Palazzo della Ragione

Palazzo della Ragione

Untitled photo

Tues, 2 Oct - Florence to Padua

Paul is becoming familiar now with the procedures for Italian high-speed trains; for Anne it was her first time, although she is familiar with the French TGV. The journey time is 1h 37m, roughly 35 mins to Bologna (the only stop), and an hour from Bologna to Padua. Quite uneventful, the countryside north of Bologna being very flat nearly all the way, being mostly the flood plain of the River Po, which runs over 650kms all across northern Italy from the Alps beyond Turin, entering the Adriatic through a huge delta on the east coast south of Venice. Our train crossed the Po just north of Ferrara.

Then a taxi the fairly short distance to the NH Hotel, part of a Spanish-owned chain which Anne has used before at Lyon airport, and has found to be reliable if not spectacular. This one is situated right next door to a huge exhibition centre and close to the university, but a bit of a walk to the historic centre of Padua, and to restaurants, so we tended to eat in.

Paul knew it would be an OK hotel when on arrival he saw members of a football team, which turned out to be from Pescara, there to play the local Padova team in the Italian 2nd division the following evening in Stadio Euganeo, which we could see all lit up from the hotel restaurant. It was a 2-2 draw if you must know. It seems the same stadium will host a rugby international in November, when Italy play the Australian Wallabies.

Wed, 3 Oct - Padua

We walked about 2kms to the Piazza del Santo to pick up the CitySightseeing bus, which, if we had studied things more carefully, we should have seen that it stopped at the Exhibition Centre just beside our hotel - stop no. 9 on this map. The Padua version of this tour had one slight deficiency (two if you count loud Americans, but they're everywhere) - as a smaller centre, the circuits are less frequent, so the hop-on hop-off concept isn't quite as flexible. But it served our purpose very well. And we were able to use stop 9 on our way home!

Basilica di Sant'Antonio

Saint Anthony of Padua (1195 - 1231) was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, and died in Padua.

Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history, being beatified less than a year after his death. He is also the patron saint of lost things.

There was no photography allowed in the cathedral, but there are pictures on the official web site, and even a web cam giving 24x7 view of Saint Anthony's shrine, an incredibly ornate creation. There's also a 13-min YouTube video which is worth watching - it gets to the tomb at 5min 25 sec.

St Mark's, Venice

Thur, 4 Oct - Venice

Venice really deserves a web page all on its own. What a place! But how sad that it is being progressively destroyed by a combination of tourism, subsidence, and rising sea levels. Less than a month after we were there, most of Venice suffered serious flooding, including fatalities. Clicking here should take you to a Daily Telegraph (UK) report of the floods, with a couple of pictures.

Padova to Venezia Santa Lucia by train takes less than half an hour, and the City Sightseeing terminal (boat, not bus, in Venice) is just beside the station. In fact, they have an office directly opposite the platform our train arrived at. [Sorry, this link has disappeared.]

We made two stops along the red 'A' route, No. 4 St Mark's and No. 6 Murano.

At Piazza San Marco we milled around with all the other tourists for a while, awe-struck at the extravagant façades around us.

Then we headed towards the back streets (and canals!) where we found gondolas, a café for lunch (spoiled by the man at the next table giving one of his daughters such a stern and interminable lecture about something that she was in tears), and then ... drum-roll! ... a stationery cum art supplies shop, where Anne was of course in seventh heaven.

After the obligatory gelato, we meandered through some of the narrow alleys before turning back towards the jetty to re-board our ferry, next stop, for us at least, the island of Murano.

Views from Ponte Longo, Murano

Murano is a photographer's delight, real picture-postcard stuff, although the island is famous primarily for the production of ornamental glass.

But time was getting away from us. We have in the past scoffed at people doing Kangaroo Island from Adelaide and back in a day, and here we were doing much the same thing with Venice, of all places, just with a shorter journey time.

We had a fairly brief look inside some of the glass retail shops, each of which had someone demonstrating how the objects are made; then walked on around the waterfront; found a studio for let which might have suited us; had a quick look inside the Chiesa di San Pietro Martire; and got as far as the Ponte Longo before deciding that we should quickly make our way back to catch the ferry.

As our ferry took us back to Santa Lucia station, we were delighted to spot an old friend, so to speak.

