Every corner of Padova is photograph perfect, and inside every museum and church are incredible works of art. The city’s latest blockbuster exhibition is L’Egitto di Belzoni (Belzoni’s Egypt), a full immersion in the world of and interactive tribute to 19th century explorer and hometown adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni.
Belzoni was the kind of guy that would have been friends with Indiana Jones, and it’s no coincidence, some say his hair-raising adventures and uncanny discoveries inspired Spielberg’s epic character. And you know that Pedrocchi caffe I mentioned a few paragraphs back? Belzoni’s adventures inspired its architecture with a private “sala egizia”, Egypt-themed room.
A little backstory: Before setting off to Egypt in 1812, Belzoni studied engineering in Rome, worked in Holland as barber, and lived in England where he performed as a strongman in an itinerant circus. By 34 years old, Belzoni was literally larger than life and Egypt beckoned. He headed down the Nile for an irrigation project and returned with incredible discoveries like finding the entrance of Abu Simbel and the tomb of Seti I and being the very first to open and enter the Pyramid of Giza, just to name a few.
The Exhibition: L’Egitto di Belzoni shares highlights of Belzoni’s story 200 artifacts including statues, manuscripts and mummies from the world’s greatest museums such as the British Museum, Turin’s Egyptian Museums and the Vatican Museums, set alongside an incredible backdrop of drawings taken from Belzoni’s own sketches). The dynamic curation steps it up to the 21st century with videos, scaled models and interactive experiences that take you through Belzoni’s mind and adventures.
Through June 28th 2020
When You Go
Get There: Padova is the perfect getaway because it has the trifecta: great art, great food and a train station right out of the pages of rationalist architecture. Yes, you can drive to La Città dei Tre Senza from anywhere on the peninsula, but why? Located in the Veneto, Italy’s northeast region, Padova is junction for East-West travel making it very easy to reach from most major cities including Rome (3 hours, 15 minutes), Venice (25 minutes), Milan (2 hours), Bologna and Florence via Italo and Trenitalia, as well as Thello for connections to and from France. If you’re curious about which train service is better, the high speed trains on both run the same times but lately I prefer Italo because its tech (app, website) is just that much better to use and navigate, especially for last-minute travel changes, and the lounges are very well done. Note: Padova does not have an Italo lounge.
Get Around: Padova is pretty much flat, in other words an open invitation to walk for miles, or bike if you prefer two wheels. The city’s tourism office lists bike rental companies and bike routes. If you brought the wrong shoes and don’t want to shop for a more comfortable pair, Padova is connected by public transport including a tram traverses the city from the train station to the Basilica di Sant’Antonio.