An hour away from the bustling canals of Venice, hidden behind towering medieval walls, is the little city of Cittadella in North Padua province.
There’s not much to do here but admire the genius of the 16m high fort, wander through pretty cobbled streets and frequent the handful of bars with their cigar-smoking customers, but the city doesn’t pretend to be more or pander to tourists.
For me, its charm lies in the ice-cream coloured houses, from mango to raspberry ripple, I felt like digging out a cone and scooping up some gelato straight from the stones.
Coffee and catch ups are actively encouraged here in these sleepy streets. My Italian proved painfully rusty at Bar Borsa, with my ‘mocha’ arriving as a 20ml espresso shot with soda water on the side. I have no idea how. My friend joined me later, and elogantly called over the water with a practiced nod.
“Due caffè freddo, per favore.” An iced goblet of frothing, smoky coffee arrived five minutes later from Fabio, clearly the teenage hearthrob of Cittadella, whose brown ringlets and dark eyes owed their heritage to Brazil.
Like most Italian towns, the decorative and delicate footprint of Catholism has tiptoed its way into the local architecture. As well as the stunning central Duomo whose spire can be seen from outside the city walls, the city’s rose-coloured bricks are a mile-long canvas for medieval frescos and painted murals.
Local transport is fairly regular to Cittadella, but this town would be ideal for a relaxing road trip. With Verona, Padua and Venice all just an hour away, it’s a great stop to get away from the crowds and live like a local for a day or two.
‘Gelateria Artigianale’- The cheesecake scoop was divine
Beer and tapas – Birreria Torre, Via Garibaldi Giuseppe
Cocktails – L’Autostazione, Piazza Martiri del Grappa
Best pizza in Town – Cafe Milano
Things to do: Walk the wall, almost a mile in perimeter, the views are stunning
Wild card: A Bungee Jumping centre is just an hour from here. The drive to Valstagna is worth it alone!