Discover home exchange stories from our members.

Another story brought to us by John and Jan, while on home exchange in Padua. Let’s see what they have been doing on their latest Gap Year destination with GuestToGuest.

We booked a car for a three-week swing around Northern Italy, in December 2017, visiting some interesting cities but, hopefully, not driving in/through any of them. So we booked accommodation on the outskirts of Bologna (food), Ravenna (mosaics) and Mantua (castles) and caught public transport. In Padua, Venice’s ‘poor cousin’ an hour down the road, we thought we had booked out of town at ‘Luisa’s House’ – HomeExchange. We finished up in the suburbs and our G.P.S. (code name ‘Flossy’) could not cope with the one-way streets. Eventually, we worked it out and arrived at ‘Luisa’s House’. Our hostess was a spiritedly, vivacious lady who made us very welcome and our apartment lacked for nothing.

The best news was that we were within walking distance to all the attractions, so we had the opportunity to walk off some of the weight gained in our ‘pizza and pasta’ diet! On our first night, Luisa invited us upstairs to an authentic Italian meal, which was very HomeExchange and we came back to our flat with some homemade red wine – what a great start!

We walked to the first of our must-see attractions, Giotto’s frescoes of the Life of Christ in the Cappella Degli Scrovegni. Sometimes described as Padua’s version of the Sistine Chapel, Giotto’s cycle of frescoes are remarkable in that he humanises religious art and changes the way artists depict people forever. Giotto depicts the women at the ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ with tears and we enjoyed both the ‘death stare’ Jesus gives Judas at the betrayal and the self-satisfied smirk on the face of the donkey on Palm Sunday.

We also walked to the great Basilica of St. Anthony, probably the most beloved Saint in Europe – his statues are in every church. Inside the Basilica, the riotously coloured columns grabbed our attention, as did the sarcophagus of the Saint, surrounded by queues of devoted souls praying fervently…so we did too.

It was such an advantage for us to be within walking distance to everything and ‘if all roads lead to Rome’, then in Padua, all roads lead to Stazione Centrale. Padua is a University City, so there are young people everywhere but at the Railway Station piazza, there were a great number of immigrants or refugees, which brought home to us the difficult situation Italy faces in coping with an already struggling economy.

We enjoyed our walking in Padua and the chance to prepare our own meals. Luisa was such a gracious hostess and did more cooking for us each day during our stay. Despite some health issues, she has wonderful energy and such a positive outlook on life. She is an inveterate traveller herself and just another of the fascinating and inspiring people we have met through our ‘guesting’ and we remain in e-mail contact with her. In a recent National Graphic publication entitled, “Your Brain – a User’s Guide”, the claim is made that people who suffer from a certain delusion, believe that strangers are friends in disguise. The more I think about, the more I believe that in travelling, we get the chance to see strangers become friends and that’s no delusion! HomeExchange ensures that we meet a very friendly group of strangers and so become so much richer for the experience.

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