Venice, Verona and Padova
This weekend, we went on a trip with API to Venice, Verona and Padova. We got to see a lot of really cool churches, beautiful houses and buildings, a castle, and had a wine tasting in the countryside of Verona.On the bus ride to Padova, truthfully, I was a little skeptical. Not that I knew everything about Italy, but I had never heard of this city before and was thinking to myself, “What’s so great about Padova?” But after my visit, I can honestly say it was one of the coolest places I’ve visited in Italy so far! We stayed in a nice hotel with A/C which was a nice change from the heat and already a plus. We visited the amazing San Antonio Cathedral. The city was preparing for a week of his celebration, so his tomb was brought out in the church for everyone to see. They also had a relic room where his vocal cords, tongue and teeth were on display…a little weird but kinda cool to see at the same time. I pray to St. Anthony a lot when I lose things so it was nice to see his church and say hi to him! :)The rest of the town is cute, peaceful and similar to the smaller Italian towns I’ve seen. We saw the statue of Elena Piscopia, who was the first female doctor in the world and happened to be from Padova!My favorite part of the weekend was going to the Castello di San Pelagio, which is located in the middle of nowhere! The castle belonged to the old Italian family who’s villa still stands. It was a beautiful old castle complete with gardens, a pond, an Air Museum, AND a labyrinth!!! The castle was decorated as it was in it’s original state with lots of paintings and furniture of the time period.The air museum was awesome and had a complete history of flight, including Leonardo di Vinci’s contributions through America’s first flight to the moon. The gardens and the labyrinth were by far my favorite part of the castle. The gardens were full of lush greenery and fountains and seemed to go on forever into the countryside. Playing in the gardens was so much fun. I felt liberated running through the labyrinth pretending to cast spells like they do in Harry Potter. There was a great view of the surrounding farms, and with the sun beginning to set as we left, I made a secret vow that I would buy a castle in the Italian countryside someday like San Pelagio! That night while wandering around Padova, we discovered a cool medieval/renaissance festival with demonstrations of ancient jewelry making, fresco painting and cheese making! Also, there were guys eating fire and a huge jousting competition in the main square! It was a surprise to see something so big happening in this tiny city.Venice was, of course, beautiful! I loved seeing the canals and the “Bridge of Sighs,” which got it’s name from the prisoners who crossed and had one last look at the beautiful city of Venice before being escorted to the state prison. Naturally, we had to ride a Gondola, so we had a complete tour of Venice through the canals. During our free time, a few of my friends had heard about the island of Murano, right off of Venice, where the majority of the famous glass is blown. When glass blowing first began in Venice, glass blowers were confined to the island of Murano, as it was seen as a dangerous craft. After asking for directions to find the “boat to Murano” at least 5 times, and getting answers like “straight, straight, left, left, right, then left,” we somehow weaved around the confusing streets of Venice and found the correct port to leave for the island. We didn’t have that much time left for exploring, so we all hoped we would make it in time for at least a little exploring and glass purchasing! The boat ride was only about 15 minutes, and seeing the island was worth it! It was far less touristy, and gave off a much calmer vibe. Murano is filled with glass shops and glass art showcases, with everything from glass-blown earrings to fountain pens to tiny glass blown animals and sculptures! After browsing the shops, we all bought a few glass souvenirs and enjoyed our gorgeous view of the water.Our last city to visit was Verona! We went on Sunday, so naturally it was quieter than normal, but was still fun. We went to the famed Juliet’s balcony and touched Juliet’s statue for good luck in love! It was crazy to see how much love graffiti there was all over the walls surrounding the balcony. So much love!I was extremely disappointed to find out that the majority of the movie, “Letters to Juliet” was not actually filmed in Verona! I realized that the wall portrayed in the movie with hundreds of letters to Juliet stuck in the cracks actually does not exist. I was devastated. I take those types of movies to heart, and was extremely disheartened to learn that the wall did not actually exist.Besides that little pitfall in my day, I enjoyed seeing Romeo’s house, walking through a street art display and and eating risotto with Amarone wine famous from the region! After our tour of the city, we took a bus to the outskirts of Verona, then hiked up a long, winding road, as it was too narrow for the bus. Again, I’m a sucker for the beautiful views of the country here, so I couldn’t get enough of it! Our path was lined with cherry trees brimming with the most perfect looking cherries. Naturally, we picked a few, hoping we wouldn’t get in trouble with whomever owned the cherry trees…We had a tour with the family who owned the vineyard. They showed us their grape trees and explained how they farm organically. Everything was so green and perfect. Everything would be right in the world if I woke up to this every day:We did some wine tasting of the local Amarone red wine, which was delicious! I ended up buying a bottle of the dessert wine because it was so good and I felt like I had to commemorate my visit to this place! As we took our walk back down the country road, it started to rain lightly. I love rain, so it was a welcome refreshment. I can’t describe how amazing the fields looked - with the misty sky and raindrops covering everything - it looked like something out of a dream. There was so much beauty in this one place, I couldn’t feel anything but pure joy.