Saturday Afternoon: The Certosa di Pavia

You know how, when you first go to a new city, you google (and perhaps wikipedia) the place, trying to find out all you can about your new haunt?  You want to know where the cool places to go are, where the interesting monuments might be and exactly how big is this new place.  That’s what my parents did the second I told them where I would be spending my year abroad.  They hopped onto the internet and told me, within a matter of moments, just how old the university was, the famous people who had attended and what the town was famous for.  The answer to the last one is, resoundingly, the Certosa di Pavia.

I have a bad habit of not actually going to the places that I say I’ll go to and not actually doing the things that I say I’ll do.  Despite making plans with friends my first year of university to visit the Bath Christmas Market, I didn’t actually make it there until my second year, with a completely different group of friends.  Even though I will always say, let’s see a movie, I really only mean that if I’m up about 36,000 feet in the air and bored of reading and music.  My mother and I have planned to get lunch at Pastis for about my past three trips home and, well, I haven’t been.  As you can see, I have a bit of a bad track record for these things.

This history made me all the more determined to actually drag myself to the Certosa.  Luckily, I found a friend who hadn’t been yet, a free weekend and some motivation: an exam that would extensively cover the  certosini (Carthusians), who built the church in 1396.

It was a quick jaunt from Pavia to the Certosa by train and deliciously cheap.  Despite the increasingly chilly weather, we had a great time taking the long walk from the train station to the church.  Once we were inside, however, the chill started to get more difficult to bear.  That may or may not have had something to do with our guide, who managed to make each sentence sound as if he was reading the bible.

The point of the excursion, I’m realizing, wasn’t just to say that I’ve been to the certosa, but to have fun pushing myself to experience something new.  Sharing an experience with friends on a chilly afternoon, sharing a moment with the other people who went to see the church, expanding my mind with the new way of living, those are the reasons I travel even when I would rather stay at home, tucked up in some blankets with a throat lozenge and a cup of tea.

And the “cells” that the Carthusian monks live in?  I’ve got to say, they would fetch a pretty penny on the New York rental market.  Not like I actually said that while I was in the Certosa.  More than once.

Do you like to visit the historical monuments of your town?  What do you do with your Saturday afternoons?

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