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 at the crucifixion. 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 one-of-a-kind frescoes
More than any other artist, Giotto ushered in the Renaissance. His powerfully
emotive images in the Scrovegni Chapel helped redefine art.
A kiss of a different kind -- Jesus stares down Judas (Note: Not my photo)
A kiss beautifully captured (Note: Not my photo)
Baby Jesus and mother Mary commune with one another while exhausted new dad Joseph falls asleep -- a classic image (Note: Not my photo)
Jesus' entry into Jerusalem -- one person lays down a cloak while two others climb trees to see better. Little human touches everywhere! (Note: Not my photo)
At the crucifixion the heartbreak felt by Mary and the others is touchingly rendered (Note: Not my photo)
Fun with Roman ruins at Padua's Civic Museum
This is Prato della Valle, Europe's largest oval piazza (according to Lonely Planet) -- it's THE place to be for all of Padua, it seems, on a sunny weekend
Padua surprises with quiet views like this one right in the historic city center
White asparagus is currently in season
and abundant at outdoor produce markets
Iced coffee drinks with swirls of Nutella and vanilla make for a nice mid-afternoon break
Padua's Orto Botanico (botanic garden) is a Unesco World Heritage site because it was one of the first
gardens started (in 1545!) as a place to collect and analyze 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 tolling the hours
This equestrian statue by Donatello is considered by many the first significant bronze statue of the Renaissance
Lovely arcade at Palazzo della Ragione
Padua's historic center offers many fine architectural flourishes like this winged griffon on Piazza delle Erbe
Entrance to Padua University, founded in the 1500s -- Copernicus, Galileo, and Casanova all taught here
This lovely cupola at Padua's baptistery is
another Paduan gem (Note: Not my photo)
We were astonished to find this enormous horse inside the Palazzo della Ragione (Robin stands at the base for comparison). It wasn't mentioned in any of
our guide books! In medieval times it was used for parades (it was rolled on wheels and carried another statue on top) as well as Trojan Horse re-enactments.