Two and a Half Hours in Berea, KY
As part of my wife's multiple part birthday celebration, we decided to drive forty miles to the north for a short visit to Berea, KY. Berea is best known for it's college that benefits low income students who work there way through college through a donor program. The school was originally set up to encourage low income families in eastern Kentucky to give their children a chance at higher education. The venture continues to be very successful.
My wife and I decided to go to our favorite Italian restaurant, Papaleno's, right next to the handsome college campus.
Once upon a time, I would vary my choice of meals at this place; then I tried their chicken veggie pasta, and that's what I've ordered ever since. It's a huge bowl of Italian goodness that includes, pasta with green and black olives, mushrooms, peppers and chicken. Combined with the huge chunk of bread with garlic butter, it makes for a very filling meal.
My wife has also pretty much settled on her go to meal as ravioli Florentine that, I can attest to from the samples she's given me over the years, is also very good. Because Berea is a dry city, Papaleno's doesn't serve alcohol. With two iced teas, we got out the door for just under twenty bucks.
Because of its popularity, the restaurant decided to expand its interior space a couple of years ago. They nearly tripled its floor space, but it still retains a very cozy and intimate feel. That just amplifies the fact that it was a tiny space when it was first opened for business.
Chicken Veggie Pasta and Garlic Bread
Papaleno's, next to the Berea College Campus
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Once we ate, we took a stroll around the corner where several shops are located in a large century old building. At the far end of the strip of shops, Boone Tavern Inn and Restaurant still offers lodging and food as it has since the thirties.
Kentucky Artisan Center
We then decided to drive a couple of miles to the north to the Kentucky Artisan Center, and impressive structure with an equally impressive collection of arts and crafts produced by Kentuckians. Because it's located on a very visible hill next to the busy Interstate 75, the center gets its fair share of visitors throughout the year.
The Kentucky Artisan Center
Old Town Berea
When we leave the Artisan Center, we head back toward campus to Old Town Berea, a hub for local artisans. In addition to the cluster of shops and galleries, there's also a recording studio and a visitor center. There's also a fudge shop that's almost impossible to pass by without sampling the product. Handmade dulcimers, brooms, ornaments and hammered metal sculptures are some of those one-of-a-kind items on offer.
The various shops and galleries are an especially good place to find a unique Kentucky craft for a special gift or collectible.
Old Town Berea
Back to School
Once we've thoroughly checked out Old Town, we decide to complete our circular path by going back to the college for a stroll around campus. We always enjoy the calming effect of a walk around the bucolic campus grounds with its huge trees and impressive buildings. We decide to take a look at the newly remodeled library that still has an impressive selection of periodicals for perusal. It's nice to thumb through a magazine and pretend to be a relatively carefree student for just a little while.
Once I go through a couple of magazines, I find a pamphlet that details some of the college's history. I didn't realize that Berea was the first college in the South to be coeducational and the first to adopt racial integration. It's institutional gems like Berea that have helped our country to advance down the path of fairness where race and gender are concerned.
Far too soon, we decide we better get back home and leave our student fantasies behind. We don't get too down about our departure because we know it won't be long before we come back and do it all over again. Living in Kentucky has its advantages.