Padua (pop. 212,000), Italy, the capital of Padova province, is 40km
west of Venice. Set amongst the historic Euganaean Hills, Padua boasts a
picturesque network of arcaded streets, numerous bridges, and large
Patavium, as Padua was known by the Romans, was inhabited by Veneti,
who prospered due to their excellent horses and high quality wool. In
1452 the Padua of Antiquity was destroyed by the Huns, under Attila. The
only remaining Roman ruins are the amphitheater and some bridge
After centuries of conflict, Padua began to prosper. In 1222 the
university was founded, making it one of the oldest universities in
continuous operation. Galileo taught in Padua from 1592 to 1610. His
chair can be seen in the "Room of the Forty". The famous Anatomy Theatre,
where Vesalius taught, is the oldest in the world (1594).
The botanical garden, Orto Botanico di Padova, was founded in 1545 as
the garden of curative herbs attached to the University's faculty of
medicine. It is the oldest botanical garden in the world and still
contains an important collection of rare plants.
Prior to the formation of the united Kingdom of Italy in 1866, Padua
was ruled, at various times, by the Venetians and the Austrians.
Places to See
The Palazzo della Ragione, commenced in 1172 and finished in 1219, may
have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe.
The Gran Guardia loggia, constructed between 1493 and 1526, is in the
Piazza dei Signori.
The Palazzo del Capitanio, the residence of the Venetian governors,
and the Michaelango inspired Cathedral, are nearby.
The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua was commenced in 1230, and
completed about a century later. It's ornate exterior is complemented by
the quailty of its interior decor. Donatello's magnificent equestrian
statue, cast in 1453, of a is in the piazza in front of the basilica.
Frescoes by Titian can be seen at the Scuola di S. Antonio
the Prato della Valle, a 90,000 m² elliptical square has a wide
garden surrounded by a trench which is lined by 78 statues portraying
Santa Sofia is probably Padova's most ancient church, the crypt being
initiated in the late 10th century by Venetian craftsmen.
- Villa Molin, in the Mandria fraction, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi
- Villa Pacchierotti-Trieste (17th century), at Limena
- VIlla Cittadella-Vigodarzere (19th century), at Saonara
- Villa Selvatico da Porto (15th-18th century), at Vigonza
- Villa Loredan, at Sant'Urbano.
- The most important is however Villa
Contarini, at Piazzola sul Brenta, built in 1546 by Palladio and
enlarged in the following centuries.
While Italy is a wonderful country to visit at any time of the year,
spring and fall may be preferable to the summer. It has been our
experience that Italy can be very hot and very crowded during the summer
months. Hotel prices also tend to be more expensive, and service may
suffer due to the crowds.
If you must travel over the summer, Padua may present a pleasant
respite from the crowds of Venice, Florence,and other major cities. Padua
is easy to reach by rail or road. Since it is so close to Venice, it is
possible to take a day trip, returning to Venice the same night. If you
have the time, spend a night or two in Padua. Keep in mind that the
center of Padua, and not the outskirts, are most suitable for