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Padua

If it’s Tuesday on the Bruce Trail, this must be Padua. I moaned this morning when I received my wake-up call at 7.15; I’m supposed to be on vacation but it can feel sometimes like work, this search for Renaissance genius. In fact, with rain predicted and tired from yesterday – we walked in fact 24,000 steps, Bruce informed me – I contemplated backing out of today’s jaunt. But am very glad I did not. We were on the 8.25 train to Padua, to see Giotto’s magnificent frescoes, one of the greatest masterpieces of western art, in the Capella della Scrovegni. 
The visits are timed; it all works like clockwork: one group inside the chapel, one watching a film about the work, one waiting outside. At 10.45 on the nose we were let in for the 15 minute film and then into the chapel for our 15 minutes with glory. And then the bell rang, and BK and I and 46 French high school students were led out. 

Salvation on one side; damnation on the other

Scenes from the lives of Mary and Christ in one delicate, stunning panel after another

All these astounding details – faces, folds of cloth, scenes, movement – have survived since 1300, even the bombings of WW2 which destroyed a lot of Padua. Profoundly moving to see, particularly because this trip I also saw the prehistoric cave at Chauvet, the earliest human drawings on a wall – and here, that art reaches its pinnacle. Very grateful to have been awakened to see it. And when we left the chapel, the rain had stopped and the sun was out – though briefly, as it turned out.

 Outdoor markets everywhere with fresh produce – and spices ready to plant. I’m ready. Oh, and white asparagus has come into season and is also everywhere.

The rain began again, a literal damper on the day.

But lunch was huge and splendid – pasta, carpaccio, steamed vegetables, including artichoke, for a mere 10 euros. Healthy and good, in a cafe right on a rainy market square. And our waiter was handsome, a face right out of Giotto or Botticelli, as are so many here.

We only saw two churches, hooray. San Antonio – Saint Anthony – is adored here as the patron saint of lost things; I could use him at my place! These are his remains, bits of his body enclosed in gold; a group of small children was being led around. How creepy, I thought. I took this shot and received a reprimand from a priest. The cathedral, of course, is beyond enormous, loaded with marble, paintings, incredible painted vault ceiling, sculpture, gold leaf etc. Including a Donatello horse and rider outside.

But it was still raining, and so this time Bruce agreed that though we’d only done 15 or 16,000 steps and seen two churches, we could go back to the train station, where for the usual 20 euros, we were able to change the tickets – booked for 4.30 – to 2.30. Home to Bologna, where the sun was back out, and I could Google various things I’ve been wondering about. What is the Visitation, for example? Pregnant Mary visiting Elizabeth, the more pregnant mother of St. John the Baptist. The Wedding at Cana? Where Jesus turned water into wine. (I could use him around too.) Good to know. I guess it doesn’t surprise you to know my biblical knowledge is very weak.

Also Googled why the scrape above my backside is now bright raspberry red. A tiny bit worrying.

Tomorrow, my last day on the beautiful Bruce Trail.

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3 Responses to “Padua”

  1. Julia Z says:

    That Giotto sky in Scrovegni is one of my favorite things in Italy. So glad you got to stand under it. It's fun to travel vicariously through you to all my favorite Italian haunts.

  2. theresa says:

    I second Julia's comment!

  3. beth says:

    I was thinking of you actually, Theresa, because of the blue, which I know is a particular interest of yours right now – is there a more magnificent blue than that one? I'm glad you both are visiting with me. This is my last day; can't wait to return.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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