Instead of going through our itinerary, I will list the places and walk you through what we saw. That way it will be easier.
Thanks to my wide angle lens, I could capture the whole of it. This is Prato Della Valle, an elliptical square. It is a very huge space and is used for gatherings and stuff. There are so many statues that I couldn’t take them all. This is how it looked at night with all the trees lit up for Christmas.
We had to pass one or the other side of the Valle to get to any of our other places. For e.g. Basilica of St. Giustina is on the one side, the Basilica of St. Anthony on the other etc. It would be gorgeous in Spring, I assume. It was too cold for us to spend time in that big of an open space. We couldn’t go anywhere without our thermals and two layers of coats (and it was almost 2-3 degrees through our stay, even though it did not rain and there was Sun).
The reason why we were there in the first place 🙂 This mobile photo I had uploaded on my Instagram gives a much decent view of the Basilica.
It is a huge place. They have their own museum, apothecary (had all sorts of herbs and medicines), gift shops etc. You could do the whole tour of it and also get a certificate of Pilgrimage signed and sealed by them. Mr M got one. We attended the 11 am mass. It was in Italian, but I followed Mr M. There was a moment of confusion when the lady before me turned to me and extended her hand. I didn’t know it was to say peace. I didn’t take her hand for a few seconds before Mr M hinted and I went along. Given that she was saying something in Italian, I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years. If you are reading this lady, please know that it was an honest mistake and I am very sorry. It is a pity that most of the things that were written were only in Italian which made it difficult to understand, but some of them had English translations, so we managed to figure out. Interestingly, there weren’t as many paintings in the Basilica. It felt as if they all faded away in time. You could see the remaining pieces here and there. It is so sad. I have been to so many Cathedrals, Basilica in Italy and Spain (during my travels) and they have these huge painting and murals. Especially the ceilings. None in Padua.
It takes about an hour and a half to go through all the areas of this Basilica. Thanks to Christmas, they had a huge nativity set display. It was awesome.
It was like a movie set, with the whole village, the dark sky, the moon, the stars, the sun, the angels, everything. Even the houses they had made had cats and dogs and other pets around. It was a lovely display and one of the biggest nativity sets we saw there. This place will the #1 place to visit if you go to Padua and definitely not to be missed.
We walked through the cobbled streets of Padua, after the visit to St. Anthony’s checking out the places, shops, restaurants etc when we finally realized we almost walked to the area of Scrovegni Chapel and Eremitani Church. Scrovegni Chapel was closed due to renovations which weren’t mentioned anywhere and we had to find out from the Italian board that was present there. We almost trespassed the area because we didn’t know 😉 So sad. We then walked to the Eremitani church which is close by.
You may not realize how huge this church (Church of the Hermits) is from the outside.
It has a massive presence inside. No murals, no paintings, sadly, except for one small area in the front, where you could put in a Euro to light up the area to see those paintings and one section where there is a half-faded painting. But this one had a very strong force. We felt humble and small. Don’t know if I am telling it correctly but it definitely wowed us both. They also had a small nativity set display there. They do love their villages. Not to miss when you visit Padua. There was a small Christmas village next to the church, where they were selling such sweet and beautiful stuff that we couldn’t resist and we got this cute fellow with us back home.
Just for the record, that building there which is covered with scaffolding is the Scrovegni Chapel, which is supposedly the place to visit for art and paintings and stuff. It was sad that the one place where we could have seen them was closed for renovations. I was bummed.
Just to give you a view of how it looks from the end of Prato Della Valle, here is the portrait of the Basilica.
Another huge one. I did not take photographs, as usual of the main area, but they had other corridors and a sanctuary inside which we were allowed to visit and photograph.
They also had a nativity set which was huge with the whole village scene and all and the lone star at the top. They have different and huge altars dedicated to different saints. It was very beautiful and well maintained. We could see some of those frescoes and paintings in here. Again, not to be missed, when you visit Padua.
