Sunday, July 14, 2013

Padua


Basilica of St. Anthony

Prayer to St. Anthony of Padua
Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.
O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God and charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (your request). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of miracles. Amen.

My purpose in visiting Padua was to pray at the tomb of St. Anthony in the Basilica dell'Santo, which fortunately was across the street from our hotel. I've been planning to make this pilgrimage for a long time and while I've visited neighboring Venice a few times, I never did make it to Padua until recently. We attended mass at the Basilica on the day we arrived along with pilgrims from Rovigo, Italy who were that day's sponsor of the Eucharistic celebration. We learned later that there are 13 days of special masses in early evening preceding the feast of St. Anthony which falls on June 13 and devotees from surrounding towns make the pilgrimage to Padua on each of those days. St. Anthony was born into a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal but he chose to live a simple life in the service of our Lord. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost articles.

Gattamelata by Donatello

Donatello lived here

While taking art history lessons in college, I was introduced to Donatello and his masterpiece, Gattamelata, an equestrian statue of Erasmo da Narni, a condottiero (mercenary leader) who served under the Republic of Venice. His family commissioned this sculpture after his death in 1443 to honor him. It soars above Piazza del Santo, in front of the Basilica. This is the first Renaissance equestrian statue. I wasn't  aware that Donatello lived in the house within site of the statue. There is a marker on the front façade of the house that indicates his stay around 1450. A local kindly pointed this out to me. What a pleasant surprise!

Prato del Valle

Though we could have walked to the center of town, we took the tram from Piazza Prato dell Valle which is a vast square populated by a myriad statues and is the site of a Sunday outdoor market. We wanted to dine at Caffè Pedrocchi but alas, it was hosting a conference and closed to the public. So we walked to Piazza delle Erbe for a view of the 13th century Palazzo Ragione. This square and the Piazza della Frutta on the other side of the palazzo is occupied by stalls selling clothing and accessories, home goods and fresh produce during the day. The squares are peaceful in the evenings when the stalls are gone and the locals take possession once more of their piazza and the bambini can ride their bicycles without obstacles.

Palazzo Ragione (Palace of Reason)

It's worth roaming the center of town at night to see Padua from a different perspective. The silhouettes are enchanting!

Where to stay: 
Casa del Pellegrino
Via Cesarotti, 21
Padua

Getting around:
We found the tram efficient, safe and clean.  A ticket costs €1.20 and may be purchased at the coin operated machines on the main tram stops. The tram connects the Basilica dell'Santo with Palazzo Ragione, the train station, the Scrovegni Chapel. It operates till 11 pm.

Where to dine:
Osteria al Peronio on Piazza della Frutta. I ordered their grilled swordfish and it was fresh, simply prepared and tasty. They also serve a variety of salads in generous portions. Peronio is also a pizzeria. Attentive and friendly service a plus.


Most restaurants in Italy have a cover charge which ranges from €2 to €3 (or more) per diner.

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Images by Charie



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