The Gems of Padova

October 2, 2014 / Places
Padova, Veneto

Only a 30 minute train ride from Venice, Padova is a pleasant day trip and often overlooked in favor of her well-known neighbor. Arriving by train, you can easily walk from the station to several of Padova’s sites and catch your train back to Venice in time for an aperitivo.

Padova has much to boast about. Despite her deep ancestral roots and heritage, there is a contemporary and youthful vibe. This can be attributed partly to being home to the distinguished Universita degli Studi di Padova, established in 1222. As Italy’s second oldest university, the University of Padova’s faculty and alumni have included such notables as Copernicus, Galileo, and even Casanova. (Now, wouldn’t you have loved to have attended one of his lectures?)

University of Padua

Enjoying an espresso break, people watching, and, of course, window shopping is irresistible and enjoyable… especially since most of the sidewalks are sheltered under shady loggias and many streets are pedestrian-only.

Loggias shade us along pedestrian friendly streets
Window shopping...

If you love local markets (I do!) you won’t want to miss visiting Padova’s. The twin piazze of Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza della Frutta are where the freshest and finest seasonal produce of the region is offered daily – yes, daily! Strolling up and down aisle after aisle, greeted by friendly vendors proudly displaying row upon row of neatly arranged fruits, vegetables and locally produced “tipico” foodstuffs, you’re tempted to feel and squeeze, but “non tocare” (don’t touch) is the rule here.

Typico and wonderful products
How to choose?
Non tocare!

Locals navigate their bounty-laden bicycles… bags filled with produce and delicacies from the tempting bakeries, and cheese and meat shops lining the piazze. (Don’t forget to pick up a few local specialties to enjoy later.)

More typical offerings in shops

A short walk will bring you to the magnificent Prato della Valle. Reputed to be the largest piazza in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, it is elliptical in shape with over 70 statues surrounding its circumference. Crossing over the moat-like canal to L’Isola Memmia, leads to a lovely park and fountain. A perfect spot for a stroll, a picnic or maybe a nap?

Prato della valle
Over 70 statues line the cirumference

This day trip ends nearby with a visit to the splendid Basilica Pontificia di Sant’Antonio, long a destination for pilgrims and devotees from all over the world. Grateful for the strict requests to observe silence and no photos, the Basilica is serene, calm… peaceful, a welcome sanctuary. A perfect ending to a perfect day in Padova, don’t you agree?

Basilica of St. Anthony
Pilgrims and devotees come from all over the world

Padua-Prato-View2

Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

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12 Responses to “The Gems of Padova”

  1. Mitti Meyers

    How can you talk about Padova without mentioning the enchanting Giotto’s Cappella degli Scrovegni?

    Reply
  2. James Van Zandt

    In the Piazza delle Erbe one cannot resist the iconic LA FOLPERIA, the best octopus and seafood stand in all of Italy!!!!!

    Reply
  3. Mary Ellen Gadski

    Yes, as the two previous responders have noted, how could you omit the Cappella Scrovegni? Or Orto Botanico, one of the oldest in Europe? Or Caffe Pedrocchi? We spent five days in Padua in July and loved the city. An initial one-day visit proved that we needed to spend more time there, so when our hiking trip in the Dolomiti was rained out, we returned to Padova for another four days. It is a great base for day trips exploring the Veneto: the Brenta Canal and its fabulous villas, La Malcontenta being the highlight; the incomparable gardens of Valsansibio; Arqua Petrarca and other small towns of the Euganei Hills, etc. We were very lucky to catch special events while there: a concert of I Solisti Veneti with Claudio Scimone conducting; an architectural show of the work of Renzo Piano in the impressive space of the Palazzo della Ragione.; and the unique street theater of graduation ceremonies. Padova certainly deserves more than a day trip from Venice!

    Reply
  4. Dennis Bianchi

    And, don’t forget to visit La Cappella deli Scrovegni, with the frescoes by Giotto from 1305! But you will need a reservation. Worth your time.

    Reply
  5. Pasquale DiLorenzo

    My wife and I visited Padova in May 2014 and we would gladly go again. However, the area near the train station is the meeting place all day for
    unemployed immigrants from foreign countries; and it would be prudent to buy the tram/bus 2 day card and avoid the walk in streets
    until you reach the university area .

    Reply
  6. Jeanne Marlow

    Cappella degli Scrovegni Is the number one must see in Padova. Also a comment on the fantastic restaurants would be in order. We always stay here when we are touring Venice. Hotels and food at half price, compared to Venice.

    Reply
  7. Antoinette Shapiama

    I agree with Pasquale — take care. My husband and I were walking with two of my cousins from the region who deftly steered us away from some commotion in one of the lovely parks. All of a sudden two thieves ran by us, a police jeep pulled up and its occupants starting running after them with guns drawn. We thought they were making a movie!

    Reply
  8. While visiting Padova in 2007 I found it a lovely town. However, I was surprised that we were allowed to visit the Basilica during service. You would think that the long line to see St Anthony’s jaw bone would see to be a distraction to the members.

    Reply
  9. Judy Marcon

    My husband is from “la provincia di Padova”. Thank you for the article. Our #1 place to visit is “la Basilica del Santo”. It is a lot of walking from the train station and the streets can be quite congested. It is dangerous to walk the streets after dark, however, so do your sightseeing during the day.

    Reply
  10. Grazie to all of you for your comments and suggestions! My personal focus was to see the Basilica so with only a day trip scheduled, it was inevitable I would miss something and apparently I did. Another reason to return, si?

    Reply

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