Our guide-book warned that visits to the Capella degli Scrovegni in Padova are by reservation only. We didn’t have one on Thursday morning but, at our guide-book’s suggestion, we showed up anyway and asked if there were any spaces left. Fortunately, we were able to get in one hour later.
At the appointed time of 12:40 we were ushered into a small glass walled room just off the Capella to watch a 15 minute video. There we learned that Enrico Scrovegni built the chapel in 1303 to atone for the usury of his father Reginaldo who was so famous that he was mentioned in the 17th canto of Dante’s “Inferno”.
Enrico commissioned Giotto, the first painter to move from flat 2D figures to 3D, to paint the chapel with frescoes. After the educational videos the doors to the Capella opened and we were able to go in for 15 minutes only. The Venetian blue was immediately stunning. Sumptuous gowns with voluminous shaded folds adorned the figures. Three rows of panels with ~6 scenes across each panel rose to the high ceiling. The perspective was fascinating: the roof in one of the top panel scenes sloped down so that you could see the front unlike how it would seem from the 2 stories below that we were standing.
There were no signs saying that photos were not allowed and no sign in the educational videos. Planning to make the most of my 15 minutes I immediately reached for my iPhone and switched the sound off in this sacred space to shoot an HDR. I got one silent capture before the eagle-eyed guard told me to stop. So here’s my accidentally clandestined capture. Sadly, it’s the only one. See the roof in the top panel? Three stories down, you wouldn’t see that view. The perspective makes you feel almost level with the painting so very far above you.
This was the best example of Venetian blue that I saw during the week in Northern Italy. For that alone it was worth the visit.
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