To enter the Scrovegni Chapel, you have to spend 15 minutes in a “environmental equilibration” chamber and video introduction before passing through two air locks into the chapel. Shockingly, visitors only get another 15 minutes to look around before being rushed out by security. However, if you are a clever art pilgrim (like yours truly) and book multiple back-to-back tickets, the museum escort chases everyone else out but leaves you alone for a few glorious minutes within the chapel.
Standing at the altar looking down the rows of painted vignettes, the rich pastel colors glowing warmly from the morning sunlight, has got to be one of the most profoundly beautiful art experience I have ever had. To say I loved the Scrovegni Chapel would be an understatement.
Photo of Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photo: Art Bouillon)
A passerby admires “Germination” by Marisa Merlin, on the streets of Padua
While I love museums, I get excited when art breaks out of its proverbial frame and interacts with viewers in new ways. Last October, I was fortunate enough to see an outdoor art exhibit sponsored by the city of Padua entitled, “Artisti al Muro,” or, Artists on the Walls. These 21 temporary pieces were scattered around the old city – some blending in with and some in stark contrast with their surroundings. These works included naturalistic wire sculptures of plants, fabric canopies, and ghostly figures. My favorite piece was “Germination” by Marisa Merlin which reiterated for me how successful mixed media pieces can be and how critical public art installations are.
We take it for granted that paintings should be shown behind glass, watched by security, and protected in museums. However, for centuries a piece of art was just another personal possession. Someone could have a painting altered just as easily as having pants hemmed. Even pieces by the great masters were not immune to harsh treatment. Even an incredible painting by the Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci was carved up and nearly lost.
Leonardo da Vinci “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness (unrestored)”, Vatican Museums (Pinacoteca), Rome (Photo: Wikimedia)
This year, Veterans Day is particularly poignant as we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of World War I. While many of us recognize the startling images of World War II, the Great War from 1914-1918 remains a little more distant. To gain some new understanding on this centenary, here are four of the best destinations for discovering World War I history.
A poppy among the British and French graves from the Battle of the Somme at the High Wood Cemetery, France (Photo)
I came to Padua to see Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel, but I discovered a really amazing place. I found a charming city with lovely streets, elegant architecture, fun sights, and locals out enjoying a pleasant fall weekend in the numerous parks and piazzas. While Venice, its neighbor in the Veneto region, gets mobs of tourists, I realized that Padua definitely deserves a few days to explore and rewards its visitors with an unforgettable experience.
An impressive sight when walking around. Street view of the Basilica of Saint Anthony, Padua