Close to gorgeous Venice and the romantic Romeo and Juliet city of Verona, Padova is another beautiful place to visit in Italy! Take the train from Bologna and be ready to experience an amazing day trip.
Padova, or Padua, is famous for:
- History of art and religion: Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel and Saint Anthony’s Basilica
- The largest square in Italy: Prato della Valle
- Education: Home to one of the oldest universities in the Western world
- Land of the most famous Italian cocktail: spritz
The Scrovegni Chapel
The Scrovegni Chapel is a exquisite, yet small, chapel that contains many frescoes by Giotto, dating back to the 14th century. You will be amazed by these great works of art, which depict the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ’s life on earth. This chapel is considered one of the most important masterpieces of the Western world, so make sure this is the first thing you visit once you arrive in Padova! Also note that Giotto’s frescoes gave inspiration to another great artist, Michelangelo, when he created the ‘Last Judgment’ in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
St Anthony’s Basilica
Like Saint Francis from Assisi, Saint Anthony decided to give away all of his wealth in order to live a humble life based on prayer. A beautiful, giant basilica has been built in order to represent his life and his miracles. Inside the church, you will find both Gothic and Baroque styles represented in its aisles. You will also find Donatello’s magnificent bronze reliefs on the high altar. Some Romanesque influence is represented outside on the external facades. Enjoy the mix of artistic influences that make this church absolutely unique! You can also visit the tomb of the saint, which is located in the transept of the church. It attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is definitely worth spending some time visiting this gorgeous church to find out more about the life of one of the most important saints of the Catholic Church.
Prato della Valle
The beautiful, elliptical green square Prato della Valle must be on your list if you decide to spend some time in Padova. It can be your next stop after St Anthony’s church, as it is only a short walk away. It was the place where Saint Anthony used to come for a walk or to preach to the crowds. Take a stroll around the square and be fascinated by the magnificent statues that you will see along the way. Don’t forget to take some pictures during your tour, as you will be walking through the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe!
Padova: among the oldest universities in Italy
Padova is also famous for having one of the oldest universities in the Western world. Founded in the 13th century by a group of students and teachers who decided to come here from Bologna, the Universita’ di Padova has hosted many famous names throughout the centuries. They range from the Italian Pietro D’Abano, famous for his studies in medicine during the Middle Ages to the great Galileo, who came to Padova to teach astronomy for almost twenty years. If you like a university city animated by thousands of students, or enjoy the moment of coming across a laureato (a student who has just graduated) wearing a costume to celebrate his graduation, Padova is the right city for you.
There are many other historic buildings that you can visit, such as Palazzo Bo, which became part of the university in the 15th century, and also museums and libraries that are worth a look. Touring the university of Padova is absolutely a must; you might even end up in the same classroom where Galileo held his heliocentric theory class!
The best invention in Padova: spritz
After a day spent shopping between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta, or if you need a short break from touring the city, stop by one of the local bars during the aperitivo hour (around 7:00pm). If you want the most historic and traditional place for your aperitivo spritz, Caffe’ Pedrocchi might be the ideal choice for you. It dates back to the end of 18th century. You will definitely fall in love with the old-fashioned setting and beautifully decorated second floor. And of course, don’t forget to partake of the irresistible buffet and enticing finger foods they will prepare for you!
In case you haven’t heard of spritz, it is an Italian cocktail that was invented in Padova. First of all, you must choose between one of two alcohols, Aperol or Campari. This will be mixed with Prosecco, sparkling water and a slice of orange to garnish. The Aperol version is the most traditional and has a sweeter taste. If you prefer your spritz to be a little less sweet and a little bit stronger, Campari might be the best choice. However, make sure you try both before you leave Padova.
Have you ever visited Padova? Share your experience with us!