Monday, May 23, 2016


After drinking in the mosaics of Ravenna ( and some local wine) we set our sights on
 Padua ( Padova), a city just north of Venice and about a two hour drive up the coast.
But before we shove off there is one more person we must visit in Ravenna....


Dante Alighieri was about as Florentine as you can get. He is what you might refer to as a Medieval Romantic. Example: One day he just caught a glimpse of the beautiful Beatrice as she walked along the Arno and he was smitten for life. One glance!
Why mess up a good thing with familiarity. Anyway, he ran afoul of the higher-ups of Florence so they threw him out of town...ejected...exile...the worst punishment. Dante spent his exile in Ravenna until he died of Malaria. And guess what? The City of Florence wants him back! After all, now he's the hometown hero. Ravenna's response?...a flick of the hand under the chin...."Basta!" You didn't want him then and he ain't moving' now!

So, what does Dante have to do with Padua? Well, it seems plenty.


As the story goes, Reginaldo degli Srovegni was an important Paduan Financier in the 13th Century. He made his fortune as a Usurer, a lender of money who extracted large interest payments from his clients. Nothing like making yourself rich on the misery of others. However, according to the Medieval Code, Usurey was a sin, a big sin. Dante, in The Inferno, being a guy who liked to put people in their place, placed old Reginaldo in the inner ring or the Seventh Circle of Hell where the violent are eternally punished by fire. Users were considered violent because as Virgil explains in Canto XI:

"Usurers sin against Art
Art is the grandchild of God.: 

The tomb of Enrico degli Scrovegni


Eternal damnation is a long stretch to serve and it just so happens that Reginaldo's son, Enrico picked up Dad's dirty business and figured he needed a couple of 'get out of jail free' cards real fast. So, to save his and pop's eternal souls he built a Chapel and to cover all the bases he dedicated it to the lives of Mary and Jesus. To decorate the Chapel walls he hired the top gun painter out of Florence....
his name was....



Scrovegni spared no expense, a lot was riding on this. Giotto was on top of his game and came with a large contract. The dominate blue is crushed lapis lazuli, a semi- precious stone from Persia. The reds were Vermillion and Dragonsblood ( try buying that at your local art store). Everything was top drawer. At one end of the Chapel rests the Scrovegni Tomb with sculptures by Andrea Pisano, from Pisa.

The other end depicts Giotto's The Last Judgement
which Michelangelo surely saw before he painted his in The Sistine Chapel in Rome

The walls are arranged on three themes: The Lives of Joachim and Anna.

A most sweet kiss under the original Golden Arch. Giotto was really the first artist to embrace tactile humanity into his paintings.

A domestic scene of the birth of Mary.

Jesus: not such a sweet kiss.

Once again we leave under a star studded lapis lazuli sky. and without a doubt, this is one of the highest levels of artistic achievement in all the Western Civilization .
It was an honor to be there.

For further information and reservations:
Padua, Italy

Photos courtesy of Stew Vreeland
Mille grazie, Stew!

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