Padua 2008

Rosemary's Travel Diary

We decided to stop in Padua for lunch and a tour. It rained all the way, and was raining even more when we arrived. Despite Jane's assurances that we were at our destination, we weren't really sure where to go, and we needed to avoid the permit-only zones near the historical center, so we just parked at the first public garage we saw. There are many streets here that have colonnades reminiscent of those in Bologna. After a little bit of random roaming we managed to locate ourselves on the guidebook map. We hadn't been able to find our umbrella, so Steve bought one from a street vendor. We had a light lunch at historic Cafe Pedrocchi and then walked to the Scrovegni chapel. The artwork inside is very fragile, so to help control its temperature and humidity, only small groups are allowed inside at controlled intervals. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and we did not expect to get in, but arriving relatively early in bad weather worked to our benefit, and we were able to get into the very next group. The chapel is filled with frescoes painted by Giotto and his assistants around 1305, illustrating the lives of Mary and Jesus, and a portrayal of the Last Judgment. The work is particularly impressive not only because the style is considered advanced for its time, but also because the entire project was completed in about two years, a very short time considering its size and complexity.

We also visited the Basilica of St. Anthony. In addition to its architecture and artwork, it houses some important relics of St. Anthony. He was known as a highly gifted public speaker; to commemorate his talents, his tongue, jaw, and larynx have been preserved and are on display in elaborate reliquaries. On our way to the church we saw signs pointing to "Galileo's house". There's nothing there but a plain door in a featureless building on an ordinary street. On this walk the sun came out for a short time, and by the time we got to the church it was really too hot. But that didn't last. After leaving the chruch, we continued walking a little farther to reach Prato delle Valle. It is a large oval piazza with a grassy center and sculptures, surrounded by a moat. On a sunny day it is no doubt attractive, but today we found it disappointing, ringed with the ugly tents of flea market vendors who were not shy about urinating in public. By now we were very tired, and it was raining much harder, so we headed back to our car, under the protection of the colonnades.

Late for class?
We stepped into the open courtyard of this old building belonging to the University of Padua.

Some of the pigeons are real
We passed this modern fountain on our way to lunch.

This park is next to the Scrovegni chapel.

Domes and spires
The sun came out briefly while we visited the basilica of St. Anthony.

Nice spurs
Next to the church is Donatello's equestrian statue of Gattamelata.

A roadside vineyard.


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