Our first half of the trip ended when we left Verona, but the excitement did not end because on the list we still had Venice and Padua.
Take a look here if you’re interested to see the first part of the journey
We arrived at the train station in Mestre, a small town near Venice, on continental Italy, where we had our accommodation which I fully recommend. The bus stop is near the hotel and takes you to Venice passing on the Ponte della Liberta bridge, that connects it to the mainland.
We had a whole day in Venice and in the afternoon we went on a tour with the water-bus.
The main attraction is the St Mark’s Basilica, and there is every reason to love it, because it’s grand and beautiful, but sadly it’s getting affected by the water, as the island itself is sinking every year and the aqua alta phenomenon is more frequent. The beautiful marble floor was cracked and was deformed and we had to walk on some deck from wood beams to be able to go inside it without having to cross through big slops.
The Ducal Palace, on the right side of the Basilica, once the residence of the Dukes of Venice and also the main government building, is also beautiful outside and inside. The visit came with a cost of 16EUR/person, but everybody enjoyed the embellished huge rooms and their stories. Towards the end of the palace tour you pass through the Bridge of Sighs, and what a suited name they found for it, because here you go into the cellars of the palace where they were keeping the political prisoners before their final judgement.
A water trip on the canals is a must do for everyone that comes to Venice. The gondolas have their charm, no doubt about that, and it’s the only way to enter those very narrow canals deep inside the island, but the water buss is a much less expensive option and the means of transport used by the locals, so you get a better understanding of how they live in the Adriatic lagoon. We took the water buss 4.1 at S. ZACCARIA JOLANDA bus stop where our long trip on the water started. We did almost 3/4 of the island in over an hour and we descended when it reached again the Grand Canal. At some point we were rapidly surpassed by a water ambulance, that quickly vanished into the hospital building, and then not far away we saw this small island with a big stone gate and the towers of a church and got informed that it’s their cemetery. When entering the Grand Canal, it was already getting dark but the lights from the buildings were reflecting in the water and it was just lovely.
Padova is said to be the oldest city in the northern part of Italy and here was also set up the second university in Italy remaining until today one of the best. Under the rule of the Venetians that lasted almost 400 years, the city developed greatly.
In the few hours we had, we walked the wide boulevard of Corso de Popolo, passed near Giardini dell Arena park, and stopped at Capella deli Scrovegni, a world renowned site for the Giotto fresco. But another interesting site is Chiesa degli Eremitani, very close by, affected a lot during WWII, but where you still get to see some parts of the beautiful mural paintings.
A good travel advice is to use the tourist audio guide and the tourist maps they provide on the padovanet.it web site. Although some parts of the audio guide are dated, it offers good tips and also gives you great insights on the history of the places.
In the old town we went to Piazza dei Signori, Piazza del Duomo where there is the Cathedral of Padua with the Baptisery, and then we went to once the commercial hubs of the town, the squares Erbe with Palazzo della Ragione, and Piazza Delle Fruta. At Palazzo Bo, the main university building, we went inside the squared courtyard and also took a peek inside one of the classrooms. This made me so nostalgic about my own college years!
Prato della Valle square was my favorite in Padua and it’s the largest square in Italy. Here we rested on a bench and ate another ice cream. We took the tram back to the train station and we concluded this way our quest in these beautiful Italian cities.
It’s not easy to pick a favorite out of the four, but after a debate we all put Venice and Verona on top of our list.
As for my parents, although they did some cardio with us here and there (when climbing the stairs to the top of Milan’s Duomo or when running to catch a bus) they were delighted by the journey. As I’m writing this blog post, they are in Berlin and have some plans to go on a tour in the western countries of Europe for this autumn. The travel bug bites you at every age! right!?