We set out on our bikes at 10.30 am after having a typical Italian breakfast at our B&B. A bit too high carb for cyclists. Our hostess spontaneously suggests eggs and cheese for tomorrow.
It’s a little muggy to start with but not at all cold. This time, when we get to the canal, we don’t cross the bridge as we did yesterday and discover a very different path – either gravel or asphalt the entire way.
We go past the Villa Giovanelli again but the view is better from the other side of the canal. It affords a close-up view of the statues though.
We also avoid the narrow passageway across the second bridge because we come out on the other side. Just before the bridge, we turn left until the zebra crossing then join the path on the other side.
We decide to keep going along the canal and enter the city of Padua from the entrance closest to Cappella degli Scrovegni so we can pick up our tickets. We go past Porta Ogni Santi also known as Portello, which is a meeting place for the students who frequent the nearby university.
The chapel is just next door to Arena park where we had our lunch yesterday. I get our tickets without even having to stand in line (we reserved yesterday for 2.30 pm today) and we head for Porta Specola. En route we stop for a cappuccino near Piazza della Fruta.
As we’re cycling along one of the little paved streets off the Piazza, I realise I must have a puncture. Jean Michel pumps it up (we always carry a puncture kit) and we go to a little square nearby so he can repair the puncture.
It turns out one of my tyres has a big tear in it. While Jean Michel’s repairing the inner tube a lady comes by walking her dog. I ask her if she knows where there is a bike shop to buy a new tyre. She phones her son and directs us to the Duomo – all in Italian! A young girl and her mother come by and ask if they can help. The other lady relays the message about the bike shop to the young girl who explains it to me in English adding that the shop will be closed during lunch time.
That’s OK. We’ll have lunch first, visit the chapel, then find the shop. So we set off for the old Observatory tower built in the 18th century to experiment with astronomic theories.
We then keep our eye open for somewhere to have lunch and I spy a little Trattoria under the arches of a gallery called Savonarola that looks just right. We order the pasta of the day – maccheroni al torchio alla norma which I later discover is a dish of Sicilian origin with a tomato sauce to which fried eggplant, ricotta and basil have been added.
At the chapel, we arrive with 10 minutes to spare. Only 25 people can enter at a time and prior reservation is compulsory. We watch a 20-minute video in Italian first, with subtitles in English and German. It explains the origin of the chapel and some of the frescoes. I’m a little disappointed in some of the paintings. Giotto finished only took 2 years to paint the entire chapel and I guess he rushed through some of the scenes …
Next stop is the duomo but no one has heard of a bike shop there so we go back to the tourist office where we are directed to another shop not far from our next stop, Saint Anthony’s basilica. L’Angolo del ciclo is on via Facciolatti, 22. We stop by the Palazzo del Bo on the way, but don’t have time to visit.
We soon have a new tyre and two bike locks because the one that Jean Michel uses to protect our bikes when they’re on the bike trailer takes quite a long time to attach. It’s better to have a faster system when you’re visiting a town centre by bike. He manages to put the tyre in one of the paniers and we start look for a gelateria.
After our ice-creams, we visit the Basilica, which I consider is the most interesting monument in Padua. It is quite sumptuous. It has a Roman façade, Byzantine cupolas, a Gothic central tower and bell-towers and a late Renaissance chapel containing the tomb of Saint Anthony. Photos are not allowed inside.
We continue the visit with two cloisters offering wonderful views of the outside of the basilica.
By the time we get back to our bikes, it’s 5.40 pm. We debate about when Jean Michel will change the tire since it’s a bit cumbersome. However, the decision is out of our hands. My tyre is completely flat again. I am a bit worried about the time because we need a good 40 minutes to get back to our B&B and the sun sets at around 7.15 pm. We don’t have our lights with us. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. We even have time to stop at the supermarket and bancomat.
The light as we cycle home is quite lovely.
We’ve really enjoyed our stay in Padua. It has a good feel to it and is very relaxing. Despite its popularity, it feels like a place where people live and not just a tourist attraction like Lake Garda. Visiting it by bike is perfect despite the puncture. Staying out of the main area is also a good solution as it has enabled us to see another part of the city.
Tomorrow, we’re moving to an appartment at Arqua Petrarca 25 kilometers away for three days of cycling – the Palladian villas, the fortified towns of Mnselice, Este and Montagnana, and the Euganei hills. Fine weather is forecast for Saturday and Monday, with a maximum of 25°C, but we might have a bit of rain on Sunday morning.