Sunday, July 22, 2012
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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.