Mantua (which actually lies int he province of Lombardy, just outside Veneto) is surrounded by lakes and the wide Mincio river so it feels very watery.
There are several canals running through the centre and some very interesting Renaissance buildings. One of the most elaborate is the Basilica di Sant'Andrea.
The church I liked the most was an earlier one though, a simple round building built around the 11th century. The photo on the right shows some of the faded frescoes on the ceiling.
We missed seeing the Gonzaga Palazzo as it was damaged in an earthquake two years ago and is now closed for repairs.
Verona has a lot of Roman ruins like this arena, still used for concerts. The centre, behind walls, has wide pedestrian only streets and big squares with markets and fountains.
We spent the afternoon here wandering around on our own so we didn't make it to Juliet's supposed balcony, a tourist destination for many. Of course there was no Juliet as she was simply a character in the Shakespeare play set here. But it does have a lovely romantic feeling.
|Harry wandering around with a cup of fresh fruit from the market|
|this is not Juliet's balcony|
Padua founded its university way back in 1222 but it was also an ancient Roman stronghold and one of the most important Medieval and Renaissance cities in Italy. Dante and Copernicus studied here and Petrarch and Galileo taught here. It's still enrolling students but now they don't wear robes. We're staying in the student area and it's full of young people, which gives it a vibrant feeling.
This morning, Sunday, there was some kind of march going on. This photo is taken in front of a very famous spot, the Caffe Pedrocchi, opened in 1831 as the largest cafe in Europe. It's the building with the spires. Here's one of its interior rooms, the green room where people can come and sit and read without having to buy anything.
This long arcaded building with the domed roof is called the Palace of Reason (Palazzo della Ragione, or the Law Courts). The bottom level is all food shops, and outdoor cafes. But the top floor is one huge open space. It was built almost 900 years ago and the great hall has a huge vaulted ceiling and many frescoes.
Here's a view of the inside with an enormous wooden horse maybe done by Donatello, although there's some dispute about that. The frescoes were done in the 1500s after a hurricane took the original roof off and damaged the ones done in the 1300s by Giotto.
Speaking of Giotto, we made a point to visit Padua's star attraction, the Scrovegni Chapel, which has beautifully preserved frescoes he did from 1303 to 1306. No photos to show as it's carefully controlled. The ceiling is cobalt blue with stars and there are three tiers of amazing paintings up the side walls. The back wall is the last judgement showing devils and humans on one side and the penitents and the blessed on the other. Giotto was the first artist who painted naturalistic figures showing emotions--a huge step forward at the time.
Tomorrow if we can manage it we will take the train to visit Vicenza, a city full of Palladian architecture. But tonight we're heading out for a Mother's day dinner, just Harry and me since Jamie is in Vancouver.