I visited Belgium for the first time several years ago and at that time I went to Bruges (Brugge in Flemish). All this time I coveted a very dear memory of that rainy meeting, so I decided to plan a low-cost weekend to get back to Belgium, this time to discover Gent.
Three days of peace and quiet, walking in the old town, discovering charming alleys. This comfortable little town isn’t very distant from my hometown in Italy (for my flight Bologna-Bruxelles two-way I spent 50 euros) and its limited size allow the visitors to unravel it without much effort.
Here are a few suggestions to fully appreciate Gent in a few days.
1. Walk around with eyes wide open
My first and most heart-felt suggestion. A guide will be able to lead you through the three lined squares, all of them enriched by churches, towers and imposing buildings.
During my visit we moved from one historic area to another, admiring the superb facades, the different details of every palace and their pleasant eclecticism. Writings, shapes, colours, columns, carvings… Today these buildings have been partly colonized by bars and shops, but if you point your gaze to the sky the brand-free walls still tell you to stories of the former residents of these places.
Pastries and an ever-present threat, a kind of cone-shaped candy with berry-like filling. You can find it with different colours, but the real thing is violet. It’s called ‘cuberdou’ but they also call it ‘Gent’s nose’. There is always a crowd buying it in shops and in the stands lined in the streets. Among the local food products there is SENAPE, also sold in the company-shop Tierentetn-Verlent.
But if you prefer to take home some vintage memory, there is just one place to go: The Fallen Angels. It’s a poetic and nostalgic shop with a charming atmosphere. Inside you will rarely spot any light entering through the windows, every corner is filled with items, old toys, tin cans, postcards. There is a friendly dog and the owners are always happy to share some chats. You may not know what you are looking for when you enter, but you can be sure there is something waiting for you here.
3. Take a break along the Graslei Canal
Here started Gent’s ancient commercial area.
Since 13th century all the powerful trade corporation established their headquarters here, rapidly turning this part of town into Gent’s lively economic centre.
I spent a few hours here, waiting for the light to change and lighten the buildings’ facades, and watching the people coming and going, reading books, meeting, sunbathing, drinking beer.
The street art di Gent in the Werregarenstrasse.