NEW YORK – It really was magical.All I could of hoped for and much, much more.
Being back in the small, northern Italy town that quite literally changed my life two and a half years ago was all too perfect.
And even more perfect for me coming back at the tail-end of my 65-day adventure.
As the train approached Bassano del Grappa and I knew all that was standing between me and being back in Paderno was just a short bus ride away, the chills ran throughout my body, along with the smile on my face that seemed to appear instantly.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy to relive my 90 days in Paderno in just one weekend, but I must say I did one hell of a job at doing just that.
My first day back was more than perfect.
After an afternoon spent walking around campus, catching up with CIMBA employees and visiting some of my favorite places in Paderno, including the greatest Tabacchi in the world and having a panini that was made by no other than Diego, it was time for dinner.
Oh, and what a dinner and evening in it was.
Prior to arriving, I reached out my Italian professor when I was in CIMBA, Signora Michela Marin.
She’s an absolute sweetheart, who is from the area, and little did I know how special the night would be.
After scooping me up from campus, to Asolo we went. Asolo is a small town just a few minutes from Paderno, with a scenery that is more than picturesque.
With that said, it was only right to have a Spritz in Asolo’s main piazza to begin catching up.
After a relaxing time of catching up and sipping on the always refreshing Spritz, it was time to eat.
With no plans made beforehand, Signora Marin asked if I would like to go to Memi’s for dinner.
Now, Memi’s is not your typical restaurant. In fact, it’s technically not even a restaurant.
It’s an agriturismo, which means everything the place serves has been grown on its grounds. In other words, nothing can be more fresh then what you eat at one of these – it’s absolutely amazing.
Having gone to Memi’s when in CIMBA, I knew the treat I was in for.
After a delicious antipasto filled with formaggio, prosciutto and salami, it was time for the first course.
Pumpkin gnocchi. Without question, this was a top-three item I ate on my entire trip. It was a bit life changing.
Although hard to follow up after that, the second course was a steak-like meat that was absolutely to die for. As the meat was still bleeding as I dug into it, the meat literally melted in my mouth.
To compliment the entire meal with a nice coffee and then homemade lemon cake, the night was more than perfect.
Signora Marin is someone who will do anything to see the happiness in others.
It was more than sweet and nice of her to bring me to dinner and just catch up with me for hours. A real treat for sure.
As my first day back came to a close, I could hardly wait for my second day.
Saturday morning rolled around and to the Bassano street market I went.
Never having the opportunity to go while I was living in Paderno, but hearing how amazing it is, I was quite excited.
Well, it did more than impress me.
Markets are my love. It’s my favorite thing to do while visiting a city. In my opinion, it gives you a true feel of how the locals live.
And as if my return to Paderno could not get even more perfect, it did just that.
A couple years back, I had the pleasure of meeting two individuals who I quickly became good friends with and two who have a relationship that I admire dearly.
These two individuals are Nicole Bartman and Travis Poley, who are more commonly known as Coley and Poley and they have been dating for just shy of three years.
Long story short, Coley goes to West Virginia University and knew a couple of my roommates from high school. So, this past spring one time when Poley was visiting her at school, they told me they would be studying abroad in Italy in the fall, only knowing I did the same, but not which program I did.
Well, once I found out they would also be in CIMBA, my excitement levels were raised, to say the least.
So, six months later, the three of us found ourselves reunited in Paderno, as they were finishing their first week of the program.
After reuniting, we headed to Bassano, where I was staying for weekend. That night, we had fun. I mean we really lived it up, shared old memories and made memories for years to come. It was a magical night, to say the least.
As the weekend continued, so did the nostalgicness of being back in my home for a few months two years ago.
Sunday morning means one thing as far as I’m concerned: the Crespano del Grappa market. Having only been once while studying abroad – and it being one of my favorite experiences in my time overseas – I could not wait to share my second time going with Coley and Poley.
From the food to the clothes to everything in between, Sunday morning brought back memories that gave me the chills.
I always knew I’d be back in Paderno and reliving some of my greatest memories, but I never thought it would be this soon.
As my reunion back to Paderno came to a close on Monday, I could not have been any happier with me deciding to include Paderno in my travels.
Coming back did more than just allow me to eat countless Tabacchi sandwiches, it put everything into perspective, something I needed to realize just how amazing this journey has been.
A few weeks back, I was not looking forward to this journey ending. But now, after going back to a town that changed my life forever, I feel complete and – in a way – okay to return to New York.
It feels that it was only appropriate to end things in the place that opened my mind up to traveling in the first place.
Ci vediamo Paderno,