21 August 2014

In which an ancient university had modern-day problems or, Women neverstay where the patriarchy puts them

 This afternoon, we bussed to Padua. In order to get to the section of the Po we'll be cruising the rest of the trip, the ship had to enter the Adriatic Sea, briefly. Because it's a river boat, it lacks certification to carrying passengers in open water like that, so everyone got to disembark.

Industrial ships at the edge of the Lagoon

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. 

1 comment:

  1. Somehow I never imagined different pastas coming from one giant sheet. That must be one giant pasta roller!