Here’s what I do in Padua – known as Padova in Italian – I wander, I eat, and I admire the city’s beauty. Just 20 minutes by train from Venice, the city of Padua is one of northern Italy’s best-kept secrets. Like Bologna and Perugia, it’s a nice-sized (a misura d’uomo, or walkable) university town with great energy, good food and impressive art. Spend a day: you’ll leave satisfied.
What to do in Padua: Admire
- Absolutely don’t miss Giotto’s incredible frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel (aka the Arena Chapel) which detail the life of the Virgin Mary (photo below). Book ahead, and if possible get the 40 minute ticket instead of the standard 15 minute one, which is not really enough time to see all 42 panels.
- I highly recommend going on a tour of the University. Contact them about scheduling one, or download one of their self-guided visits to visit the Palazzo Bo.
- Visit the gorgeous Basilica of Sant Antonio, or “Il Santo” (photo above).
What to do in Padua: Eat
- Sit with a coffee at the historic Cafe Pedrocchi which has been open 200 years, famous both as the hangout of important artists and the venue of the 1848 riots.
- Have lunch or dinner the Vecchia Padova restaurant, for excellent local food and service.
What to do in Padua: Wander
- Stroll along Prato della Valle (photo above, but much easier to picture by looking at an aerial photo), a gigantic grassy elliptical space, surrounded by a water-filled ditch and statues.
- Shop at the permanent market stalls under the Palazzo delle Regione (after you’ve visited its frescoes, of course).
- Search out an outdoor market in Piazza delle Erbe, or near the Duomo, or in Piazza dei Signori.
- Don’t miss the astrological clock (photo above) in the Piazza dei Signori, one of the first of its kind in Europe.
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