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Pada (Padova) is an old university town with an illustrious academic history. Rich in art and architecture, it has two particularly outstanding sights. The magnificent Cappella degli Scrovegni, north of the city center, is famous for Giotto’s lyrical frescoes. Close to the train station, it forms part of the complex incorporating the Eremitanic church and museums. The Basilica di Sant’Antonio, which forms the focal point in the southern part of the city, is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Italy.

What to See

The Duomo

The Duomo was built in 1552 to plans partly by Michelangelo on the site of an earlier 14th-century cathedral. Beside it stands a domed baptistery (c1200). The interior is entirely decorated with vibrant frescoes painted by Giusto de’ Menabuoi (Wikipedia Article), dating from around 1378. The frescoes depict episodes from the Bible, including scenes from the Creation, the Miracles, the Passion, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ.

The “Palace of Reason”

The “Palace of Reason”, which is also known as the Salone, was built in 1218 to serve as Padua’s law court and council chamber. The vast main hall was originally decorated with frescoes by Giotto, but fire destroyed his work in 1420. The Salone is breathtaking in its sheer size. It is the largest, undivided medieval hall in Europe, 80 m (262 ft) long, 27 m (89 ft) high. Frescoes painted in 1420-25 by Nicola Miretto cover its walls: the fascinating panels – 333 of them – depict the months of the year, with appropriate gods, signs of the zodiac, and seasonal activities. A 1466 copy of the huge Gattamelata statue by Donatello stands at one end of the hall.

Caffe Pedrocchi

Caffe Pedrocchi opened in 1831, and became famous throughout Italy as the café that never closed its doors. Today, people come to talk, play cards, or watch the world go by while eating and drinking. The upstairs rooms, decorated in florid Moorish, Egyptian, Medieval, Greek, and other styles, are used for concerts and lectures.

Cappella degli Scrovegni

Enrico Scrovegni built this chapel in 1303, hoping to spare his dead father, a usurer, from the eternal damnation in hell described by the poet, Dante, in his Inferno. The interior of the chapel is entirely covered with beautiful frescoes of scenes from the life of Christ, painted by Giotto between 1303 and 1305. As works of great narrative force, they exerted a powerful influence on the development of European art.

The scenes, which are depicted in sequence are fully explained on a sheet, printed in several languages with a basic number key, which you will be offered on entry to the chapel. Due to the small size of the chapel, the number of visitors at any one time is limited. Visitors are requested to spend 15 minutes in a decontamination chamber and the duration of the visit itself is also restricted to 15 minutes. Booking is compulsory.

Padua is a city of many attractions, with a rich history; this is reflected in the major museum complex that occupies a group of 14th-century monastic buildings attached to the church of the Eremitani, a reclusive Augustinian order. The admission ticket includes entry to the Cappella degli Scrovegni, which stands on the same site. Padua is, in addition, the setting for one of Italy’s most important churches – the splendid Basilica di Sant’Antonio – and for one of the earliest universities to be founded in Italy.

Padua’s botanical garden, the oldest in Europe, (1545) still retains much of its original appearance. The gardens and hothouses were used to cultivate the first lilac trees (1568), sunflowers (1568), and potatoes (1590) to be grown in Italy.

Basilica di Sant'Antonio

This exotic church, with its minaret-like spires and Byzantine domes, is also known as ‘IL Santo’. It was built from 1232 to house the remains of St. Anthony of Padua. The influence of Byzantine architecture is clearly visible in the basilica's outline: a cone-shaped central dome rises above seven encircling domes; the facade combines Gothic and Romanesque elements.

What to Do

A pleasant local tradition is the spritz or aperitif in one of the central piazzas (Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza della Frutta, or Piazza dei Signori), starting between 7 and 8 in the evening. There are lots of students and young people, which makes for a very pleasant atmosphere.
Many young folk, particularly students, converge on the Prato della Valle to eat their lunch, either on the central grass, or leaning against the statues that line the water. In fine weather you will generally find people ensconced against these statues for the afternoon. It is one of the nicest places to rest, write, or watch the world go by in Padova.

