We didn't leave as early as we planned (we're not early birds!) and eventhough Padova was not really far (in American terms) from San Gimigniano, it still took a good while to get there. We had only enough time to visit the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padova. But it was quite worth the effort. It's an impressive edifice dedicated to a Saint that, from the stories about him and his life, seemed really saintly. They don't allow photos inside and there were many other tourists there, all respectful. It's a major pilgrimage site. This basilica felt "holy" (particularly to hubby) kind of like Santa Caecilia in Trastevere.
We got back to our car just in time: the rain came pouring down and accompanied us as we left Padova.
Our next order of business was returning the car to Hertz at Piazzale Roma before taking the vaporetto to Venice. We followed the google maps directions and were almost to the causeway to Piazzale Roma when we realized we hadn't filled up the car with gas. We got off and I asked a road worker where we could get gas and he directed us to Marghera. It was at least 2kilometres from where we were but we saw no other gas stations anywhere.
The Piazzale Roma Hertz is literally right after you get off the causeway; I mean right there. I had seen it on google streetview and recognized it as we barely passed it up. We parked on the street and walked in to Hertz where the very rude attendants were quite unhelpful and just said we had to get the car into the carpark and offered no help whatsoever on how to do that. The entire rental car return experience was unpleasant. We certainly didn't expect this level of rudeness from Hertz...
After almost cussing out the Hertz people, we wheeled our bags to the ticket agent and bought Vaporetto passes for 72 hours. In retrospect we should have bought the 7 day passes since we needed them the fourth night and last day. It was raining a little as we made our way to the vaporetto stop and took the #2 to San Toma stop.
Then we had our first views of Venice in 14 years!
We got to San Toma just before 5pm. The greeter (and a friend) met us there shortly and showed us to the apartment (reviewed separately) and explained all of its features. We paid up and they left.
We unpacked as best we could (no drawers, no hooks, no luggage racks) and hubby got familiar with the washing machine. Then we headed out to find the grocery store at Campo Santa Margherita.
Groceries and supplies purchased and put away, we went to the nearest bar for drinks and ciccheti. And to use the free wifi since the one in the apartment didn't work (and would not work our entire 5 night stay).
A nightcap and phone calls home (Skype app worked great) at "our" bar and then to bed. Venice was already a delight!