Italy, the journey begins

On Tuesday October 16th, after many months of practices, planning meetings, fund raising, etc. 27 members of the adult choir of St. Anthony on the Lake Parish (Pewaukee, WI) and 22 travel companions departed for Italy. Their pilgrimage began like all trips from St. Anthony’s, with a prayer circle in the narthex of the church, led by our retired pastor and spiritual director for the trip, Fr. Joe Hornacek.


We packed into rented “party limo buses” for the trip to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Fortunately the dancing pole was well hidden and the champagne flutes were empty although the group was pretty sure it was five o’clock somewhere… The international terminal at O’Hare is nothing to write home about and unless you must pass through, avoidance is recommended. After a long flight on a British Airways Boeing 777 and a short layover at London’s Heathrow airport, we were on a BA Airbus 319 bound for Venice, Italy. Everyone with a window seat was treated to a wonderful view of the Alps which separate Italy from Switzerland.

No luggage was lost, money was converted to euros with little pain and we met our tour guide Elizabeth and our bus driver Allesandro for the ride to Padua. You’re right…a long flight, a short flight and a several hour bus ride makes for lots of sitting.

Padua, Italy is the city where St. Anthony, the patron saint of our parish, died and our pilgrimage for the day was to visit the basilica built in his honor. While the size of the church was apparent as we approached,

We were not prepared for the beauty inside. As the basilica is decorated with many “fresco” paintings, and it seems that many tourists don’t understand the meaning of “no flash photography”, no photos were allowed inside the basilica. Next best thing? Scan a post card… The main church:

And, the chapel enshrining the relics (tongue and lower jawbone – he was considered to be a great preacher) of St. Anthony:

As we found out quickly, streets are narrow and there were many opportunities to walk where the bus couldn’t go so we began to stretch out the cramps from plane and bus right away.

This provided many opportunities to see interesting architecture and artifacts…and take a photo or two 🙂 For example, the city seal is embedded in the sidewalk every 100 meters or so. Its a brass or bronze disc about 10 centimeters in diameter.

There were interesting buildings like this one:

And public bathrooms (WC = Water Closet) which were best avoided (you’d think since you have to pay to use them they would at least be clean…but no):

In the center of Padua is a lovely park with a large fountain and many flying rats (aka pidgeons):

Streets near the Basilica were busier and had more kiosks, both on the sidewalk:

And right in the middle of the street:

Despite the uneven cobblestones and insane drivers (“red lights are optional and the white stripe is a suggestion” – Elisabeth) many people ride motor scooters or bicycles and we saw all kinds:

There were plenty of arches like these to catch my lens:

And I’m sure this triumphant arch led to something important at one time although today the area behind it is used for tourist bus parking:

I was surprised at how many ways there are to spell Padua…

In the evening we took the bus to Mestre, for a wonderful dinner at the Antony Hotel and a much needed night of sleep.

So, there you have it, the first day of our tour. Please let me know what you think of this method (blog narrative) of sharing my trip photos. For those who want the old “overload method” here’s all the photos from Italy Day 01, travel and tour Padua.

7 thoughts on “Italy, the journey begins

  1. St. Anthony had the most beautiful open courtyards, all of us missed seeing one of them and several people missed another one! They are tucked around corners and down halls, just like the roads in these ancient communities!

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