Monday, October 09, 2023

Grand Tour for 30th Wedding Anniversary - Padova

Padova, Veneto, Italy. Friday/Monday 06/09-October-2023.

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The second stage of the Grand Tour took us to Padova (Padua) which was on our list for a number of reasons: it is one of the Shakespearean cities (setting for The Taming of the Shrew), rich in Palladian architecture, and hosts a parkrun (Farfalle).

It turned out to be a wise decision - Padova was stunning! The city centre has cobbled streets, lovely houses and lots and lots of bicycles. The street scene reminded me of Bologna with all the arcades.

There are a number of canals and rivers cutting through the town which brings a breath of the countryside into the heart of the city.

We spend a couple of delightful hours wandering round the Orto Botanico di Padova: founded in 1545 by the Venetian Republic, it is the world's oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location. A fascinating oasis in the middle of town and unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There were lovely lily ponds, all that was missing were the frogs!.

Courtesy of Home Exchange, we stayed in a fabulous apartment in a quiet neighbourhood about 30 minutes walk from the town centre.

We wandered around town admiring the lovely architecture and cafè culture. We spotted information plaques all around the town explaining the history of the Carraresi family who held the title of Lords of Padova from 1318 to 1405.

We passed through the Prato della Valle at least twice a day on our way into the centre and back again. It is a 90,000-square-meter elliptical piazza, the largest in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.

On one of our walks we chanced upon the fantastic Palazzo della Ragione: a huge medieval market hall, town hall and palace of justice building. The upper floor was dedicated to the town and justice administration; while the ground floor still hosts the historic covered market of the city.

The outside of Palazzo della Ragione has beautiful tiered porticos.

Just a few minutes walk away is the square Piazza dei Signori is its famous 15th century clock tower the Torre dell'Orologio. The clock's dial depicts the Earth in the middle, the phases of the Moon, days, months. and the signs of the zodiac.

Luckily we had been advised to book in advance to visit the Cappella degli Scrovegni to see Giotto's amazing frescos, every square metre is covered in paintings.

My father was prone to sampling well-known paintings in his own paintings. Today we saw, in real life, one of his inspirations, The Annunciation to St Anne by Giotto. Normally the samples feature as small thumbnails somewhere in his painting however The Annunciation takes pride of place in his painting. 

I treated myself to a hot chocolate and cake at the famous 18th century Pedrocchi Café! You pay a premium for the experience and the setting but they were very tasty.

This tour was as much gastronomic as cultural. We enjoyed great food at Enoteca Dei Tadi, Osteria Nane della Giulia and Enotavola Pino.

The first Saturday of our grand tour was in a place with a parkrun, what are the chances of that! Farfalle is one of only 14 parkruns in Italy and is a short bus ride from the centre of town. It is four laps of a lovely wooded course.

Lots of tourists and a couple of local birthday and milestone celebrations so great fun. Mary volunteered as Camminatore di Coda (Tail Walker) and had a leisurely amble following two Italian ladies deep in conversation. She realised afterwards that she had missed a trick as she should had packed and worn her butterfly leggings - farfalle means butterflies in Italian

Arrivederci Padova! Next stop: Tirano.

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