A 30-minute train ride from Venice got us to into Padova in the late morning. The first thing we did was to head over to the Scrovegni Chapel to make a reservation for a viewing later in the day. After securing a 17h15 reservation, we meandered through the park that houses the chapel, the Giardini Dell’Arena, and then made our way into the centro storico (the old town) where we settled into Caffè Cavour at Piazza Cavour for an alfresco lunch.
After lunch we continued our tour of Padova by visiting one of the most important pilgrimage churches in Italy, the Basilica di Sant’Antonio. It is here that the body of the Portuguese Franciscan preacher, affectionately referred to as "Il Santo", was entombed years after his death in 1231. Among the “miraculous” relics found here in the church, is the tongue of Saint Anthony. Yes, the tongue !! We have often seen body parts of saints or other important persons stored in some of the churches of Italy. Among other things, we have seen several fingers, a nose, an ear, an arm, a jaw (or cheek), and my personal favorite, a larynx. Most of the time we just have to take the word of the relic descriptions since they are, largely, unrecognizable. Would you be able to recognize a 700 year-old larynx, or a 775 year-old tongue ?
Our Padova Museum pass gave us entry to the Musei Civici agli Eremitani with its mosaic fragments from the 1st century, Roman busts and full statues, Egyptian antiquities, and treasures from the Greek and Etruscan periods.
It was finally time for our 17h15 viewing of the frescoes by Giotto, the great Tuscan artist, in the Cappella degli Scrovegni. We were required to start our visit with a 15-minute wait in a special air-conditioned multimedia room, where the flow of visitors into the actual chapel could be regulated. Fortunately, an informative video about the restoration of the frescoes is shown during the wait, which gives you an idea of what to look for once inside, where you have only 15 minutes to take in all the amazing paintings. These measures were put into place in order to safeguard the precious works of art from pollution. When you finally enter the church, you see that the whole chapel is completely covered in Giotto’s treasured frescoes from the early 14th century, depicting the life of Christ, the life of Mary, and relating the stories of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne. When you get to the end of the chapel and turn around facing the entrance, you face the gigantic “Last Judgement”, which covers the whole arched end of the chapel. It would be very easy to spend more than 15 minutes on the “Last Judgement” alone.
Before heading back to the train station for our return to Venice, we got in a last stroll which took us along the beautiful, peaceful canals and waterways in and around Padova.