One of the oldest botanical academic garden and very covers a very large area too. But sadly, we were the only people that day (after our visit to St Giustina) and it was 1 degree outside and we were already half frozen just visiting the place. So we decided to give it a miss and to revisit this place without fail if we did make it again to Padua in spring. This was the only photograph of that place I have for my records.
Musme (Museum of History of Medicine in Padua):
One of the very few museums we visited. It is associated with the Botanical gardens. The museum is set up on the buildings of a very old hospital which was built along with the gardens. They were built around 1400 hundred by a couple. This museum is worth every euro you spend. We totally enjoyed it. Unlike other museums, where it is more text and you have to read them, this one is more interactive in nature. You knock on a door handle and a guy will come out (interactive video kind) and tell you about the section you are visiting and what to expect in a short summary. He/She speaks Italian but they have English subtitles. Also, you can have a go at the machines there, like checking your pressure, oxygen level etc. They have four levels and each one of them is interesting. You can take a quiz to see how much you know about medicine, you can take a selfie with a skeleton, watch a huge human lying on a platform talk to you about the various muscles, tissues, nerves etc. We saw some college students on a tour and they were having a blast.
This one we found out by mistake. We went to the church just opposite of Musme, which is St. Mary’s. It is a very small and very old church. You can just feel the ancientness of it when you step in. While we were there, this gentleman who was sitting there with a desk asked us if we would mind making an entry in the visitor’s log. While Mr M was doing that, one other old gentleman came to me and started asking me questions in Italian. I tried to answer him in English to the extent I understood and he asked if we would like to visit the School of Charity close by. I thought it was a proper school and was wondering why he would take tourists there. Do I have “teacher” written on my forehead that he is taking me to a school? Mr M didn’t understand what he was talking about too, but for some reason, unlike some of the other people whom we met during the journey asking us for money, he looked reliable, so we followed him to a couple of doors and through a staircase. It was very creepy I say to follow a stranger to an old building but then when we reached the top the view stole our breath away. It was this very old room with very old roofs with lots of very beautiful paintings in it. It was just amazing. Must visit the place, if at least to enjoy those beautiful paintings.
All we know about this place was that it was built by the same couple who built the hospital where Musme stands now and this was the place where they endowed the poor and the sick, and the girls as part of their charity work. The paintings depict the cycle of Virgin. No idea about what they do there now or how they keep that place running. Some tourism would definitely help, I guess.
Apart from these, we visited various plaza’s around the city.
a) Palazzo Della Ragione: It wasn’t opened until the last day of our visit and we didn’t have time to go and see the paintings. But the plaza around it was always filled with markets and stalls. Very lively place.
b) Piazza dei Signori: This is another plaza which has a church (San Clemente Church) and a Clocktower on the other. There are markets, shops, restaurants, etc all over the place. Always buzzing.
San Clemente Church: We didn’t go in because whenever we were by that place it was locked. But it looked very old from outside.
The Clock Tower: It is like the astronomical clock you see in San Marco, Venice.
The following shows the University of Padua on the left and the Municipal Office on the right (all decked up for Christmas) with a Christmas tree in between them. This is the right centre of the city. This is the place where you can see people busking, protesting (we saw a protest on Friday while we were about to leave Padua), cool Christmas displays, toy trains etc
This is the Palazzo Bo area inside the University of Padua, where we could have made the tour of the oldest Anatomical Theater. Sadly, we missed the specific times when they were open as we were scheduled to be in other places. Next time, probably.
Apart from these we also visited a St. Mary’s church close to Prato della Valle, which had an amazing nativity set with day and night changes using light effects and all that. It was the best of the lot, Daniele’s church which opens only for Mass, some more plaza’s and a lot of shops. Mr M became a regular visitor to Gelateria Portogallo for their amazing crepes. There was an amazing organic food shop near the city centre. We also visited some of the areas where they had malls and supermarkets. We had enough to keep us occupied for three and a half days. We did a day trip to Venice which will be coming up next. More about our views on this cute little city at the end of this series. Stay tuned 😉