I've got so much to say about my visit to the Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni) in Padua (Padova) that I'm going to spread it out over several posts. But I thought I'd start with my ticket (scanned in above) and explain some of the logistics of getting this thing.
Does anyone else save their tickets? I have tons of them...concert tickets from back in high school, Tar Heel basketball games across the decades, and of course, many from Italy. As far as pack-rat-itis goes, they aren't a bad thing to save since they don't take up much room. And the Italian ones are often very beautiful; I have a few of those on my fridge. I might scan some more of them in soon.
Anyway, the scene on the ticket is a detail from Giotto's Last Judgment showing Enrico Scrovegni presenting the chapel he built to the Virgin. Here's a larger view of the scene (which is just a small detail of the large Last Judgment fresco that covers the entire west wall of the chapel.
The story goes that Enrico Scrovegni was very wealthy thanks to his father, a moneylender who was mentioned by name in Dante's Inferno (and because of his profession, he was one of those deep down in the circles of hell). Some people think that his son built this chapel and dedicated it to the Virgin in order to make up for his father's sins and help his dad's immortal soul, while others think that Enrico was bargaining for his own soul too.
Either way, I hope it worked out for the Scrovegni guys because Enrico certainly spent their money wisely and well when he hired Giotto to fresco this place. The Virgin IS reaching her hand out to him so Giotto too might have thought that the gift was going to be accepted.
The chapel was attached to the family's large palace and was their private chapel. The palazzo was destroyed in the 19th century, and the city of Padua bought the Scrovegni Chapel soon after.
I wrote about my day in Padua and my visit to the chapel here.
But I thought I'd post a few more details about visiting this place and all the hoops you have to jump through to get to see these amazing frescoes. It sounds like a lot of trouble but trust me, it is completely worth it!
The website is pretty helpful (and it does have pages in English).
You have to buy the ticket in advance: 24 hours in advance if you buy on the website, and three days in advance if you buy over the phone. And you have to buy a ticket for an EXACT reserved time (Tuesday afternoon at 1:15 pm, for example). Groups of no more than 25 people at a time are allowed to go in every fifteen minutes.
You have to pick up the ticket one hour before the time of your reservation. The desk where you do this is in the Musei Civici which is in the park very close to the Chapel. There are other museums you can visit during this hour while you are waiting for your appointment to go into the Chapel (but note: when we arrived an hour early, there were vacant spots in the next group of 25 so they let us go in without waiting. But this was a winter visit; I imagine that things are different in high season).
On the back of my ticket are "Regulations for visiting the Scrovegni Chapel", as follows:
Visitors must present themselves, at least 5 minutes before the time printed on their tickets, at the entrance to the ventilated waiting room. They wait in this special room which stabilizes the micro-climate inside the Chapel, for about 15 minutes.
They they enter the Chapel itself, for another 15 minutes. To allow visitors to enter, the doors leading to the Chapel only open twice, once for entry and once for exit.
If visitors are late, they cannot enter the Chapel unless they book and pay again.
While you are waiting and being "ventilated," they show a movie about the history of the chapel and the recent restoration efforts; it's very interesting. And then they let you in to see the frescoes for 15 minutes.
That 15 minutes goes by so fast! More about the frescoes themselves later.
Cost of the ticket (in December 2008) was 12 Euros. When I told that to a friend in Venice, he rolled his eyes and said wryly, "That's almost one Euro per minute," which made me laugh. But so worth it! I'd pay more.
And I learned from reading the comments on Sandra's I'm Going to Padua" blog post that there is a "double-turn" evening ticket that allows you to stay for 40 minutes instead of 15, and I'm definitely going to look into that the next time I go. I WILL be going back again - this is such a magical place.
Below is the Chapel, taken from underneath my umbrella. I'd just walked out of the Musei Civici after getting my ticket and was heading over to enter the "ventilated waiting room" (the entrance to that is on the other side of the Chapel). The park looked quite nice and I wouldn't mind exploring that on a non-rainy day.
An interesting article about the 25-year long restoration completed in 2002.
"Because it was a private chapel, for years the building was closed to the public except for one day a year, which accounts for the relatively well-preserved condition of the frescoes even before restoration began. To ensure the continued health of the frescoes, only 25 visitors at a time will be allowed into the chapel to avoid damage from condensation formed by tourists' breath."
Visiting as a Day Trip From Venice
It’s only a 30-minute train ride from Venice to Padua. Trains leave several times per hour and there is only one stop (in Mestre) and then you are there. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Padua train station to the Chapel. There are buses but my friend Cristiano told me that it would be quicker to walk so we did. After you exit the train station, you'll see signs pointing towards the Padua Historic Center (Centro Storico) and you walk down Corso del Popolo and then cross the river (the street name changes to Corso Garibaldi) and then you see this large park on the left. The chapel is in the park but you walk past it and go to the Musei Civici to get your ticket and check your bags, then you walk back to the chapel.
I bought my ticket in Venice once I got there and decided which day I was going to go. You need a computer with a printer because you have to print out the confirmation to take to pick up the ticket (I was able to use the one at the B&B where I stayed).