Posted by: orabalais | July 12, 2010

A Weekend in Veneto

So I’m back in the States, and I’ve already seen a lot of you.  I’m pretty sure most everyone has given up on reading this since my updates were so sporadic, but I feel like I should finish it.  Otherwise it would be missing the last week or two of my trip.  And this way more people can see my photos.

It takes over 6 hours to get to Padova (small town outside of Venice) from Rome by bus. For some reason I had trouble sleeping, so I spent most of the time reading a book I bought the day before.  It was really weird, and I should have known better, since it turns out the author was the one who started the CSI shows.  It was about a really creepy serial killer and the guy chasing  him, but it turned out way more twisted than I expected.

Our hotel in Padova was weirdly modern.  Everything in Rome is either old or trying to look old, and the hotel in Sorrento was so quaint looking.  It was strange to be in a hotel that looked like it belonged in a major city. We only had a few minutes to drop off our  bags before had to run to make our appointment at the Capella Scrovegni.  For everyone who read Dante’s Inferno, you might remember the usurers, one of whom was a Scrovegni.  This chapel was built by his son in the hopes of buying his father’s and his own salvation.  The entire enterior was designed and painted by Giotto, a Renaissance artist who majorly influenced every artist after him.  They have this whole decontamination thing to sit through to keep the chapel perfectly preserve.  It was kind of weird, but hey, it’s Giotto.  Something interesting about the chapel is that one of the frescoes was the first time anyone had been painted not facing the viewer.  Just a little art history for everyone.

Couldn't take photos, so here's one from online. Giotto's blue is absolutely fantastic.

Here's the person with his back to you, also not my photo

After that we walked over to the Basilica of St. Antonio.  The building is a odd mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and even Byzantine.  Though it seemed rather confused at the start, by the time you reach the dome it feel like everything works perfectly.  It almost feels like you’re walking through the different architectural periods.  The basilica houses the tomb of St. Antonio, as well as a chapel just for his relics.  This translates to a really fancy room for his jaw, tongue, and vocal chords.  It was kind of gross, but weirdly fascinating.

Photos weren't allowed inside, so here is the exterior

We went out for dinner in the town and I had pasta carbonara.  It was really yummy, but there was lots of it and it was very rich so I didn’t finish it.  Our waiter was definitely a bit of a creep.  When he saw that I hadn’t finished my dish, he told me that I could only have dessert if I ate everything.  When I replied with something like, aww no, he said “That’s right, baby.”  He even tried to get us to go to a party at a Brasilian club that night (probably the only party in Padova, it doesn’t really have a nightlife).  We turned him down and then wandered around the centro for a bit, did some grocery shopping, and headed back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel we hung out at the bar for a little while with some of the other students, and I ordered some sort of Italian cocktail one of my friends recommended to me.  It was called a negroni, but I don’t really what was in it other than campari, but it was way sweet. Supposedly there’s another version of it that is a lot dryer and I should have gotten that one.  We ended up having a bit of a party after that and we didn’t go to sleep until about 3 am.  Which was probably a bad idea since we had to be up for breakfast at 8:30. Also, I learned something new:  if you burn the tip of a wine cork, it makes a really soft, black powder that won’t wake a sleeping person if you draw on them with it.

Train ride with Elin

We had to catch a train to Venice the next morning, but there was some confusion as to which one was our train.  Eventually we just took one that said it was going to Venice, but I’m still convinced it wasn’t the one we bought tickets for.  I was so excited to be riding a train.  I had never ridden one before and I have to say it was so much better than driving or flying.  I wish I could just take trains everywhere.

My first impression of Venezia

Venice was amazing.  It really did look like something out of a fairytale. The streets were all so tiny, there are bridges spanning the canals, and there were little tunnels through buildings to connect different streets.  We decided to split from the group and wander a bit on our own.  We first headed to San Marco, which was beautiful, but very crowded.  Luckily, next to it was a palazzo Shelby and I had wanted to see ever since we studied it in our Art History class this spring.  The gondolas were all lined up along the wall there, and they were all bright blue.  We wanted to take a ride, but they were all ridiculously expensive.

