16/17 April 2016
For all my pride in prior planning, somehow I missed that I was spending a night in Padua during their marathon. Have you ever visited a large city during a marathon? The route clings tightly to main roads and winds around landmarks and monuments. Scenic if you’re a runner, a problem if you’re a tourist with only 24 hours to spare.
I had arrived in Padua keen to drop off my luggage at the hotel and head straight for the Prato della Valle for sunset. It’s the largest piazza in Italy, with a huge oval island in the centre surrounded by statues and water.
It is renowned as a beautiful spot.
Here we are with the first post of this page dedicated to Prato della Valle square. Prato della Valle is a elliptical square based in Padova, Italy, and it is one of the largest in Europe. The square is characterized by a large and green island at the center, called Isola Memmia, and surrounded by a small canal. Tag your pics with #LOVEpratodellavalle to be featured and enter to this gallery ❤️ Hope you like this project 😊
You’ll notice that these photos aren’t mine. When I arrived Isola Memmia was covered in marquees, the water was barriered off with tall chain link fences and portaloos blocked the nicest views. The night before the marathon was bustling, but the grass was strewn with litter and the bins were overflowing. I would have to try some imaginative angles to block out the trash and shirtless teenagers…
Perhaps a gelato and an early night would improve my mood.
In the morning I power walked to the Scrovegni Chapel for which I had timed tickets. If you plan to go (and you should,) BOOK ONLINE IN ADVANCE. I booked my advance ticket through my Padova Tourist Card, an indispensible purchase for a visit to the city.
The chapel was built within the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre in 1300. The Scrovegni family were money lenders and the chapel would be attached to a huge palace intended as a newer, grander family residence. Enrico degli Scrovegni commissioned Giotto di Bondone to paint the chapel interior with fresco cycles of the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ. It was to be the greatest work Giotto ever painted.
I checked online to see whether photography was allowed inside and seeing that it wasn’t checked my camera in with my bag. Apparently the rules changed two weeks prior to my visit and LUCKILY I had my phone in my pocket. The quality isn’t as good, but I have something at least. Visiting times are strictly limited so that each group enters on time. Woe betide the tourist who attempts to sweet talk the custodian for an extra five minutes…
The Eremitani Civic Museum is next door (you have to pass through the ticket hall to get to the Scrovegni chapel,) and I’m eager to see what Roman treasures Padua has to offer. There’s a medieval section as well, but we all know my heart lies in more ancient times!
I’m always in a good mood when looking at antiquities, but my day is about to get more frustrating. The marathon is in full swing and easy routes from museum to museum are either blocked or too crowded to navigate. Many churches were closed or inaccessible.
I got some nice photos of architecture, but that was about it.
The Orto Botanico is at least open and a respite from the crowds. It was founded in 1545 by the Ventetian Republic and is the oldest continuous botanical garden in the world.
I take an earlier train than planned to my next destination. I may one day return to Padua and I’ll bloody well make sure it’s a couple of days with nothing major happening in the city!