Just 40 km from the enchanting Venice, in the Veneto region of northern Italy, nestles the beautiful and medieval Padua (Padova) - another Italian city with a special meaning, a harmonious blend between Venetian, Roman, Renaissance and medieval civilizations. In other words, Padua is a living legend, blessed with a strategic position in a plain area drawn in brown, green and yellow colors, protected by the Alps mountain range and the Euganean hills.
Padua opens its arms to lovers of architecture, art, history and science, where they can admire a universe full of treasures, from the Orto Botanico di Padova ( the oldest academic botanical garden in the world, dating from 1545), the splendid church of Saint Antonio (14th century), to the outrageous masterpieces by Giotto, omnipresent into the fabulous Scrovegni Chapel, with the unique ethereal blue color of the chapel. *Tickets for the Scrovegni Chapel must be booked!
Keep in mind that Padua is hosting the most famous university in the world, built in 1222, Universita degli Studi di Padova - where have studied famous personalities, such as Pico della Mirandola, Copernicus and Torquatto Tasso, plus the famous "Anatomical Theatre", the oldest in the world (1594).
Visiting and getting around Padua
Quite common for the Italian cities, in Padua the sightseeing concentration is right downtown. Padua is surrounded by two circles of walls with 28 entrance gates and the main feature is the porticos. Padua enjoys 2 graceful rivers that give it a special charm: the River Brenta and Bacciglione River, where tourists can navigate by boat, departing from the ancient port of Portello, being a good way to discover Padua. Otherwise, you can also use the public transportation as well as the City Sightseeing Pass (adults € 15, 00; children € 7, 00 – more on http://www.padova.city-sightseeing.it/eng/percorsi.htm), or why not, to choose a relaxing stroll along the city…or a bike ride? :)
The sightseeing of Padua can be more economical using the PadovaCard (48-hour card: 16 € / 72-hour card: 21 €), which gives you free admission to most of the tourist objectives and significant discounts on boat trips, segway tours, certain restaurants, shops and more. The keen traveler needs more than one day in Padua, so this card would be ideal, especially because most of the tourist objectives have limited visitation program - we all know that the Italians respect their meal breaks. :)
Although it is historically, artistically and scientifically equally important as Rome or Venice, Padua is not so visited by tourists. Less crowded and more airy, Padua has a high concentration of palaces, museums, bridges and extraordinary landscapes that you can enjoy without attending endless queues.
Lined up with old and bohemian buildings, the arcaded narrow and winding streets of Padua will take you to picturesque boutiques and cozy cafes and restaurants, where you can taste delicious dishes from the famous pastas, soup of rice and bean dishes, up to paella and fresh fish.
Fresh products and a variety of herbs and cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables are in Piazza delle Erbe, such a lively place full of vendors and Piazza della Frutta, where you'll find lots of shops that sell fabrics and leather products.
Padua is renowned for its vineyards, so when choosing a good wine, take into account its origin, the best are from Corte di Correzzola or Riviera del Brenta. Visit Piazza dei Signori, where you’ll feel the pulse of the city, the beautiful frescoes of the Baptistery and the marvelous Palazzo della Ragione - one of the largest and impressive medieval edifices in Italy.
An option to dine a little more romantic, it’s to take picnic in one of the gorgeous public gardens of Padua, such as Corso del Popolo or the huge piazza at Prato della Valle. For a yummy afternoon treat you can opt for the famous Italian ice cream that is of the highest quality at Gelateria Grom on Via Roma. For a local-speciality cake, a fantastic almonds chocolate cake, go to Pasticceria Graziati, meravigliosa! :)
If you want to see something beautiful and remarkable, stop at Café Pedrocchi, it is not like any coffee shop; rather it’s a famous cathedral, drawn in neoclassical forms by Giuseppe Jappelli, resembling a palace or theater. Here you will spend some quality time. Each room is decorated in different style, be it Murano chandeliers and mirrors, chairs wrapped in red velvet or impetuous marble Ionic columns, each room has a special feature. So, do not forget to visit it, especially as the café does not close even at night, no wonder it is nicknamed ‘The Café without doors’. In the same building is the "Museo del Risorgimento", which again deserves your attention.
A highly photographed spot in Padua is Prato della Valle, some imposing statues in a circle, created by Tuscan artists. In this emblematic place, every Sunday there is a fair where you can find antique objects, books, paintings and rare objects.
Things to do around Padua
If you want a trip of several hours or 1 day trip, Venice is within 40 minutes. Treviso, Vicenza, Verona and Rovigo are also some superbly options to take into consideration for a day-trip. Enjoy!