Okay, I realize I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm not going to Padua right away! But it brightens a gloomy winter day to think about my next trip to Italy, coming up later in the spring.
And one town that I'm determined to visit this year is Padova, or Padua, which lies in the Veneto region. I've long wanted to visit this historic town, particularly to see the Scrovegni Chapel and its Giotto frescos.
Annie's post from last month on her blog (Churches in Venice) about seeing this incredible site really focused my interest: http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/annienc/2008/12/thursday_night_giotto.html
I snagged the above fresco from the Web Gallery of Art website. This is a detail from Giotto's Scenes from the Life of Joachim: Joachim's Dream. It was painted between 1304 and 1306 in the Cappella Scrovegni.
Apparently, some of the most dramatic parts in the fresco cycles are played by the small angelic spirits.
This detail is also from the Cappella Scrovegni , from Giotto's Scenes from the Life of Christ: 4. Flight into Egypt and was painted in the same period.
According to Web Gallery of Art, Enrico Scrovegni of Padua, wanting to build a palace and private chapel, bought in 1300 a large piece of land in the area around the town's Roman amphitheatre -- known as the Arena. (Finally -- this explains why I keep seeing the word "Arena" associated with the Scrovegni chapel!) All that remains today of his buildings is the single-nave church, known to many as the Arena Chapel because of its location. Apparently, Scrovegni is depicted in one of Giotto's frescoes, on the side of the Blessed at the Last Judgment.
The nave of the church is vaulted by a starry sky with the two centres of Christ and Mary, the Last Judgment in the west and the Annunciation in the east, witnessed by God. The story of Mary is narrated on the upper register of the walls - beginning with scenes from the lives of her parents, Joachim and Anne - and the youth of Christ and the story of his Passion are narrated on the two lower registers.
The frescoes in the Arena Chapel have been considered as Giotto's first mature masterpiece, and at the same time as an important milestone in the development of western painting.
I'm really looking forward to seeing these frescoes -- Annie said she was gob-smacked by their magnificence. Visitors are strictly kept to a 15-minute time slot, which must be reserved in advance. I wonder if I might be able to get two slots?