Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 26, 2015

The Scrovegni experience

Everyone who visits Padova will want to see the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel.

The chapel itself is quite plain. It is set in a pretty garden guarded by a statue of Garibaldi.

Scrovegni chapel

The frescoes are very popular and the number of people visiting at any one time is strictly controlled (25 at a time). The chapel is temperature controlled to help preserve the frescoes. It is unlikely that you would just be able to turn up and expect to get in on the same day, and you cannot book ahead for the same day.

So, you must book ahead. It says on their website that you can telephone to book a ticket…good luck with that. I phoned and got the recorded message and then was asked to wait for an attendant. The recorded message played several times and then they hung up. I tried several times with the same result.

I decided to book online. First you must join a ticketing service which asks your life history. Once this is done it is possible to book your €13 ticket.

You must pick up said ticket at least one hour in advance. The kindly gentleman at the desk asked if I would like to go in early but 2 bus loads of schools children had just arrived so I declined.

While I was waiting I stepped into a room filled with heavy glass cases containing ancient artefacts. A woman ran at me like a rabid dog, screaming about my handbag. It seems they are not allowed. I apologised and tried to leave the room, but she snapped at my heels all the way to the door screeching all the while. A bit of overkill I thought.

I checked my handbag at the cloak room and waited my turn for the chapel. Finally our group was ushered into the anteroom where we sat for 15 minutes watching a film about the frescoes before we were allowed into the chapel.

Just as well it is worth all the fuss. Banker Enrico Scrovigni built his palazzo amidst the remains of a ancient Roman arena. Beside the palazzo he wanted to build a chapel to save the soul of his father, Reginaldo, the usurer mentioned by Dante in The Divine Comedy.

It is possible that Giotto helped to design the chapel, so as to house a complete fresco cycle. Giotto’s fresco scenes are chapters in a coherent, sequential visual narative on the life of Jesus and man’s journey to salvation.

No photos were allowed and I behaved myself. These are photos of photos.

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Giotto frescoes

Be prepared to go through a bit of twaddle to get your 15 minutes with the frescoes, but it is worth the pain. It is almost impossible to believe the frescoes were done in the early 1300s. Of course there have been many restorations, the most recent in 2002, but the fact that they exist is incredible.

On the way out I spotted a sign that said no bags allowed in any of the museums…I still think it was overkill.


Responses

  1. Definitely over kill on the sign about the bags but understand no photos Anyway the photos you use are great and love your explanations and descriptions – sounds very worthwhile with even the ‘twaddle’

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    • Padova was a great place to visit. I will return.

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  2. As you say, it is amazing that the frescoes have survived over such a long period of time and I guess that the extra care and precautions are necessary in order to preserve them; however, the employee’s overreaction was totally unjustified and rude.

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    • I completely agree with the precautions taken to preserve the frescoes, but I was nowhere near term with my handbag. In the chapel guests walk on a platform with handrails to prevent any opportunity to get too close…a good idea.

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  3. Oh, this was one of my favorite places in Italy. It is very sweet. The blue is so calming and the frescoes to beautiful and expressive. Yes, I agree, it is a bit of a pain. But like you said so worth it!

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    • The whole of Padova is excellent, but the chapel is just amazing

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  4. Not sure I would have your patience to go through all that. The last photo looks a bit nightmarish for children to view.

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    • Perhaps the school children ahead of me were traumatised. I didn’t notice that they were making less noise when they came out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your photos of the photos came out really well. I agree with Mallee’s comment about the last one. It’s scary even for adults. 😯

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    • I have seen a similar image in other places. The devil apparently likes to eat people whole.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this information and learn about Enrico Scrogvini. I would love to visit this place.

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    • I do recommend it even with the extreme methods used by the staff member.

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  7. I definitely want to return again to Padua and see all she offers…..I will always remember the Good Friday we visited the chapel……very memorable.

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    • Padova is a very interesting city. I will definitely be back.

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  8. We visited Padua last year in the pouring rain and were treated a bit better than you were. See our post at

    https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/seventy-years-ago-in-padua/

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  9. For a little more the Giotto frescoes themselves see my post at

    https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/why-dont-all-bankers-behave-like-this/

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  10. And as my wife’s real name second name is Antonia we couldn’t miss a visit to Saitn Anthony’s basilica where his remains are kept:

    See https://longoio.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/the-saint-of-lost-causes/

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  11. I admire your persistence. I understood the care they take to protect the frescos. There are places I have visited where there are too many people and too much contact and I wonder why more care has not been policed.

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  12. That certainly sounds like a lot of hoops to jump through, but worth the effort. The frescoes are stunning. They must be even more amazing in person.

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    • It is amazing to stand in the chapel and be surrounded by the incredible frescoes.

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  13. They are definitely worth the time and effort! unforgettable, as is the Basilica.

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  14. incredible frescoes Debra.
    (I reckon I’d like something like that in my bathroom.)

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    • I am always tempted to rush home and paint my walls. Unfortunately I have no talent.

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  15. The detail in the paintings is astonishing – 15 minutes doesn’t seem long enough to take it all in. I wonder how many painters did the frescoes and how long it took. As for the devilish devil – I sometimes think children take such things in their stride – it reminds me of a response Roald Dahl gave when a schoolchild asked what he and his publishers did if children didn’t like the stories he wrote. His response was “we eat them”:)

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    • Giotto had many assistants. I think kids love gory stuff, I know I did.

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  16. Good to see more of Giotto’s frescos elsewhere. We saw some in a beautiful old chapel (can’t remember the name) in Assissi. Giotto’s frescos were unique in that he painted emotional expressions on his characters’ faces – different from the flat two-dimensioned style of the Byzantine paintings.

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    • Giotto was certainly in Assisi, but the frescoes in Padova are considered his best.

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  17. very beautiful. your site is amazing. thanks. george miori

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    • Thanks George. You will see it all fir yourself one day soon.

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  18. Great post Debra. Had good laughs about the hassels just to get in and then the “overkill lady”. Alana

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    • Some Italians could learn a little about customer service.

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  19. I just love frescoes and these are amazing and certainly worth all the hoops you had to jump though! I’m sure you’ve probably seen the Piero della Francesco frescoes in Arezzo. I remember having to do a similar booking experience to enter the Brancacci Chapel in Florence.

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    • I did a post on Arezzo with the beautiful frescoes a while ago…fabulous.

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  20. Certainly vibrant colours in these frescoes…..and quite different from any others we saw.

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    • Padova has lots of great stuff. There will be more posts eventually.

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  21. […] took myself off to Padova to the the Giotto frescoes and fell in love with this underrated […]

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  22. […] first tip is to visit the Scrovegni Chapel to see Giotto’s magnificent frescoes. You can see more on this here. Giotto’s frescoes […]

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