Padua is a very fascinating town, with around 210.000 inhabitants. Its prehistoric settlements date back to XI century before Christ. Being close to the more famous Venice and Verona, Padua often goes sadly unnoticed. Thanks to this, however, tourists can still enjoy this town without rush, overcrowding and queues.
What to see in Padua
- The Scrovegni Chapel with the frescoes by Giotto (1305), forerunner of the Renaissance painting. After Marcel Proust visited it, he wrote: “I entered the Chapel of Giotto, where the whole vault and the backgrounds of the frescoes are so turquoise to make believe that the radiant day had, too, crossed the threshold with the visitor”.
- The University founded in 1222 (second most ancient University in Italy after Bologna). A group of professors and students came here precisely from Bologna to found a place with more academic freedom. The motto of the University is in fact Universa Universis Patavina Libertas (something like Paduan University Freedom is Universal for Everyone). Here Galileo Galilei thaught Mathematics (1592 – 1610) and here he observed for the first time Jupiter and its satellites with a telescope. During your visit you can admire the anatomical theatre, first of its kind and the oldest in Europe.
- The Pedrocchi Café, an eighteenth-century Café, once a meeting point for intellectuals and politicians. Its speciality is the Caffè Pedrocchi, a coffee enriched with mint flavoured cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
- Palazzo della Ragione (1218), former medieval law Court. Its walls are decorated with wonderful XV century frescoes. On the ground floor, under its gallery, are housed local grocery stores (meat, cheese, cold cuts, jam and soon).
- Le piazze, of course! Around Palazzo della Ragione you can see three beautiful piazze, Piazza della Frutta, delle Erbe and dei Signori (Fruit, Herbs and Lords). During the morning here takes places the town market, in the afternoon you can take a stroll or sit in a Café and enjoy the view. (In Piazza delle Erbe I suggest Pasticceria Graziati and its delicious Millefoglie cake).
- The former ghetto: with its narrow cobbled streets and old buildings, cafes and restaurants with tiny outdoor tables, I find this area very romantic.
- Basilica of Saint Anthony (1232), one of the largest churches in the world. Every year over 6 million pilgrims visit it. Its masterpieces are the statues by Donatello.
- The oldest Botanical Garden in the World (1545), UNESCO World Heritage. Since summer 2014 a new area was opened to the public, the Biodiversity Garden: 4 large greenhouses, each recreating a different terrestrial ecosystem.
- Prato della Valle, one of the largest squares in Europe, on which face beautiful ancient buildings. At its centre there is a small island surrounded by a statue-lined canal (78 statues). Here you can sit on the lawn and enjoy a good ice cream.
- The Specola Tower, ancient astronomical observatory of the University.
Where to eat in Padua
Pizzeria Duomo in via San Gregorio Barbarigo 18. This pizzeria is very tiny so it is better to make a reservation or arrive early.
Pizzeria Savonarola in via Savonarola 38. Very good pizza, very cosy place, very tiny too so same thing, make a reservation!
Pizzeria La Pavana in via Trieste 2. A bit off the tourist track, near the train station. Its Neapolitan pizza are delicious! So order the pizza alta or napoletana.
Dalla Zita in via Gorizia 12 (30 meters from Pedrocchi Café) is a super tiny shop (with no place to sit) where you can order only sandwiches. The different varieties you can choose are written on cards attached to the walls. At certain hours it can be a little crowded.
Pasticceria Graziati piazza della Frutta 40. Delicious Millefoglie, Pazientina cake and in winter best hot chocolate ever!
Pasticceria Biasetto in via Facciolati 12. Luigi Biasetto, the Mâitre Pâtissier, won the
World Cup of Pastry thanks to his Setteveli cake (seven layers of chocolate). It is pricey, and sometimes I found the staff a bit rude, but some products are a true pleasure.
Grom in Piazza dei Signori 33 or in via Roma 101. Yes, Padua has 2 Grom shops! In Padua we are particularly fond of ice cream so you’ll see ice cream parlours at every corner.
Newly opened in via Eremitani 1 Pasticceria Giotto: here you can taste the ice cream prepared by the inmates of the Padua Prison. And they do it really good!
A special place
Drogheria ai Due Catini d’Oro (Grocery store Two Basins of Gold) in Piazza della Frutta 17, a shop that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century (with antique furniture). It sells more than 15.000 products such as spices, sweets, colours and… everything you ask yourself: “Where the hell I can find this?” Well, there you probably can! Many citizens of Padua (including me) still call this shop “Dal Zio”, name of the previous owner.
Tours nearby Padua italy:
- Euganean Hills (trekking, cycling, trattorias, villas, thermal baths.
- Riviera del Brenta (villas along the river Brenta, you can visit them by car or by boat)
- Venice (should I add something?)
- Palladian Villas and Vicenza
- Verona with its Arena and the Garda Lake