Tenaya Hurst in Padua

Tenaya shares her thoughts about Padua.
“I come to make stuff wealthily in Padua.
If wealthily, then happily in Padua.”

Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew takes place in Padua (Padova), and because it is one of my favorite plays, I decided to visit Padua this weekend…okay, I also went for the Euganean mud!  Though I am deep in my work (playing with Arduino STAR OTTO and editing materials about 8-bit microcontrollers), I also want to explore Italy and entertain you, our blog readers, with tales of my journey. 

If you intend to visit Padua, stay within the boundaries of the canals.  Basically, on google earth, when you zoom into the city center of many Italian cities, the good places to be are generally a reddish brown!  Too much further out from that and you will be like me…walking way too far, late at night, after the buses stop running.  I came to Padua for the May Day (May 1st) holiday weekend.  What that means is utter uncertainty about what will be aperto, chiuso, or operativo.  Tragically, I learned that all the museums I wanted to visit were closed.  Therefore, my first day, I headed south to Abano Terme to get some mud treatments! 

I arrived in Abano Terme and learned by failure that the mud is only allowed in long multi-day treatments!  You have to see a doctor one day and then get mud treatments for seven days.  Do they do a quick weekend mud package, where they have a special doctor see you on a Friday night, and then give you mud all day Saturday and Sunday?  No, they should, but as this one hotel receptionist informed me, “On Sunday, they don’t do the mud” and although the experience is marketed everywhere (internet, posters all over town, printed pamphlets, etc) with gorgeous women covered in mud, it is actually more of a medical treatment called “fangotherapy.”  Then it all became very clear…in a good way, Abano Terme is completely full of achey baby boomers, here for their week-long mud vacation.  They are likely enjoying their glorious retired lives, and they’ve earned it.  A little pricey for the average person, baby boomers have the time, money, and need to get muddy.  So, I need to come back with more time, more money, and something wrong with me! 

While I wait for the right 8-day week to get my fangotherapy, I decided to still enjoy a Turkish bath, or steam room and the Columbus Gardens’ Turkish bath is the best.  It is an 8-sided yurt structure inside the spa building, and the interior roof is all RGB LEDs!  Rotating amongst a rainbow of colors, constellation patterns emerged very subtly and occasionally waves of yellow light were the brightest, but still didn’t ruin the mood.

Luckily there are several bus lines that go from Padua to Abano Terme, so if you ever want to do the mud, remember, plan for no-mud-Sunday, and you don’t need to rent an expensive car, just take the city bus from Padua station.  However, on a festival weekend like May Day, the buses run on what they call the “festivi schedule.”  Here is my festivi morning:  1) The bus stop has a posted sign with regular, pre-festivi, and festivi schedules.  2) My hostel has a print-out of seemingly the same schedule, but it doesn’t include the festivi section.  3) My glorious phone, on a Google maps search (which has been somewhat reliable and helpful) shows that there was only 1 bus leaving at 6:43am, and that’s it all day - and 4) While I am alone at the bus stop, a passerby says “There’s no bus today, it’s festivi!”  What would you do?  I decided to walk 2km to this other street with the only Padua tramline, and it has been very reliable to take home late at night.  Indeed, it was running every twenty minutes (on its festivi schedule of course) and I was able to get downtown.  Point is, in Italy, always have a backup transportation plan - you will need it! 

Padua has unique narrow streets with arch covered sidewalks, sometimes with bike lanes, sometimes with parking, but always with uniqueness and character.  This is a great town to rent a bike and enjoy exploring.  I was really feeling the theme of 8s as I was dreaming of applications to put Arduino STAR OTTO boards under the covered walkways.  Before I left town, I had to visit the most famous destination in Padua which is the Cappella Scrovegni, hundreds of years old, beautiful frescos by Giotto.  Otto?  No Giotto!  Make sure to book tickets to the chapel if you are visiting Padua, it is right by the train station for day-trippers as well.  From bikes to buses, castles to chapels, fangotherapy to festivi, “since for the great desire I had, to see fair Padua, nursery of arts, I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy.”  (That means, I went home to Como after an amazing trip to Padua!)



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