Our first stop in Padua was the Basilica of St. Anthony, which is one of the four Italian basilicas owned by the Vatican outside their grounds in Rome. This technically makes today a multi-country adventure. No pictures are allowed inside, but I was most impressed by the high reliefs (example here) in the chapel of the tomb of St. Anthony, which are placed in flat alcoves with amazing perspective paintings behind them (it looks like they're in arches that go on forever). For a lovely description of the art in the entire building (which has been in process for nearly a millennium), check out the basilica's website, here.
Next, we visited the second oldest university in Italy (perhaps the world), marking dutiful pilgrimage at the Dipartimento di Geografia, and stopping by the building which houses the medical dissection amphitheater.
|Central courtyard of the original medical building|
Also in that space is a statue of the first woman to be awarded a degree from the institution (and perhaps ever, from a university). The daughter of a vey wealthy Venetian family, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia wanted to study theology, but the deans of the institution decided that having a woman get a degree at all was sufficiently controversial - they didn't need to deal with the trouble of letting her have opinions about God as well.
|Monument to Elena Piscopia|
The statue is strangely barred off from the rest of the courtyard (to hide or protect, I couldn't tell), but it's a nice reminder that there have always been women who break the mold. As Aunt Lib pointed out today, "how many of your friends have great-grandmothers who graduated from college?" I don't know, but I'm grateful to Elsie Rigg for valuing education.