Inland from the Grand Canal

Inland from the Grand Canal

Friday, May 30, 2014
The Veneto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

We leave Venice in an unexpectedly classy way – via taxi! Our carefully purchased and registered transport passes, scheduled to last just long enough to get us down the Grand Canal and to Piazzale Roma (where we’ll pick up our rental car) this morning, are useless. Why? That dreaded Italian word “scopero”  – the public transport is on strike today.

The alternative would have been walking to Piazzale Roma, an easy task if we were unencumbered, but leaving town with luggage, trundling it up, over, and down multiple bridges, is NOT the way we want our Music and Markets guests to depart Venice! So we’ve bitten the bullet, and the sleek taxi pulls up at the water entrance of the hotel right on time. The 15 minute ride down the Grand Canal rings in at a grand 70€  – just a mere $100 or so.

The causeway connecting Venice to the mainland is bumper to bumper – no quick escape for us!
But we’re finally on the autoroute heading for Montegrotto Terme. Remember that wonderful spa hotel we discovered earlier this year? The Miramonti welcomes us with a smile, but we wait to check in, just drop our luggage, and head for Padova, where ancient beauties await us.
First, lunch, then we’re ready to spend a bit of time in the historic center, pointing out the grand market squares,

before our appointment at the Scrovegni Chapel. A scattering of modern and ancient Roman sculpture outside (the Chapel is beside the ruins of a Roman arena) ,

but inside are Giotto’s marvelous frescoes of the life of Christ and other Bible stories, meticulously restored most recently in this millenium, the colors as vivid as when they were painted in the early 1300s.

Back at Miramonti, we walk our guests through the spa area….and they want to make sure to fit in a visit or two to the warm pools!

This Venice/Veneto tour is designed around the International Encounter of Chamber Music, now in its 7th year, presented by the Auryn Quartet. Each year they invite other musicians to join them for a series of concerts in the 12th century church of St. Martin in Este.
The long piazza is lined with people enjoying an aperitif, and we’ve got what we think is the best café chosen for a light dinner before the concert.

Mozart’s Quintets are the focus of this series,

and the intimate and simple St. Martins, with excellent acoustics (as is normal for small solid Romanesque structures), is a perfect place to listen to some of the best works of this young genius.

La Rocca on the Mount – Monselice

La Rocca on the Mount – Monselice

Sunday, July 22, 2012
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on our featured (and expanded!) summer Amsterdam/Belgium tour!

A Sunday drive in the country today, north to Padova, west of Venice.We take the long way out of Tuscany, driving up through the mountains towards Bologna before getting on the expressway for the rest of our journey.
Why Padova? Although it’s an interesting city in itself (we spent a winter week there a few years ago) the reason we’re stopping there today is to explore the nearby villages of Monselice and Este, since we’re planning a tour based around the Este Chamber Music Festival next spring.
Monselice’s easily identifiable as we approach – a natural citadel on the southern slopes of the Euganean Hills (which, by the way, are dotted with thermal waters and hot mud – we’ll have to try out a spa or two someday!) La Rocca crowns the pointy hill, and the walled city huddles beneath.The row of white chapels leading up the hill are a few of Scarmozzi’s Via Sacra delle Siete Chiese, seven chapels built in the early 1600’s.

The church of San Paolo, now an exhibition center is on the left and the Tourist Information office, with a graceful loggia, is on the right  of the lane leading to the Castello Monselice.

San Paolo church is the fourth on this site, and the ruins below shelter an ancient fresco of Saint Francis of Assisi, as well as a friendly cat.

A partially salvaged fresco shows the town patron, Saint Sabino, with Saint Catherine.

Ca’Marcello, a beautifully restored medieval palace, is part of the walled Castello Monselice, and can be visited on a guided tour. Just down the lane is Villa Nanni, a splendid Renaissance mansion and gardens.

Next stop – Este… to be continued.