“Look like you belong,” Dr. Lazar coached us. Our official tour of the Palazzo del Bo had just reached its conclusion. Our university guide took us to the Anatomy Theatre of the University of Padua, built in the sixteenth century and the oldest medical theatre for displaying cadavers in existence, but not Galileo’s rostrum.
In our short time in Venice, one of the first lessons that we had learned was that ‘no’ did not always mean ‘no’ when it came to admittance. Looking straight ahead and walking directly towards the room that held the rostrum, we put this lesson to the test. While we were not able to enter the room where the rostrum (lecture podium) was located, we did have a good view from the entrance. This success was a good way to begin our day in Padua, and added to the delight of seeing the statue to Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman ever to receive the degree of Doctorate of Philosophy from a university, in 1678.
We had arrived in the morning by train and met Dr. Patrick Corrigan, Associate Professor of Philosophy and member of the Foundations of Western Civilization Program Faculty. Exiting the Palazzo del Bo victorious, we found ourselves in the midst of an open market.
Before being tempted to make any purchases, we entered the Palazzo della Ragione. Only after admiring the medieval frescoes and large wooden sculpture of a horse (modeled on Leonardo da Vinci’s original design for a bronze) did we succumb to the temptations of the market, treating ourselves to fresh fruit.
Once satisfied, we had to visit “the saint,” and headed to the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, with its Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces in honor of Padua’s most revered Portuguese immigrant son. Outside, we studied Donatello’s Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata, the famed condottiere.
Inside, we visited the Treasury Chapel, where we saw the relics of Saint Anthony of Padua. Losing track of time during a lovely meal of guinea fowl and pork, our scheduled visit to the Scrovegni Chapel required us to hustle. Arriving just a few minutes late, we pleaded for admittance to the sealed and temperature controlled chapel. For the second time, we successfully proved that the meaning of ‘no’ was negotiable and were able to see the famed Giotto Frescoes of the Life of the Virgin and the Last Judgment.
We wrapped up our day with a break for coffee at the Pedrocchi Café, where a contrasting decorative style animated each room, from ancient Egypt to the Rococo.
Observing the different salons, I felt as if I was walking through the Art & Politics and History of Western Civilization courses that I had taken during my freshman year. Bidding Dr. Corrigan farewell after a refreshing espresso, we boarded our train and returned to Venice.