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Too big, too small, just right!
I really liked Casa sul Ticino (House on the Ticino). It had a great view of the river, an outside bar, and the front garden had just been finished. Not to mention the fact that it was a hop, skip and a jump from the church where we are to be married.
"Oh, all right, "I conceded. "We'll save this restaurant as a last resort."
My childhood friend, Clara, said that her boyfriend's friend had a beautiful spot just outside of Pavia. It was called Tre Puch, which in Pavese dialect for Tre Pozzange (the Three Puddles). Indeed, all three ponds were connected and floated several swans as well as an old boat. Weeping willows made appearances at the water's edge to add shade and interest. A curved wooden bridge stretched across the thinnest point to the other side of the grounds, which were perfectly manicured lawns with floral bursts here and there. It looked just like�. a golf course.
You see, a well-manicured garden is not a surprise here in America, but in Italy, urban growth and lack of space have reduced the most spectacular gardens to terra cotta pots whose contents stretch out to grab the stripe of sun that squeezes between buildings. Yes, there are some public formal gardens that have been pruned to their original Renaissance splendor, but that's about it. Converted from several rice fields, the finely landscaped and sprawling Tre Puch is certainly beautiful and unique - to Italians.
Distressed at still not finding the just the right restaurant, we turned again to Clara in desperation.
"Why don't you try Bardelli?" she suggested. "It's right next to the Ticino and not far from the Ponte Coperto (Covered Bridge).
Bardelli is neatly snuggled between the riverbank and the river. A late Victorian, Liberty-style building erected in 1860, the restaurant had been carefully restored by its owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bardelli.
"The ceilings are nice and tall," noted Roberto.
"We could take our wedding pictures right outside!" I squealed, as visions of us standing hand-in-hand with the bridge as a backdrop danced in my head. The owner proudly explained how not just the metalwork, which is the highlight of the veranda, but the colors as well have been restored to their original beauty. Roberto and I chorused "We'll take it!"
Water, water everywhere
In the Fall of 2000, unusually high rainfall struck Italy. Mudslides, rushing rivers and floods were common. Roberto and I weren't sure whether we should worry until Simona e-mailed us a picture of the two-story Ristorante Bardelli, which was no longer next to the Ticino River but in it! Note how the glass veranda is almost completely submerged.
The picture accompanied an e-mail stating the Ticino receded soon after the flood and the restaurant actually held a wedding reception on the site the very next weekend! We're now considering giving snorkels and flippers as wedding favors. And what could be more appealing than fish so fresh it swims right onto your plate??
Wet restaurants aside, we have been able to plan the menu virtually (I'm guessing their computer is not in the restaurant, or if it is, it's on the second floor). Fortunately, the restaurant has a Web site and an e-mail address. Here's what we had in mind:
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