A Travellerspoint blog

Padova by Joy

Padova is best known as the city of St. Anthony or the home of St. Anthony's Basilica, Il Santo. However, since I'm a non-Catholic woman and a former teacher, I was more inspired with the history of the University of Padua. Don't get me wrong, with the exception of The Vatican, the interior of St. Anthony's Basilica is the most beautiful cathedral I've ever seen. (Sorry, but I wasn't allowed to take any photos.) Though believe me when I say, it is an ELABORATE shrine to St. Anthony with numberous Giotto- style chapels, frescoed-walls and ceilings, marbled alters, gold and silver candelabras, and carved wooden confessionals, along with the mortal relics of St. Anthony and other famous people of the 13th & 14th centuries.

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About this same time period and only a short distance away, the University of Padua (1222) was being established. Though it was initially a center for the study of law, it rapidly expanded to offer many other disciplines. Copernicus, a mathematician and astronomer, attended the University as did William Harvey, the doctor who described the circulatory system. Obviously the University had great teachers. In fact, Galileo Galilei actually taught there for 18 years (1592-1610), and acknowledged it to be among his happiest years. His classes were so popular that he had to lecture in the Great Hall, where his podium is still displayed at the entrance to the room.

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The Univeristy of Padua is also known for establishing the world's first Anatomy Theatre (1594). It consisted of 6 concentric rows of carved walnut balconies above a dissecting table, in a small room with NO windows or any form of ventilation! Can you imagine how it must of smelled? Standing in the cramped area at the bottom, I couldn't believe a dissecting table with instructors would fit in the space.

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Then in 1678, the University of Padua recorded another first. It was there that Elena Piscopia became the first woman in the WORLD to receive a PhD degree. She obtained a doctorate in philosophy yet taught that, as well as mathematics, at the University.

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Hearing the history of the University, seeing it's ancient frecosed- walls lined with crests of the rectors and councilors, and imagining the smells took me back to a period where many great scientific discoveries were being made!

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Currently, the school has about 60,000 students, and is still well-known for its spirit for tolerance and academic freedom; and in this world, we need more of that!

Posted by steven1600 01:08 Archived in Italy Tagged art padova Comments (0)

Padova, Italy

I like Padova (Padua) Italy


We arrived in Padua this past Saturday. It is a University city with the historic Padovana University being the 2nd oldest university in Italy. It has had the reputation for centuries of being a liberal city which is why the University was formed here as an outgrowth of the University in Bologna, Itay. A group of wealthy students (for only the aristocratic sect went to University) feeling their study was being oppressed by the Roman Catholic Church in the early 1300's they started a school in Padova. It has flourished to this very day.

This is Galileo's "chair" which is very confusing. It looks like a podium and there is no chair. So we were looking for a chair for several days until we discovered this. Galileo was extremely popular at Padovana University and the auditorium was packed full of students. This allowed all to see and hear him

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The Jewish population flourished in Padova as well being allowed to work and practice their religion freely. Jews were allowed to attend the Padovana University which was a big drawing card for Jewish wealthy families and ultimately a great source of intellect for the University. At one time there were 3 synagogues in Padova, the largest being quite an impressive structure until it was largely destroyed by a fire set by Nazi supporters in 1943. Obviously, the city of Padua had become much less "liberal".

Bimah and Ark in the only remaining synagogue in Padua.

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Padova is not very touristy. Certainly not as much as Firenze and this is the reason why I like Padova so much. The city does not feel crowded. It is fairly inexpensive. Lots of twisty narrow streets to get lost in.

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The world's oldest and very impressive botanical garden.

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Photo depicting animals in danger of extinction. Of course, there are churches.

Padova is located west of Venice, just a boat ride a way and in the day that was the way commerce, travel, etc proceeded. The roads were poorly formed and dangerous with "bandits". Padova became a satellite city of Veneto beginning in the 1700's. It was protected and fortified by the wealthier citizens of Veneto. Padova flourished in education, textile manufacturing, and as a vacation resort for the aristocratic Venetians. Large elaborate Palazzos remain in the countryside surrounding Padova.

Posted by steven1600 00:47 Archived in Italy Tagged landscapes churches padova Comments (0)

Let me tell You a Story

Palazzo Pitti


Luca Pitti, was a successful banker in Firenze,Italy, but for a short time. As a sign of the times that he lived in, in 1458, he had his home built in grandiose size. ( Christopher Columbus had not yet set sail and discovered the land mass of America. His ambition was so grand that he purposely insulted the Medici family by building his home bigger than their residence. He even had the windows constructed so they were larger than the doors at Palazzo Vecchio, the home of the Medici. This was a grave insult to the Medici and as we'll find out. You do not want to piss on or piss off Medici.

The Pitti family underwent financial difficulty. Medici took this opportunity to purchase the home in 1549. Medici paid a fair price. In fact, he paid the price that Pitti asked, but with a stipultation. The Medici family had the Pitti family move into a smaller home at the foot of the Pitti Palace. Medici kept the name of Palazzo Pitti as it was. Every day, the pitiful Pitti had to look up at the Pitti Palace that they had lost to the Medici.
This is the essence of Italian revenge.

The Medici family could be and probably was the most powerful dynasty this planet has known. This Famiy dynasty lasted about 300 years. Their fortunes resulted in palaces, treasures, artwork, etc beyond compare, beyond imagination, beyond reality.

There is much more to the story. My photos are crumbs and do not begin to portray the magnificence of Pitti Palace. The story of Medici, their magnificence, their love of art is nice. However, they had so much when others had so little.
It somehow feels obscene.

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The Palazzo and all its treasures were donated to the country of Italy, 1916, for all people to enjoy and share. This is the way it should be.
This is how the story ends.

Note: The Boboli gardens which accompany the Palace is another overwhelming achievement. So grandiose and so delightfully tiring. I couldn't begin to capture its glory. You will just have to go there yourselves. I am available to hire as a guide, medical advisor, historian, personal valet, and cool cook. Please make arrangements via my concierge Gioa Benedetta Pritti d'Medici Schneidera.

Posted by steven1600 14:28 Archived in Italy Tagged art firenze Comments (0)

Florence by Joy

Florence (Firenze) became a giant spider web as I weaved around and through the city trying to catch every, and I mean EVERY, sight. I've never captured so many major squares (le Piazze), marbled sculptures, ancient frescoes, art-filled galleries, large palaces (i Palazzi), open and covered bridges, bell-towered churches, impressive architecture, gelato shops, espresso cafes, pasta ristorantes, and of course, designer stores and open markets displaying their leather belt, purses, and shoes; silk, cotton, and wool scarves; along wth the latest fashions. (And yes, I did manage to digest as much gelato as I could, and stuff my suitcase full with gifts!)

Unfortunately, like a spider, I don't have an antennae so I spent more time being lost than conquering Florence. By the end of my week, I wished I had 8 legs like a spider because my 2 arthritic knees needed a rest from all the cobbled-stone walkways and steps!

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Posted by steven1600 04:35 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Italians love to have a good time by Joy

Italians love their art, culture, food, wine and country but more than that they really enjoy each other. They live life. In airports and train stations, and probably other places I haven't visited, there are pianos with signs that read: "Please Play Me". And people do it! What's more, others stop and sing along!

For example, this is what I saw in the Naple's train station on the way to Florence.

Italian Men singing

Italian Men singing

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Posted by steven1600 04:33 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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