A tunnel for people shorter than us

Some beautiful spices I really wanted to buy

the side of San Marco

The doge's palace, plus advertisement

Gondole all in a row

We walked to the Accademia, an art museum.  It was a fantastic collection and was housed in a beautiful building.  Some of the rooms were overwhelming, with all four walls covered with huge paintings with life size figures.  While we were walking it seemed like it lasted forever, but really it was a relatively small museum.  We found some lunch once we left, and then tried to find the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, another art museum, but this time for modern art. It took a bit of backtracking, but when we did it was fantastic.  So far none of the museums we’ve been to have showcased anything much past the Renaissance and Baroque.  It was a wonderful change to be among 20th century art.

Another view of Venice

By this time we were all feeling worn out and like our feet were about to fall off, so we started to head back to the train station.  Except we didn’t really know how to do that and didn’t have a map.  We had to ask for directions a few times, but it turns out that we walked the long way to get there.  There was a much more direct route that was about three times shorter than our walk across the entire island.

Some graffiti in Venice...of Venice

Venetian masks in a window

The train station was an issue.  In the morning, our professor just bought group tickets for us.  Now we were trying to get individual tickets and on a different train system.  So we bought our 2 euro tickets, but they said nothing on them of the departure time or the platform.  We checked a sign board and it told us our train was leaving in three minutes.  We had to run to the train, but then stop and ask a worker if it was really our train, and by that time the doors were closing. Luckily someone held the doors for us and we made it on the train just in time.

We stopped at a supermarket in the train station in Padova to buy some food for dinner.  We were all too tired to make the hike into the city just to get a meal.  Instead we decided to picnic and crash.  We encountered a car full of young italian guys on our walk back to the hotel.  Turns out they were just asking for directions, which wasn’t quite what we expected to hear from them, but it was nice because it made us feel less like tourists.  Later that night, once we were pretty much ready for sleep, we got a call from another of the kids in the program asking us what we were doing that night for fun.  That was when we realized that we may have become the party people in the group.  Which probably had something to do with the night before and our escapades in Sorrento.  It so doesn’t fit our personalities.

The Arena in Verona, which was going to be housing an opera that night

Sunday morning we woke up a bit early to pack.  But then we had to rush since we found out that breakfast was a half hour earlier than we thought and we were late.  Instead of heading straight back to Rome, we stopped in Verona to do a bit of sightseeing.   We walked by the Arena, and down their main shopping street, to visit the house of Juliet. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal since they basically chose a house at random and said that “oh this was Juliet’s house, look, here’s the balcony.”  It was interesting to see all the letters people left to Juliet.  They were all full of people wishing for this person to love them, or saying that their love was as strong as the one between Romeo and Juliet, or that they just want to find true love.

Juliet's balcony

The wall of letters to Juliet

We visited a few churches and then stopped by the Adige River (second longest river in Italy) for lunch.  Instead of paying for a more expensive sit down meal, I walked around the corner and found a kebab place.  It was so wonderful to eat a meal that had some real flavor (which basically translates to spiciness for me).  Though I don’t think what they were calling pita bread was really pita, it was still delicious.

Part of a wall....I thought it was interesting

Looking up at a fence

The Veronese prefer to be buried above ground, in something like this

The awesome floor

Some vaulting frescoes in San Anastasia

The door for San Anastasia

San Anastasia again

The Ponte Pietre, spanning the Adige River

The bus driver was mad at us for being an hour late for  meeting him.  So we didn’t have as many stops for the ride back.  I was ok with that though, since I had a new book to read: The Manual for Detection.  It was very enjoyable and thoroughly entertaining.  And of course, a little bit steampunk.  Shelby and I decided on the ride home that since we only had one weekend left in Rome and we still had a lot to do there, we wouldn’t go to Florence the coming weekend.  And we had finals that Tuesday, something I did not look forward to.


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