We had seen Sea Cloud II in Helsinki in 2016, and here it was again in Venice. It is not, as I originally supposed, a sail training yacht for young people, but a luxury cruise yacht.

Click here to make a booking - the Med, the Canary Islands, the Caribbean, take your pick!

Our train journey home to Padova was something of an education. We caught the 5:42pm train, bang in the middle of rush-hour. Even though there about 7 trains per hour around that time of day, it was jam packed, standing room only. We each managed finally to find a seat, but 2 or 3 carriages apart! And Anne was beside a guy who claimed he was keeping a seat for his daughter, who never arrived, and so on.

But it's only a short trip, we managed to find each other on the platform at Padua station, and made our way safely but tired back to the NH Hotel.  What a day!  Here are a couple of selections in different formats ...

Fri, 5 Oct - Padua

Follow that!

Having more or less got our bearings on Wednesday, we relied on shanks' pony today. On the bus tour we had briefly seen the markets in the oddly named Piazza della Frutta and Piazza delle Erbe (fruit and herbs), and Anne headed off there while Paul aimed for the Cappella degli Scrovegni, with its renowned Giotto frescoes from around 1305, described as " one of the most important masterpieces of Western art"

As luck would have it, the Scrovegni Chapel was operating on very reduced hours because of renovations, so I missed out. But its "mother" church next door, the Chiesa degli Eremitani was a great substitute.

We had a late lunch together in a little square behind the church, run by Maison Hand.

  • Chiesa degli Eremitani, Padova

  • via Porciglia, just behind Chiesa degli Eremitani. We had lunch here.

Francesco Finozzi, dottore in Medicina e Chirurgia

During the morning, and at lunch, we had noticed there was a lot of excitement associated with what we took to be university graduation ceremonies - young people in academic gowns, with laurel wreaths on their head, and with friends or proud parents in tow. We even saw a stranger passing on a bicycle calling out "auguri" (good wishes, or congratulations) to one of the graduates.

As we walked home through the university campus along the bank of the river, in a couple of places we encountered a successful graduate, scantily clad, appeared to be delivering a dissertation as his friends pelted him with fruit and paint, light-hearted abuse, and questions to test his erudition. All fuelled by copious quantities of alcohol. I think they had just qualified as medical doctors.

We just have to tell you about this amazing coincidence. This evening, as we left the bar in the hotel, we went to thank the young woman in charge, who had been the increasingly rare combination of efficient and pleasant. Despite speaking perfect English and having the name Jessica, she said she was Italian.

In conversation we mentioned that we would soon be heading home to Australia, whereupon she said that not long ago she had lived for a time in Melbourne. Not only that, but she had also worked in Cygnet, the small coastal town in southern Tasmania that we have visited three times in the past couple of years, thinking that we might move there. I suspect she may have been fruit-picking there.

And here we were, with little old Cygnet as a link, meeting up in Padua, Italy! Small world, indeed.

Sat, 6 Oct - Padova to Bologna

Check-out by noon, (not before Anne had done a bit of a shopping expedition), taxi to station, Frecciarosso to Bologna, the usual rigmarole trying to navigate out of the station, then we walked with our cases on the cobbles to our hotel, I Portici So far, so good.

But that's where it started to go pear-shaped! The reception area in I Portici is ultra-cool, but it seems that there's a modern part and an older part. We drew the short straw. Our allocated room was reasonably spacious but dull and bleak, the bed configuration was not what we had ordered, and worst of all there was a child screaming in the corridor near us, amplified by the terrazzo flooring. Even the maid's trolley made a racket.

Management couldn't offer us another room until the next day. It should be mentioned that it's NOT a cheap hotel. It even had the slowest lift.

The last straw was when we went for dinner in the hotel's Bistrot, we ordered the "Main of the Day", which we were told was chicken, only to be brought a steak dish! No-one said 'sorry, the chicken's off, the main of the day is now steak, would you like that?'. They just brought it, and then had the temerity to try to charge us extra for it!!!

So before lights-out, having had a lengthy phone conversation with British Airways to explore going home early (to no avail), we had rung back to our Palazzo hotel in Florence, and arranged to go back there tomorrow for the remaining 4 nights of our holiday.

So apart from a very brief walk along the street in the rain when we arrived, which didn't help matters, Anne got to see virtually nothing of Bologna.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In