into his weekend.  I was disappointed for him of course, but happy that I could join him for a rescheduled Sunday lunch in Pavia when I arrived in December.
So on a very cold Sunday we set out for Pavia. At the train station we were unconcerned as we read 'treni cancellati' against most departure destinations, but not Pavia.  We waited expectantly on the platform enviously admiring others wearing thicker, warmer coats but consoling ourselves that soon we would be dining in Pavia's third best restaurant. After several freezing hours stomping our boots and rubbing our gloved hands together, we were dismayed to see that the words, 'treni cancellati' had moved like a cancer down the departure board till they reached Pavia. Stefano's lunch plans had been thwarted again but this time by striking Trenitalia workers. 
What a difference six months makes.
After a short train journey, less than an hour from Milan central, we finally strolled around Pavia to work up an appetite. First across the famous Ponte Coperto, a covered bridge which is often compared to the beautiful Ponte Vecchio in Florence, but the Pavia version is much less crowded. Then on through the quiet pedestrian streets where the only vehicles allowed are buses and bicycles. Past the impressive Basilica San Michele Maggiore, through the gardens of Castello Visconteo and around the buildings of the university which are dotted through the town.
Till there was only one thing left to do in Pavia...
We were not disappointed!
At Café Percivate Stefano was warmly greeted, almost like a long lost friend after his multiple emails booking and rebooking Sunday lunch. The food was delicious, particularly a local pancake made from chickpea flour then sprinkled with parmesan cheese and lightly grilled.
Stefano sampled several beers but thought he'd leave one in the fridge to try with company on our next visit.  Yes, we have already planned to return to Pavia during the university term. So, if you're visiting Milan in September or October be warned. You will be asked to join Stephano as he samples the next beer lined up on his tasting list...
ciao. vediamo la prossima settimana.

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