A big festival called Sherwood Festival usually take place for a month, between mid-June and mid-July in the outside garden of the main soccer stadium of Padova and it host Italian and international bands every weekend. It is easy to reach from the city center by bike in 20 minutes.

Italiaoutdoors, host outdoor activities in the Padova area.

Where to Eat

Ai Talli

Ai Talli (Via Boccalerie 5) is on a side street off of Piazza della Frutta, or has tables on the corner of the Piazza when the weather is nice (i.e., most of the time). They specialize in Calabrian dishes - from the southern tip of Italy - and use only authentic ingredients. Be sure to check out the daily specials, or just stop in for a spritz if you're not quite hungry yet. Affordable prices for a central location.

Mama Isa's Supper Club

In the center of Padova there is a small and secret Underground Diner. Mama Isa is a cookery teacher and a super club host. She offers a great-tasting menu. Quality is high and the atmosphere is really friendly. For something different, try this new eating experience (one of the most chic underground dinners in the world)

Pizzeria Medina

There was no such place when visited on 14 December, 2009; construction work was going at this address - (Via S.G. Barbarigo 18, midday and evenings, closed Tuesday) is just down the street from the Duomo (cathedral). They offer great-tasting pizzas that are enormous, even by Italian standards. Quality is high, prices are low (pizza and wine €10 ($12)- €15 ($17)), and the atmosphere is great. For something different, try one of their “green” pizza.

Where to Stay

Ostello della Gioventù

Located within the city center, near La Specola and an easy walk to Prato della Valle and Basilica Saint Antonio.

La Corte Hotel Padua

Via Petit Foret, 6. Economic hotel is located in the hinterland of Padua hosted in an ancient Benedictine Court of the 16th century, with single, double, triple, and quadruple bedrooms with either private and shared bathrooms. Double rooms starting from €45 ($52). Breakfast included.

Hotel Abano Terme Grandtorino

Famous in Europe for over 55 years for its tradition. Built and always managed by the Maggia family, its philosophy is a warm ”family-style welcome” in an intimate atmosphere, joined with a professional staff that is always available and punctual.

How to Get There

By Train

Padova is a central railway node in the Veneto area. Many lines converge into the city central station, notably from:
  • Venezia (Venice, Trieste, and points East) - Venice is only a 30-minute ride away.
  • Bologna (Bologna, Ferrara, Rovigo, Rome, Florence) one hour and half ride.
  • Milano (Milan, Brescia, Verona, Vicenza)two hours and half minute ride.
  • Castelfranco (Belluno, Calalzo, Feltre) 45-minute ride.

All kinds of trains pass through Padova: Eurostar, InterCity; EuroCity, InterRegionale; Regionale, InterCityNight; EuroNight, Espresso. More info is available on the Trenitalia website.

By Plane

Padova has its own airport for private planes, but with no direct commercial connections. However, three international airports are conveniently located nearby:

Venezia Marco Polo (VCE), 50km, lot of destinations throughout Europe.
By bus: direct and frequent connections to Padova, 1h
By train: bus to Venezia Mestre station, then train.

Treviso (TSF) , 42km, low-cost airport with Ryanair and other carriers. Destinations: Dublin, London, Frankfurt, Bruxelles, Barcelona, and Paris.
By bus: direct and frequent connections to Padova, 1h10 - see SITA website - choose Linee Regionale, then Veneto, then Orari Linee Veneto; last bus leaves airport around 20.00 or 20.25 depending on day of week.

Verona Valerio Catullo (VRN) , 88km, many domestic flights and some international destinations (also low-cost)
by train + bus

By Car

Padova is connected through the national highway network.
A4 - Torino-Milano-Venezia-Trieste
A13 - Bologna-Padova

Many national/regional roads originate in or pass through the city:
SS11 Padana Superiore
SS16 Adriatica
SS47 Valsugana

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Author: d.todorovski. Last updated: Jan 29, 2015


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