Where We Be
Padua, Italy
Padua is often overlooked by tourists in favor
of her hard to compete with sister Venice just
to the east. But Padua has a lot to offer in her
own right: a pedestrian-only historic center,
Europe's largest oval plaza (Prato della Valle),
and Renaissance art galore.

Without question the blockbuster attraction is
Scrovegni Chapel, a Renaissance masterwork if
ever there was one. It's filled with fantastic
frescoes painted by Giotto at the height of his
abilities, from 1303 to 1305. When you consider
the flat, unemotive images that came before
Giotto, it seems like nothing short of a miracle
to see his moving paintings of real suffering,
real joy, and real honest-to-goodness humans
facing tough situations. He was a master at
capturing human emotion: Jesus staring down
Judas; exhausted new father Joseph falling
asleep on his own arm; a huddle of women
trying to comfort Mary. The astonishing images
captured in this one small chapel put Padua on
the map in a big way.
At Scrovegni Chapel it's what's on the inside that counts -- Giotto's frescoes
More than any other artist, Giotto ushered in the Renaissance --
and Padua is the place to come if you want to see his best work
A kiss of a different kind as Jesus stares down Judas  [Not my photo]
A kiss beautifully captured  [Not my photo]
Baby Jesus and mother Mary commune while
exhausted new dad Joseph naps  [Not my photo]
Jesus' enters Jerusalem. One person lays down a cloak while two others climb trees
to see better. Little human touches like this abound everywhere.  [Not my photo]
At the crucifixion the heartbreak felt by Mary and
the others is touchingly rendered  [Not my photo]
Fun with Roman ruins
at Padua's Civic Museum
Prato della Valle is THE place to hang out on a sunny weekend
Padua surprises with quiet views like this one in the historic center
White asparagus is in season and all
the rage at outdoor produce markets
Art of a different sort -- iced coffee with swirls of Nutella and vanilla
Padua's Orto Botanico is a Unesco World Heritage site because it was one of the first botanic
gardens ever (1545!). It focused on collecting and analyzing the medicinal properties of rare plants.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony was just across the street from our hotel,
the Casa del Pellegrino. We enjoyed hearing its bells toll the hours.
This equestrian statue by Donatello is considered by many
the first significant bronze statue of the Renaissance
Lovely arcade at the
Palazzo della Ragione
Architectural flourishes -- like this winged griffon
on Piazza delle Erbe -- abound in Padua
Entrance to Padua University, founded in the 1500s.
Copernicus, Galileo, and Casanova all taught here.
The cupola at Padua's baptistery is
another Paduan gem  [Not my photo]
We were surprised to find this enormous horse inside the Palazzo della Ragione. It wasn't even
mentioned in our guidebooks! In medieval times it was used in parades and Trojan Horse re-enactments.
This is Prato della Valle, Europe's largest oval piazza