One of my favorite places to visit is Italy. The first time I visited was also my very first time traveling to Europe. Being cautious, I chose to visit the major cities of Rome, Florence and Venice. It was a wonderful experience and I have no regrets, but now I know sometimes the road less traveled can be far more rewarding.
Lucky for me, I was able to visit the province of Pavia as a guest of the Chamber of Commerce of Pavia. I instantly fell in love with the charming little towns, cobblestone roads and the welcoming people. If Italy is on your bucket list of travel destinations, then Pavia is worth a visit.
The town of Pavia is about an hour drive from Milan or a 30-minute train ride from Milan Centrale. Pavia is located in the Lombardy region and known for agricultural products such as rice and wine. The three main areas within the province of Pavia are Pavese, Lomellina and Oltrepo (aptly named as it literally means across from the Po River). The main towns to visit are Voghera, Vigevano and of course, Pavia.
The best way to enjoy Pavia is by foot, but the city does have taxis as well as buses. Many monuments from Pavia’s Medieval past can be seen throughout town as well as a plethora of beautiful churches and cathedrals. The 15th century Cathedral of Pavia boasts the third largest duomo in Italy. The Visconti Castle and the University of Pavia are also worth visiting. I was particularly enthralled by the statue of Minerva by Italian sculptor Francesco Messina. She stands tall and strong guarding the city with her shield and wisdom. However, Pavian lore has it that students who stare her in the eyes will never graduate.
The Lombardy region is famous for its cultivation of rice, especially Carnaroli (the king of rice) used for making delicious risottos. Sausage production is well-known in the area especially rich salami made from pork, duck and even goose. Restaurants typically serve farm-to-table cuisine and showcase products that are in season. Weekly farmer’s markets can be found around town and it’s a great way to peruse the local fare and gaze upon the myriad of colorful fruits and vegetables, stand in line for a taste of pancetta or grab a sample of fresh cheese.
If you happen to travel to Pavia in the fall, make plans to attend Autunno Pavese. This long-running annual event is the largest food and wine showcase in the province. For four days, guests can sample the best culinary offerings of the region. There are seminars as well as a full-service restaurant offering a multi-course menu accompanied by Oltrepo wines for just 25 Euros.
There are many hotels to choose from in Pavia in varying price ranges, but you won’t find any big chains. I stayed in the Hotel Moderno, which was a lovely boutique hotel in close proximity to the train station and within walking distance of the town center. One thing to note for those that love their air-conditioning like I do, many European hotels either do not have A/C or turn it off after a certain time of year when the weather is cool.
The Chamber of Commerce of Pavia has developed an interactive website to help promote the rich heritage of Pavia. To learn more about this hidden gem visit, buonoasapersipavia.it
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.