Tuesday (June 14) I packed up and left Bolzano and the Dolomite Mountains behind to make my way to Padua. I took a local train from Bolzano to Verona and then the bullet train from Verona to Padua. In total, it took about four hours.
I got into Padua around 2 o’clock that afternoon. I took a taxi from the train station to my hotel, aptly called Hotel Giotto. All the textiles and tiling in my hotel room were the same blueish color as the Scrovegni Chapel ceiling (that Padua is so famous for). Whether it was intentional or not-I found it quite hilarious.
I spent the afternoon getting settled and exploring the city. Padua is not really known for much other than the Scrovegni Chapel and its prestigious university (that’s hosted the likes of Galileo, Copernicus, Petrarch and Dante).
Day 1 / June 15th (first full day)
Today was the day. THE BIG DAY! The day that I got to see the much anticipated Scrovegni Chapel, painted by Giotto di Bondone.
A little background about the chapel…
In 1320, Dante Alighieri completed “The Divine Comedy.” In the first part of this epic poem, Inferno, in the XVII canto, he accused Reginald Scrovegni of usury (making unfair, unethical monetary loans). Because of this, when Reginald died, the Church denied him a proper Christian burial. It is suggested that Reginald’s son, Enrico Scrovegni commissioned the construction of the Scrovegni Chapel in 1303 in hopes of saving his father’s soul. It eventually served as a memorial chapel for Enrico, his wife and two nephews (all of them are buried there).
It remarkably only took Giotto two years to complete all the frescos seen in the chapel interior. Giotto is one of few artists who achieved great fame and recognition during his own lifetime. When commissioned to paint the Scrovegni Chapel, his services were in high demand. It is speculated that Giotto not only painted the interior of the chapel, but also did its architectural designs. Giotto is most well known for his revolutionary use of pictorial language, three dimensionality and highly emotive facial expressions-all seen in the frescos in the chapel.
There are five major “groups” of frescos in the chapel: episodes from the lives of Joachim and Anne, episodes from the life of Mary, episodes from the life of Jesus, depictions of the vices and virtues and the night sky. The most widely recognized panel is “Weeping over the Body of Christ.”
It was every bit as spectacular and awe-inspiring as I thought it would be. Unfortunately, you weren’t supposed to take photos in there. I snuck some anyway but they don’t do it any justice…
Day 2 / June 16th
I spent most of the day wandering around the city. I went into the massive Basilica of St. Anthony in the center of town. It was constructed in 1231, in a Romanesque/Gothic style with several Byzantine style domes. It is a very impressive structure inside and out.
Waaaaaay, waaaay, waaaaaay later that night, at 3am my time, the Warriors and Cavaliers were playing game 6 of the NBA Finals. I, thinking and hoping that it would be the last game of the series, insisted on finding a way to watch the game. Since you can’t use most streaming services abroad, my dad and I had to figure out the most complicated way for me to watch it. He and I shared screens on our Macs, while he streamed the game on his laptop, all while FaceTiming. Too bad the Warriors ended up losing…
Friday (June 17), I made my way from Padua to Ravenna. I took the bullet train from Padua to Bologna and a local train from Bologna to Ravenna. I will be based in Ravenna for four days.