Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 6 - On to the Veneto; learning our way around Padua

For more than a thousand years, the kingdom of Veneto was one of the most powerful trading empires in all of Europe. Today the Veneto is a highly developed and industrialized region, known for its historical, cultural, and artistic heritages. Venezia (Venice) is its capital and largest city; others include Padova (Padua), where we will make our home base for the next five days; Vicenza; and Verona.

After our two hour train ride from Milano and settling in at our B&B, we took off to begin exploring Padova, our home for the next few days. Padova is home to a university more than 800 years old which once included a chap named Galileo Galilei amongst its lecturers. More than 70,000 students are enrolled in studies at the varies schools within the university, not a one of them on athletic scholarship from what I could determine.

Like most major university cities, it has a unique atmosphere, and some interesting and novel traditions. We were fortunate enough to view one of the best known traditions being enacted on two different occasions in Padua. Basically, it amounts to a costumed hazing that is ribald, bawdy, or even worse, at the end of one studies - not at the Italian equivalent of a freshman year. It is probably fortunate that we could not understand the proclamation this young grad was being forced to read or the lusty songs belted out. At the end of the hazing, graduates may then wear a laurel wreath (looks more like our Christmas wreath, actually) on their head or if it doesn't fit, around the neck. (Studies are individualized so graduation may occur at any time during the year.)

Check some of the facial expressions...

The Basilica of St. Anthony is one of Padua's major attractions. The Romanesque Gothic structure was begun in 1231 soon after the death of Friar Anthony of Padua, whose tomb within the church now beckons faithful pilgrims.

Nighttime view, Basilica of St. Anthony, who is entombed within

The general on horseback is an early Renaissance work by Donatello, the first equine, secular statue of this type in more than a thousand years.

More to come

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